CHAPTER XI. THE GENESIS OF MISSIONS IN AMERICA.
WITH all this kindling of interest, and enlargement of effort for the world's redemption in Protestant Europe, what was there in the meantime to match upon the other side of the Atlantic? Some two hundred years ago a tide of colonization had set this way, and by the last decade of the eighteenth century several millions were found settled within the limits of the United States. But in the main, in the midst of wilderness depths, interminable and appalling, with a vast continent to subdue, including forests, soil, wild beasts, and savage tribes. Emigration is always, and of necessity, a step towards primitive rudeness, if not barbarism. The early generations endured poverty, severest toil, great exposure to the elements and to mortal peril, and widespread demoralization resulted. The settlements were small, widely scattered, stretching along the coast for a thousand miles. The population was divided up into colonies which were distinct, independent, with little in common, and often jealous rivals. Besides, wars had been frequent with the Indians, the French, and finally with the mother country, and attended with measureless excitement of evil passion, and deadening of spiritual fervor. Then too a profound reaction was in progress against the stringency of Puritan belief and practice, while the churches were suffering, like Protestantism in the Old World, from rationalism and dead orthodoxy, to which was added near the close of the century the further blight produced by French infidelity.
To complete a survey of the situation, it is necessary also to recall the fact that American Christians had no immediate contact with the heathen world through colonies and resulting commerce, but were widely isolated. To be sure, there were a few thousand Indians at their doors, and to these at the first the gospel had been carried, with at least some measure of earnestness; but after some generations of experience of the tomahawk and the scalping knife, hate, or at least indifference, had taken the place of love, and in addition these troublesome pagans had largely disappeared from the region lying to the east of the Appalachians. And finally, as emigration began to the Great West, the burning religious question related to home missions. Great populations were in the greatest spiritual destitution, and these were their brethren, their dear friends, their sons and daughters. Naturally, and not improperly, their first thought, and the bulk of their beneficence, was bestowed upon the needy frontier. And surely, upon no other body of churches was so appalling a task ever imposed as upon those of the United States, which must needs help to subdue a continent, and spread over it the social and political institutions of a mighty Republic, and also diffuse and maintain a pure gospel throughout all the boundless spaces from ocean to ocean. And, whatever the causes may have been, the fact is patent, that at the time Carey was agitating and undertaking in Great Britain, the churches in America were utterly idle and asleep as touching any form of evangelizing effort for the great world lying in wickedness. Eliot and the Mayhews were still held in loving and reverent remembrance, as also Edwards for his work for the Indians at Stockbridge. His stirring call to a monthly concert of prayer had had a wide circulation, and churches not a few had met at stated times for united supplication. The life of David Brainerd by Edwards was a source of continual inspiration to thousands. But just now in missions, as in so many other realms, the old had passed away, old ideas, old methods, old instrumentalities, and the new and better that were to take their place were just coming into being.
At the beginning of the present century the idea of world-wide missions, the evangelization of the entire race, had not begun to dawn upon the consciousness of American Christians. Though for sixty years the Moravians had been bearing the glad tidings to distant lands; though Ziegenbalg, and Schwartz, and Carey, and Vanderkemp had been preaching Christ to the perishing in India and Africa; and though already in Great Britain several missionary societies had been formed, still on this side of the Atlantic, even among the most earnest-hearted, to not a soul came overwhelming solicitude, conviction, and longing, in keeping with the Lord's last command. Hitherto the best efforts had been individual, unsystematic, sporadic and transient. As yet there had been no attempt at coming together in combination and co-operation, to fashion some comprehensive and far-reaching scheme to carry the light far and wide through all the desolate lands of darkness. The nearest approach to the founding of a foreign mission had been made in 1774, when Ezra Stiles and Samuel Hopkins, New England Congregationalists, laid before the Presbyterian Synod of New York a proposition to send two natives of Africa, who had been converted and were now in the College of New Jersey, "on a mission to propagate Christianity in their own country," and requesting approval and assistance. The Synod replied: "We are ready to concur and do all that is proper, since many circumstances intimate it is the will of God." The Presbyterians of Scotland were similarly appealed to, but this promising undertaking to carry the gospel to the Dark Continent, in which three divisions of the Christian Church were ready to unite, was prevented by the breaking out of the Revolutionary War. In 1802 the Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Society was organized "to promote the knowledge of evangelical truth in new settlements of the United States, or further, if circumstances should render it proper;" and two years later the Massachusetts (Congregational) Missionary Society changed its constitution so as to read: "Among people of newly settled and remote parts, among the Indians, and through more distant regions as circumstances invite and ability admits." The horizon is evidently receding, the spiritual vision has a broader sweep, but for some years to come almost all movements towards organization will be but local, or bounded by state lines. The real Union, the nation, had not come into existence.
