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strength remains firm; my sight, hearing, voice, and lungs are unimpaired; and my whole constitution seems fitted for the fatigues of a mission. True, my health and life may fail; that I leave with him in whose hands they are.
"Talents. From the difficult and responsible work the missionary has to perform, we may infer the necessity of superior talents. It is comforting, however, to one who is conscious that he is not distinguished by native talent, to find that God employs 'the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty. The representations of Scripture, which teach us that the work is to be accomplished not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord, may encourage those who, but for these representations, would never dare engage in the sacred office. But since the chief of the Apostles was chosen to go to the gentiles, and since the work requires so much prudence and skill, it becomes an inquiry, whether my talents direct to pagan lands, or to Christendom, as the field of my labors.
“It is exceedingly difficult for one to form a correct opinion of his own talents. When honor or reward is to be obtained, we are likely to put ourselves too high on the list; when duty calls, especially some trying, unpleasant duty, we often plead inability. It is no part of genuine humility to underrate our talents, and no part of faithfulness to take a place for which we are not qualified. I am blest with a good memory, and tolerably quick perceptions; though I have not that depth of thought, or originality of genius, which many possess. My talents are rather of the ready kind, and this, I hope, would be favorable for the missionary work. I must depend, however, very much on the advice of others in this particular. I trust it will not be presumption in me to offer myself, if nothing lie in the way but want of talents.
"The history of the hersdsman of Tekoa, of the Shepherds of Galilee, of some successful illiterate preachers of the Gospel in former ages, of the Moravian missionaries, and of many ministers in our own country, encourages me to think, that, with the talents I have, I may be usefully employed in preaching to the heathen.
“February 24. Habits. I set apart this day to pursue my inquiries. Are my habits such as would render it suitable for me to go to the heathen, such as would afford a prospect of success? In early life I was habituated to manual labor. This, indeed, was my almost constant employment till I was seventeen or eighteen years old, -was continued at intervals during my college-life, and has never been entirely discontinued.
"I was early fond of study, and devoted to it my leisure hours and days. I have at some times applied myself closely to study, so much so that I can safely say, there is nothing in my habits invincibly opposed to close application. Horne says, the missionary's habits should be rather active than sedentary. This encourages me. I love to study, but I love still more to be engaged in active employments.
“I have been in the habit of instructing schools, of teaching individuals, families, and classes, the holy Scriptures, of conversing and exhorting in religious meetings, and of visiting families.
“In 1815, I spent nine months in preaching. At that time I acquired a habit of writing sermons with facility, of sketching plans, and of preaching extempore, which I still retain. I have often had intercourse with men of erroneous principles, and have become in some degree familiar with their objections, arguments, and cavils. And I have had occasion to converse much with inquiring sinners. My habits of living have always been plain and simple. I was brought up in a farmer's family, and from childhood have been altogether unacquainted with
the luxuries of fashionable life. Without friends to lend me pecuniary aid, I have from necessity acquired habits of industry and economy. But whether these are so firmly fixed, as not to yield to trials, I dare not affirm.
“While I have been led by my situation in life to form many active habits, in respect to those of a passive nature I fear I am deficient, I have had but little affliction to bear, but few disappointments to encounter. I have not yet learnt patience. How I should endure the fatigues and the disappointments of a missionary life, after the successful course of my early years, I cannot determine. On this point I have many fears, and can hope for support only from a divine arm. May divine strength be perfect in my weakness.
"There is such a thing as a habit of self-government and self-possession. Here again I am deficient, having never exercised over myself that rigid discipline which is requisite in a missionary; nor have I acquired such perfect command of myself, that trifles or unexpected events never disturb me.
“Fixed habits of prayer and self denial are of indispensable importance. But I tremble to come to this part of the inquiry. I hope, however, my right affections and attention to religious duties have become more habitual, than they were some years ago. My state of mind has probably been more equable than is common. I mean, that I have probably had less than is common of peculiar raptures and oppressions, sensible conflicts and victories. From year to year my religious feelings have been nearly the same, though circumstances have varied. One thing encourages me.
When my situation and circumstances have changed, I have generally found my feelings, attachments, desires, and sources of enjoyment have experienced a corresponding change. May I not hence hope that in
Asia, or Owhyhee, or the western wilderness, I shall find myself contented and happy in doing good to those around me?
“Have I the feelings of the missionary? I have felt much on the subject of missions, but my great anxiety has been to know, whether my feelings are such as characterize the true missionary. My solicitude to be a missionary, my desire for the conversion and salvation of the heathen, and my love to missionaries, have been almost uniformly ardent for several years, I have often asked myself the question, -Could any thing make me contented to give up the object?' The inducements of various kinds, that have been presented, have not even produced hesitation. Should circumstances obviously point out another course as duty, I hope I should have a heart to pursue it. But I think the hindrances must be absolutely insurmountable, or the call most plainly an intimation of the divine will, otherwise if I act according to the bent of my feelings, I shall
to the heathen. Labors among them have seemed most desirable; my whole heart has sometimes been engaged for them. At other times my desires have been more languid, and my affections more cold. At times I have, for a moment, felt such a relish for Christian society, or such a desire to be a minister in this country, as has made me half ready to wish that something might render it obviously my duty to remain at home. This, however, has always been momentary; and the thought of relinquishing the object has not only been unpleasant, but has more than any thing else, roused up my feelings again. Generally, when I have had the most lively views of spiritual things, and the most comforting religious exercises, my love for the heathen, and my desire to go among them, have been the most ardent. This leads me to hope that the Holy Spirit excites this desire, and at the same time it admonishes me to be watchful. For if I am here subject to declensions
which shake my resolution, what must I expect, when far removed from Christian society, and the means of grace.
“I know there are many hardships and trials to be endured, many dangers to be encountered, many temptations to be resisted. I know I must leave my dear friends, my beloved country, the enjoyments of civilized society, and risk my life, my happiness, and my reputation; but still I desire to trust in my Saviour, and go. In his strength I hope I shall be enabled to stand firm, to keep under my body and bring it into subjection and to continue to the end, faithful in my master's service. In the strength of my Almighty Saviour I feel that I can meet all the dangers to which I may be exposed, and perform the self-denying task of the missionary.
“My connexions in life are such as will not forbid, if they do not encourage, my proposed mission. My mother is not living. I have no friends who are dependent on me for support. My father has consented to my doing what I think to be my duty. All my friends feel tenderly on the subject, but will not oppose me in following where duty calls. I love my friends; but the claims of the heathen have too strong a hold on my heart to be counteracted by natural attachments. My dear friends, my father, my brothers, my sisters, it is not because I do not love your society, that I leave you. You know I love you; but souls are perishing. I must go and tell them the way to glory. You cannot, you will not object; for you too have hearts to feel for your fellow beings who are living in spiritual darkness. Then farewell the Lord bless you and keep you, be gracious to you, and cause his face to shine upon you.
“March 10. With a heart distressed at being so long undecided, with a mind almost distracted by anxiety for the heathen in the East and in the West, and for the destitute in our own land; and with earnest desires that God would teach me my duty, I set apart another day to pursue the inquiry.