John Angell James (1785—1859)
(This chapter is especially helpful for those
"Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast." Psalm 139:7-10
God made this world to be inhabited, and did not intend that it should always remain an untenanted house, or be occupied only by beings without minds to understand his nature, hearts to love him for his favors, and tongues to speak his praise. To man as well as to the inferior creatures he said, "Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth." And yet at this period of our planet's history, nearly six thousand years after the fitting up of the globe for man's residence, there are vast tracts of the earth, amounting to islands and continents, until lately occupied only by birds, animals, and reptiles. The fact however of these desolations subserves a moral purpose, inasmuch as it corroborates the chronology of the Bible; for upon the acknowledged principles of the increase of population, the date of the commencement of our race could not be much otherwise than that assigned to it in revelation. These now unpeopled regions must have been long since filled up, had the present earth been much older than it is according to the chronology of the Bible. Upon the same principles it is evident that it cannot continue for an indefinite period, at least without some depopulating process different from any that has hitherto occurred in the world's history.
Our earth has yet to "yield its increase," the Transatlantic world, capable of sustaining half the present population of the globe—but until lately tenanted only by savages in the north, and a half-civilized race in the south, and four centuries ago unknown to all the other people on the face of the globe; the island continent of New Holland, with only a scattered sprinkling of savages from its aboriginal inhabitants; the Polynesian Archipelago; and all the yet uninhabited spots of earth where means of support and occupation for man can be obtained—are to be covered with an intelligent, busy population—and where now the forest throws its dark shadow over its innumerable flying or creeping tribes, or the wilderness is the range of herds of untamed beasts, or the jungle affords a shelter to the tiger, the elephant and the serpent—there shall the dwellings of men and the sanctuaries of God be seen, and the hum of commerce, and the anthems of true religion be heard.
The replenishing of the earth never went forward more rapidly than in the day and from the country in which we live. Colonization and emigration are two of the grandest features of our age. Infant states are being born to Britain, and our country is becoming the mother of nations. Myriads and myriads, year after year, are wafted, not only in ships—but I may almost say in fleets, to the shores of America, Australia, and New Zealand. The vast tide of population is flowing out to relieve our overcrowded town and cities, and to found new towns and cities in the wilds of those distant regions. Thus are carried out the plans of Providence—to have a peopled world instead of a wilderness; and thus are the predictions of holy writ accomplished, which assure us that the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth. Everything falls in with the current of God's gracious purposes towards our dark disordered world; everything indicates human improvement and the progress of social existence; everything tends to the diffusion of the Bible, and harmonizes with its tendency, design, and announcements; everything is making way for the universal spread and triumph of true religion, for the reign of Christ, for the millennial glory and the jubilee of the world.
Some of my readers may, by joining the multitude of emigrants, be instrumental in this great work of replenishing the earth with people, and, if possessed of true religion, of carrying the light of divine truth to the ends of the earth. This, then, is the subject of the present chapter—Emigration. In treating this subject I shall consider
I. The DECISION to emigrate.I will suppose the resolve is taken, the plan laid, the purpose unalterable. But what has led to it? There are various and very different motives and grounds for such a step. In some cases it is obedience to the stern dictate of necessity.
MISCONDUCTat home renders it matter of compulsion rather than of choice, to go abroad; it is a flight rather than a voluntary departure. Reputation may have been lost, and lost also the hope of retrieving it here. This is a painful case—but not a hopeless one. If this be your condition, you will have abundant and most favorable opportunities for rectifying what is amiss, without being subject to the suspicion, neglect, rebukes, and frowns of those who knew you in your better days. On your voyage reflect upon your conduct, review the past. Dare to look back. When pacing the deck at night, or lying in your hammock, or listening to the awful roar of the tempest, not knowing but you may be soon swallowed up in the billows raging around you, and every now and then breaking over your trembling vessel—repent before God, seek his pardoning mercy through Christ, and implore his Holy Spirit to help you first to resolve upon amendment, and then to carry out your resolution. Determine to begin a new life in a new world. Resolve to set out afresh. There is hope for you yet. Carry a Bible with you, read it, and make it your counselor, comforter, and companion. You have neglected true religion, and your sins have found you out. You are in imminent danger of becoming worse instead of better for the change. Bad companions may have been your ruin. You will now be broken off from their circle—but, unless you are firm, you will find worse associates where you are going. You have neglected true religion, and this has been your downfall. Now take it up, and it will not only reclaim and reform you—but it will be your friend in reference to things seen and temporal, as well as things eternal.
If you are wise, you will turn this dire necessity of leaving your country into a means of obtaining the signal blessing of the salvation of your soul. I knew a youth, the son of an eminent, holy minister, who ran a profligate course until his crimes cast him as a convict upon the shores of a foreign land—but he then reflected upon his course, became penitent, and died, I hope, a sincere Christian. Nor is this the only case of the same kind I have known. Even our penal colonies, have thus furnished instances of reclaimed convicts, who have risen to respectability and wealth. The greatest outcast of society may recover. Reformation is possible in the worst of cases.