The fact is patent that missions in America, were an outgrowth almost direct from missions in Great Britain-- though of course at the same time various causative forces, mighty although less visible, were operating throughout Christendom--so that William Carey was the father of the former as well as of the latter. In spite of the violent sundering which had recently taken place between the colonies and the mother country, the relations still existing were at many points most intimate, and especially upon the intellectual and religious side. Great movements starting across the sea were quickly known and deeply felt here also. Consequently, when the English Baptists launched forth in their sublime endeavor, and when soon after Carey sailed for Calcutta, the New World also was looking on with wonder and admiration. In particular, the Baptists of this country were eager watchers. Dr. Staughton, later a pastor in Philadelphia, had heard Carey's famous sermon, and like all the auditors was stirred to the depths; he was present too at the organization in Kettering, and into the collection cast a half-guinea borrowed for the purpose, ever after declaring that he "rejoiced more over it than over any other sum he ever gave in his life." Letters and missionary reports sent by English Baptists were quite extensively circulated. And, since Carey with all his stalwart faith in God, was also a stanch believer in the efficacy of vigorous and uninterrupted good works, and hence among the rest was a most indefatigable letter writer, information and exhortation were poured forth in all directions from his prolific pen. Thus communications not a few reached New England and the Middle States, were read with interest, and as a result, considerable sums of money were forwarded to Serampore. In 1806-7 he acknowledges the receipt of $6000, and says: "The Lord has wonderfully stirred the whole religious world of every denomination to favor our work and contribute to a large amount; and our American friends have special claims on our gratitude in this respect." And further in 1811, through the action of the Boston Baptist Association, $4650 were contributed by persons of different denominations in eastern Massachusetts, to aid in carrying forward his numerous translations of the Scriptures into Asiatic languages. Hence the assertion is abundantly justified that "we are indebted to those pioneers for the example which gave a powerful impulse to missions by arousing the interest and embodying the efforts of all denominations."
But an impulse vastly greater was imparted three years later, when the London Missionary Society leaped forth suddenly into vigorous life. Says Rev. Kish Bailey: "In 1797 Rev. Alexander McLean, of Bristol, Maine, received from Scotland the sermons of Dr. Haweis and others preached at the organization, was charmed by reading them, and loaned the pamphlet to me. I took the pamphlet to Newburyport, where it was soon reprinted and read with avidity by various others, and among them by the Rev. Samuel Worcester, who thus caught the sacred flame. And so was started the rill which led to the river " (the formation of the American Board). In 1796 a society was organized in New York in which Presbyterians, Baptists and Reformed (Dutch) were united, and monthly meetings were held to pray that "the God of grace would pour out His Spirit on His Church and send the Gospel to all nations." By 1807 five societies had been established in Massachusetts alone to propagate Christianity, and similar ones in all the New England States, with some also in the Middle States. During the first five years of the century these periodicals were started, and combined to gather and to scatter missionary intelligence from the Old World: the Connecticut Evangelical Magazine, the Massachusetts Missionary Magazine, the Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Magazine, the Panoplist, and the (Presbyterian) Religious Intelligencer. In 1804 the Massachusetts Society chose the president of the London Society an honorary trustee. It was during this same period that Melville Horne's "Letters On Missions," and Claudius Buchanan's "Star in the East" were published and produced a surprising sensation. In addition, the churches began to be moved by missionary discourses as never before. Upon the General Assembly in 1806 Dr. Griffin "urged the claims of the heathen and the greatness and excellence of missionary work with an eloquence and earnestness seldom, if ever, surpassed." The next year, Parish, before the Massachusetts Domestic Missionary Society, dwelt upon "the growing conviction of the value of Christianity; and so it was a good time to send missionaries to every nation." In 1808 the General Assembly appointed a day of fasting and prayer to beseech "God to bless the efforts of His people to Christianize the heathen and to extend the Gospel." The same year, in Cambridge, Holmes hailed, "the approaching day when idols would be cast to the moles and bats, and all false faiths be superseded by the glorious Gospel of God." Only a few days before the American Board came into being, at the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Society, Norton had the boldness to inquire: "Is the expectation visionary and unfounded that the time is not far distant when from the United States, missionaries will go forth to every region of the globe, accompanied with the fervent prayers of thousands?" Finally, as early as 1806, Norris, of Salem, had given $10,000 to found Andover Theological Seminary, and declared,"My object is the foreign mission enterprise, for we must have ministers if we are to have missionaries." Thus it becomes abundantly evident that the Spirit of the Most High was working upon many hearts, and that something notable was at hand.
