Tonight, I’m going to type up some quotes from the ordination of Adinoram Judson and the missionaries who went out with him. These quotes have some incredible perspective for the modern American church. However, before I do, I must make some statements about the word “Heathen.”
In modern English, “Heathen” has an incredibly negative, judgemental nuance. However, even as late as 50 years ago, it wasn’t such a strong word as it is today. The meaning was a people that had not heard of Christ or where Christ was virtually unknown. Generally these nations were much more primitive, since for so long the center of gravity of Christianity rested in Europe, so there was definitely an image that went with the word as a less developed nation.
“Heathen” didn’t have the powerfully negative nuance that it does today. Often there was a genuine compassion for the heathen, just as today NGOs show a genuine compassion for AIDs-infected Africa. When these people said “heathen,” they weren’t looking down in judement so much as anyone who uses the word today. Perhaps a modern equivalent would be “unreached people group.”
So, the word “heathen” is going to pop up a lot in these quotes. I know you’ll wince, but understand that English has changed a lot in the last 200 years.
This first quote was given by a Parson Allen who spoke in Nancy’s (Adinoram’s wife) hometown.
‘My dear children,’ he told them, ‘you are now engaged in the best of causes. It is the cause for which Jesus the Son of God came into the world and suffered and died. You literally forsake father and mother, brothers and sisters, for the sake of Christ and the promotion of His Kingdom.’
He had some special advice to them, as women and wives, concerning their duty to the heavhen women. To convert these women ‘will be your business, my dear children, to whom your husbands can have but little, or no access. Go then, and do all in your power to enlighten their minds, and bring them to the knowledge of the truth… Teach them to realize that they are not an inferior race of creatures, but stand upon a par with men. Teach them that they have immortal souls; and are no longer to burn themselves in the same fire, with the bodied of their departed husbands.’
He had words for the girls’ parents, too, and for the congregation, but at the end of his discourse he turned again to Nancy and Harriet and concluded in a voice nearly breaking: “To the care of the great Head of the church I now commit them. To His grave I also resign you all. May He gather you together in one. And may you also return and come to Zion with a song, and with shouts of everlasting glory.
Here’s a hymn that Parson Allen composed especially for that service. People wept unashamedly as they sang it.
Go, ye herals of salvation;
Go, and preach in heathen lands;
Publish loud to every nation,
What the Lord of life commands.
Go, ye sisters, their companions,
Soothe their care, and wipe their tears,
Angels shall in bright battalions
Guard your steps and guard your fears.
Landed safe in distant regions,
Tell the Burmans Jesus died;
Tell them Satan and his legions,
Bow to him they crucified.
Far beyond the mighty Ganges,
When vast floods beyond us roll,
Think how widely Jesus ranges
Nations wide from pole to pole.
While from heathen nations blended
Light and peace within shall rise;
When your days on earth are ended,
Christ receive you to the skies.
To his grace we now resign you,
To him only you belong;
You with every Christian Hindoo,
Join at last th’ angelic throng.
That was their first ordination service, but their second was the big one, in Salem! At least 1,500 people were there, and the church was packed to the max. People walked long distances through the snow in order to see this, the commissioning of the first overseas American missionaries. Dr. Samuel Spring said the following words, and this is one of my favorite quotes from the book:
No enterprise comparable to this has been embraced by the American church. All others retire before it, like stars before the rising sun.
Dr. __Worchester gave the following conclusion:
You are but the precursors of many, who shall follow you in this arduous, gloruious exercise; for the Gospel shall be preached to all nations, and all people shall see the Salvation of God.
So let it be Lord, amen.