But there may be another kind of necessity that is driving you away from your native shores. You haveFAILED at the outset of life. Your prospects have faded, and now, with the hope of repairing your broken fortune, you are going to a foreign land. If this has happened through your own misconduct, you too must be humbled before God, and invoke his forgiveness; and when you have done this—but not until then, you may seek his blessing upon the step you are taking. Employ much of your time also in a strict inquiry into your habits. Detect, as you easily may, the cause of failure, and determine to remove it. The same cause, if carried to a distant land, will produce the same effects there. Change of country will not be of the slightest benefit to you without a change of conduct. Indolence and extravagance will as certainly bring ruin in Australia, as in England. You must alter, and you may. A new sphere of action will present an opportunity for alteration, and new motives for effort.
But should your failure be the result of no fault of yours, trust in God. Earnestly pray for his help and blessing. Leave your country with hope. It may be that you too neglected true religion in your happier days. If so, now take it up. I say to you also, carry with you a Bible, and a few religious books. Have the moral courage not to be ashamed of being seen with those silent companions. You will find many on board who will ridicule you—but shall they laugh you out of your convictions? Will you be afraid of a sneer, when your soul and salvation are at stake? Do not put off the subject of true religion until you land. This will be to ensure the neglect of it. Your mind will then be so hurried in seeking employment, and be so taken up with the novelties of a foreign country, as to have little leisure or inclination for attending to spiritual things. With true religion in your heart, you may step ashore in New Zealand or in America, with the hope that God will befriend you in the land of your adoption; and that the tide of your affairs will there turn in your favor.
But by far the largest class of emigrants is composed of those who go out with a spirit ofADVENTURE, with the hope of doing better for themselves abroad, than at home. Every department of action here in England is so crowded, competition is so fierce, and situations of advantage are so rare, that they have little hope of success at home, and turn their attention to one or other of our rising colonies. I know not that such people are to be blamed; and yet is it a step to be taken with much deliberation, caution, and prayer. Where a young man has an opportunity of doing well for himself in his own country, there seems no reason, except it be inordinate ambition, or a love of adventure, to lead him to another land. Neither of these impulses is a very sufficient one for change of residence. There will always be found an adequate number of those who really are not doing very well here, and could do a great deal better abroad, to keep up the stream of emigration, without those going who are doing well at home. There is great wisdom in the advice, to "let well alone."
A love of change is a dark portent in the character of any young man. He who goes abroad for mere adventure, will soon come back again from the same impulse. There is nothing which a young man should more earnestly dread, nothing he should more assiduously watch against, nothing he should more resolutely resist, than this versatility—it will be fatal to all his hopes and prospects.
Still there are very many cases in which it is not only justifiable—but even commendable, to emigrate—and when the character and conduct are good, where there are those qualities of mind which are likely to make the individual a blessing to the land to which he is going, as well as a benefit to his own family and fortune, I cannot but approve the decision.
II.Having thus distinguished between the different classes of emigrants, I shall now speak of the TRIALS of emigration.
In most cases there is theseparation from friends. Not infrequently the emigrant has to tear himself from the arms and fond embrace of a loving and beloved mother, and from the warm grasp of an affectionate father; and he who has outgrown or outlived all sensibilities of this nature, gives poor evidence of right feeling of any kind, and holds out faint hope of being likely to obtain God's blessing upon his future course. "Farewell" is always a sad sound, when parents and children, brothers and sisters, are parting; but especially when, in all probability, they are parting forever.
And besides this,is it nothing to expel ourselves from our native LAND? Why, the irrational creatures love the spot of their birth, and their early dwelling; and this is an instinct which man shares with them. It is long before the charms of those expressions cease to be felt, "My country and my father's house." I can envision the thoughtful emigrant watching from the deck of his vessel, with tearful eyes and intense feeling, the receding shores of his native land; seeing her green fields and white cliffs, her steeples and her houses becoming more and more dim; straining his eyes still to see the last speck of land that is distinctly visible; and then looking upon the mighty waste of waters, until in an agony he exclaims, "I have seen the last of the land of my fathers!"
Thenthe voyage, its length, its inconvenience, its hard fare and lack of accommodations, its sea-sickness and other indescribable annoyances, its often disagreeable companions and uncongenial company.
These things end, only to be exchanged, in many cases, fortrials of another kind. Oh, for a man to light upon a new world, alike unknowing and unknown; to be a stranger in a strange land, with no one to recognize or smile upon him; to be informed that some whom he expected to welcome him on these distant shores are either dead or removed to another place; and to meet no one to stretch out the hand of friendship, or to give the kiss of love; to have to seek employment where perhaps the labor market is overstocked, and to be long without finding occupation; to see his little stock of money well-near spent without any means of replenishing it; to find all his dreams of colonial prosperity nothing but dreams, and see all his hopes of immediate success, so long and so confidently cherished, vanish like the baseless fabric of a vision; to discover too late, or at any rate to begin to think, he has made a mistake in leaving his native country. These, all these, are among the trials which many of our emigrants have to endure. And even where their trials are not altogether of so dreary an aspect as this, yet are they except in rare cases, many more and far greater than the most sober calculation had expected.
