Guardian from London, Greater London, England on May 30, 1894 · Page 37
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Guardian from London, Greater London, England · Page 37

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Wednesday, May 30, 1894
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THE GUARDIAN, MAY 30, 1894. 837 „ii w ide-minded people, if we do look back upon things as they Ire and things as they were, we see that while Christianity is fhe same as it was in the beginning, yet every age con- tomolates it tinder new aspects. Now, a society is mainly founded in order to keep things as they are—to keep the ,1octrine true to that which is thought to be the standard at the time, and to prevent its very wide departure from +he standard with which they start; and the merit of a society and the thing that holds a society together is that it keeps true to its first ideal. But when you look at things, as I say upon a great scale, it is quite clear that that is not the body which is able to move forward through the ages and change its aspect with the change of Christianity. (Cheers.) Luther said that there never was any remarkable revelation wade by the Word of God unless He had prepared the way by the revival and flourishing of languages and literature as so many precursors. That is true, and exactly the converse is true; that when there has been a great advance in the knowledge of languages and of literature and science, throwing new ideas into the minds of many people, there takes place first of all a boiling, a kind of whirlpool. People fear that what is best is coming to an end; and then out. Bhoots a clear stream stronger and broader than ever. And the society is the body which is to keep truth together clear and strong during the times. But when the great period which Luther speaks of, which recurs again and again in the world, is past, nobody looks upon Christianity exactly in the same way as he looked at itbofore.and the work of the society with regard to it is for tho moment done. Well now, all this leads up to this fact. I am not speaking for a single shadow of a moment against the work of societies. On the contrary, I asked with my. whole heart that the first prayer read this mornirg might be for the sociotios. But I do look forward to the great time when the Christian Church in its thought and ideas will be widened to a fuller sense of responsibility. At present the societies are the Mission-conscience of the Church. They are the only people in tho Church who have recognised their responsibility, and the work is theirs, and God's great blessing is upon them, because they are the Church's conscience in the matter of Missions. But then that is not the right state of things. -It is for tho time of preparation, and they are doing to the utmost of their power the great work of endeavouring to make the whole of tho Church feel its responsibility. When that sense of responsibility is felt, and when Missions are a universally felt duty, then 1 do not think that the candlesticks of the societies will be removed, but to a great extent their work will be changed. Meantime we must work through the societies with all our might. We must support their noble work. They are doing what the Church has not done; and therefore, as we always see, Christ's spirit is working in the Church; and afterwards we are able to recognise why errors and mistakes have been made, and what purpose they have served in the Church's story. I suppose that the Church has not yet done all the work that it ought to do, because the Church has not been up to doing it; but it is our business, and the formation of the Board of Missions loads us to believe that scientific study can be carried on in very important and very philosophical ways That work is begun. The great Church of America, which delights our hearts from time to time by recognising itself as a daughter Church, and which sends here such noble and spirit-stirring men from time to time—(Cheers)—has no missionary society. The Church there is the Mission society itself. That phenomenon of the American Church, and all that lies before it, and the appearance of the Board of Missions among ourselves, and this first small meeting of a conference of all Anglicans upon their duty with regard to Missions, I take it are so many little germinating shoots, little appearances which tell us that we are to prepare ourselves, and that we may, in all faith, prepare ourselves, and should with all dovotion assist the societies to prepare us for the day when tho Church shall be her own Mission Society. (Cheers.) for instance the vocation to the priesthood or to the religious Life, or to the married state, so long as husband and wife are both living, or to vowed celibacy, for the kingdom of Heaven's sake (St. Matt. xix. 12). Other vocations may be of a more temporary character, though as a general rule St. Paul would have "every man abide in the same calling wherein he is called." It is not UBual for a man who is called to one profes- _.— . , . - - sion in life to exchange it for another, not merely because of and Omnipresence which i ?