Images de page

and live it, Sir. Let its purity, humility, forbearance, and justice be seen. So set forth, so embodied, it would tell. It would be felt as a power. Take my own case. I disliked the Bible, and hated the religious world. And why? Because I imagined the former had nought for me but condemnation, and the latter had ill-used me. Then I had known ministers who made money their leading object, and clergymen who would sell another's furniture to repair their church. And beside, I had seen a deal of pride manifested, and social injustice practised by persons bearing the Christian name. I came naturally to cherish contempt for the whole system. And let me assure you, Sir, that there's a vast deal of scepticism with a history something like mine-scepticism created by the Christian world.

"Well, as you know, Charley Lovitt came to live with me. He soon set me right on many points. Not by discussing with me the evidences. He so lived—80 represented Christianity by life and lip, as that I was induced to look at the Bible fairly. I resolved to read it humbly, earnestly, honestly ; with no foregone conclusions. My confidence in the soundness of my conclusions was shaken by a discovery of the illogical way in which I had reached them. Charley led me to this discovery. The result you know. I've led, Sir, , a wicked life. Oh! wicked indeed. But I'm hoping in the blood that cleanseth from all sin.

“E'er since by faith I saw the stream

His flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,

And shall be till I die.' " I see many difficulties in the Bible ; but I've found this out, that the difficulties belong to the subjects, and that without the former we could not have the latter. I'm not now disposed to quarrel with them, as once, but rather with Paul to exclaim—' Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God : how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!”

Thomas Jackson grew gradually worse ; and one calm evening in autumn, attended by Charley and Mrs. Jackson only, he fell asleep, the former did not doubt, in Christ. Young?Lovitt was much pleased in the main with Jackson's conversion and end. One thing, however, he lamented, --he had gone hence without disclosing his secret. Charley had learnt it, but not from Jackson. His widow was provided for, and found, perhaps, more quiet happiDess in the evening of life than had falleu to her lot for many years. Charley considerately refrained from referring, in her presence, to her husband's strange and mysterious way of life prior to his conversion. It evidently troubled them both, but was never a topic of conversation between them after his death.

Mrs. Jackson had passed away, and many years had brought

many changes, when one day Charles Lovitt informed Mr. James that he had heard from a correspondent in America that Smedley was dead.

" Dead, is he? Both gone to their account? Strange, Mr. Lovitt, what those men did in those days when you lived with Jackson, I suppose now we shall never know in this world."

“Have you never conjectured, Mr. James ? I've supposed you had some idea, although of late you've never alluded to the subject."

I've certainly amused myself with conjectures, but have not been able to hit on aught rational and plausible enough to be worth entertaining; I hope you fared better."

May I enlighten you, Mr. James ? But let me say, Jackson didn't enlighten me. He maintained the hardest reserve up to the last. I believe his repentance was genuine, but there was no confession to man. He kept his promise to Smedley."

“Well, what is it ?—what do you suppose they did ?”.

“I believe they coined counterfeit money, and passed off forged notes. For the transaction of this business they met. It was around this they threw so much mystery. It was this secret they so carefully guarded. It is startling to think such proceedings were carried on in our midst ; but I fear, Sir, I am right. My thoughts were first directed to this solution of the problem by some curious apparatus I once dug up. All that I subsequently observed and heard was in the most thorough harmony with ihis theory.”

Oh, how wicked, wicked, wicked! Well might they wish to tread down and trample out of being the word of God.”

“ Wicked beyond conception, Mr. James. But as they have gone hence, and as no good could be done by divulging the matter at present, if you please we will allow it to sleep. We may remember it-indeed, we shall be sure, and it will be very proper, 60 to do. Jackson's history will long be interesting; and whilst it lives in our memory will be instructive, as illustrative of the power of wickedness to warp the judgment, the banefulness of prejudice

, and the force of Christian truth, when humbly, honestly, and earnestly read and studied."

I quite agree with Mr. Lovitt; and, in conclusion, beg the reader to accept the incidents and events narrated in these pages as possessing an historical character and worth. Of course, I have used fictitious names, and, for reasons best known to myself, have thrown a thin disguise over parts of my narrative ; but I have given facts, without either exaggeration or distortion.

[ocr errors]



(ISSIONARY reports are reckoned rather dry reading. Everyone nows the aspect of such publications. They are very thick octavo amphlets, stitched in dull saffron, or blue, or faded pink, or aubarb-coloured paper, and consist internally of a rapid resumé of ach society's operations, followed by endless columns of names and gures, indicating the sources of the subscriptions. Few persons re tempted to study these melancholy-looking appuals. Their terary style is peculiar to their species, and may be known by the equent insertion of "your committee," as the nominative to the nief verb of the sentence. “ Your committee” has generally a onderful faculty for producing a book that nobody will read; and o society, it may be said, excels the London Mission in this deartment of effort. With materials in hand-in scenery, in history, i ethnology, in heathen and Christian sentiment, and in misonary activity under every sky—to supply a writer of adequate ramatic spirit with resources for producing a book which ought to eat hollow in popularity half the novels of the season, the upinbired scribes of “ your committee ” usually succeed in compiling a early chronicle of their labours, compared with which the vestry cord of a churchwarden's adventures is an interesting narrative. s Virgil describes the reduction of the eagerness of a buzzing varm of bees by the sprinkling of dust, so do these authors abate hat little enthusiasm may exist among their readers by a large fusion of the dust of functionaryism ; and things in themselves o interesting as to draw the study of angelic intelligences are presented so as to repel the attention on earth of all but the nost obstinate students of statistics and finance.