These were but some of the preliminary and preparatory steps, and such were some of the significant signs of the times. Hitherto evangelistic zeal had been only general and indefinite, destitute of specific object and aim; but now we begin to come upon desires and convictions burning in the bosoms of godly and heroic men, which cannot at all be contained within the realm of thought and emotion, but must leap forth and incarnate themselves in action. "With such feelings and utterances among the elders, it is not strange that from among the young men some should catch the spirit and purpose actually to engage in missions." At this point, in the person of Samuel J. Mills, there begins to come into very prominent view one who without doubt may properly be termed the American counterpart of William Carey. If there were need of offering proof of this assertion, it would be sufficient to set forth the distinguished and essential part he afterward played, not only in the organization of the American Board, the Cornwall Mission School and the mission to the Sandwich Islands, but also of the United Foreign Missionary Society, the American Bible Society, the American Colonization Society, and the school in New York for the Education of Africans. Like the Hebrew Samuel, from his birth Mills had been lent to the Lord--not to serve in the tabernacle, but to make living and life-long sacrifices in pagan lands. When but a child he "accidentally " heard his mother mention to a neighbor the fact of his having been given to the work of missions, and he never forgot it, but was continually inspired and impelled thereby to his dying day. She often also told him stories of Eliot, Brainerd and others. Converted in 1802, at the age of nineteen, his controlling purpose was already so clear and strong that he could say to his father: "I cannot conceive of any course in life in which to pass my days that would prove so pleasant as to go and communicate the gospel of salvation to the poor heathen." And even then his longing was to be a missionary, not to the Indians near at hand, but in some far off foreign country. Entering Williams College in 1806, his heart was too much aflame with another master-passion to allow him to excel in his studies. The story is familiar how a few kindred spirits were soon found, or fashioned, and at once they began to pray, and ponder, and plan. There is no occasion to dwell upon the memorable meeting under the haystack when the great decision was made, or upon the secret society with its solemn pledge to the foreign work, or the careful and judicious canvass of ways and means for furthering the momentous project they had so fervently at heart. The object of the organization was "to effect in the person of its members a mission to the heathen," and the constitution was drawn up in cipher, "public opinion being opposed to us," and "lest we should be thought rashly imprudent, and so should injure the cause we wish to promote." They proceeded to make the acquaintance of various clergymen of influence, and opened a correspondence with others. They secured the publication and distribution of various sermons and other works on missionary subjects. They visited a number of colleges, or wrote thither, to kindle the holy flame in the breasts of other young men. And surely here was found a remarkable combination of fervent zeal with knowledge of men and affairs. "With all their indomitable resolution and boundless ardor, anything approaching dangerously near to fanaticism would be hard to find. The spirit which lifted them up and bore them onward may be discerned in "the reply of Hall when later he was importuned to take a Connecticut pastorate: "No, I must not settle in any parish in Christendom. Others will be left whose health or pre-engagements require them to stay; but I can sleep on the ground and endure hunger and hardship. God calls me to the heathen. "Woe to me if I preach not the gospel to the heathen."
In 1809 the scene shifts to Andover, the doors of that institution having been opened for students only the year before; and the little band from Williams was reinforced by Nott and Newell, and a few months later by Judson, coming each from a different college, and each also having arrived independently at the dominant conviction. Judson had read Buchanan's "Star in the East," and "the evidences of divine power manifested in the progress of the gospel in India fell like a spark into the tinder of his soul." "I could not study; I depicted to myself the romantic scenes of missionary life; I was in a great excitement." A few months sufficed to bring him to the fixed purpose to devote his life to a missionary career. And though several with whom he counseled thought the idea was irrational, and though at a latter date he was called to the pastorate of an important church in Boston, nothing could change his determination, but he wrote to the London society with reference to sending him out, and thus began to move before he knew of any other who was like-minded. The meetings of these young men to strengthen one another in their purpose and planning to extend the bounds of the dominion of their dear Lord has been likened to that striking scene in the chapel at Mont Martre, where nearly three hundred years before, the seven founders of the Society of Jesus met to exchange their vows. Though wholly of one desire and determination, they were as yet also wholly without knowledge as to who would authorize them to go and send them forth, as well as to what particular portion of the wide world they should direct their efforts. Consulting the seminary faculty, and their designs finding favor, at length a conference with several clergymen was arranged for June 25th, 1810, and they were advised to petition the General Association of Massachusetts to move in the matter, as that body was to meet at Bradford the next day. The petition was duly prepared and presented, signed originally by the entire six; but lest the large number should strike some timid souls through with terror, two names were taken off! This decisive document set forth that their "minds had long been impressed with the duty and importance of personally attempting a mission to the heathen," and inquired if they could expect "patronage and support from a society in this country, or if they must commit themselves to the direction of a European society." And it was as the direct result of such urgency and agitation on the part of this consecrated company that the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions came into being, the first of the kind on this side of the Atlantic, whose aim was nothing less than to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. And thus it was, therefore, that American missions were born. It is believed that at this date not less than eighteen or twenty persons had been seriously considering the personal claims upon them of missionary work, and of course more or less of interest had been excited in the minds of a much larger number. But even now only a few ministers, and of laymen fewer still, had attained to any considerable measure of interest. The Prudential Committee were thoroughly persuaded that a considerable time must elapse before they could hope to sustain a mission on a promising scale in any land. One of their number, a successful Boston merchant, was opposed to sending out any men at all unless a fund of at least $60,000 was in store for use in case of inadequate receipts; and an effort, which fortunately was fruitless, was actually made to raise a large sum for investment, while but one was found venturesome enough to insist that they should go forward just as soon as an eligible field was found, fund or no fund, holding that the Lord's hand was evidently in the matter, and that therefore the way would be opened in due season, if only they bestirred themselves with vigor. The young men were counseled to pursue their studies meanwhile and wait in patience for developments. Recourse was had to the London Society to see if the candidates could not be sent out by the two bodies in co-operation, and Judson was sent to England to confer concerning this project. Through a kind providence, however, nothing came of his mission, and hence all concerned were compelled to rely wholly upon God and their own exertions.
