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Greene, David
Autograph Letter Signed, Missionary Rooms Boston, December 30, 1835 to Edward H. Leffingwell, M.D., New Haven, Connecticut

quarto, 4 pages, in very good clean and legible condition, postal markings on stamp-less address leaf.

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Greene writes against the advisability of undertaking missions and missionary labors in Catholic countries:


“My Dear Sir,

I have delayed replying to your favor of the 11th, principally with the hope of being able to bring the general question of the expediency of your attempting missions in papal countries before our Committee, and getting a decision upon it, but in this I have, as yet, been disappointed.  Our ordinary business has so occupied the time which they could allot to meetings, that no attention could be devoted to it. We shall have the question discussed as soon as circumstances permit.

Your letter must remain unacknowledged no longer. My present opinion is that it would not be expedient for our board to attempt to establish a Mission in any Catholic country. My reasons are briefly thus, - 1. Heathen countries are more easily acceptable than papal, & the missionaries will labor under much fewer restrictions & embarrassments, in almost every department of his work, in the former than in the latter. – In most heathen countries there is less regularly organized religious system to be overthrown, & there is a less formidable opposition from the priesthood, or government. – 3. The principles of civil and religious liberty are gradually undermining the superstition & tyranny of catholic communities, so that they are likely in the next generation to be in a situation to be acted upon more directly and with less opposition & embarrassment, than at present. There is free access to heathen nations – work enough there to be done for the present – let us labor for those first to whom Providence has opened the way – Before the conversion of the heathen shall be effected, all will be in readiness for missionaries to approach catholic countries.

Wherever there is an opportunity, in the meantime, for approaching a Catholic community advantageously, either by the living missionary, or by the Bible or tract, let us enter; and especially, let us permit missionaries for the Catholics in all our large cities, where we may operate upon them without embarrassment from governments or ecclesiastical courts.

My opinion is that our Committee, whenever they shall decide on the subject, will decide nearly as I have now written. You may probably be aware that Mr. Brigham now secretary of the Am. Bib. Society, spent about two years in S. America & Mexico in 1825 & 6, as agent for our board, exploring the country. His opinion was that it was not expedient to send missionaries to this quarter.

If I can get any thing from our committee which will have any bearing on your plans, I will inform you without delay --- I rejoice to learn that you have chosen the Lord for your portion & his service for the business of your life. May you ever experience his protecting & guiding care, and find that in keeping his commands there is great reward.

Affectionately & truly yours,

David Greene


P.S. Should you execute your plan, we should feel greatly obliged by any information which you might at a future period furnish, touching the practicability & expediency of attempting a protestant mission in any of the S. A. States.”