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“It ought to be a sufficient motive of a tolerating and conciliatory policy of religious denominations to one another, that they may see before them an enemy, in that spirit of Infidelity which levels its arts at the root of their common faith, and, without denying the existence of human duty, would do away the sanction of it in the revealed will of God.
“ It is a sufficient discouragement, to the minds of all pious persons, that the favourers of sentiments so much fraught with mischief should have cause of triumph in the diversity of denominations, all claiming to be built on the true foundation. But when they are seen assailing one another with an acrimony forbidden by their common faith, which enjoins its professors to be 'gentle to all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing them that oppose themselves, if peradventure God will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth,' it is a stumblingblock, which affords a more specious plea to Infidelity than any that can be drawn from the weight either of their own characters or of their arguments.
“ Against the operations of that irreligious portion of the community it ought to be a cause of jealousy, with all who have either religion or the public good at heart, that concerning these two objects there is unequivocally avowed the opinion that they have no natural alliance, and that the one may be provided for independently on the other. The error of this opinion has been already treated of; and it will be pertinent to add, that it strikes at the use of oaths, at the abstaining from judicial proceedings on the Lord's-day, and at the legislative accommodations for the worship of God on that day and at other times. Why should there be granted to us charters and laws, protecting us in the enjoyment of those privileges, and in the possession of property in a reasonable extent, if there be no good to be derived from such provisions to the State ? The time is not come for the urging of a pretended reform on these points ; but the tendency of the opinion to it ought to be borne in mind. In consideration of this common danger, there is the more reason to be gratified by whatever good may be achieved by our brethren of other denominations; in which we shall be warranted by that saying of St. Paul, “Notwithstanding, every way, Christ is preached; and herein I do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.' Let the honour of the success be what it may, it should be a ground, not of hatred and of jealousy, but of excitement, to the clergy, of zeal in their labours; and to both clergy and laity, of circumspection in their conduct, and of carefully avoiding every thing by which the word of God and of his doctrine may be blasphemed.'
“ Although these are considerations bringing additional weight to those involved in the subject itself, they are not intended to discourage the clergy from instructing their congregations in those institutions of our church which we believe to be scriptural, and, although disallowed by many of our fellow-Christians, to have been handed down to us from the earliest ages of the church. Such instruction is a duty, and may be without any of the severity in language and in manner which gives occasion for the charge of a sectarian spirit. Perhaps the object may be the best accomplished by lectures detached from the ordinary course of sermons, and coincident with preparing for the ordinance of Confirmation. It is not that the same subjects should be interdicted from the ordinary exercises of the pulpit, especially when they present themselves incidentally : but it is a department, in which the matter is overdone, should a proportion of a congregation have cause to complain that the bread of life is withholden from them to give place to discussions which rather concern the outward discipline of the church than the truths to be protected by it; and, especially, when there is no appearance of a call for the other, in the threatening of resistance against the ecclesiastical authority or against the reasonableness of our services. It has pleased
God in his providence to permit the variety of profession abounding in the Christian world. With us it rests, while we adhere to the principles transmitted to us from the purest ages—for a long time blended with dogmas and with practices not warranted by an early origin, but at last disencumbered of such extraneous matter, and coming to us through the channel of the Church of England—to perpetuate the same, without accommodating to other communions in any important points, not excepting such as are left to human discretion, when no good is to be thereby answered.
“ There are often persons of other denominations, who, with the concurrence of some-perhaps well-meaning, but, as we think, mistaken-members of our church, are forward in projecting, and in carrying into operation, expedients of combination, for the inculcating of what they think the only essential truths of the Gospel, detached from the diversities which characterize the discordant theories, and, as they suppose, may be lost sight of in the common object of Evangelical instruction. Against such amalgamation we hold ourselves bound in conscience to declare our decided disapprobation. Ist, We do not perceive that a minister of the Gospel can lawfully bind himself under the tie of a voluntary association intended to cover with the mantle of silence any matter resting on Gospel verity, and contributing to the sustaining of it; especially when he is bound to inculcate the same, by an obligation laid on him in the promises made at his ordination, on every occasion opening a prospect of doing so with success. 2dly, So far as the experience and observation of the most of us have extended, in relation to the associations now contemplated, the assurances pledged by them are not generally fulfilled. A sectarian spirit has sometimes shewed its head. Individuals of them, and sometimes the associated bodies, perhaps unconsciously, have introduced into their acts some matters in contrariety to the known tenets of the Episcopal Church; the members of which are thus insensibly drawn to set light by the doctrines of her communion. 3dly, It has the effect of bringing into view such litigated points in u..organized Christian intercourse, and in the courteous interchange of the civilities of social life, as tend to the generating of angry feelings. It is a much better expedient for the maintaining of peace and of friendly offices among different denominations, that each of them should sustain the cause of God and of godliness by such means as are presented by their peculiar organizations ; exercising toward every other all the forbearance and all the charity which may reasonably be exacted by a regard to the fallibility of the human understanding, and by the workings of unperceived prejudice in ourselves, and in others with whom we have to do; and all the esteem which may be thought due to any virtues which they may possess, or to any good deeds which they may perform. This is a species of charity which may be maintained without the abandonment of
We have above remarked, that this last passage has no reference to Bible Societies; and we should arrive at this conclusion, even if we had felt any doubt respecting it, by perusing the following paragraph, which follows shortly after.
