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Modern Progress an Encouragement to Missionary Zeal

Modern Progress an Encouragement to Missionary Zeal

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY JOHN RHEY THOMPSON D.D.



According to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel,
What hath God wrought ! — Num. xxiii, 23.
BY JOHN RHEY THOMPSON D.D.



According to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel,
What hath God wrought ! — Num. xxiii, 23.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Apr 09, 2014
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MODER PROGRESS A ECOURAGEMET TO MISSIOARY ZEAL. BY JOH RHEY THOMPSO D.D. According to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought ! — um. xxiii, 23. I WISH to speak to you, from these words, on modern progress as an incentive to missionary zeal. The definite, comprehensive aim of the modern missionary enterprise is the complete, universal tri- umph of Christianity. It will be the moral subju- gation of the entire race. It is nothing short of the recovery to spiritual manhood, after the lofty and perfect model furnished by Jesus Christ, of all dwellers upon this globe. This great end will not be reached when all heathen countries shall have outwardly and nominally received Christianity as En- gland or the United States have received it. When all moral beings that live on this globe shall have voluntarily and joyously accepted Jesus Christ as a Divine Saviour, and shall have entirely submitted themselves to his rule of life, the triumph of the missionary enterprise is assured. There is nowhere furnished us a surer test of Christian faith, devotion, and enthusiasm than just here. It is precisely at this point that we find even in Christian hearts the most secret and dangerous obstacle to the cause of Christian missions. The enterprise seems so vast, inclusive, and far-reaching, 136 Christian Manliness.
 
involving, as it does, governments, nations, and centuries; the work seems so intricate, so complex, so difficult, so slow, so stupendous, that, in spite of ourselves, certain undefined, secret, benumbing doubts are engendered, even in loyal, earnest Chris- tian hearts. It is to be feared that, with any thing like an intelligent knowledge of what is really con- templated by the great missionary enterprise, few of us have ever found our faith equal to a clear, steady, and ardent acceptance of the sublime triumph. It is my purpose to take a recent period of human history, and show, by its wonderful progress in all the various elements of a sound, enduring civiliza- tion, that the end at v/hich we aim is actually pos- sible of accomplishment ; yea, that these conspic- uous developments of history clearly, irresistibly demonstrate that we are the subjects of a large and beneficent law of progress ; that the obvious, actual, undisputed facts of the history of the last four hundred years do furnish Christian faith the greatest possible encouragement to believe in the ultimate triumph of the missionary cause. First, as to the facts. The actual condition of the so-called Christian world toward the close of the fifteenth century, or four hundred years ago, say i486, or just six years before Columbus discovered Amer- ica, is scarcely realizable by men of the present time. The physical, social, political, intellectual, and moral condition of the continent of Europe at that time was indeed wretched and deplorable. The popu- lation of the entire continent had scarcely doubled Encouragement to Missionary Zeal, 137 in one thousand years, and the death-rate was one in twenty-five. Physicians and their remedies were derided and depressed, and the vain and fantastic
 
virtues of shrine-cure were extravagantly extolled. The great cities were without sewers, without lamps at night, without any efficient or rational sanitary or police regulations. The war-like nobles and the powerful prelates lived in idleness, splendor, volup- tuousness, and luxury. The people were every-where sunk in sloth, ignorance, filth, poverty, and crime. In Paris and London the houses were of wood daubed with clay, and thatched with straw and reeds. Carpets were an unknown luxury. o at- tempts were made at drainage, but the putrefying garbage and rubbish were simply thrown out of the door or window, very often to the great discomfort of the luckless passer-by. In 1430, Pope Pius II. visited the British Isles, and the journal he kept on his travels is preserved to this day in the library of the Vatican. He describes the houses of the peas- antry as constructed of stones put together without mortar, the roofs were of turf, and a stiffened bull's hide served for a door. The food consisted of coarse vegetable products, such as raw peas, and often the bark of trees. In some places they were unac- quainted with bread. A man was considered to be in circumstances of great ease if he could afford to have fresh meat once a week for his dinner. The social bonds were every-where relaxed, and a gross and terrible licentiousness prevailed in all ranks of so- ciety. Science was necromancy, chemistry was al- 138 Christian Manliness. chemy, astronomy was astrology, philosophy was a fatuous search after the stone that would turn every- thing into gold, and religion had largely become a most wretched and execrable superstition. Genuine scientific study was almost unknown, while the few votaries of science to be found were denounced as heretics, apostates, or infidels. Intellectual torpor

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