« AnteriorContinuar »
a more divided state, and religion in less repute. "The un. settled state of the soil,” he observes, alluding to the collision of claims, " is a subject of great anxiety and continual contention, which greatly damps the spirit for agricultural improve. ment, and lessens their exertions for the promotion of reli. gious order.” He in consequence, strongly recommends the plan of“ stationary missionaries,” hereafter described.
Rev. Mr. May spent his time at Bangor, and in the destitute places, on Penobscot river, from Frankfort to the uppermost settlements, a distance of about 40 miles. He received a part of his support from the people of Bangor. “Some places,” he writes, “ within my missionary circuit, are in the habit of supporting preaching a part of the year, and by them and others missionary labours are thankfully received. I have a conviction on my mind that the plan suggested by some of having missionaries in general more stationary than heretofore, will best comport with the religious state of this section of the country, and with the benevolent views of the Society.”
Rev. Mr. Oliver spent the three months allotted to him in districts No. 1 and 2, in which he preached 71 times. His labours were well received.
Rev. Mr. Chapin spent four months in the eastern counties of Maine, during which time he travelled about 1000 miles, delivered 42 sermons, visited 100 families and 10 schools. The following extracts from his journal furnish, at once interesting information to the Society, and evidence of the fidelity and ac. ceptance of their missionary.
“Your missionary, generally speaking, was cordially receiv. ed and kindly treated. The people generally attended his preaching. He was heard with serious attention, and in most instances the minds of some seemed to be much impressed. There is good evidence that the labours will be blessed to the lasting benefit of some immortal souls. Some expressed their approbation of the measures and their gratitude for the services of the Society. Fidelity however obliges him to remark that the state of the people has considerably altered during three or four years past.
“ The inhabitants where your missionary has laboured, settled during, and just after, the war, when education was neglected. Since that time they have had to encounter all the difficulties and fatigues of commencing new settlements.' Their means of instruction are still inadequate. They have not been successful in their teachers. Some of them have been immoral, and most of them are illiterate. I think that it would be wise, if some missionaries were employed in teaching schools in the winter. We have little reason to expect a reform among those who have arrived to the meridian of life. Their opinions, habits, and prejudices are too deeply rooted to be eradicated. It is among the rising generation that we must look for a reformation. This must be obtained by a wise and faithful use of the means of literary and religious instruction. The youth are growing up in almost entire ignorance of the gospel. Idleness, disbelief in the catechism, and a belief that there is no propriety in using means with the unconverted, are the reasons, why pa. rental instruction is neglected. Hence the importance that they should have pious teachers.
“Among the people many errors abound. Such as 1. All days are equally holy. 2. The dictates of the Spirit are the rule of life. 3. That the Spirit strives only with the elect. 4. That the Bible is of no use to the impenitent. 5. That the unconverted have lost natural ability to do duty. 6. The atonement is limited, and therefore the invitation is not universal. 7. That there is no propriety in using means with the unrenewed. 8. Above all, the antinomian leaven is secretly and widely diffusing. These errors are not universally embraced, but they exist among them, and demand the attention of missionary societies and labourers.
“Your missionary is happy to learn, that the Society are convinced of the superior advantages of stationary missions. Moral instruction has not much influence, when it is not en
forced by good example. A located missionary would have opportunity to establish a character, and to enforce his precepts by the weight of example. The people also would have opportunity to see the contrast between a regular, able, pious, learned, and faithful preacher, and others of a contrary charac. ter. Your travelling missionaries have done much good. But perhaps not so much as they would have done, had they been stationary. A farmer out of an eager desire to raise a large crop, may scatter his seed over a large tract of ground, and then pass over it hastily, cutting down the luxuriant weeds. Much of his seed would be choked, and his crop would be small. Where. as had he enclosed no more than he could manage well, his la. bour would have been pleasant, and his harvest rich. Mission. aries might be stationed, one at Eastport, to labour there and in its vicinity. One at Union river, to labour in Surry, Ells. worth, and Sullivan. One at Dixmont, to labour in Hamden, No. 2, and Bridgestown. One at Fairfax, to tabour in Clin. ton, Upity, Beaverhill, and Smithstown. One in the north part of the Waldo patent, to labour in Washington, Jackson, and Knox. One at Prospect, to labour in Northport, Green, and Montville ; and one at Litchfield. As the Society cannot supply all these places, the preference may be given to East. port, Union river, and Litchfield. It is very desirable that all missionaries should visit schools, catechise the scholars and converse with the instructors. Much may be done in this way. Your missionary has reason to believe that his vis. its to schools were as useful, perhaps more useful, than any other part of his labours.