A very large proportion of settlers have their lot cast in such thinly peopled spots, as to be miles from their nearest neighbor, and have to endure so many privations as to be reduced to the barest necessaries of existence. If the man is a Christian, who loves the house of God, the means of grace, the ministry of the Word, the oversight and conversation of a faithful pastor, and the fellowship of saints—he feels in addition the deprivation of all these. To hear a sermon, he must travel miles, and to break the bread of communion with the saints, he must travel still further.
Such are but a few of the trials of an emigrant's life. I could tell a tale of woe connected with some who have gone out from my own church, which would harrow up your feelings to a degree of intense suffering. Not however that affliction often falls with such weight as in the case to which I allude. Yet such things should make you cautious how you determine to encounter them, and should prepare your mind for the struggle, by laying up a good store of consolation for the evil day. And what can this be but true religion? The trials of very many emigrants are fewer and lighter than I have described; and I have drawn the picture thus darkly, not to prevent emigration, or to fill the mind which has resolved on it, with dark misgivings—but to check that proneness to think a foreign shore a fairy land, in which so many indulge. The danger lies on the side of thinking too lightly of the trials of such a life, and not preparing for them—rather than on the side of having too gloomy an apprehension of them.
III.It is the part of fidelity to remind you of the DANGERS of emigration.
It would not be kind to attempt to fill your mind with the perils of the ocean, and thedangers of shipwreck, or the other casualties of a voyage. Nor is it probable that you will be called to a calamity so fearful. I know not the proportion of fatal voyages to successful ones—but I would suppose they are not as one to a hundred. So that apprehension of this kind need not greatly alarm you. Still, your vessel may sink at sea, or be wrecked on some foreign shore, and it is well, by sincere and humble piety, to be prepared for the worst. True religion will enable you to meet death at sea in the storm—as well as in the calm on dry land. An eminent Christian minister, in the prospect of a voyage, when contemplating the possibility of shipwreck, recorded thus his feelings under the possibility of such a catastrophe—"How willingly would I embrace that wave, which instead of landing me at Liverpool—would land me in heaven!" Mr. Mackenzie was seen, when the vessel was sinking, divested of all fear for himself—calmly directing the minds of his perishing fellow-passengers to look by faith to Jesus, and thus prepare for that eternity on which in a few moments they were about to enter. See what true religion can do for its possessors amid the roar of the tempest—and when the ocean is opening its mouth to swallow them up. Could you thus hopefully and peacefully descend into a watery grave?
But death sometimes comes on board an emigrant ship which escapes the tempest. To die at sea is no uncommon thing. Death, like its Omnipotent Lord and Conqueror, often walks the waves, and approaches the affrighted mariners, and steps on board the vessel—but not as in the case of Jesus on the lake of Gennesaret, to relieve—but to confirm, the fears of those who watch his approach. To a good man there is nothing dreadful in this. True it is that the ocean is not the house, nor a ship the chamber, in which anyone would choose to endure his last sickness and meet the last enemy. But a believing sense of God's presence and love, and the prospect of a glorious immortality—can make a death-bed easy even there. And the real Christian can endure without dismay the thought of sleeping in the bottom of the ocean, amid the monsters of the deep, instead of in a sepulcher on dry land, assured that at the resurrection morning, "the sea will give up the dead which are in it."
These, however, are not the greatest or most imminent dangers to which you will be exposed; or those of which you should be most afraid; or against which you need to be most impressively and anxiously warned by your friends.Perils of a MORAL kind, and fearful ones, will beset your path. What a mixture of company is to be found in every emigrant ship that floats its living cargo to a distant shore. There you will probably find the vicious of both sexes; the infidel, the debauchee, the gambler, the drunkard; the men of all principles, and of no principle; the men of bankrupt fortune, and, what is worse, of bankrupt character. And not unlikely "the immoral woman" will be there, "whose lips drop as a honey-comb, and whose mouth is smoother than oil—but whose end (to you as well as to herself, if you are ensnared by her) is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword; whose feet go down to death, and her steps take hold of hell"—with those also whom she inveigles.
In the best furnished ships will be found people who, if you associate with them, will imperil your morals—and may ruin your character and your hopes for both worlds! An association of this kind once formed, you cannot avoid its contaminating influence for a single day. You cannot get away from it if you would. The tempter is ever in sight, always at your elbow and your ear. There is no wider range for you to move in than the vessel which contains you both. The danger is thus greater than can be described or imagined. It will follow you ashore—it will affect your character and conduct when you land—and influence all your future destiny. If then you have the least regard to your welfare, be vigilant, be cautious. Go to the scene of danger aware of it—and look up to God to preserve you. Pray to him to spread over you the shield of his omnipotence.
