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Fruits of Toil in the London Missionary Society   By:

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[Frontispiece: TAHITI.]





"Sow in the morn thy seed, At eve hold not thine hand; To doubt and fear give thou no heed, Broad cast it o'er the land.

"Beside all waters sow; The highway furrows stock; Drop it where thorns and thistles grow; Scatter it on the rock.

"Thou canst not toil in vain; Cold, heat, and moist and dry, Shall foster and mature the grain For garners in the sky."


When our fathers established this Society they were met by a formidable array of difficulties of which we know nothing. Gathered in fellowship when the infidel principles of the French Revolution were doing deadly work, and soon involved in the national struggle of the great war, they found little to encourage them in the outward aspects of their position. Christian men were few; Christian churches were small and scattered; money was scarce; Christian benevolence was little understood. The wide world of Christian effort opened to us was almost wholly closed against them. They could enter the South Seas; though their islands were almost unknown. But the West Indies were close shut. "If you preach to the slaves," said the Governor of Demerara to a missionary, "I cannot let you stay here." They were excluded from South Africa and from India. China was sealed, and remained so for forty years. Passages were expensive; voyages were full of discomfort; letters were few. They knew little of the manners and systems of heathen nations; they knew less of their literature; they knew nothing of their languages. Dictionaries, literature, buildings, converts, everything had to be produced. Their fields of labour were unprepared. Their message and their aims were little understood.

In all these elements of usefulness we occupy at this hour a position of usefulness, in marked contrast to that of our predecessors. With a mighty advance in practical freedom, in intelligence and education, in social comfort, in material resources, the entire religious life of England has secured a solidity, an elevation, and a general influence of the most marvellous kind. In the number and wealth of our churches, in the character and position of the ministry, the Society ought to find supporters immeasurably in advance of the few but earnest friends of seventy years ago. Our missions have made indescribable progress. Our agencies continue to grow more complete. Churches have been gathered; the members of which are no longer novices in Christian truth and Christian life. The time has come for a native ministry; and a larger number appear on our lists than ever before. And last, but not least, the full and faithful preaching of the gospel, for which our missionary brethren have ever been distinguished, and the employment of Christian education, have made a marked impression upon heathenism; have broken its prestige, have silenced its objections, and have prepared the way for future victories, more triumphant in their grandeur than anything the Society has yet seen.

But this advanced and noble position, which is the proof of success in the past, and the guarantee and instrument of larger results in days to come, is precisely that attainment and possession of our Society, which the friends of the Society appear least to appreciate. It seems to be thought that now, as ever, missionaries just preach to the heathen and give away books; they teach a few boys and girls; win a few souls; and send a few teachers into the districts around. All that is true. But the high and solid work beyond it all that superior influence which the Society and its missionaries are exercising, in Christianizing communities, in sanctifying all the great elements of their public and social life, in destroying the very roots of their heathenism, and in preparing the way for enlightened, disciplined, independent churches, sound in faith and full of life all this has been little understood... Continue reading book >>

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