And, verily, those were the days of small things. At the end of the first year the receipts had reached but $999.52, and when the next year was well advanced the treasury contained only $1200. Hence with a minimum of sight for a foundation, upon which faith might stand and plume itself for loftier flight into the realm of the unseen and unknown, it is not in the least strange that there was general hesitation about making the supreme venture. But, behold, now in this the hour of their helplessness, and as if to mock the extreme lack of material resources, it came to pass that, without warning, thy found themselves caught in a corner and compelled to act. Either the signal to advance immediately must be raised, or else the fact be published that they had no courage or confidence in the divine promise. For word was brought from Philadelphia that in a few days a vessel bound for India would sail from that city, in which the missionaries might take passage, an opportunity not likely to occur again for a period indefinitely long. Then a little later came intelligence that about the same date and for the same region another ship would set forth from Salem. With this golden opportunity for making the voyage on hand, and with four men ready and waiting, most eager and urgent to be sent forth, what should be done? But, to add to the already sore perplexity, what should happen but that a fifth petitioner appears in the person of Rice, importunate to be ordained and despatched with the others! The mettle of the committee rose most grandly to the height of the momentous occasion, and they determined to make the venture, and take the risk. Mingling discretion with valor however, it was stipulated that Rice should secure for himself the wherewith for his outfit and passage to the field; it was suggested that the four wives would better be left behind for a season in order to reduce expenses to a minimum, and further it was intimated that if the worst befell, a portion of the number, or even all, might be transferred to the London Society. Nor did the outcome fail superabundantly to justify this notable act of faith. A ringing call for the money required was issued straightway, and arrangements were set on foot for the ordination services. Fortunately, too, the date of sailing was postponed for a fortnight. And now enthusiasm began to rise in fine fashion. So many hearts were opened, and so great was the eagerness to give, that by the end of the three weeks more than $6000 were in hand, Philadelphia alone contributing more than $1000. Thus it became possible for all to depart, the wives included, and with salaries paid for a year and a half in advance! On February 19th, 1812, Judson and Newell sailed from Salem, and on the 22nd, Hall, Rice and Nott followed from the City of Brotherly Love. As the event soon proved, this beginning was made in the very nick of time, for in June war was declared against Great Britain, and thus for years communication with the East was practically closed. Moreover, as if to reward the Prudential Committee for their course, a bequest of $30,000 to the Board was presently announced.
The instructions drawn up in haste for the guidance of these pioneer American missionaries, though on the whole surprisingly wise, both in what they contained, and in what they omitted, have yet some passages which read strangely in the light of what by experience has since been taught. Thus, taking the hint from Carey, they were enjoined to adopt as soon as possible "some plan of polity or social order," that is, a sort of family or communistic arrangement, such as the disciples entered into just after Pentecost. And still further, "to lighten expenses, apply yourselves to the most eligible ways and means of support, agreeable to the example of the English missionaries, and even of the apostles." For, the ruling idea then was that the stock of the Lord's money was so limited that only sufficient could be counted on to transport the missionaries to the scene of their labors, and to sustain them until a foothold could be gained, and that after that they must rely, at least largely, upon their own resources. But a few years were sufficient to demonstrate that neither of those methods of procedure were called for, or could be profitably reduced to practice. Moreover, in those days primeval, as well as for more than a generation later, the conviction was prevalent that to send women to countries heathen and savage was of more than doubtful propriety. Not only was the matter of delicacy, modesty, and even of greatest danger of gross ill-treatment involved, but since they could not help in the work of evangelization, they would prove a serious encumbrance! But somehow it has happened that to this day, and in numbers increasing at a most astonishing rate, the weaker sex has contrived to get itself commissioned of both God and men to proclaim the glad tidings in darkest and vilest lands.