Should you, however, escape this danger on board ship, it will meet you on your landing. Our colonies are not only a field of enterprise for adventurers, whether they be the sober and industrious seeking a legitimate and ample scope for their energies and their hopes—or the reckless and desperate, throwing the dice for their last chance—but also the retreat of the prodigal and the profligate, where they may hide their shame and pursue their vicious career, unknown and unobstructed. In addition to this, there is in our penal colonies the infection diffused by the convicts. In these situations a young man viciously disposed, will have every opportunity for gratifying his carnal appetites—unrecognized by friends, and unrestrained by strangers.
But there are also dangers of another type than these. In a country, the population of which, even as regards its better portions, are to a certain extent a vast company of adventurers, who are all beginning life afresh and struggling hard amid many difficulties to root themselves in the land of their adoption, there is likely to be acquired a peculiar hardness and selfishness of character, very unfriendly to the tender affections of the heart, the cordialities of life, and the feelings and purposes of true religion. The thorns of worldly cares, and the stony ground of earthly-mindedness, are but too common every where—but especially there, and they prevent the growth of the good seed of piety and virtue. Failures are common—honest principles are soon undermined—and in the hard struggle and anxious effort for success, every object but such as pertain to the present world, is lost sight of.
The flattering pictures of colonial life and prosperity, which the imagination of many had drawn, in which they dreamed of immediate and certain success, without fear and almost without labor, are all found to be illusions of the imagination, and they are ready to lie down in despair, or to adopt any course, however dishonorable or even dishonest—not, indeed, to gain a fortune, which was once their expectation—but a bare living, which is now their highest, indeed, only hope. How unfavorable is such a situation to the cultivation of piety, or even of virtue!
To all this must now be added the new temptations and perils which the discovery of the gold has thrown in the way of emigrants. The stream of population, swollen and quickened in its course, is flowing with dangerous rapidity towards the 'golden regions', floating some to prosperity—but more to ruin for both worlds. It will prove a fatal whirlpool to multitudes. Guard against the influence of these 'visions of great wealth'. Let not your imaginations be filled with the day-dreams and fascinations of this modern El Dorado; nor allow yourselves to be allured with eager anticipations to its golden shores.
That Providence has some great ends to be answered by this new chapter in our world's history there can be no doubt; and that some must be employed as instruments to work out its plans, is equally clear. But be not in haste to press into its service. Let the tales of hardship, and of disease, and of death, and of failure, which come from the "diggings"—cool the ardor produced by the reports of sudden wealth, and balance the gainful side of the account. Think of the peril to godly character which is produced by such a state of things; the lust of gold, the selfishness, the jealousy and envy, the grasping covetousness, or the reckless extravagance—and the all but certain neglect of everything but gold—which success is likely to produce. Such a state of society is the worst possible mold in which character can be formed. Avoid it, therefore, and be contented with avocations which, if they are far less lucrative—are at the same time far less perilous.
If, however, your course should seem to lie that way, enter upon the scene of dangers, duly aware of its perils—and looking up to God for protection, and combining watchfulness with prayer. To people in such a situation the question applies with dreadful and alarming force, "What shall it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul—or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" What carries the danger of all this to the highest pitch, is the absence, in many parts of our colonies, especially in the gold regions, of the means of grace, the ordinances of public worship, the fellowship of saints, and the oversight of ministers. How difficult is it here, even in this highly favored land, by the aid of all these, to keep down sin and to maintain a due regard to the claims of true religion and morality! But how much worse would things be without this! There can be no question that the power of the pulpit, and the restraint of Christian example, tend greatly to moralize and purify the life even where they do not renew the heart—to restrain the sinner where they do not convert him—and to keep down the overflowings of ungodliness where they do not spread out the beauties of holiness. It is true that through the voluntary energies of almost all denominations of professing Christians, the deficiency of the means of grace, in our principal colonies, is being in some considerable measure supplied. But still how many emigrants are there who go out into the wild, who are not within a day's journey of a place of Christian worship, and scarcely hear a sermon in a year!
"Oh, think of those who pine to hear,
What is there in such circumstances to aid the struggles of the soul after godly principles and habits here—or salvation hereafter? And even where the means of grace are within reach, they are, it must be confessed, too often of that feeble and inefficient character, which renders them neither attractive nor influential. Such, then, are some of the dangers to which the emigrant is exposed.
