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inculcated towards each other, that these words are peculiarly adapted to the important subject, which I purpose to bring under your immediate consideration.
The subject itself involves a question, which not only excites the sympathies of the pious Christian in his private meditations; but it also demands the consideration of the public, having been forced upon their attention by the Queen's letter, lately read in all the churches.*
This official document affords indisputable testimony to the value of the Church of England. It proclaims before all men that her Societies compass the “ extension of the Redeemer's kingdom upon earth, the communication of the saving Truths of the Gospel to the growing population,” † and the “ maintenance of our holy religion amongst the inhabitants of the immense territories,” comprehended under the British Colonies (in the East, and West, and North, and South) including the benighted Natives and the emancipated Negroes. I Acknowledging the spiritual destitution of extensive regions, it admits that “the rapid progress of emigration from Great Britain and Ireland into the Colonies, and the consequent demand for increased means of spiritual instruction, make it the duty of the Mother Country to increase the number of the Colonial clergy. It further admits that in the discharge of this acknowledged duty, there must be a “large addition to the ordinary expenditure.'|| In this public document, the Queen is declared to be ready always to “ give the best encouragement and countenance to undertakings, which tend so much to the promotion of true piety and our holy religion.” The resources of the societies engaged in them are declared to be insufficient
* Letter for Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, 1838. Clause II. Clauses VI., IX. Clause IX. Il Clause X
to meet the increasing demands for missionaries; and yet in the face of all these facts recorded, it is announced that
the Parliamentary grant"* in aid of these benevolent designs, which amounted to £16,000 a year, is withdrawn.t
Such are the facts that have been published by command in all the churches; and they beget the question, whether after this open recognition of the obligation laid upon the mother country to provide “religious instruction and education for the Colonies, according to the principles of the Church of England,”# this withdrawal of the pecuniary grant in aid of this undertaking is consistent with the character of a Christian nation? In short, it begets the question, whether the maintenance of our holy religion, which is thus acknowledged to be of " vital importance” ş to the world, shall be left to the voluntary support of pious individuals or be the nation's care.
This is a question of vital importance to the cause of Christ. It is of vital importance to you, my Christian brethren, and to me, and to every one that names the Name of Christ; yea, it is of vital importance also to those who never heard the Name of Christ, and who, being without the knowledge of revealed religion, are compelled in the blindness of their hearts and understandings to worship the unknown God,|| in all the deformities of idolatry, cruelty, and lust. This is one of the vital questions, which, at this moment agitates society and the Church ; and it is second only in importance to that on which lately (upon a similar occasion) I addressed you. For, if our fellowship in the mysteries of our holy
* Circular Letter of the Diocesans, accompanying the Queen's Letter. + See Note A. at the end. I Queen's Letter, Clause I. $ Clause VI.
|| Acts xvii. 23.
religion, which, as members of the church of Christ, we have freely received at the hand of God, be of the first importance, the next in value must be a full participation in all its external privileges and means of grace, which may be justly demanded as the birthright of every citizen of a Christian state at the hands of those in authority to dispense it. But, whether these holy things which are their birthright shall be secured to them by such as are in power and authority to dispense them, or be left to the precarious provision of the pious few, must, under Divine Providence, be determined by the voice of the nation.
This it is which enhances the necessity of openly bringing the question before the public. For upon the issue of it the education of our children and our children's children in our holy religion, which is the religion of the Bible, seems to depend. Upon the issue of it depends the Christian character of the nation. Upon the issue of it, as I think, depends the continuance of this United Kingdom's exalted position in the scale of nations.
Hence does it seem to me to be within the range of my peculiar office this day, so to engage your minds upon this interesting question, that when you are sitting round your fire-sides, or when you are walking by the way and conversing on the subject, you may form a right judgment in the matter.
In order that this vital question may be disencumbered of all prejudice, I will for a moment suppose we had no established church. For the argument's sake, I will forget my own high calling as one of her ministers. I will leave out the remembrance of a creed or form of sound words, as a thing requisite for the instruction of the people in the doctrine necessary to salvation; and omitting the mention of either of these topics (notwith
standing they are deemed to be essentials) from principles common to Christian men of every name and callingfrom the first principles of religious and moral obligation laid down in the Holy Bible, and from the spirit of the Lord's Prayer therein written for our instruction. I purpose, by the grace of God to make it clear to all, that it is every Christian man's duty, that it is every Chrsitian Society's duty, and the duty of every Christian Ruler, and of every Nation, blessed with the Light of Truth as it shines forth in the Scripture given by inspiration of God, to spread the holy religion which it inculcates, to the full extent of their respective means, whether privately or publicly possessed.
Let us, then, try the great question, whether the glorious work of spreading our holy religion should be the nation's care, or whether the work of evangelizing the world should be left to the voluntary labours of private individuals.
I. In the first place, by the peculiar circumstances in which it has pleased God in His Providence to place this Nation.
II. Next by the Principles on which the question hinges, and
III. Then by the claims which the people in their respective stations have upon the “ Nation” for a full participation in the means of grace.
Having done this, I will resume my office, for the purpose of faithfully applying the conclusion to which we may arrive, to the peculiar aspect of the times in which it has fallen to our lot to take our parts.
I. We are first, then, to try the question by the peculiar circumstances in which this nation is Providentially placed
The chief of these circumstances are, first, that it is
a Christian Nation blessed with the light of revelation : secondly, that its relative duties, as a Christian nation are extended into every quarter of the world, which world has by the Holy Jesus been declared to be the field* for spiritual cultivation.
When, therefore, we survey the map of the habitable world, we are struck with astonishment at the smallness of the little speck occupied by the British Isles, and the magnitude and vast extent of the dependencies and Colonial possessions, which are amongst the prolific sources of this kingdom's wealth.
At home, small though the “mother-country” + be, the increase of her population baffles all description, Abroad, “ immense territories”seem to be preparing for the reception of its superabundance. The enterprize and the industry of this wise and understanding peoples—wise in the knowledge acquired by the wisdom that is from above, || understanding in the just appreciation of the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, fill the world with astonishment.** The application of new powers to carriages and ships has brought the vast continent of America within the range of twelve days' distance; only thrice the time occupied in the beginning of the last century in travelling from the Metropolis to the County Town of York; and the East Indies are, by the same means, brought within the distance of not so many weeks.tt Thus are the means of international communication increased, and the rapidity of intercourse between distant peoples and our Christian nation, must, if used for Christian purposes, increase the force of moral influence for the civilization of the world.
* Matt. xiii. 38. f Queen's Letter, Clause IX. § Deut. iv. 6. || James iii. 17. | Gal. v. 1.
See Note C.
Clause II. ** See Note B.