Ever since the organization of the Board the burning questions had been, first, concerning finances, and second, concerning the most eligible location for missions. The bulk of the vast world was yet unknown, and much of the remainder was inaccessible. During the early conferences of the student originators, "sometimes we would cut a path through the moral wilderness of the West to the Pacific and sometimes to South America, the object always being the salvation of the heathen." The London Society suggested the Indian tribes of America and "Hindoostan." For long months the committee had waited for the rising and moving of the pillar of fire. In 1811 they reported that, "scarcely any portion of the world is more important and inviting than Burmah," and that " providence points to Canada and the Caghnawaga tribe;" to the latter since they know of a pious native who longs to carry the gospel to his people, and is getting an education for the purpose. But the war with Britain closed the door of entrance in that direction. India was looked upon with favor, and was finally selected because of the presence there of Carey and his associates, though Burmah, being outside of the domain of the crotchety and jaundiced East India Company, seemed to be a more desirable field.
When, in February of 1812, the grand stroke for the founding of a mission was heralded by the sailing of the first five men for southern Asia, this is the language employed in reference thereto: "The magnitude of the event, if estimated by the probable consequences, is such as to form an era in the history of the American churches, though the immediate consequences may be such as to disappoint"--words profoundly wise, and prophetic as well. Up to this point the work had been only that of putting the hand to the plow, and next were to follow long and wearisome years of painful seed-sowing, and anxious waiting for the harvest. Just ahead, though mercifully wholly hidden, were in store disheartening struggles against obstacles numerous, multiform, and well nigh insuperable. The very first message which was received from the missionaries was to the effect that by the despotic and gospel-hating Company they had been ordered to leave the country at once; and the next, in some respects even more alarming, was that two out of the five, Judson and Rice, had withdrawn from the service of the Board, had gone over to the Baptists, and had been immersed. As was quite natural, the surprise and consternation which followed this radical revolution in sentiment was not unmingled with indignation and disgust, though on the whole, the humiliating set-back was borne with commendable forbearance and resignation. These words with reference to it appear in the next annual report: "The committee has no disposition to impeach the sincerity of these men, but they regret that the subject was not examined before so late a day. Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure. We repose our hopes on this in spite of the instability, which we regret to record, but against which no human foresight could provide. Let it rouse a holy zeal; and should it be overruled and bring an accession of strength, it will be a joyful event."
Yes, overruled, and nobody now doubts that thus it soon came to pass. In noting the most impressive series of additional afflictive providences which ensued, we are reminded of the case of the London Society during the dark days after the Duff was captured. After a voyage of four months, Judson and Newell had arrived at Calcutta, June 17th, 1812. At once an order was served upon them to return to America in the ship that brought them thither, nor without them would the Caravan be permitted to sail. Later it was concluded that they might take their departure for any region not within the Company's jurisdiction. Presently information was received which "decisively deterred" them from entering Burmah and as no door either open, or likely to open, appeared in that direction, at their wits' end, their eyes were turned westward towards Bombay, and possibly Africa. On August 4th, Newell and his wife took passage in a vessel which could accommodate but two, leaving the Judsons to follow when they could. And, behold, only four days after, the Harmony arrived, bringing Hall, Nott and Rice. They too were bidden by the authorities to be off at the soonest. A passport was therefore procured from the police by the two former, passage was engaged and their belongings were on board, when an order came for them to depart for England in the fleet about to sail; but, notwithstanding, they went on board the vessel they had chosen without the knowledge of the officers and made their escape. Judson had already been baptized in Serampore, and Rice put himself into the same company a few weeks later. Meanwhile the Newells were enduring wave upon wave of trouble and sorrow. For a month they were beaten up and down in the Bay of Bengal, Mrs. Newell being very sick of a fever, and then in distress the ship put in at Coringa, and lay for a fortnight. It was November before they reached the Isle of France, and on the last day of that month this heroic soul breathed her last. As the event proved, it was thus that she accomplished far more for the cause for which she exultingly laid down her life, than would have been possible by the longest term of most devoted service.