IV.I now proceed to offer some COUNSELS and DIRECTIONS. There are, as regards religion, two distinct classes of emigrants. Some of you, who read these pages, are not truly saved. You know you are not yet brought to repentance towards God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ—that you are not yet led to acknowledge God in all your ways, to live habitually in his fear and favor, and to enjoy the comforts of the Holy Spirit. Going out from your own country to a foreign land—without the guidance of true religion! Going to encounter the perils of the ocean and the dangers of shipwreck—without the support of true religion! Going to leave the home of your fathers, and sojourn in a strange land—without the companionship of true religion! Going to encounter all the trials perplexities and difficulties of an emigrant's life—without the consolations of true religion! How forlorn a condition! How desolate a lot! No acknowledgment of God; no trust in him, no prayer to him, no communion with him, no expectation from him! No preparation of mind to see his immensity shadowed forth in the boundless expanse of the ocean; to hear his awesome power, grandeur, and majesty proclaimed in the tempest and the thunderstorm; to trace his wisdom and goodness in the varied products of new countries; to contemplate his glory and realize his presence everywhere! Unhappy man! You are indeed to be pitied. The world is all before you—but Providence is not invoked to be your guide, and direct you where to choose.
Oh, pause and ponder upon your condition, and the ways of your feet. Will you, dare you, can you, go out without God? Without God to guide and protect and bless you? And if without God as your friend—with him as your enemy! Do you forget it is God's world you live in, and God's country to which you are going? And how can you think of going to it without asking his permission, imploring his guidance, and seeking his blessing? Recollect you are dependent every moment upon him, and all your future destiny is to be decided by him. He can raise you to prosperity—or depress you to the lowest adversity. He can frustrate or promote all your schemes. He can disappoint or realize all your hopes. Before you leave your native shore then, yield yourselves unto God, "Remember your Creator, now, in the days of your youth, before the evil days come." You are busy in preparing for the voyage, and are engaged in the cares of the voyage. Religion, true, vital, experimental, decided religion—is the best preparation, the most important business. Determine, by God's grace, not to leave your country an enemy to him, lest he send the whirlwind as his messenger to arrest you on the sea—or ruin to overtake you on the dry land! Go forth rather as his servant, his friend, and his son—that to you may be applied the beautiful language of the poet:
"His are the mountains—and the valleys his,
Let the voice of friendship prevail, and the anxiety of ministerial fidelity be successful—in persuading you immediately to be reconciled to God through faith which is in Christ Jesus. Present, in sincerity and earnestness, the prayer of Moses, "If your presence does not go with me—carry me not up hence." You shall not ask in vain, for the answer will come, "My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest." You will leave all other friends behind you—but your best Friend will go with you—and he will be more to you than father, mother, brother, and sisters. Should you determine to act upon this advice, then all which will now be addressed to the next class of exiles will also appertain to you.
Many emigrants are alreadyTRUE Christians, and will go out as such. To this class I now address myself, with affectionate solicitude for your welfare in both worlds.
First of all, I would make a few remarks in the way of CONSOLATION. In your present circumstances you need it, and you may have it. I trust you have the peace which arises from the testimony of your conscience, that in leaving your country you are following the leadings of Providence, and that you see the cloudy pillar moving before you—that it is a lawful object you are pursuing and one on which you may confidently ask God's blessing. This settled, you have in that one thought, "I am where God led me," a world of consolation. In the wreck of either your vessel or your fortunes, you may then be calm and satisfied, for no remorse will increase your terrors or aggravate your sorrows.
Next you may, and should, reflect with comfort upon the omnipresence of God. This is one of the main props of all true religion, whether in the way of holy fear or sacred pleasure. It was the saying of a Jewish Rabbi, "If every man would consider God to be the great eye of the world, watching perpetually over all our actions, and that his hand is indefatigable, and his ear ever open—possibly sin might be extirpated from the face of the earth!" This is going too far—but it is impressive. Yes, God is everywhere present, though invisible to us. Were the emigrant to leave his God, when he left his country, what crowds of unsaved sinners would flee from the presence of the Lord, and escape from the vigilance of his observant eye—but what Christian would go? Pious youth, God goes with you, wherever you go, he is there before you in all the glory of his attributes, in all the tenderness of his love, in all the faithfulness of his promises, and in all the watchfulness of his providence. Be this your comfort—you cannot flee from his presence. And as God goes with you, so does your gracious Redeemer—in all his offices, characters, and endearments. So does the Holy Spirit—with all his gracious influences. So does your Bible. So does the throne of grace. So does the fellowship of saints—at least to most places. You thus carry your best friends, your richest treasures, your dearest comforts, your safest protection—with you. Without these no sun would be bright—no scenery beautiful—no air balmy—no society agreeable—and no success joyful. But with these, consolation may be found on the most desolate shores—and in the most dreary scenes of nature or of Providence.