> continuously expressed m_words or J.' „ 1. ,J 1 .1 J-J - — : — 1 1 -J ' L ' " the time, cost, and labour expended in acquiring a knowledge of the profession, but because he believes that God has called him and gave him the gifts necessary to serve him in that condition of life which he embraced. In some cases a vocation is intended by God to be preparatory to and a training for another. Amos was first a herdsman, then a prophet; Elisha was ploughing with a yoke of oxen when he was called to follow Elijah. St. Matthew at Christ's call gave up his vocation as a taxgatherer to be an Evangelist and Apostle, and BO of others. Again, of those called to a special vocation in life some have a further call to exercise that vocation in another place, as in the Mission-field. And of those called, whether priests or aymen, to missionary work all are not called necessarily to remain in it. Some are called to give the earlier years of their ife and then return to settle down at home; some are called The Vocation of the Missionary. Tho Eev. Robert Lay Page (Superior of the Society of St. John-the-Evangelist, Cowley) :— The subject of vocation is placed first on the list of missionary subjects to be discussed at this conference, because of its primary and fundamental importance. It lies at the root of tho missionary's life: indeed, of every Christian's life, and it is absolutely necessary for its right and fruitful development Unless those who go forth on the work of Missions have received a call from God to do so, their labours can profit little. "Except the Lord build the house, their labour is but lost that build it." How many disappointments and failures, how much of tho instability we sometimes meet with amongst men and women in tho Mission-field are due to the fact that they had not received from God a vocation to that work. With the best intentions, it may be, they volunteered their services, they scorned to themselves and others to possess many natural qualifications; their offer was accepted, and they went out; but soon after the novelty of their new surroundings had passed off they began to grow weary of the sameness and of the isolation of their now life, the indifference or perhaps the opposition they mot with, their want of success in the present, and the little hope (as they thought) of better things in the future. All this weighed upon their spirit, and not having the consciousness of a Qod-yiven vocation to their work, to sustain them under trial they requested to be allowed to work elsewhere under what seemed to them to be more favourable or congenial conditions or to return home again. To all such sad failures in life a faithful adherence to tho doctrine and practice of vocation is tho surest antidote. Tho doctrine of vocation rests on tho truth of our boing created by God and for God. If in the world of nature, by which wo are on all sides surrounded, everything in the heavens above and on the earth beneath has its appointed place and work, if order and design are everywhere there apparent; if the smallest creature in the insect world, if the least atom of dust is not without its purpose in Creation—how much more must that be the case with man, who in this lower world is the highost and noblest of all God's creatures, the most like unto Himself, and gifted with intelligence? It would be inconceivable to suppose that he alone should bo called into existence without some great purpose to fulfil, some high destiny to attain to, proportionate to the dignity of his creation and tho greatness of tho gifts, both natural and spiritual, bestowed on him. What his ultimate predestination is wo are told in holy scripture—a union of unspeakable peace, joy, and eternal hoatitudo with his Creator, through Christ Jesus, provided that ho accepts the salvation offered him and renders faithful service hero upon earth in the manner appointed for him. To such will it bo said," Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." Every one of us has a vocation, a tailing, a work, a duty, a responsibility to' fulfil, first in the winctification of our own life, and second in taking our part lnf J 10 building up of the Body of Christ. J hat each one has some special calling and work to do for uod m this life is plainly taught by St. Paul,"Every man hat" IV s ) n '°,l ,or gift of God, one after this manner and another after that; and again, " As God hath distributed to every man, as tho Lord hath callod every one, so lot him walk." "To do my "htjV in that stato of life unto which it shall please God to cal wo is tho familiar teaching of our childhood, and wo stiL continue to express our faith in that teaching when in one of t J° p9 lloct . 