After a voyage of eleven weeks, on February 11th, almost a full year since leaving their native land, Hall and Nott landed in Bombay. But knowledge of their movements had preceded them thither, and they were met with a command to depart forthwith for England. Appealing to Governor Nepean, fortunately a man large-hearted and thoroughly Christian, he promised to "do the best possible in their behalf, and wrote privately to Calcutta to intercede for them. They began at once to study the language. To greatly increase the complication, just now arrived the news of the declaration of war between Great Britain and the United States; for as was to be expected, the missionaries became objects of suspicion as possible spies. In August they learned that their names were down on a list as passengers in a vessel which was to have sailed at once, but on account of a leak was long delayed. In September they asked permission to depart for Ceylon where Newell now was, but consent was withheld. A few weeks later, learning that a ship was to start in a few hours for Cochin, and to go thence to Ceylon, they went on board, leaving Mrs. Nott behind, and a letter for the governor explaining why they had left without authority from him. Delayed at Cochin, letters arrived ordering them to be returned to Bombay. On December 22nd they must certainly sail for England. As a final effort, a most solemn memorial was addressed to Sir Evan Nepean as a man and a Christian, protesting against the serious offense of deporting them, when their sole object in coming was to preach the Gospel to the perishing heathen. But preparations were also made for departure, goods were packed and labeled, coolies and boats were engaged. About to set forth, the captain applied at the pay-office for their passage-money, and it was refused; and not long after came a message granting permission to remain in the city. Newell soon joined them, after ten months in Ceylon, and at once the foundations began to be laid.
At the annual meeting of the Board, held in Salem September 20th, 1815, in the sixth annual report, this is the language chosen to set forth most fittingly both the achievements hitherto made and the current situation "The last two reports had recitations of the pilgrimages and adventures, perils and deliverances, discouragements and consolations of our missionaries in the East, seeking a door of entrance, but obstructed, disappointed, and in continual anxiety and suspense. But thus have been showed the faith and patience, the firmness and prudence, the fortitude and devotedness of the brethren, and proofs, affecting and animating, of the wisdom and goodness, the faithfulness and mercy, the almighty protection and overruling providence of God. This report has less striking narrative and affecting incident, and because they have found an open door and a resting place, though even now they have scarcely commenced their public labors." The glad announcement was also made that, after three years of war, peace had returned. During all this protracted period of sore trial, so well had the faith and patience of the saints at home endured, that now, a brighter day having dawned, the way was open for an enlargement of the work. Five men, who had long been waiting for the opportunity, were dispatched, some to Bombay to reinforce the mission there, and the others to Ceylon to break ground for a second station. The next year, various hindrances which had hitherto prevented, having been removed, a mission was started among the Indians of northern Georgia. It is in the annual report for 1817 that for the first time several distinct fields could be named. The information is given that $2200 had been sent to Bombay, with which to open schools, and that a house of worship was much needed in that city. In Ceylon the government had granted the use of certain old Roman Catholic churches, with their glebes and manses. Among the Cherokees Mr. Kingsbury found much encouragement. Also a mission school had been founded at Cornwall, Conn. And this significant item appeared with reference to the first mission of the London Society: "The late glorious events at the Society Islands--particularly at Otaheite and Eimeo--make our hearts burn with desire to witness the same triumphs of the cross at Owyhee and Woahu [Hawaii and Oahu]. From all accounts this field is white for the harvest."
In 1819 details are given concerning no less than seven missions; Bombay, Ceylon, Palestine, among the Cherokees, the Choctaws, the Indians of Arkansas, and in the Sandwich Islands. And behold, what God had wrought in so brief a space. "The first, only six years ago, was struggling for a place and even for existence, the last just ready to embark, and in all extending from east to west more than two-thirds around the globe." In the north Pacific the way of entrance had been wondrously prepared by the advent into this country of Obookiah, his quasi-adoption by Mills, his conversion and education with other Hawaiian youths at Cornwall, and their letters home telling of the Christian faith; and perhaps even more, by the news carried by sailors that the idols had been cast out in Otaheite, as well as by the return of certain Hawaiians after their conversion in the Society Islands. It was a memorable event in the history of the American Board when, in 1819, Bingham and Thurston and twenty others--by far the largest missionary family that had yet been gathered and sent forth at one time--set sail in the brig Thaddeus, bound via Cape Horn for the remote recesses of the Western Sea, to proclaim to the perishing the unsearchable riches of Christ. But little came directly from the projected mission to the Holy Land, from which so much was fondly anticipated, and about which had gathered so much of enthusiasm and fine religious sentiment; though indirectly and more remotely it led to the opening of the Board's most important work among the Oriental churches of the Turkish Empire, which now consumes one-third of its income, and embraces one-third of its converts. "So Messrs. Parsons and Fisk were chosen, and sent upon an extensive tour among the churches as missionaries to Jerusalem, whereby a wide and lively interest was excited, and a distinguished liberality of contributions was the result."
In 1820, after ten years of most careful planning and most arduous toil, this is the summing up of tangible results. The cost in money had reached nearly $200,000. From $1000, the receipts of the first year, the annual income rose to $12,266 in 1814; fell to $9,494 the year after, on account of the war, and then climbed steadily to $37,521 in 1819. At the end of the first decade in all 110 missionaries had been appointed, of whom 62 were men; and of the 88 still in service, or on the way to their fields, 28 were men ordained. Of the entire force 44 were laboring among the Indians, 25 were in the East, 17 in the Sandwich Islands, and 2 in western Asia. As to fruit-gathering, even yet the report is: "We cannot reckon up much of tangible results." The years following were devoted almost wholly to the development of fields already occupied, rather that to the founding of additional missions.
