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An extract from a letter, which, about this time, he wrote to Rev. Dr. W. of Andover, shows the deep interest he still felt in the welfare of the Theological Institution in that place.
“The prosperity of the Seminary gives me great joy. The scenes, through which I have passed since leaving it, have frequently presented to my mind the theological and ecclesiastical establishments of the Catholic and the Oriental churches. This has often led me to think of Andover and its future destinies with the deepest interest. Men corrupt, pervert and abuse every thing entrusted to their care, except just so far as the grace of God pervents it. I hope the Institution in all its movements, will ever be like the house of Christ, made up of his disciples; and that all, who belong to it, will act according to his Gospel. If Andover with all its wealth, numbers, and learning, may always exhibit the simplicity of the Moravians, its enemies will be confounded, while its friends will rejoice and glorify God. While Mr. Parsons lived, we used to set apart a season once a week, at least, to pray for that beloved Seminary.”
LETTER TO MISS M. D. B. OF W.
“Malta, April 20, 1822. “Your letter shows, that your heart is where it should be, and that you derive happiness from a source which can never fail; but which will forever continue to yield purer and higher enjoyments. I doubt not that you have some precious seasons of communion with Christian friends, and some still more precious seasons of intercourse with Heaven. How sublime and holy the joy that thrills through the soul, when we have a near view of Christ, of his amazing love and infinite glory! This the world do not understand. I have scarcely met a person since
I left America, to whom all this has not seemed weakness, or enthusiasm. But no; it is reality. I. I trust you find it so daily. Let it be our constant prayer, that we may know more of this; it is our sife. Without communion with Christ we languish and die. O let us keep near to him.
“We must struggle with sin, with temptation, and with the world, all the way to the end of our pilgrimage. This is the way in which all, who have preceded us, have attained to glory. The struggle may sometimes be severe, but the triumph will be glorious. I find it trying to be associated so exclusively with men of the world; and not only with men who are destitute of vital religion, but who have no adequate idea of what it is,
or of what it requires of its professors. But I know Christ can keep me, if I trust in him; and I am sure, you and many others of my friends will pray, that I may be enabled so to do."
The letters which immediately follow, addressed to Rev. Dr. Woods, Andover, contain some important practical inquiries respecting the duty of an American missionary in Turkey. They also furnish an additional illustration of the trait of character noticed in Chapter iii. p. 40.
“Multa, April, 1822. "Rev. and Dear Sir,
Situated as I am, it is often a trying question, how to distinguish between prudence and timidity. I have read Daniel iii, and vi. Acts vii, 51, 52. I have also considered with some care the gradual and gentle methods by which our Saviour made known his Gospel, and corrected the erroneous opinions of his disciples. Still when it becomes a practical question, I often find it difficult to decide, how far fidelity to my Saviour requires boldness and unyielding perseverance; and how far it requires quiet and patient waiting, till "he who now letteth,
be taken out of the way.' You will perceive from our journals and letters, that hitherto we have pursued the cautious, prudent plan. While my dear brother was living, we both thought it our duty to do so, and to keep on as good terms as possible with all classes of people. Accordingly we have sometimes seen men sin without reproving them, and have heard errors advanced without contradicting them; lest we should raise a war, or provoke opposition, which would defeat our plans. Human wisdom, the maxims of the world, love of ease and safety, all conspire to recommend to the missionary in Turkey a timid, flexible, time-serving policy; with perhaps some Jesuitical maxims occasionally. I am not insensible of the danger to which I am exposed. Though it may be difficult for you to decide as to particular cases, yet I shall be very glad to know distinctly and fully, what have been your thoughts and impressions on this subject; particularly when you have looked at our journals, and thought about the peculiar state of this country.”
In a subsequent communication he proceeds:"I wish for your thoughts on another subject. It is one of some practical importance to missionaries. My question is,-What rule is it proper for us to adopt in regard to administering the ordinances of the Gospel to nominal Christians, who are communicants of their respective churches, but who give no satisfactory evidences of piety, and have no correct views of the design of the ordinances? There are in the East many English, Swiss, German, and Dutch Protestants. In the churches of their countries respectively, all baptized persons are members, have their children baptized, and receive the communion. Situated as they are in this country, without religious institutions or ministers of their own order, they often have their children baptized by Greek or Catholic priests. But when a Protestant clergyman comes among them, they wish him to do
it. Protestant ministers and missionaries from Europe do it without hesitation. This is the case with Presbyterians and Independents, as well as others. In New England, evangelical ministers of the Congregational order baptize the children of all who are members of the church in regular standing, and admit such members to occasional communion. Is this the proper rule? If so, shall we practise according to it in relation to members of the Protestant churches of Europe-of Catholic and Greek churches? &c.
“The practice prevails among these churches of giving the Holy Supper to persons before they die. Shall we do the same, if requested, merely on grounds of church-membership? I wish to know what is thought at Andover on this subject.”
TO MRS. L. P. PORTER, ANDOVER.
“Malta, April 21, 1822. Sab. ere. “Dear Madam;-I am now in the Lazaretto, per forming a quarantine of thirty days. The gentleman who has occupied the room with me, has been on board a vessel to-day, and I have had the unspeakable satisfaction of passing most of the day alone. I have not enjoyed so much as I hoped I should, but I trust the day has been profitable to me. It is good to be alone. It is a great trial to be constantly in a small cabin with men of the world, where if you speak of religion at all, conversation will often take such a turn, that you will wish you had not mentioned it. Such, however, will often be the situation of a travelling missionary in these countries. He must therefore learn to have communion with Christ, though surrounded by the world.
“I know, dear Madam, that you will be afflicted when you hear of the early death of dear Parsons.
Lovely and amiable as he was when you knew him, he grew more and more so, and his religion shone with a brighter and brighter lustre to the last. It did not seem like death. It seemed like a convoy of Angels, come to convey to heaven a spirit, already prepared for its occupations and enjoyments. Death, since his decease, looks lovely and desirable, and I often exclaim, why are Christians so unwilling to die! During his sickness, as well as while in health, he often prayed for Andover. Not many days before his decease he said to me, 'Brother Fisk, we cannot pray enough for Andover. He felt an inexpressible anxiety, that vital piety should prevail there.
“I was much interested in sailing up and down the Nile, in visiting Cairo and the pyramids, and the site of Heliopolis, or On, where for centuries there was a school of Egyptian priests, of whom one was the father in law of Joseph; where Plato studied, and where perhaps Homer wrote. But alas! how fallen is Egypt: The great body of the population in respect to food, clothing, houses, labor, and education, are just about on a level with the slaves in America.
“As to the moral state of the country, I will not attempt a description; for you would never forgive me, if I should barely name the vices that are general and fashionable. The common proofs of human depravity appear feeble indeed, when compared with notorious facts, and the general state of things in this country. The Gospel only can purify this polluted land."
The two letters which follow were addressed to Rev. Daniel Temple, and contain some Biblical inquiries. They were written while in quarantine.
“Malta, April 28, 1822. “Dear Brother -As you will probably have occasion to discuss religious subjects with Jews, I will invite your attention a moment to Gen. xlix, 10.