8 ?f the Prayer-book wo pray that " every member of „S rcl1 in niB vocation and ministry may truly and godly ooivo rhee. nJv oro * 8 a difference in vocations, not only in their dignity anu importance, but also in their permanence, rcomo vocations are of a permanent and lifelong character, as on the plea that another Gospel than that which the Christian acknowledged was more suited to the temperament of its professors, and that it was better to let well alone, proceeded:— "The word 'Islam/ which we Anglicise as 'Muhammadanisttvf is a form of the Arabic tri-literal root (slm) salama, and means /surrender* of self to God, and the acceptance of this principle of action involves that implicit belief in God's Omnipotency signs by every true Muslim. For instance, assent to any ordinary proposal or engagement is almost invariably accompanied by 'InshaUahV (if God please); acknowledgment of any information afforded is commonly signified by a whispered 'Mashallah , (what God pleases), M? ' Alhamdu'li'Llah' (' Praise be to God.') More significant, too, rhan words is the reverential manner of utterance. The Europeanised Turk or Persian, who cares to show his acquaintance with Western ways, is not necessarily more civilised than his neighbours because he has abandoned these time-honoured native habits; nor Will he be found so interesting a personality to the well-informed English traveller as the genuine son of the soil, be he Arab, Turk, Persian, Afghan, or Indian. But if he be looked for as a seeker after truth, he should be above the average of his fellows in education. Perhaps the simpler and more effective way of ^i^A 0 ^J^l^ 7 ' ^ave dejeioped^their spiritual life^and | approaching one'of the" latter'stamp wouldbe to put friendly j. T __ .it. _ . x , questions to him on his own religion. There are innumerable' passages in the Kuran which need to be explained to even the more advanced readers, and. some of these might be selected for such interpretations as he could give of his own knowledge, or in reference to commentaries. It would be well if the referee were a Mulla, or priest, or even a higher dignitary of the religion of Islam, for the more capable he is for purposes of exegesis the more likely would he be to feel flattered at an appeal for religious instruction by a stranger of another faith. Educated Muslims—not excepting the most distinguished spiritual leaders—often delight in amicable religious controversy, and are not always the bigots that some would represent them, and, indeed, that they outwardly appear to be. When I was at Kirman in 18661 called on the Mujtahid, * a Muslim divine of the highest degree of learning,' and my impression of him was that he was a good Musalman, as liberal and free from prejudice as could be expected from one in his position. Had I been unfettered by official bonds and otherwise strong enough, in those days, to have ventured upon religious argument with this Persian dignitary; I should probably have broken ground by seeking to extract some tenets of common acceptance from the third chapter of the Kuran, in which is the passage rendered by Sale :— Say, wo bolieve in God, and that which hath boon sent down unto us. and that which was sent down unto Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and tho tribes, and that which was delivered to Moses, and Jesus, and tho Prophets from their Lord. Hero we have a recognition of the most revered of the Patriarchs in our Old Testament, and mention of our blessed Saviour's name which almost recalls His own conversation with the Disciples on the way to Emmaus, recorded in the last chapter in St. Luke's Gospel, when ' beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded unto them in all tho Scriptures the things concerning Himself.' 'But the great difficulty in gained a ripe experience in work at home; others, like those who go forth from the Society of Missions in Paris to the land of China, red with the blood of martyrs, have from their earliest years looked forward and prepared for the work there with no desire or intention ever to return. So have some gone forth, ike Bishop Hannington or Bishop Smythies (God rest his holy soul), to the fever-stricken land of Central Africa, offering their Hves in sacrifice to God and counting death to be but gain. In that spirit, too.no doubt some have left the missionary colleges of St. Augustine, Canterbury; St. Boniface, Warminster; Dorchester College, and Burgh determined that their whole life, health permitting, should be given to God in foreign lands But some one may say, If it be true that each of us has our vocation determined in the mind of God, how are we to know what that vocation is? Let me suppose that the inquirer is some one present in this hall to-day, who has, by God's grace, been attracted to this meeting because God would here answer his or her question about vocation, that he may give himself up obediently to it, whatever it may be, whether to the priesthood, the religious life, or missionary work. Where are such vocations more likely to be found than in a great gathering like this of those interested in all that concerns the missionary work of the Church and many anxious to take a more active part in it? How, you ask,am I to know what my own special vocation is? 1. Cleanse the soul from all sin that clouds the understanding, dulls the affections, weakens the will. 2. Renounce thyself wholly and entirely, with all self-seeking and s"elf-pleasing in any form. Give way no more to