Thus far we have been dwelling upon the evangelistic designs and doings of the American Board and the New England Congregationalists. And the fact is that for a number of years the bulk both of money and men, was derived from the children of the Pilgrims. Williams College, Andover Seminary, and Massachusetts General Association, were called of Providence to play the foremost part in arousing and organizing the forces, which laid the foundations, and began to rear the superstructure, of American missions. It was from accident however, rather than from deliberate design, was the result of circumstances, that of the first eight commissioners chosen, five were from Massachusetts, and the others were from Connecticut. But no statement of the origin and growth of missions in the United States would be at all complete, which did not make mention of the hearty sympathy and generous co-operation of various other denominations, and as well as of other missionary societies to which, directly or indirectly, the work of the Board gave rise. We have already seen what liberal contributions were bestowed by the Philadelphia Presbyterians when the first men were sent out in 1812. The same year by the secretary the General Assembly was invited to form a similar society to co-operate with the Board; but that body in reply expressed the conviction that foreign missions would be best served by a single organization, and added that "their churches rejoiced in the American Board and would sustain it to the best of their ability." And for a generation that pledge was kept. It was not until 1837 that the Old School branch began to establish missions, while the other branch remained in closest connection down to 1870. In order to secure increased denominational comprehensiveness, at the second annual meeting an addition of thirteen commissioners was made to the corporation, of whom eight were Presbyterians. In 1832, out of sixty-two corporate members, thirty-one were Presbyterians, twenty-four were Congregationalists, six were (Dutch) Reformed, and one was Associate Reformed, and the missionaries were ordinarily chosen in about the same proportion. The German Reformed Church also assisted regularly with money-gifts for twenty-five years (1840-65.) The (Dutch) Reformed did not withdraw until 1857.
Especial mention must be made of the second organized movement started in this country, whose beginning constitutes one of the very strangest passages in mission history. This society came into existence through what seemed to multitudes to be a piece of human frailty. Out of disappointment and sorrow, out of apparent failure and disaster, issued almost unparalleled success and enlargement to the kingdom. It was evidently the Lord's doing, and even yet is marvelous in our eyes. Of course the reference is to the famous change of opinion with regard to baptism on the part of Judson and Rice, soon after they had reached India. We have already seen what impression that revolution in sentiment made upon the Prudential Committee. In their astonishment and deep perplexity over it Hall and Nott wrote home as follows: "What the Lord means by thus dividing us in sentiment and separating us from each other we cannot tell. The Lord seeth not as man seeth, and it ill becomes us to be dissatisfied with what he does. We hope and pray that it will not damp the missionary spirit, but that it may burn with a brighter and purer flame." That hope was well founded, and that prayer was not unheard. The work already begun in America was not weakened in the least, except for a very brief season of dismay, while presently, as the direct result, an entire denomination was fairly set on fire with zeal for the world's evangelization, and ever since has maintained the impulse then received. So that among the fruits of that stupendous "failure" we are to reckon the almost unmatched victories of the gospel over heathenism among the Karens in Burmah, and in our day also among the Telugus of eastern India!
As soon as the decisive step had been taken, the two chief actors therein wrote to the American Baptists of what had come to pass. Carey also wrote, and their letters all reached Boston by the same mail in February of 1813. Before he left, with not the least thought that it would ever be of any personal concern to himself, Judson had suggested the formation of a Baptist society, but nothing came of the counsel. But now all of a sudden, unsought, undesired, unlooked for, they find two missionaries in the foreign field, who at terrible cost had joined their fellowship, and were fairly thrust upon them for support. Here were straits even greater and more embarrassing than those in which the American Board had found itself with five men on its hands and an empty treasury. Here also moreover was a question without a negative possible, save one which involved disgrace and almost infamy. Hence as might be expected, a local organization was formed without delay, and circulars were sent out looking to a gathering which should be national in its proportions, and thus unite the entire denomination, a consummation which as yet had never been achieved for any purpose whatsoever. The proposition was made to the Baptist Society in England (America still fearing to undertake to walk alone, and much inclined to lean upon the strong arm of Britain) to receive the two men into its India mission, their support to be supplied from this side of the Atlantic; but the sagacious Fuller wrote in reply, and exceedingly fortunate for the Lord's work in all the world: "Late events point to the origin of a distinct Baptist society in America." Concerning the outcome the following has been written: "The intelligence [concerning Judson and Rice] spread with electric rapidity, and gave to benevolence and Christian obligation a depth and fervor never before experienced. One sentiment of deep thanksgiving prevailed. The providence was too plain to be mistaken. The way had been opened, the field had been prepared, and the true-hearted must enter and prosecute that to which they had been summoned. "In May, 1814, a preliminary assembly was held in Philadelphia, attended by twenty-six ministers and seven laymen, representing eleven states and the District of Columbia. Arrangements were made to establish the General Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the United States of America for Foreign Missions [and as if not satisfied with the length of this name, in 1821 were added the words,] "and other important objects relating to the Redeemer's kingdom."
