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Sermon, On The Duties And Advantages Of Affording Instruction To The Deaf And Dumb
Thomas Gallaudet, before becoming superintendent of the American Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb in Hartford, Connecticut, was trained to become a Congregationalist minister at Yale University and at Andover Seminary. As institutional linchpins of the Second Great Awakening, both places instilled in Gallaudet a deep interest in the spiritual welfare of all people. The missionary movement, the worldwide effort to spread evangelical Protestantism, was a major part of the Second Great Awakening, and New England missionaries worked in places like Hawaii, Persia, and China.
NOTE. -- The following SERMON was delivered at Burlington and Montpelier, Vermont; Portland, Maine; and Concord, New Hampshire; during an excursion of the author, the object of which was, not to solicit pecuniary contributions, but to excite in the public mind a deeper interest than has hitherto been felt for the DEAF AND DUMB; -- and is now published at the request of the Governor of Maine, and other gentlemen in Portland and Concord. -- Whatever may be derived from the sale of the Sermon, after defraying the expense of publication, will be applied to the support of indigent pupils, at the Asylum, from the States in which copies of the Sermon may be sold.
ROMANS, XV. 21.
"BUT, AS IT IS WRITTEN, TO WHOM HE WAS NOT SPOKEN OF, THEY SHALL SEE; AND THEY THAT HAVE NOT HEARD, SHALL UNDERSTAND."
PROPHECY inspires the Christian with courage in the cause of his Divine Master. Its accomplishment assures him that the Lord is on his side.
The former is like the dawning of an effulgent morn on the eye of indefatigable traveller, cheering him with the promise of alacrity and vigour on his way. The latter is the full-orbed splendour of the noon-day sun, illuminating the region he has left, and yielding him a bright retrospect of the course which has thus far brought him so successfully on his pilgrimage. Such a resolution animated, such a hope gladdened, the breast of Paul, the faithful, the intrepid servant of Jesus Christ. He was sent to preach to the Gentiles. He took courage from the declarations of prophecy. He witnessed its accomplishment; and this furnished him with abundant support and consolation in his laborious and perilous service.
"For I will not dare to speak," says he, "of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient by word and deed.. . .Yea, so have I strived to preach, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation: But, as it is written, to whom he was not spoken of, they shall see and they that have not heard, shall understand.
While contemplating this generous ardour of the apostle, let us consider his example most worthy of the imitation of us all. And would to God, my brethren, that his spirit were transfused into the breasts of all the disciples of Jesus Christ; for never, perhaps, in any period of the history of the Church, has she stretched forth her hands, with more eagerness of supplication, for the undaunted and vigorous exertions, in her behalf, of all who delight in her prosperity.
Now her walls begin to rise, and her towers to lift their heads towards heaven; for many have come up to her help. Let not our hands refuse their labour in so glorious a work; for soon she shall shine forth in all the strength and splendour of the New Jerusalem, becoming the joy and the praise of the whole earth.
Paul toiled for her prosperity. The Gentiles arrested his attention and shared his labours. And his labours derived fresh vigour from the declarations and accomplishment of prophecy.
If we, my brethren, have the spirit of Paul, the heathen of our day will not be neglected by us; and prophecy will become to us, also, an abundant source of encouragement, that we shall not spend our strength among them for naught. These two simple truths form the whole plan of my discourse.
But who are the heathen? My heart sinks within me while giving the reply. Millions, millions of your fellow men. Europe, Asia, African, and America contain a melancholy host of immortal souls who are still enveloped with the midnight gloom of ignorance and superstition.
They who adore the idol which their own hands have formed; who worship the orbs of heaven; who sacrifice their won flesh to a vindictive Deity; who bathe in the stream, or who pass through the fire, to purify themselves from sin; who hope to gain paradise by practising the most cruel bodily austerities; who bid the widow burn on the funeral pile of her deceased husband, while her own offspring lights its flames; who sing their profane incantations, and revel in brutish madness during their nightly orgies, at the instigation of some miserable wretch, claiming the name of wizard or magician; who never heard of that Name, the only one given under heaven by which man can be saved. These are some of the heathen.
Who are the heathen? I direct your observation nearer home. I point you to thousands within your own country, and villages, and towns, and cities, who have grown up, in this favored land, without any correct knowledge of the God who made them; of the Saviour who died to redeem all who trust in Him; of the Spirit which is given to sanctify the of the Book of Eternal Life, which unfold to us all that can alarm our fears or animate our hopes with regard to a future world. -- These are some of the heathen.
But are there still other heathen? Yes, my brethren, and I present them to the eye of your pity, an interesting, an affecting group of your fellow men; -- of those who are bone of your bone and flesh of your flesh; who live encircled with all that can render life desirable; in the midst of society, of knowledge, of the arts, of the sciences, of a free and happy government, of a widely-preached gospel; and yet who know nothing of all these blessings; who regard them with amazement and a trembling concern; who are lost in one perpetual gaze of wonder at the thousand mysteries which surround them; who consider many of our most simple customs as perplexing enigmas, who often make the most absurd conjectures respecting the weighty transactions of civil society, or the august and solemn rites and ceremonies of religion; who propose a thousand enquiries which cannot be answered, and pant for a deliverance which has not yet been afforded them.