All places are equally near to heaven, and all equally accessible to the falling rays which even now descend from its glory. On board the ship, amid a wicked crew and noisy passengers, God can be with you; and equally so in the rough population of some colonial town, or in the dreary wild of some colonial desert. In the deepest solitude you may use the language which the poet has put into the lips of Alexander Selkirk, when dwelling alone on the island of Juan Fernandez:
"There's mercy in every place,
You remember perhaps the anecdote of Mr. Park, the African traveler, when he was in the heart of Africa, alone and unprotected. He had just been robbed and stripped by ferocious bandits, and the following is the account he gives of his feelings and his relief—"After they were gone, I sat for some time, looking around me with amazement and terror. Whichever way I turned, nothing appeared but danger and difficulty. I saw myself in the midst of a vast wilderness, in the depth of the rainy season, naked and alone, surrounded by savage animals, and men still more savage. I was five hundred miles from the nearest European settlement. All these circumstances crowded at once on my recollection, and I confess that my spirit began to fail me. I considered my fate as certain, and that I had no alternative but to lie down and perish. The influence of true religion, however, aided and supported me. I reflected that no human prudence or foresight could possibly have averted my present sufferings. I was indeed a stranger in a strange land, yet I was still under the protecting eye of that Providence who has condescended to call himself the stranger's friend. At this moment, painful as my reflections were, the extraordinary beauty of a small moss in bloom, irresistibly caught my eye. I mention this to show from what trifling circumstances the mind will sometimes derive consolation; for, though the whole plant was not larger than the top of one of my fingers, I could not contemplate the delicate conformation of its roots, leaves, and bloom, without admiration. Can that Being, thought I—who planted, watered, and brought to perfection, in this obscure part of the world, a thing which appears of so small importance—look with unconcern upon the situation and suffering of creatures formed after his own image? Surely not! Reflections like these would not allow me to despair. I rose up, and disregarding both hunger and fatigue, traveled forwards, assured that relief was at hand—and I was not disappointed. In a short time, I came to a small village, at the entrance of which I met the two shepherds who had come with me. They were much surprised to see me; for they said they never doubted that the savage Foulahs, when they had robbed, had murdered me."
But let me now offer you someCOUNSELS. Taken away from the means of grace, to which you have been accustomed, you will be in danger of resembling a child weaned at too early an age, which droops and sickens for lack of its mother's milk. On your voyage you will find nothing around you to sustain your faith and godliness—but everything adverse to them. For months your church services will perhaps be nothing more than listening to a few prayers, or a sermon formally, coldly, and carelessly read. You will perhaps meet with no one who can talk with you the language of Canaan, and fan by his conversation and prayers, the languid flame of your devotion. You will therefore be in imminent peril of losing much of your spirituality on the voyage. To guard against this, it is well you should take a calm and intelligent view of your situation. In this case, as well as in others, to be fore-warned is to be fore-armed.
Be much in prayer—in earnest wrestling, and believing prayer—before you step on board. Intensely long to be kept, and then you will be kept. God can and will make his grace sufficient for you. He can preserve you, and will, if you desire it—though there is not another Christian in the ship. He will be the lifter up of your head—will sustain you by his power through faith—and will put his glory upon you.
Do not be ashamed of your religion.Much of future annoyance and embarrassment will be prevented by a bold and honest, yet meek and humble, avowal of your Christian principles. The first obstacle, given in a new phase or aspect of life, is that which is most to be dreaded. Decision, maintained with firmness but gentleness, will soon subdue opposition. Your persecutors, if such you should have, will not be slow to find out that their ridicule is expended to no purpose on one who is not affected by it—and who always returns good for evil. But for this moral and spiritual courage, you must be much in prayer.
"Of the mongoose it is stated, that when wounded by the serpent with which it is in conflict—or previously to renewing the conflict—it retires by instinct to a particular herb, for expelling whatever venom it has received, and to be invigorated with fresh strength for obtaining the victory. Sanctify the thought by your frequent retirement to God for aid in the war-strife in which you may be engaged with sin in its various forms around you—and its most subtle insinuations in your own bosom." (Leifchild)
Fear not, then, to be seen with your Bible and other good books. Let your piety be neither ostentatiously displayed—nor timidly concealed. At first it would be well to say little about it to others—until you have gained their confidence and affection. Let there be no bustling and meddlesome zeal, no attempt to take the ship's company by storm, nothing like parading your religion and proclaiming your intention to convert all on board. This will defeat your purpose, by raising up resistance. Your light must shine before your fellow-passengers—by your good works—and your piety must be seen in all its loveliness and consistency—before it is heard! Be known as the humble, meek, and gentle follower of the Lamb—the friend of everyone—the enemy of none.
If you can find men of like mind on board, cultivate their acquaintance, and live in sweet fellowship with them. If they have their peculiarities—as probably they will have—bear with them in love. Let there be the best understanding between you and them; for the quarrels, or even the coolness, of professing Christians, will do immense harm.
Take especial care that your CONDUCT be uniformly consistent.When it is known, and known it ought to be, that you are a Christian man, you will be watched by the malignant eyes of those who wait for your failing, and whose ingenuity will be taxed to lay snares for your feet. One wrong step will destroy all your influence, by defacing the beauty and impairing the strength of your example, and will subject not only yourself—but Christianity, to the suspicion of hypocrisy. You may hope, by acting in a blameless and harmless manner, to be the means of doing good to some of your fellow-emigrants. You may discover some pensive and sorrow-stricken heart, prepared, by deep sorrow, to receive the consolations of the gospel. Or you may find some prodigal already beginning to ponder with remorse on his wanderings, in whose relenting heart you may fasten conviction, penitence and faith. You may be honored of God thus to "convert a sinner from the error of his ways, to save a soul from death, and hide a multitude of sins."