day-dreams, castle-building, and all suchlike unrealities, and to all merely natural impulses and desires, they only hinder a right judgment of vocation 3. Trust not merely to any natural aptitudes and gifts, they are of themselves no sufficient guide. It is not enough to be able to say I can preach, or I am a good linguist, or I can teach, or I can nurse, or I should like to go abroad. Others have these gifts as well as yourself, and it may be that God is calling them, not you. Jesse's other sons may have had greater natural gifts than David, but God chose the ruddy shepherd- boy to feed Jacob His people and Israel His inheritance Joseph, called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, may haVe had greater gifts, a wider experience, and a more attractive personality than Matthias, but the Holy Ghost chose Matthias. 4. Neither let the necessities of the Church merely seem to you to be a sufficient reason for determining your vocation. God can raise up whom He will to supply them. Unless He calls you to put forth your hand to steady the ark because it totters, touch it not, least He break forth upon you. He is a jealous God. Your confidence must lie, not in that you have chosen your work for Him, but in that He hath chosen for you your place and work. 5. Believe firmly in the doctrine of vocation—that God made you, that He made you for Himself, that you belong wholly and entirely to Him, that He has every right to your love and service, that He has given you or can give you whatever you need for the work which He requires of you, that He has a purpose in life for you, that He is ready to make known that purpose to you. Believe all this most firmly. 6. Then surrender yourself to Him, wholly and entirely, in faith, in hope, and in love. Keep nothing back from him. Say to Him, " I am Thine, do with me as Thou wilt;" " Father, not my will, but Thine be done;" Bay it from the bottom of your heart, not once, but many hundred times. Protest to Him that you have a longing and firm desire only to do His will, what argument is how to explain the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, so as to reconcile it with the 'declaration of God's unity' contained in the Kuran. For my own part there seems to be something in the teaching of St. Athanasius which warrants the conclusion that no better basis for exposition could be used than that laid down in the ' Quicunque Vult,' abounding, as it does, in passages which should be welcomed by the less-bigoted Muslim. There are others, however, than the heads or professors of orthodox Islam, whoso companionship may be specially commended to the missionary in connection with this field of work, and these are dissenters from the strict letter of the creed according to the only recog­ nised commentators. Among them I will at onco select tho Sufi and B&bf of Persia, to which two schismatics from the national faith my remaining remarks must be confined, for it would be vain to attempt any broader illustration of tho subject intrusted to me in the short space of time placed at my disposal. As a rule, recent writers on Persia have given us very little information on the statistics or state of Sufi-ism, a term which, applying to a quasi-religious community, fails to define for its members any distinct religion, and may almost be described as a free-thinking mysticism, outwardly accepting Islam, but inwardly bound by rules of its own." Sir F. Goldsmid then quoted from Sir John Malcolm, and proceeded to remark that it was said that Henry Martyn, tho first missionary of the English Church in Persia, was assisted in his translation of the New Testament into Persian by a Suff of Shiraz. His experience of such sectarians in 1811 was that they " delight in everything Christian, except in being oxclusivo," stating his conviction that from among them would arise the "first Persian Church, judging after tho manner of men." ever it may be—to stay at homo or to go abroad, to be actively He nex<; quo t e dMr. Robert Binning, of the Madras Civil Servioo, employed in His service, or to glorify Him by a life of patient j and conc ft x d e d:—" Professor Granville Browne, than whom no Bu 0an Orientalist has closer acquaintance with the Porsian disposition at the present hour, would 'insist very strongly on the absolute resignation to God's will, tho porfoct contentment suffering. 7. Then listen for His voice with an attentive ear. If the vision tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not tarry. Wait for God to speak within your inmost soul. The soul was formed to hear the voice of God, and in His time He will say, or at least give you to understand, " This is the way; walk ye in it." That is vocation—not acting on your own impulses, not shaping your life by natural gifts and aptitudes, not rushing with whatever His will may ordain, tho > utter t moeknoss towards all men; in a word, tho extreme auiotism inculcatod by the Sufi doctrine.' Surely, in principles such as these, a common standpoint would present ltBolf to the followers of a Faith whose Master's teaching is to take no thought for tho morrow, and conveys a special blessing to the meek, tho into some place or work because it seems to you that there is merc if u i the peacemakers, and tho patient under persecution, some necessity, but hearing the voice of the Lord God Himself, + n ' aua iity of self-negation was appreciated by tho as the Apostles did, or as Saul did when he was sent by that• - • *•« - J *— ~~ « 1 —^ «™*,.