If any person were to subject himself to the obligation of reading arough the reports of the Church, of the Wesleyan, of the London, f the Moravian, and of the Baptist Missionary Societies, he could undoubtedly desire that among the many noble gifts howered upon the modern church there were numbered that of riting an inspiring account of its toils in laying siege to the great rtresses of Asiatic and African Paganism. The reports of these ocieties ought to be among the chief means of creating fresh inrest in their proceedings. They ought to be such that able and astructed minds should read them with zealous delight, and the oung people of our households pore over them as they do over

Robinson Crusoe.” It would be worth any money to secure the ervices of a writer who should thus be able to present the records

of the year's labours. Of the large sums required to defray home Jiabilities, none would be better spent.

The four Gospels and Acts of the Apostles are the models of what a missionary report should be ; and it is evident that our missionary annuals are as little like these models as possible. The secret of creating a profound interest in the details of evangelical enterprise seems to be to multiply the narratives of local opposition and triumph, and the records of individual conversion. Wbat is it that has made the Acts of the Apostles a readable “report” for the last eighteen centuries? Is it not the life-like account of the contests of the preachers of the Gospel with their powerful adversaries, and such heart-stirring records as those of the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch, or of the Philippian gaoler? Is it not the ever fresh log-book of the Mediterranean voyage, the shipwreck at Malta, the journey to Rome? And were we not intended to learn from this bright example the art of writing church history for the general public? If the account of the Apostolic ministry had been delivered in the style of these modern reports, we might have had some such memoranda as these :

“ Thessalonica.—The people of this district were found in a state of much indifference to the kingdom of God. The synagogue services were attended with regularity, but the animosity of the .chief priests and scribes rendered it difficult to direct the minds of the population to evangelical truth. Even violence was offered to the persons of the preachers.”

But if written in this fashion, it is not probable that they would have equalled in effect the picture of the synagogue of Nazareth, crowded with angry zealots—of the effect produced by Christ's discourse on the healing of Naaman the Syrian, and of the murderous attempt to cast him down headlong from the “ hill on which this city was built." We demand, then, first of all, for the reformation of missionary reports, a more dramatic pen ; and in order that it should be furnished with authentic materials, we de mand further a fuller communication of interesting details, both moral and material, on the part of the missionaries. It may be that the majority of missionaries are as deficient in pictorial eye. sight and in simple graphic narrative as are the generality of theologians and secretaries at home, and that few can be expected to rival Luke the “painter," and the “ beloved physician;" but we are confident that if the end desired were kept in view more steadily in all quarters of the globe, it would certainly be realised. We wish for no fine writing, for no coloured reports, but for a clearer and fuller communication of that truth in real life which is always more interesting than fiction. It cannot but be certain that the missionary enterprise by land and sea supplies annually the materials for many narratives that would not suffer in the com.

parison when placed beside the story of the Apostolic voyages. But to commonplace minds everything is commonplace. The very " Acts of the Apostles” would have died out of history had it not been that they were observed and noted down by one gifted eye and hand.

Another aspiration that arises in the mind of one who patiently reads through the whole series of our British Missionary Transactions for a single year is, that the good men who are concerned in each society would occasionally take a slight cursory note of the existence of all their fellow-labourers. You may read the London Missionary Society's Report, the Wesleyan, the Baptist, the Moravian, and the Church Missionary volumes, and you are made to feel that each book introduces you into completely a new world. You read of an Indian district in the “Church Missionary Register,” and are led to suppose that the efforts there described represent the sum of Christian labour expended on that locality. But when you refer to the same heading in the other four or five reports, you discover perhaps that each of the societies has a settlement in the same district ; and again you learn that the Americans or the Germans have a location there as well. You are thus thoroughly deceived by the one-sidedness of all the societies, and earnestly desire an annual report compiled on the principle of Dr. Mullens's forthcoming summary, whence you may learn the real cause of the weakness of missions through the differences on church constitution, which are reckoned sufficient excuse for this “ division of labour among the heathen. We have only to imagine the effect of a union of all these forces in some great centre like Benares, to comprehend the loss of power which occurs through disintegration. The unity of the body of Christ, however, is reduced by popular Protestantism to a mere figment or abstraction which has no relation whatever to practical effort in the diffusion of the Gospel among the heathen. Why not apply the catholic principle of the London City Mission to the Pagan world?

The Church Mission Report for 1863 is a very respectable specimen of the unreformed genus to which it belongs. It is written throughout by gentlemen and scholars, and that is always a considerable recommendation. It is rigidly truthful in tone, aims at producing no impression of success unwarranted by facts, and is free from the artificial unction which frequently mars the literature of the Evangelical party. On the whole, it contrasts favourably with the reports of the sister societies, the Baptist resumé being next in literary merit, the Wesleyan next, the Moravian next, and the London last of all—the most insipid, the most denominational, the most drawling in its tone—destitute alike of pith, simplicity, and power. Were it not for the events in Madagascar, which not even these writers could render wholly uninteresting,

« PrécédentContinuer »