Should you escape the moral dangers of the voyage, and land upon a distant shore unharmed in soul—you must not consider that all, or even the greatest, perils are over. There still remain all the trials to which you will be exposed in the struggle to be carried on for establishing yourself in the colony. Many have escaped the shipwreck of the sea, only to incur the more fearful one—not only of their fortune—but of their character! Professors who have stood well at home, have miserably failed abroad. In the eager strife which you will perhaps carry on for success in your new locality, where so many are striving with you and like you, there is a fear lest the ardor of pious affection, should be quenched in a flood of earthly-mindedness; and lest the purity of Christian principle, should be debased by the love and the prospect of Mammon's pelf—especially in the gold regions.
It has been said that very lax principles of morality govern the trade of some of our colonies; and that many professing Christians are carried away by the stream of 'commercial dishonesty'. Doubtless many have therefore damaged their characters, however they may have improved their circumstances. "The transplanted tree may become greatly flourishing with fruit, in the new soil where it is fixed. But if its fruit becomes dwarfed, insipid, and tasteless—the change is one that will ever have to be deplored. Let your piety, on the contrary, take a deeper root, and strike out wider its fruit-bearing branches in the locality where you may be destined to spend the remainder of your days."
A Christian ought to be anxious to promote the moral and spiritual well-being of the colony to which he emigrates.The best way to preserve his own piety is to keep it in action. 'Still water' breeds filth and vermin—but the 'running stream' is clear and pure. Neither our soul's health, nor our body's health—can be preserved without exercise.
But there is another reason, my young friends, which I press upon your attention, why you should be active in diffusing true religion where you go, and that is—the future destiny of the colonies. What is a colony? A collection of a few adventurers from various parts of the earth, settling down upon a foreign coast with a purpose to retrieve their fortunes or their characters—or to start in life with advantages there which they could not command at home. But what will that colony be in a century or two? It is an infant state, a nation in boyhood, which, when, full grown, may be a rival of the land that gave it existence!
A little more than two centuries ago, a few outcasts and fugitives from this country, flying from the 'demon of persecution', landed from the "Mayflower," on a bare and barren rock on the northern coast of America. The country all around was bleak, desolate, and wild—and inhabited only by tribes of Indians and herds of buffalo. There was a colony. What is it now? The greatest, the strongest, the most flourishing republic ever founded upon earth; a republic which is already the rival in trade of the fatherland, and which has more than once been engaged with it successfully in war.
It is thought by some that England has passed the zenith of its glory, and that the British empire is destined to decay and fall; that its population will remain stationary or recede; its courage abate, its wealth diminish, and its supremacy disappear; until at length the "Queen of the Waves" will sink into an eternal, though not forgotten, slumber. And the question has been asked, whether at some future period in our world's history, and amid the changes which take place in its affairs, some traveler from New Zealand or Australia may not sit down upon a broken arch of London Bridge, to paint the ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral; or place himself where he shall paint the towers of York Minster, rising in dark magnificence amid an aged forest; or go and paint the red deer sporting in wild freedom round the Athenian pillars of the Scottish metropolis.
All this is not very probable; but if it should be in the decrees of heaven and the destinies of earth, let it be your concern, who go as Christian emigrants to these future nations which are to be exalted in majesty over the ruins of their parent country—that their colony shall be so educated in their infancy, as to rise up Christian states in their manhood. Go out with the holy and noble ambition of carrying on the work of evangelization and civilization. Be the patriots of your new country; and have your names enrolled among those to whom its future generations shall look back with gratitude and respect. Carry out the principles of civil and religious liberty, and never forget that as you are joining with others in laying the foundations of civil polity, it should be done with care and skill, and so that they shall bear a superstructure in which God shall dwell with man upon the earth. A high and holy object of ambition is thus presented to you. Seize in all its grandeur and extent the conception that you are assisting in constructing the foundation of future nations, and let not even the modesty and humility which are the natural result, and should be the accompaniments, of your comparatively humble circumstances in life, dispossess you of it.
Even the day laborers who worked at the foundations of the Pyramids had a share in raising a structure which has been the admiration of all ages, and will probably last until the end of time. So the humblest emigrant that lands on the shore of Australia—if he is a man of piety, virtue, and active benevolence—is doing something towards the wealth, the power, and the moral glory of the future state that may rise in that now comparatively unpeopled wilderness.
