Page images
PDF
EPUB

innumerable inventions of the civilized world, are ready, as soon as the heathen tribes are prepared to receive them, to break upon them, like the successive works of God upon chaos, at creation. The blessings of good laws and just government await the pagan and

heathen world. The heathen world has this advantage, that, whereas we have spent centuries in inventing useful arts, they are to receive them disencumbered of the slow processes by which we arrived at them. They are to take our conclusions for premises, and with the impatient curiosity and activity of awakened mind, push on inquiry to further results. Sublime, no doubt, will be the scenes amongst them when the human mind awakes from its sleep of ages, and goes forth like Samson to shake itself, as in ancient times. It is an honor and privilege to live at this age of the world, when we can be instruments of this renovation.

It is interesting to look not only at the communicative nature of Christianity with respect io the diffusion of knowledge, but to the probable permanency of its influences, compared with that of ancient kingdoms. Take Egypt for an example. The wisdom of the Egyptians was proverbial, yet how little has the world profited by them. They were once the people, and their wisdom died with them. The world, instead of being taught by them, sends her wise men to spell out what they thought and said, from their hieroglyphics. Concerning the knowledge which these emblems were intended to impart, “ Destruction and Death say, we have heard the fame thereof with our ears." We think of Champollion in a mausoleum, lying on his back, far up under the roof, sketching the mystic signs. So passes the wisdom of this world which knew not God. Will any nation which receives and retains Christianity ever become a desert, and its places of sepultured grandeur echo to the foot-fall of the solitary and adventurous traveller, searching what, or what manner of time, the indentures of its caves and ruins indicate? We believe it to be impossible. Besides, increasing intercourse will keep the various portions of the world from stagnation and decay, as the currents and tides of ocean do its own ports. Those who assist in diffusing Christianity, we believe, are doing an imperishable work.

The Christian Church appreciates these things to a great extent, but not in their full importance. Some of the com:

plaints which we hear, and know to be felt, that no more is done, are good signs. They are like the sounds in the ice in spring, which indicate that the sun and streams are breaking up

the bonds of winter. Seed time and harvest must come. Prophecy, like the vegetative power of the earth, cannot be restrained. The embarkation of every company of missionaries, the death of every servant of Christ on missionary ground, is a repeated assurance that there is a spirit of determination and of self-sacrifice, divinely inspired and guided, as we trust, which cannot fail to see its end accomplished.

Into this great work, the lamented subject of the memoir before us entered with her whole soul and strength. Her influence as a missionary, so far from being ended, is but just beginning. Great enterprises when somewhat advanced, receive strength and excite enthusiasm, by the names and memoirs of their early founders. When the people for whose benefit the Syrian mission was established, begin to appreciate its efforts, they will revive its early history; the name and character of this missionary female will then be honorable and precious, and she will be to them a

star of Arcady, I

“ Or” Syrian“ Cynosure." Several things constitute Mrs. Smith a good example in the missionary work.

She entered the missionary service for life,

We have heard missionaries, who acted on this principle, say, that they had already experienced the “ hundred fold in this life,” according to the promise. All who are supremely devoted to this work, regard enlistment in it for life as essential to the highest happiness as well as to the greatest usefulness. It is a great means of posthumous influence for a missionary to die on the field of his labor. His tomb or head-stone in coming years, will be moss-grown with hallowed associations. His bones will, in some spiritual sense, be like the bones of Elisha. A missionary who dies on his field, is like a plant that goes to seed on the spot where it grew, and scatters itself upon the wings of the wind. Christians at home associate his name with the martyrs. There is a canonizing disposition in the human mind. The names It gives

and memories of the faithful are tutelar influences to pious feeling and sacred efforts. This law of social influence may be one reason why the death of his saints' is 'precious in the sight of the Lord.' We cannot think of the death of a missionary in his field of labor, otherwise than as a most appropriate and desirable termination of his course. the friends of missions confidence in their work, adds moral power to appeals, excites respect for the cause in the community, to know and feel that missionaries are missionaries for life. But this is to be viewed rather as a privilege than as a duty. Efforts to recover health and to prolong life by a return to one's native land are obviously desirable and proper, and are not inconsistent with the general principle in question. Let us hear the opinion and feeling of Mrs. Smith upon this point.

“An enlistment for life, as a general thing, is quite essential to the permanence of this great enterprise. If I anticipated returning in seven years, I should be thinking more about that event, I fear, than I ought. Now I try to realize that this is my home for life ; that here are all my interests. I do not wish to feel that I am a foreigner, but a denizen ; and I hope to live, if it please God, to a good old age, among this people." p. 184.