In 1845 the name was changed to American Baptist Missionary Union. Much fuel was added to the flame when, in September, Rice reached home and straightway began to tell what marvelous things he had seen and heard." Here was one who had actually stood among the temples of heathendom and beheld the cruel abominations," something almost outside of the experience of most men in that early day. His was an imagination most ardent, and his pictures were painted in colors most vivid. "He reproduced the rapt predictions of the prophets of the Old and New Testaments, and the thrilling exhortations of the apostles concerning the kingdom of heaven, and multitudes hung on his lips and followed his footsteps with an enthusiasm seldom known since Whitefield." Nothing could withstand the swelling tide of zeal which now set in. For the time at least, before it indifference and prejudice were completely swept away.
And what of Judson meanwhile? For months with no human arm to lean upon, but with unswerving confidence in the protection and guidance of his unseen Master, he looked forward wholly bent upon the accomplishment of the work to which he had been called. Ordered to depart for England by the East India Company, he yet managed by a remarkable train of circumstances to escape to a ship bound for the Isle of France; after three months he returned to Madras, was immediately refused permission to remain, and as the only resort took passage in a vessel with Burmah for its destination. And thus it came about that July 14th, 1813, some seventeen months after his departure from the New World, he was landed at Rangoon, in a region to which he had originally been assigned, but into which while in Calcutta the door of entrance seemed to be hopelessly closed. Here, just on the threshold of his distinguished career, it is necessary to leave him for the present, the story all untold of the years of incredible toils and perils, sufferings and afflictions, as well as the surprising successes, which even in his lifetime began to appear. His name will ever stand high in the illustrious list of Christian heroes.
Only the briefest mention can well be made of the missionary operations of the Methodist Episcopal Church, whose first representative did not reach the foreign field until 1833. From the outset this had been eminently an evangelizing body, and had been unsurpassed in efforts to plant Christian institutions at every point throughout the boundless, and ever-shifting, and appallingly needy frontier of this rising Republic. And therefore not improperly work for the heathen at home took precedence. In the call to this is seen a peculiar ordering of providence, which lends to the narrative an element of romance. As so often happens, it was but a plebeian and commonplace incident, a mere accident that started a movement of first-class importance. At Marietta, 0., a drunken negro, Stewart by name, while in the desperation of shame and remorse on his way to drown himself, was arrested by the voice of a Methodist preacher calling sinners to repentance and promising salvation. By the sermon he was converted, and not long after, in a vision, as he stoutly held, was divinely bidden to set forth westward and northward to preach the gospel to the perishing. Making his journey through the forest, he at length appeared among the pagan and savage Wyandots upon the upper Sandusky River. A revival ensued, assistance was sent, the mission was continued, and later, the facts coming to the knowledge of Nathan Bangs and others in New York, their hearts were so stirred that they proceeded to set up an organization which should systematize and develop the work of missions at home and abroad. This important step was taken in 1819. It was nineteen years later that Melville D. Cox was appointed missionary to Monrovia on the west coast of Africa. The career of this first of American Methodists to bear the message of salvation to distant lands was exceedingly brief. Reaching his destination March 7th, on the 21st of July following he breathed his last, falling a victim to the terrible African fever, but not until he had uttered that ringing challenge to Christendom, whose echo has not yet in the least died away: "Let a thousand fall before Africa be given up!"
The Protestant Episcopal Church was the next to organize. As early as 1817 the English Church Missionary Society (Britain again lending a missionary impulse to America) had urged the founding of an organization here, and in 1820 the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society came into being. But it was not until ten years later that missionaries were sent out, when two were dispatched to Greece, and five years later still that the mission to China was opened. The Free (Will) Baptists commenced work in eastern India in 1833, the Lutherans (General Synod) sent a representative to the same country in 1841, the Southern Baptists set up for themselves in 1845, and the Southern Methodists the year following, while the work of the United Presbyterians dates from 1858. One after another the various denominations have fallen into line, until almost everyone of any considerable strength has begun to heed the command, Preach the gospel to every creature. And at length it has come, or is rapidly coming, to this, that the supreme test of loyalty to Christ is found in the answer to the searching question : How abundant in labors, how liberal in giving, how earnest in prayer, is the individual, or the church, or the denomination, for the redemption of the world?