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now over. Infidels, as such, are driven from the field; and the outworks of Christianity are found to be impregnable.
The Antinomian controversy is decided. No man ventures to contend, that christians are not bound to obey God, but are at liberty to sin because Christ died.
The same is true of the Arminian controversy. That Man is justified solely by faith in the righteousness of Christ; that Man is free and accountable, while God orders all things according to the counsel of his own will; and that it is the duty of every impenitent sinner immediately to comply with the commands of the Gospel; are truths now seen to be written in colours of light.
Only one great controversy is now waging. That is to determine, Who the Redeemer is; What is the efficacy of his Death; and What is the Salvation which he accomplished for mankind. The means of deciding this controversy are fully in the possession of the Church. It has already spread extensively over Christendom. Wherever it begins, the contending parties meet each other, at first, on the ground of the Plenary Inspiration of the Scriptures. That ground being admitted; the question has been, What have the Scriptural writers taught us on these subjects? Ultimately this ground has been left. The plenary inspiration of the Scriptures has been denied; and the ground taken has been, that the Scriptural writers in teaching these doctrines were mistaken. This has long been the attitude of the controversy, in the country most distinguished for critical investigation of the true meaning of the Scriptures. The minor controversy, respecting the duration of Future Punishment, is extensively blended with this: almost all those who deny the vicarious Atonement of Christ being really Universalists.
It must needs be, that all these great questions should be thoroughly examined, and the faith of the Church finally settled with regard to them, before the conversion of the Heathen. Otherwise, the same disa putes would have agitated them. The fact, that most of these controversies are already decided, and that few individuals are wanted to carry on those which are not; leaves the Church at liberty to employ her whole efforts in the conversion of the world.
Within the last twenty years, the Church has done much to bring forward a better day. Within that period the Bible, in whole or in part, has been translated and printed in all the great languages of Asia, The Tartars, the Chinese, the Birmans, the Malayans, the tribes of Hindoostan, the Persians, Arabs and Turks have now the Scriptures in their own language.
More than one thousand Bible Societies are now engaged in printing and circulating the Bible, in all the important languages of the world. Twenty years since not one of them was in existence. Vast multitudes of the population, not only in Great Britain Ireland and the United States, but in Russia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Prussia, the Netherlands, the States of Germany, and Bengal, are already contributing to this glorious work. One of these societies is in Paris. The British and Foreign Bible Society have already published, or aided in publishing, the Bible in 118 different languages and dialects.
The increase of Missionary Stations and of Missionaries is unexpectedly rapid. Agreeably to the Missionary Register, the number of Missionary Stations throughout the world, in May 1817, was 143; and in May 1819, 227. At the former period the number
of Missionaries to the Heathen was 316; at the latter, 467. From still later information we learn that the present number is 578.* At the latter period, Africa and its islands had 85; Asia and its islands 198; the isles of the Pacific 17; America 73; and the West Indies 81.
Missionaries every where meet with encouraging success. This is true in southern and western Africa, in southern India and Bengal, in Greenland, and Labrador, and among the North American Indians. I need not add, that the whole population of Otaheite and the neighbouring isles are now reckoned among christian nations; and that for the prevalence of pure
and defiled religion they appear to be second to no other people.
Numerous Heathen converts are now missionaries. This is true of Greenlanders, Esquimaux, and several North American Indians, of negroes in the United States, the West Indies, and Sierra Leone, and of Hottentots. The number of native missionaries in Hindoostan exceed 50. Several Mohammedans have become preachers; and not less than five Jews, are proclaiming that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah.
With many missions, schools are connected. Upwards of 1200 children are instructed under the direction of our own missionaries at Bombay; and 700 under those in Ceylon. More than 2000 children are thus educating in Sierra Leone; upwards of 40,000 in Bengal, and more than 6000 under the missionaries of the Church Missionary Society.
Much has already been done to improve the moral condition of Christendom. A more pacific spirit pervades the European family. The monarchs of Europe have constituted a Congress, to hear and settle controversies, which a few years since would have embroiled that continent in war. The multiplication and efforts of Peace Societies assist the diffusion of this spirit.
* See Note at the end.
Societies for the distribution of Religious Tracts are one important engine in accomplishing the event in question. Their efforts are happily successful both in Christian and Heathen countries.
Various classes of men once neglected are now the objects of christian benevolence. Churches are erected for seamen in many large sea-ports. Naval Bible Societies are formed. Extensively it is true that vessels which put to sea are supplied with Bibles and Tracts. The poor and ignorant and even the vicious in large cities are beginning to receive religious instruction.
The efforts to enlighten and save the rising generation promise most important results. National institutions, for the education of the whole mass of children in a nation, already exist in some of the largest kingdoms in Europe.' Sabbath-schools furnish to the children of the poor the most salutary instruction. They authorize us to hope that the rising generation will be far less deformed by vice, and in far greater numbers evangelically virtuous, than those who have gone before them.
While employed in these exertions for the good of others, the Church has itself grown better. Love to the Heathen and to Christ has increased brotherly love
among Christians. In circulating the Bible they. meet on common ground, and are beginning to be ashamed of the jealousies which have separated them. The true nature of Christian Catholicism is beginning
to be understood; and its spirit, to prevail
. Distinctions in names and forms and administrations, are felt to be of less importance. Various denominations already commune together at the sacramental table; and those who do not are relaxing in their rigidness. While the great divisions of the Church are thus growing truly liberal towards each other, they unite more cordially than ever in opposing fundamental
The line of demarcation, which the Church is now drawing, is between those who admit the doctrines of human depravity, vicarious atonement, regeneration, and the influence of the Holy Spirit, and those who reject them.
The former she acknowledges, the latter she disowns, as her children.
A spirit of grace and supplication has been poured out extensively on the whole church of Christ. The Monthly Concert for prayer unites christians of every denomination, and in every quarter of the globe. Confidence in God as a prayer-hearing God is becoming one of the strongest features in the character of the Church.
Within the last 25 years, Revivals of Religion have been greatly multiplied; particularly in our own happy country. They have been unusually extensive, and have prevailed not only in congregations, but in schools, academies and colleges. The remarkable events of this nature, which have been consequent upon the exertions of Missionaries, ought not to be forgotten. The two bright spots of this world at this moment, those which are most strongly illumined with the light of heaven, are Otaheite and Sierra Leone.
The establishment of Theological Seminaries is an important feature of the present day. Five such seminaries have been founded by the Independent