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When we meditate on these things, whilst we marvel, we cannot think of them without reference to the circumstances of this nation, invested as it is, with the means of extending the kingdom of Christ upon earth. For, my Christian brethren, I beseech you, behold our ships, our colonies, and our commerce! We can remember when the scourge of Europe, * whom the infidel reign of terror produced in France, threatened their destruction. But every threat renewed for their annihilation witnessed their increased extension: insomuch that out of the many islands and territories visited by our country-men, there are scarcely any, promising convenience or profit, which have not been formed into settlements by our adventurers. Whereas, by their industry and enterprize, large continents have been colonized and added to the British Empire.
Since the Separation of the United States of America from the British crown, Canada, Nova - Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and various Islands are still to be reckoned in the North. In the South, Australia, Van Diemen's Land, and the Swan River, &c. &c. In the East, the great continent of British India, comprehending tribes innumerable, that claim the protection of the British laws. The West Indies furnish also large possessions. Neither is Africa without the influence of British settlers, por beyond the limits of Christian sympathy.
Considering, then, that all these things are indeed under the direction and controul of the all-wise and over-ruling Providence of God, we cannot but put the question—Why hath the Lord dealt thus bountifully with this nation? Why hath he conferred on this little spot upon the wide world's surface such exalted privi
leges? Why hath he given to this kingdom, as to Israel of old, power and capacity to drive out nations from before us, greater in numbers, and apparently mightier than we are.?* Surely, it is not for our own righteousness! Neither can the people say in their heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth! Nor can it be that God hath given us the power to get wealtht merely for the aggrandizement of this empire in the scale of nations. No! my brethren; God has decreed, that the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. I Amidst the corruptions of the true religion, under the Papal power, when the Book of God was shut, it seems, therefore, to have been necessary that some nation, separate from the rest of the nations of the earth, should be chosen as the depository of Truth. From her isolated position, surrounded by ports, and adapted for communication with the whole world, it seems that this land has been selected for the vineyard of the Lord, in order that this people might become His pleasant plant, and be rooted in the faith of Jesus Christ, and grow, and spread forth fruitful branches of His holy church, making the kingdoms of this world the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ. || For, in addition to His other gifts, God hath blessed us with the word of inspiration. He has also put it into the hearts of those who value this inestimable treasure of wisdom, as we possess it in our own tongue, to make others also wise unto salvation, by imparting the promise of eternal life, by the knowledge of the One true God and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent. We are thus taught to look upon this highly favoured nation, as an instrument in the * Deut. iv. 38. Deut. viii. 17, 18. Hab. ii. 14. & Isaiah v.7. || Rev. xi. 15.
John xvii. 3.
Hand of God for spreading the holy religion of Jesus Christ throughout the regions of the whole earth.
In this view of the subject we may discern that God has multiplied this people, and that in our extended commerce, He hath given to this nation the means of acquiring wealth. In our Colonies, He has given us room for expending it, as well in promoting His glory, as in peopling distant countries with our over abundant population; and in our ships, God has given us the means not only of carrying on the traffic of our merchants, but also of carrying out the unspeakable treasures of the holy Bible and missionary preachers of its heavenly doctrines, to the utmost limits of the earth. These are the circumstances in which it has pleased God in His Providence to place this nation; and they seem to call for national exertion in promoting the cause of Christ's holy religion.
II. In the next place, then, we shall proceed to try the question by the principles on which it hinges. These are the principles of the doctrine of Christ, confirmed by the Spirit of Christian prayer. The love enjoined in the first and great commandment, requires at the hand of every man, and every society of men, and of every state in possession of the Holy Gospel, the extension of the kingdom of Christ, under the devotion which it demands of the whole heart, mind, soul, and strength* in the service of God. The love of the second commandment, which is like unto it,t requires not only that we do no harm, but that we do good. We are to love, not in word only, but in deed, and in Truth. I St. James puts the case beyond all controversy. If saith he, a brother or a sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you shall say unto them,
Depart in peace; be ye warmed and filled, notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body, what doth it profit .?* Even so, no Christian nor Society of Christians can take shelter under the negative duties of the second Table. We must do good and freely communicate to others the blessings we have freely received t at the hand of God. What, then, I beseech you, brethren, do Christian principles oblige us to distribute to the poor and destitute of spiritual knowledge, so freely as the bread of life, and the living waterţ which flows from the Gospel of Christ unto everlasting life? Nothing can be more explicit than these first principles of the Divine commandments, on which hang all the law and the prophets. In corroboration whereof we appeal to the prayer which Christ Himself hath taught us.
The very words selected for the text, addressed to God, who is the King of glory, have a peculiar force in support of the argument. We are not taught by them to say: My Father, as we say, “ I believe,” when we each make confession of our common faith. It is not MY “ Father,” as if each individual were taught to pray for himself alone; but “OUR Father,” are the words which Christ hath taught us when we pray, to say. This expression seems to be designed to bring to our remembrance, that “God hath made of one blood all nations of men,” and that we are every one members one of another. As therefore, One God created us, so are we to consider, One God to be, Our Father, and all men our brethren; and we are also evidently to pray, not for ourselves alone, but for all men, | all the tribes
* James ii. 15, 16. + 1 Tim. vi. 18. Matt. x. 8. John vi. 35, 51 ; iv. 10. $ Acts xvii. 26. || Rom. xii. 5. 1 Cor. xii. 12-27. Eph. iv. 25. James v, 16. Tim. ii. 1.
of the whole earth, as children of one Father, and members of one family, although we be in some respects made to differ from each other.
But let us see how the degrees of relationship enhance the obligation upon each to embrace the wants of others in our daily prayer, when they are brought home to every pious heart under the tender and affectionate term “ OUR Father.” When the humble cottager, surrounded by his children, kneels down to say “ Our Father,” this prayer instructs him to include his little ones, and their necessities. He is taught also to pray for his kindred, and his master, and his neighbours, and his benefactors. To raise our thoughts one stage higher in the ranks of men; when the master of a family says, “Our Father," he is taught to comprehend his servants, besides his children, in his daily prayer : his friends and neighbours too, will not only be remembered together with his kindred, but in the more extended range of his connexions, he will pray also for such as are in authority, well knowing that upon their religious integrity, the prosperity, and the peace, and the well-being of the community depend. When the ministers of Christ's religion say—“ Our Father,” they are taught to embrace in their prayers, all their respective flocks, together with the whole Church of Christ, and family of God*--for sinners, that they may be reclaimed-for the heathen, that they may be converted from idol-worship, to the service of the living God--and for the faithful, that they may live to the glory of God, and promote the salvation of mankind. When, moreover, the Queen of this great nation, descending from her throne of earthly glory to kneel before the Lord her Maker, t and the King of kings, says, “OUR Father,” she is taught to think, not only of
* Eph. iii. 14, 15. + Psalm xcv. 6.