«.r voice to Ananias, from whom he was to learn what he should do; or else He will reveal to you the purpose of your gifts, and the providences by which He has surrounded you, by interior lights in your understanding, and movements of Divino graco in your will, adding, for your greater confidence and security, the voice of some one in authority as their interpreter. 8. And, then, the next thing is to obey the voice: hoar and obey: to follow when called and where called step by stop, You aro, perhaps, timid and afraid to seek holy orders; He calls you, it is sufficient, obey. You want to take holy orders, He calls you not, stay where you are. You want to join a religious community, it is not His will for you. You want to servo Him in the world, He calls you into tho religious life. You want to stay at homo with your relations, He bids you go abroad to help in the Mission work of His Church. You want to go abroad. He bids you Btay at home and take care of your parents. That is following vocation—hearing the voice of God and doinp what Ho bids us. Paul and Silas eBsayod to go into Bithynia, but tho Spirit suffered them not. A vision appeared to Paul in the night; there stood a man of Macedonia and prayod him, saying, "Come over into Macedonia and help us," and they went. That is following vocation. I know that God, in His goodness, more often while He gradually enlightens our minds, also sweetly disposes our wills to desire that which He wills for us and to seek it of Him. Ho is not contrary to us if wo are not contrary to Him. Thus far of vocation. May God tho Holy Ghost, Who said, " Separate me Barnabas and Saul," and called Luke, the f )hysician, whose praise is in the Gospel, call many of us, by that ove of Christ which constraineth, to consecrate our lives, or such portion of them as He may call us to give, to missionary work in heathen lands, and give us the grace joyfully to obey. Beligions to bo Dealt with. Mohammedanism. Sir Frederic Goldsmid, who read the first of tho series of papers on "Islam," after some preliminary observations, in which he said he wholly failed to comprehend how argument enlightened Muhammedan so far back as the" olevonth century may be proved on reference to Albiruni, who, likening the stato of certain Indians to that of Christianity, explains his roason to be that' it is based upon doing good and abstaining from evil: as (for instanco) absolutely refraining from tho infliction of death, throwing one's tunic to tho snatchors of ono's cloak, turning tho one cheek to tho smiter of tho othor, and praying for and blessing one's enemies/ Upon which ho comments, 'Such, by my life, iB a noble rule of conduct!' Compared with Sutfs, the Babfs represent a distinct schism. It is ono of which tho founder belongs to tho soeond half of tho present century, but which, it must be admitted, has taken root with wonderful rapidity. Students of religious systems, who have not chanced to becomo acquainted with their history and tonots, would do well to givo attention to tho riso and tall of tho first Bab, Mfrza 'Ali Muhammad; the condemnation and massacres of his frionds and followers; tho bloodshed from which new vigour was imparted to his doctrines; tho banishment of his successor in tho chair of supromacy: and, finally, tho internal strife which soparated tho leaders' camp in the land of their proscription. Of tho naturo of tho doctrine inculcated, I will seek a specimen in Professor Browne's report of the words of Boha, tho generally recognised Bab, at tho period of hie death, two years ago, at Adrianoplo:— Wo aro all tho fruit of ono tree, and tho leaves of ono branch. Walk then with perfect charity, concord, affection, and agreement, for I swear by tho Sun of Truth that tho licrht of agroouiont shall brighten and illumine tho horizons Iloliglous hatred and rancour Is a world-consuming I cannot subscribo to tho recently oxprosHed opinion that tho numbor of Babfs in Porsia exceeds three-quarters of a million, but it comes from a high authority; and I am fairly satisfied that there aro, at the least, ono million of Porsian subjects who aro seokors after a truth which they do not eeom to havo acquired in their nativo orthodoxy." Mr. B. Bosworth Smith:—• Of all the dolicato and difficult v. c«x «»«v««w . questions that confront Christian missionaries in dealing with historical religions other tlmn thoir own I sumioso that those connected with Monam- or sophistry could render the Divine injunction to preach tho modanism aro among tho most delicate and dimcuit. monam- Gospel to every creaturo inapplicable to any particular religion, I modanism is BO near to Christianity on many points that wo

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