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For to any man who considers the Divine
of religion, the innate force of reason and virtue, and the mighty effects often wrought by the constant regular operation even of a weak and small cause ; it will seem natural and reasonable to suppose, that rivulets perpetually issuing forth from a fountain or reservoir of learning and religion, and streaming through all parts of America, must in due time have a great effect, in purging away the ill manners and irreligion of our colonies, as well as the blindness and barbarity of the nations round them : especially, if the reservoir be in a clean and private place, where its waters, out of the way of any thing that may corrupt them, remain clear and pure; otherwise they are more likely to pollute than purify the places through which they flow.
The greatness of a benefaction is rather in proportion to the number and want of the receivers, than to the liberality of the giver. A wise and good man would therefore be frugal in the management of his charity: that is, contrive it so that it might extend to the greatest wants of the greatest number of his fellow-creatures. Now the greatest wants are spiritual wants, and by all accounts these are no where greater than in our western plantations, in many parts whereof Divine service is never performed for want of clergymen; in others, after such a manner and by such hands, as scandalize even the worst of their own parishioners; where many English, instead of gaining converts, are themselves degenerated into heathens, being members of no church, without morals, without faith, without baptism. There can be therefore, in no part of the Christian world, a greater want of spiritual things than in our plantations.
And, on the other hand, no part of the gentile world are so inhuman and barbarous as the savage Americans, whose chief employment and delight consisting in cruelty and revenge, their lives must of all others be most opposite, as well to the light of nature as to the spirit of the gospel. Now to reclaim these poor wretches, to prevent the many torments and cruel deaths which they daily inflict on each other, to contribute in any sort to put a stop to the numberless horrid crimes which they commit without remorse, and instead thereof to introduce the practice of virtue and piety, must surely be a work in the highest degree becoming every sincere and charitable Christian.
Those who wish well to religion and mankind, will need no other motive to forward an undertaking calculated for the service of both : I shall, nevertheless, beg leave to observe, that whoever would be glad to cover a multitude of sins by an extensive and well-judged charity, or whoever, from an excellent and godlike temper of mind, seeks opportunities of doing good in his generation, will be pleased to meet with a scheme that so peculiarly puts it in his power, with small trouble or expense, to procure a great and lasting benefit to the world.
Ten pounds a year would (if I mistake not) be sufficient to defray the expense of a young American in the college of Bermuda, as to diet, lodging, clothes, books, and education : and if so, the interest of two hundred pounds may be a perpetual fund for maintaining one missionary at the college for ever; and in this succession many, it is to be hoped, may become powerful instruments for converting to Christianity and civil life whole nations, who now “ sit in darkness and the shadow of death," and whose cruel brutal manners are a disgrace to human nature.
A benefaction of this kind seems to enlarge the very being of a man, extending it to distant places and to future times; inasmuch as unseen countries and afterages may feel the effects of his bounty, while he himself reaps the reward in the blessed society of all those, who, having turned “ many to righteousness, shine as the stars for ever and ever.”
The Muse, disgusted at an age and clime,
Barren of every glorious theme,
Producing subjects worthy fame:
In happy climes, where from the genial sun
And virgin earth such scenes ensue, The force of art by nature seems outdone,
And fancied beauties by the true:
In happy climes the seat of innocence,
Where nature guides and virtue rules, Where men shall not impose for truth and sense,
The pedantry of courts and schools :
There shall be sung another golden age,
The rise of empire and of arts,
The wisest heads and noblest hearts.