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of religion, is without doubt the leading cause of the small support given by many people for the spread of the Gospel. But of this it is unnecessary here to speak, as I have spoken of it sufficiently in the following pages.
Another cause may, however, be found in the excessive ignorance common in all classes of society. “When Louis Harms became the minister of Hermannsburg,” says Dr W. Fleming Stevenson in his remarkable book 'Praying and Working,' “ there was not a man in his parish who knew what missions meant, and when he died there was scarcely one but was either a missionary or helping the mission." Without a foundation in knowledge the imagination cannot take in the vast masses of heathendom and the extreme necessity of mission work. Even many good people are quite ignorant of the extent of the heathen world and of its manifold needs, while they know little or nothing of the various countries to which missionaries are sent. There are people in the majority of our congregations who know even less of India than most people know of Timbuctoo. Of this ignorance ludicrous illustrations might be given. No doubt a great deal has been done in various ways during the last ten years to dispel such ignorance. Lectures, often illustrated by limelight exhibitions, have been largely used for this end. Many such, relating to different parts of the world, have been specially addressed to young people in our chief cities and towns, who, it is to be hoped, will take a much deeper interest in advancing the kingdom of Christ than their fathers have generally done. It would be well if such lectures were more common throughout the country. Yet much more might frequently be done by ministers themselves, without sending for invalided missionaries at home on furlough, although visits from these and from conveners or secretaries of committees are most desirable. Such ought eminently to be “the messengers of the churches and the glory of Christ."
In very many schools there are few subjects so badly taught as geography. Yet it is most important that it should be well taught, for it is intimately connected with history, politics, physical science, and language. Both the ear and the eye should be trained to a right appreciation of its lessons. In a valuable paper in the 'Magazine of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society' for October and November 1896 the Rev. F. R. Burrows is quoted as saying of clergymen: “I do not think he is fit to talk of missions until he knows where missions are; and if he has grasped his geography aright, he will learn and teach his people the causes of the slow growth of Christianity in regions where it comes in contact with religions—bone of the bone and flesh of the flesh of the people. He will not expect in Peking the converts of Uganda, or the success of Travancore in the capital of Persia. He who knows geography knows missions.” Is it too much to expect that in a professedly Christian country, while those things which I have mentioned should be carefully taught, geography should also be taught in connection with the various forms of religion which dominate the world, and especially with Christianity and with Christian missions ?
In summing up the science of the year 1896 the Scotsman' says: “In scientific geography the year's record includes Peary's explorations in Greenland, the Jackson - Harmsworth expedition to Franz-Josef Land, and the return of Nansen. The work of the Littledales in Thibet, Mr Curzon in the Pamirs, Captain Younghusband in Manchuria, and Prince Henry of Orleans in the Indo-Chinese region, has made important additions to our knowledge of Asia ; while Mr Douglas Freshfield's splendid volumes on the Caucasus ought to render that chain almost as well known to English readers as the Alps. In the Great Rift Valley Dr Gregory has described his daring expedition to Mount Kenia.” We ought to be grateful to such explorers on various accounts, and not least that nearly all their work may have an indirect bearing on mission work, and may tend to the Christianising and civilising of the world.
Would it not be an advantage if ministers of the Gospel sometimes dispensed with their sermons on the afternoon or evening of the Lord's Day, and with their addresses at the weekly meetings for prayer? Some of us would not have much to give up, and, even if we had, there would be gain in getting ourselves and our hearers out of the ruts in which many of us are too apt to run, and freed from the bondage of tradition and of conventionality under which we are too often content to rest. Occasions might be found for thanksgiving and praise as well as for prayer, and the children of Zion should be more joyful in their King.
These ends might be gained by addresses on Missions, which ought not to be confined to the work of one's own section of the Church of Christ. They should include that of every section, and should manifest a catholic and loving spirit towards all who are engaged in it. We might take "the Acts of the Apostles” as our model and text-book, reaching forth to “the regions beyond,” regions of which the apostles knew nothing. Those who gave them would have ample opportunity for telling their hearers of the sins and shortcomings in their Christian life, and of their need of more devotion to Missions, the chief end of the Christian Church.
Such addresses would also help to quicken the life of God in the soul wherever it existed. Religion would be brought in some measure from the abstract to the concrete, for it would be exemplified in the life and in the work of living men and women, , missionaries and many others, who in the midst of difficulties and temptations are serving Christ the Lord. It would not be spoken of as far off in the clouds, or at least a hundred miles away from us, with which we had little more than a bowing acquaintance when we chanced to meet it. This, it must be admitted, is sometimes the way in which it is presented to us, although not so often as it used to be, and in this there is cause for thankfulness. And since geography is so little known among many in every class of society, it might be well to use good maps in illustration, and any other appliances which would help to throw light on the scenery, the manners, and customs of the various countries in which mission work is carried on. would not be great, and the advantage would be much more than commensurate in the more vivid interest created amongst Christian people. And others might be drawn to some general knowledge of divine things. For, says Horace, “the things which enter the mind by the faithful eye make a
The expenses deeper impression than those which enter by the duller ear.” They might be drawn by interest in such work to some knowledge of Christ and of His salvation. They might pass from the court of the Gentiles into the Holy Place. They might “have boldness to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus."
The Duff Missionary Lecture, founded by Dr Duff
, and which has been named by his name, may greatly help in awakening more interest in Foreign Missions. The Rev. Dr Marshall Lang, who is the present lecturer, well known as a man of catholic and evangelical spirit, may be safely trusted to speak with grace and wisdom in regard to such a subject. His statements ought to tell on all those who by the grace of God are capable of receiving them. And the knowledge of history and the learning displayed in them may lead others to give that attention which otherwise would not be given. The difficulty is to get such a book as this Lecture will form into the hands of the people. But that might be overcome by a cheap edition, and by the co-operation of ministers and others in its circulation.
Some of those who go abroad are much blamed for their inconsistencies of conduct : would not many of those who remain at home show the same hollowheartedness and want of reality in their religion if they were in the same environment? Might they not also leave their religion behind them at Port Said, as of old time it was the custom by common report to do at the Cape of Good Hope ? From all accounts Port Said could stand much improve