« PoprzedniaDalej »
be religiously directed, in order that the proceedings involving the profession of the catholic-protestant faith of our Reformers should be rightly understood as they are, whether for good or for evil.
We have seen that the public grants in aid of our clergy—the Missionary ministers of our holy Church and of the Church Societies, which sent them forth to christianize our Colonies, have been withdrawn from them. It is well known also that they have been transferred to others who are opposed to our communion.
We are then naturally led to inquire: whence is this? Have the Missionaries of our holy Church forfeited their title to protection through neglect? However short we all as ministers of Christ must fall before God, this reason cannot be assigned by the civil powers, either against our Missionaries or our Church Societies, because of the authoritative testimony they have furnished to their zeal, and to the vital importance of their spiritual ministrations to the whole world. Is it because the Church of England doctrine is unpalatable in our foreign settlements? The Bishop of Calcutta informs us that, “ there is a demand all over India for books of religious instruction;"* and I rejoice in recording that he is very much gratified with those issued by the Church Societies.t The Bishop of Australia writes that, “at vast distances to which the population now extends beyond the limits, indeed, to which the restraints of law, or I grieve to add, religious ordinances are duly extended; travelling vendors find it their interest to convey small cargoes of the Society's publications, which meet a ready sale, on terms
* Letter of the Bishop of Calcutta. Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, Report, 1838, page 42.
+ See Note F. at the end.
which they consider satisfactory."* The Bishop of Nova Scotia says, “ I have been followed upon occasional visits to scattered settlements by a little vessel, that all her crew might be present at every service that was performed along an extensive line of coast. They sailed when I sailed, and anchored when I anchored, that they might land and join in worship with their brethren, in many different harbours.”+
These, then, cannot be the reasons; neither is it reasonable that our Christian government at such a time should cripple the means of extending our holy religion to the uttermost parts of the earth, or retard the progress of the cause of Christ now, when the world's wide field seems white and ready for the harvest.
How then are we to account for the withdrawal of the nation's protection from the national religion ? It is because the ancient recognized religious policy of this Christian nation has been abandoned! The recognized principles of its government are changed; and this putting a stumbling-block in the way of Truth, calls for renewed exertions of the faithful few, whilst it increases the difficulties of the Church of England in promoting the great cause of Christianity in the world.
We have not lived so long, my brethren, or learned our lesson from the page of history so imperfectly, as not to know, that notwithstanding there is no compulsion by authority, still the multitudes of men are influenced by the example of the powerful and great. Although the smiles of the world, and its frowns are alike unable
* Letter of the Bishop of Australia, dated Sydney, April 6, 1838. See Note G. at the end.
† Speech of the Bishop of Nova-Scotia, at Willis's Rooms, St. James's, June 22, 1838.
to turn the faithful Christian from the true worship of the living God, and Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord; still it has always been that religion has flourished most when it has been most cherished by the state. So true it is that when the righteous are in authority the people rejoice ; but when the wicked beareth rule the people mourn.*
But I beseech you, brethren, let us regard the necessary consequences of this change in the national policy. By withdrawing their countenance and support from our Church Societies, and their foreign missions, “the powers that be" must inevitably provoke suspicion in the minds of those who through privation of the means of grace or other causes are not established in the Christian faith, that the religion of the Church of England cannot be esteemed by such as are in authority to be according to the Truth. But worse than this it is, that when they see the government making provision (reluctantly though it be) for our Established Church, and at the same time contributing to the maintenance of another company of priests,t who declare her doctrines to be in error, and her foundation false; whilst they are tempted to suspect that our holy religion is not founded upon the Rock of Truth; they are forced to think, as some will say, that the Church of England is a mere machinef of State policy, and her ministers the hirelings to move it.
But, my Christian brethren, indifference to creed, such as this, not only exhibits in the State indifference to what is true or false; but it begets indifference to Truth in others, and leads to practice, which gives fresh ground for the evil surmisings before excited. For, that we say
* Prov. xxix. 2.
+ See Note H. at the end. | Like the Car of Juggernaut !
nothing of the offence given to the faithful, when the weaker brethren behold the gross system of Hindoo idolatry, which is hardly to be equalled for “ oppression, cruelty, and lust," * not only directed, and controlled, and “ countenanced” by those in power and authority in our Indian settlements ; f but also turned into a fruitful source of revenue to the Government;t how shall they esteem Christianity from the example of a State professing to abhor idolatry? What must the natives think of idolatry, when they witness proceedings of a Christian Government such as these which countenance idolatry ? §
Added to these things, when the natives see one of their own brethren, converted to the Christian faith, put upon a worse footing than a heathen soldier, and subjected by those in authority to a degradation, from which the unconverted sepoy is set free; how shall they be persuaded to attach themselves to Christianity? How shall they thus learn to estimate the perfect law of liberty, when the freedom of their fellow-man is violated under judicial authority ? ||
Under desecrations of the Christian character of the nation, such as these, the public shame cannot be too deeply impressed upon our hearts, nor can public opinion be too powerfully moved, neither can the voice of the people be too distinctly expressed against these stumblingblocks which obstruct the spread of our holy religion in the Colonies. It is the duty of a Christian State to protect her Christian subjects, and the Christian character of the nation from such degradation at the hands
* Bishop Wilson of Calcutta. “The particulars of these scenes cannot be rehearsed before a Christian assembly.”-Buchanan, 1810.
+ See Note I. at the end. See Note K. at the end.
of its subordinate officers, and “ The duty of a Christian people to protest against the national guilt of such conduct as this, speaks for itself.”*
The voice of a Christian people moreover, should be heard, when perils, arising from human policy or expediency beset the profession of our holy religion at home, especially in matters affecting the education of our children in the principles of the doctrine of Christ, as they are propounded by the National Church.
In the abandonment of the ancient and recognized religious policy of the nation, all creeds seem to be now esteemed of equal value; as if all, however differing from each other, were equally deserving of credit and support. But, without speaking to the disparagement of any Christian or any society of Christians, however they may be deemed to err from the rule of holy Scripture, and giving them credit for sincerity in their profession, which, as in our own behalf, we require at their hands: when contending for the faith once delivered to the saints, as a minister of Christ, I am bound to declare before all men, that all creeds can not be of equal value; and whereinsoever they differ from each other, they cannot all be equally consistent with the Truth-the whole counsel of God which is to be declared, as it is revealed in the holy Bible,t without addition or diminishment.
One altar at a time was built by the patriarchs. One only was allowed by Moses. One faith only was acknowledged by the Primitive Church of Christ. One Lord, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, one Mediator, one Holy Spirit are alone enumerated; and we have by the grace of God received one Form of