She had a professional enthusiasm as a missionary.

Before she left her native land, her love for missionary work led her to disinterested labors among the Mohegan Indians. When she entered the foreign missionary service, she was like a ship that spreads every inch of canvass to the breeze, and shows that its impulse is felt through her entire frame. Illustrations of her enthusiastic love for her work occur on almost every page of her memoir. One fact will suffice as an example ;-we refer to her earnestness in learning the Arabic language. She had no special taste for the study of languages. Her time was much occupied by her school. Her husband was her only teacher, and his labors prevented him from giving her much time in this instruction. She often wept at the difficulties she met with in acquiring the tongue, and would sometimes say in despair, that she should never learn it. There were excuses enough for relinquishing the study, had she been so disposed. But she was unwilling to live as a missionary amongst a people, and be ignorant of their language. This reason prevailed. In less than nine months after she learned the Arabic signs, she began to pray in Arabic with the little girl whom she had taken into her family. In two months more she led in the devotional exercises of the native female prayer meeting. These efforts were extemporaneous. The last winter of her life, she began to translate an Arabic grammar, written in Arabic, (which had been her only written guide !) for the use of missionary females who might succeed her, hoping to make their task in acquiring this difficult tongue easier than hers had been.

The fact of her being without children of her own, gave her more time for her missionary studies and other labors. We refer, in these remarks, therefore, not so much to the amount of work accomplished by her as to her spirit as a missionary. She did not enter the missionary service merely as a wife. She was a missionary herself, and she makes this to appear in all her plans and conduct. She might have considered it enough to be the companion and the housekeeper of a missionary. She was a companion, indeed, and a most excellent housekeeper, but still she was a missionary, and a noble instance of energtic, resolute industry, joined with the delicacy and sweetness of a true lady. For though, in her character as a missionary, she was like a tree that has roots of its own, yet as a wife and companion, she mingled her branches with those of the tree which had received her to its side ; and they threw one shadow in that

weary land.

But with all her enthusiasm as a missionary,
She was free from extravagant, radical views and feelings.

Her labors of love were joined with the patience of hope. She expected that when she had reached a good old age, she should see changes in the population around her. That this feeling was not the result of idleness, but of calm and sober views of the intrinsic difficulties of the missionary work, is evident from her incessant industry and exhausting labors. She was like a faithful husbandman that hath long patience for the latter rain.

We nowhere find in her writings impatient rebukes of the churches at home for their want of zeal. She gives us solemn and faithful admonitions and reproofs which no Christian mind can resist; but they are noiseless and impressive as the twilight. They make us think of our duty and of our neglect of it, and not of the irritation and fretfulness of our reprover. Her manner, as in all cases, was the transcript of the heart. No great and permanent work can be accomplished with an irritable, impatient spirit. Mrs. Smith's spirit and manner in her work, remind us of what Foster says, in his Decision of Character, when speaking of Howard. She “had an equability of manner, which scarcely appeared to exceed the tone of a calm constancy, it was so totally the reverse of any thing like turbulence or agitation. It was the calmness of an intensity kept uniform by the nature of the human mind forbidding it to be more, and by the character of the individual forbidding it to be less."

She was remarkable for her private religious habits.

Incidental facts in her letters and journals, and the remarks of Mr. Smith in his sketch of her character, present her to us in this respect as worthy of love and imitation. She made her circumstances yield to her desire to be alone with God. We see in her uniform habits of private prayer the secret of her devotedness to arduous and self denying labor, and of her uniform tone of religious feeling. Solitary pryer seems to have been her great and constant source of enjoyment since her conversion. She was not fully aware of the influence she was exerting by this means ; for the good she accomplished is as much the result of her being good, as of her active employment. By the religious character she was thus assisted to form, as well

as by the indirect influence of her private devotions, her Father, who saw her in secret, is rewarding her openly.

Though in a land of exile she conscientiously cherished the feelings and private observances of cultivated life.

We should infer from the history of her foreign residence, that, while abroad, she regarded every thing that affects the manners and character, as scrupulously as in her native land. She yielded to no neglectful spirit of indolence: she made order and beauty spring around her path ; she did not degenerate, by comparative seclusion, in any of those things which, though trivial in themselves, greatly affect the moral feelings. Herbert says,

' Affect, in things about thee, cleanliness,

That all may gladly hoard thee, as a flower.' While the motive here offered, was necessarily weakened by the circumstances of her seclusion, we should infer from

« PreviousContinue »