In connection with all this, and indeed for its realization—it is necessary you should attend to some other things. I refer you to the last chapter for what you will need as a man of business, and what is essential to your success. The knowledge, industry, economy, system, and perseverance, there recommended, necessary for all—are pre-eminently so for you. Without your determining to act thus, there is not the remotest hope of your success. If you expect to do without these endowments in a foreign land—you are greatly mistaken. Give up at once all notion that less qualification for success is necessary in the colonies, than at home. The earth does not bring forth her fruits spontaneously there in a virgin soil—any more than it does here. The ground is cursed for man's sake all over the globe; and to earn your bread by the sweat of your brow is the condition of your existence in Australia and New Zealand—as well as in England.
You must make up your mind to endure HARDSHIPS which are unknown at home.He who expects to carry to a new settlement, at least in some parts of the world—all the luxuries, or even comforts which he may have here in England—and who is not prepared to endure much self-denial—had better remain where he is. It is true, in the towns already formed in some of the colonies, most of the usual comforts of life may be available, as well as in this country; but an emigrant cannot always choose his abode, and may be called to go beyond the circle of population where he will have to construct his own dwelling—make a great part of his own furniture—and obtain his own food. You should seriously consider whether this will suit you—or you it. A spirit of adventure, where it exists, a buoyancy of spirits, a love of enterprise, and a hope of success, will carry many a man through all these difficulties—but have you these qualifications?
Guard against a reckless spirit of financial speculation.Do not make haste to be rich. This is one of the dangers of colonial life, dangerous alike to moral principle and to commercial prosperity. There is great room for it abroad, and many temptations to it. It has made a few—but it has ruined many. Some have endeavored to leap the chasm or ford the river, without patiently going round by the bridge, and have succeeded; while others in making the same attempt have been dashed to pieces or drowned! Speculation is a game of great hazard. Do not play it! One throw of the dice may win a fortune—but the next may lose it! Be contented to plod on slowly—but certainly. What is gained by patient industry usually wears better and lasts longer—than that which is won in a lottery.
Especially guard against a compromising of Christian business principles.In the fierce conflict for success in a young settlement, this is one of the dangers to which all who enter into it are exposed. Go out determined to follow the standard of "whatever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report." Make up your mind to the truth of God's Holy Word, that "better is the little that a righteous man has, than the riches of many wicked." Failure is to be infinitely preferred, when it comes with a good conscience—than success procured by iniquity. As a general principle it will be found true that "honesty is the best policy."
Keep up a correspondence with your native country, especially if you have left friends in it who take an interest in your welfare. There is something immoral and unChristian in a disposition to forget the home and the friends of your childhood—and something greatly cruel, in keeping your parents, or your brothers and sisters, ignorant of your circumstances. This is sometimes not sufficiently thought of, by those who leave their country. But the soil in which early and home affections all wither and die, cannot be favorable to the growth of piety or virtue—such soil is cold and stony.
Be very cautious about choosing your companions. Characters of all varieties, and many of them of the worst kinds, are to be found in the colonies. How many are obliged to emigrate, and find in those distant retreats—a shelter from the finger of scorn—the tongue of reproach—and, in some cases, from the visitations of justice; men who go out unreformed—and who carry all their bad principles and evil dispositions with them. Many of them are clever, specious, and plausible—but they carry the serpent's cunning and venom, under the fascinating colors of his skin.
Never give your company, your ear, your hand, or your confidence, to anyone—until you have proved that he is worthy of them. A stranger in a strange land, you will feel your loneliness, and in your craving after social communion, will be in danger of falling into the snares of those who lie in wait to deceive. One of the members of my church, who carried out with him a considerable sum of money, gave his confidence, and with it a considerable portion of his property, to one who professed for him great friendship; and but for most determined proceedings would have lost it. Men prowling about society to prey upon the unwary, are to be found everywhere—and there is no shortage of these evil men and women in the colonies.
And now let me direct your attention to what the apostle has said of the holy patriarchs of Canaan, "All these faithful ones died without receiving what God had promised them, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed the promises of God. They agreed that they were no more than strangers and pilgrims here on earth. And obviously people who talk like that are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had meant the country they came from, they would have found a way to go back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a heavenly city for them." Hebrews 11:13-16.
Christian! Your earthly sojourn is a pilgrimage to heaven! Look up to that better country which is above and beyond the boundaries of earth and time—the home of the holy, the good, and the blessed—where there shall be no more death, or sorrow, or crying—where there shall be no more pain—where fears, anxieties and labors have no place—where the turmoils and the strifes of life are unknown—where the wicked cease from troubling—where the weary are at rest—where temptation will be over—where the conflict will cease!
Blessed country! May it be your chief concern to travel to that joyful and glorious land. From this present world you must depart. No choice is left you. The hour of departure draws on—but whether it will be in youth, in manhood, or in old age, is known only to God. Shall there be no preparation for your eternal home? Shall there be no thoughtfulness or concern given to your journey to eternity?
There are but two places of abode beyond the grave--heaven and hell. To one or the other you must soon depart! Which? Which?