“ Though there are many difficulties to surmount, and though many things wear a forbidding aspect, yet the Society may be sure that there are many things, which call for the con. tinuation of their benevolent exertions. Should all missiona. ries be withdrawn from the missionary ground, and the state of the people left, under the expectation, that it would reform itself, it is to be feared that it never would work its own cure.
It embraces principles, which tend to transmit its present er. rors and false enthusiasm, from generation to generation. The state of society must be reformed by different and better means of civil and religious instruction, than they now enjoy. Hence it is highly desirable that missionaries should be sent among them.
“Your missionary has spent his time in the counties of Washington, Hancock, and Kennebeck. He has travelled over a considerable portion of the eastern missionary ground. He has received for the Society two dollars and sixty-one tents, from the inhabitants in Columbia.”
In May, 1802, a number of the clergy and laity, in Maine, animated with a desire to disseminate religious knowledge among the many destitute people, in that District, associated under the name of “The Lincoln and Kennebeck Tract Society.” From that period, to June, 1807, they printed and distributed, at their own expense, 24,500 tracts. At the period last mention. ed, “ wishing to extend the means and sphere of their useful. ness, this Society resolved themselves into a Missionary Soci. ety, and adopted a Constitution ; exhibiting the objects, principles, and plan of their Association.”
With this Society, and for the purposes of manifesting our impartiality, and to extend the sphere of our usefulness, with the Association, in and about Woolwich, the Society have vot. ed, “ to open a friendly correspondence on the object of their respective institutions, and to express their willingness to co. operate in the accomplishment of their designs,” I have requested the Maine Missionary Society, and the Associteion above named 66 to act as agents of the Society for Propagating the Gospel, for dispersing the books of the Society destined for the District of Maine ; for recommending suitable men in said District to be employed, as Missionaries ; for pointing out to the Society from time to time the places where their services shall be most needed, and for giving such other information relative to the establishment of schools, and the state of religion generally, as may enable the Society to direct their charitable efforts for the benefit of the destitute inhabitants of Maine, the most discreetly and usefully.”
Since the establishment of the connexion above described, we have received from the Secretary of the Maine Missionary Society a letter, from which the following is an extract.
To Rev. Dr. Morse, Secretary to the Society for Propagating
the Gospel. SREV. AND DEAR SIR,
“Young as our Society is, it can hardly be expected that we should be able to do much to spread the knowledge of the glorious gospel in the dark places around us ; but if we can be the mean of exciting the attention of others to an object so im. portant, and of assisting those who have gone before us in the good work, our exertions will not be in vain.
“ We feel much encouraged by the kind notice which the highly respected Society for Propagating the Gospel has been pleased to take of our infant Institution; and hope we shall be able so to perform the service committed to us, as to give satisfaction to the Society. And we shall esteem it a privilege to enjoy the countenance of your Society, and rejoice to cooperate with you in building up the kingdom of the Lord Jesus.
“ Being on the ground and having the field before us, we are fully convinced that all those advantages do not result from employing missionaries in the usual way, which is to be desired ; and upon carefully examining the subject we are, for the following reasons, satisfied that it would be much better to have the missionaries in general located.
661. Missionaries would not be exposed to so many hard. ships as they now are. : 562. They might, at least some of them, be with their fam. ilies to attend to their domestic concerns.