To Pass the Remainder of His Life in a Heathen Land

Colby Bicentennial Seal 1813-1863

Feb. 16, 1825

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February 16, 1825President Jeremiah Chaplin, on occasion of the ordination of Rev. George D. Boardman, Class of 1822, and the challenges he will face as missionary in Burma:

The native opposition of their hearts to the holy doctrine of the Gospel, is increased and fortified by all the prejudices of a religious kind which they have imbibed in early life, and which have gathered strength with each revolving year. Hence they are eminently dull of hearing, and slow to understand even the most simple truths. The more learned among them act the part of disputants, and employ against the missionary all the arts which sophistry can invent to puzzle and confound him; while the illiterate, with equal aversion to the Gospel, betray that levity of character, that sottish stupidity, that abandonment to gross vice, and in many instances, that total destitution of the amiable and engaging, which render them, in a high degree, disgusting and repulsive. If they make any progress in Christian knowledge, it is so little that, unless his patience be equal to that of Job, it will be exhausted. … when he pleases himself with the thought that he imparted some valuable instruction to them, he, perhaps, finds, anon, that they have no correct idea of the meaning, and are as much enveloped in the darkness of paganism as they were before. His task, indeed, somewhat resembles that of a man who is climbing the Andes, and who, after he has labored hard for a long time, and has ascended above the clouds, finds, at length, that the summit, which he wishes to gain, is still at an immense distance from him.

The young man, my brethren, to whom I allude, and who is about to be publicly set apart for missionary labours, is, I need not tell you, a native of this State. He was bred up among us. He received his classical education at our College. We know him well. We know his honoured parents. Many of us have heard from his lips the blessed Gospel which he wishes to impart to the perishing Burmans. … Our brother is willing to perform the most difficult part in this labour of love; to leave his native country, and to pass the remainder of his life in a heathen land. Compared with this, the duty to which we are called is altogether easy. It is to pray for the mission, and contribute a little of our temporal substance for its support.

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