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your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" And so when Jonah went to Nineveh, he preached simple repentance. He neither preached nor understood the doctrine of vicarious atonement through the blood of Christ. God indeed had regard to it in his own mind, as the ground of all mercy in all ages to this lost race, but he did not then reveal it to those whom he called to repentance with a promise of pardon. The Ninevites, under this very restricted preaching, repented and were accepted; and Christ said (little reconcilable as his words are with the Presbyterian "Confession of Faith " ), that " the men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation and shall condemn it; because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and behold a greater than Jonas is here" (Matt. 12: 41). Why then may not a heathen, who turns from sin as far as he is aware of it, and grieves over his short-comings in duty, and worships God according to the best of his knowledge, though in forms rude and incongruous, why may he not be accepted on the same principle?
The New Testament, also, seems to allude favorably to the same class of cases. When Peter met the company of Gentiles at the house of Cornelius — men who were not living as Jews and had not yet been instructed in Christianity, and who therefore knew nothing of atonement through Christ, but who were nevertheless pursuing a course of sincere endeavor according to their scanty light — he began his address with this noble and liberal declaration: " Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation, he that feareth him and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him." And why should we not give the soul in China or India, that is honestly struggling in darkness, sometimes victorious, sometimes defeated, the benefit of this truth, and believe that God accepts him and will save him for the sake of a Saviour whom he knows not? And was not this Paul's ground? An attentive perusal of the first two chapters of the epistle to the Romans will show that he not only proves the heathen to be sinners and therefore deserving of death, but also that they are blameworthy if they
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do not obtain salvation in their present circumstances, even without a revelation. His language is: "For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, who know not the law [in the Bible], do by nature [influenced by natural conscience] the things contained in the law, these having not the law are a law unto themselves." "Therefore, if the uncircumcision [the Gentile or heathen] keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?" shall he not be accepted as within the covenant? And so when he stood before the Areopagus at Athens to condemn idolatry, he plainly intimated that, so far as they had fallen into absurd and evil forms of worship from ignorance, God would overlook it, and would hold them only accountable for their use of the light which had been, and which should be hereafter, granted: "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent." And the same idea he had communicated to the people of Lystra, a few years before, when they were about to sacrifice to Barnabas and himself: "Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all things that are therein ; who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good and gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, rilling our hearts with food and gladness." The whole tone of this is not more reproving than extenuating, and implies that God, while holding them accountable for grateful love in view of his benefits, made allowance for the darkness which for ages had brooded over the earth.
But here it is objected by the advocates of the extreme theory, that the heathen would indeed be saved, if they did their whole duty according to the light of nature; but that, in fact, no one ever did this. To this we reply, that the objector speaks of performing duty in a legal and not in an evangelical sense. Does he mean to imply that the heathen are born into the world under a purely legal system, a cove, nant of works, that requires uninterrupted obedience as a condition of life? If so, on what authority? The Bible affirms the contrary, by declaring the whole world to be under mediatorial government, and by assuring us that Christ "tasted death for every man." Therefore it simply requires the heathen to render obedience in an evangelical sense, that is, to repent of all known sin, to aim at a holy life, to be contrite for their failures in duty, and to endeavor to make progress in the way of piety. And here we must remember, that if Abraham and Jacob could be good men in their age, and yet fall into polygamy, concubinage, and falsehood; and if David could be accounted a man after God's own heart, and yet under peculiar temptation become an adulterer and a murderer, it is quite conceivable that, in the far greater darkness of the heathen, men may be accepted of God, who indulge in practices that shock our sense of right. They may nevertheless be aiming to do right as they understand it, though with frequent shortcomings over which they grieve and against which they struggle as do we against our besetting sins. In favor of such the declaration of the Saviour comes with all its amplitude of meaning: "But he that knew not and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes" (Luke 12: 48).
III. We pass now, finally, to the true evangelical theory of missions, which regards the preached gospel as an indispensable instrumentality to induce repentance on any general scale among the heathen nations. This view admits all the real facts of the case, both the melancholy and the hopeful, while yet it avoids the difficulties which press upon the two other schemes. It admits, on the one hand, the moral agency, the guilt and the condemnation of the heathen world; and, on the other, the existence of hope for all those who have never heard the gospel, but who, to the eye of God, give evidence of penitence for sin and of a desire and purpose to overcome it — evidence that the great and merciful Judge will of course value according to the darkness of mind and unfavorableness of influence amid which it may be presented. But after granting these preliminary positions, the solemn question returns: How much is the aspect of the heathen world thereby relieved? We may reasonably conclude that the infants and quite young children are saved, the number of whom we know to be millions; since from one-third to one-half of all that are born in those lands die, in early childhood, from disease, exposure, want, or infanticide. This alone is no small relief to the view sometimes presented, of unbroken generations descending to the pit, age after age, since the flood. Then we suppose that of the adult population some are living, in the sense before explained, conscientiously though imperfectly. But are they many? No. The missionaries declare that they seldom or never find such; that all seem to be selfish and corrupt, loving sin and hating the light; that it is rarely (not once in a million cases) that a man is found who seems to be in heart prepared to welcome the truth when it reaches him. Some missionaries of long experience say, that they never met with a single instance of the kind. Now let us concede, that the facts within the knowledge of the missionaries are by no means all which exist, and moreover, that the missionaries may have looked for too much in the circumstances, and have been more severe in their judgment than their Maker would be, still it is impossible to resist the conclusion, that there must be very few compared with the number of the adult population.
The great mass of this population are still in the bondage of sin. To this great mass of responsible transgressors, we propose to send missionaries carrying the gospel of Jesus Christ, and hoping to accomplish three important ends.
1. To reveal to their dark minds the fact that eternal salvation is withi n their reach. They do not know it; that is, they have no certain convictions, and no intelligent view of the grounds of hope. They are conscious of sin; they are burdened with a sense of guilt; they are aware of having wronged their fellow men and offended God; they live in fear of deserved divine wrath; they do not understand the way of securing a certain pardon, even if they are disposed to repent; they offer sacrifices, they pay large sums of money, they perform immense labors, they endure cruel self-inflicted sufferings, all to propitiate the Deity, and yet obtain no relief and die at last in despair. The light of nature teaches nothing concerning a way of salvation. God's evident good/iess, and the fact that sinners are spared upon the earth, afford a hint of the divine mercy; but there is nothing to indicate the extent or grounds of the mercy — nothing to assure the heathen that repentance will secure pardon. It is no small thing to carry to them the certain tidings of salvation for lost men procured by the incarnation, life, and death of the Son of God. It is a message of great joy. It opens a door of hope to their souls. It teaches them that "God is just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus;" that" there is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." It assures them, that, although they sit in the darkness of ignorance, sin, and death, yet the gloom is not unbroken ; that Christ, as the "Sun of Righteousness," has risen upon this benighted earth, with "healing in his wings [beams]," and that "He is the true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." Even those who were striving to please God according to their crude ideas of right, and who would have been saved, will now be brought into an assurance of salvation, will be advanced in knowledge and in holiness, and will be enabled to live in holy joy, while "the peace of God that passeth all understanding shall keep their hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." All who hear the preached word will be taught this life-giving truth, and God will be honored in the proclamation through the world of his grace and mercy to dying men as exhibited in the gift of his Son to die in their behalf.
2. The preached gospel will present the most powerful motive to induce repentance. We have seen that it is not sufficient that the heathen might be saved without a knowledge of the gospel, if they would repent and serve God according to their present light. The difficulty is, that, as a general thing, they do not and will not repent under the influences at present operating upon them. We know how diffi