“ In doing justice to the means which have been set at work for the spreading of a knowledge of the glad tidings of salvation, we cannot but especially honour the various ways which have been brought into operation for the circulating of the Scriptures of truth, as well in our land, by putting them into the hands of those who might otherwise be ignorant or imperfectly informed of their restraints and their consolations, as for sending them to countries the population of which, although nominally
Christian, are entirely ignorant of their contents, or only partially permitted to peruse them. We are aware of the fact that the original publishing of the Scripture was with the accompaniment of the ministry, for the unfolding of its sense, for the impressing of it on the consciences, and for the rendering of it persuasive to the hearts of men. But there may be, and there are, co-ordinate measures, for the furnishing of missionary labours, and of explanatory notes and comments; not forgetting the edifying illustrations of Scripture in our Book of Common Prayer. But if the Bible should be sometimes sent beyond the bounds within which the receivers can be addressed by a ministerial agency, either verbally or through the medium of the press, they will find so much of salutary instruction addressed to their understandings, and enforced by their natural sense of propriety and of good morals, as will of itself render them the better members of society, and perhaps prepare them for that oral instruction which may ultimately be brought to them by the good providence of God. It is also no small advantage, derived from the putting of the Bible into the hands of a population discouraged from the perusal of the whole of its contents, that on their discovery of its contrariety to the many opinions and practices which either deny or obscure its truths, it will disencumber many of them of the inventions with which those truths have been blended, extending the knowledge of the faith in the purity in which it was once delivered to the saints.'
The remainder of the Address relates to the duty of missionary exertions, which are strongly impressed by the Right Reverend Prelates. The whole concludes with a solemn admonition.
“ Under the weight of this last department of our letter we feel ourselves called on to admonish our brethren of the clergy-and it is our prayer that the admonition may be brought home to our own bosoms—to remark the excitement presented to us by the circumstances of the present times to zeal and to industry in the several duties of our vocation; and to be aware that the approbation of our Heavenly Master will be forfeited, not only by the wasting of our talents, but by the hiding of them in a napkin. However censurable any immorality, or even levity, the being free from these will be far short of what is bound on us by the word of God, and of what we pledged ourselves to at our entrance on the ministry. To the laity of our church we say, that, although not under the Apostolic injunction to give themselves wholly' to the work of extending the glad tidings of salvation, it is their duty to aid it by their prayers, by their influence, by their contributions, and by their · adorning of the doctrine of their God and Saviour in all things. Both clergy and laity may be told, that we shall in vain claim the character of a church distinguished by the soundness of its institutions, and to be so acknowledged by the world, if they are seen to be inoperative in practice.
ON THE NEGLECT OF THE WEEK-DAY CHURCH-SERVICES.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. A CORRESPONDENT in your October Number has called attention to a subject which I think most sincere members of the Establishment must agree with him in considering highly important, in what he justly calls “this eventful crisis of our venerable church”-namely, the almost universal refusal of her members to avail themselves of the Wednesday and Friday services, where they are administered. I cannot pretend, in accordance with your correspondent's wishes, "to state any satisfactory cause of this apparent inconsistency,” in those who profess to derive benefit and com. fort from the use of our Liturgy, for in my opinion the real cause is exceedingly unsatisfactory; but I think a very few remarks will go far to explain it. Admitting that there are several circumstances, chiefly of a domestic and mercantile nature, which may occur to prevent many welldisposed persons from attending Divine worship on a week-day, and which may honestly be pleaded in excuse, it is obvious that not a few will generally be left to whom such circumstances do not apply; and the question to be solved is, Why do they absent themselves ? Perhaps I shall be thought uncharitable—for the nature of charity is sometimes strangely misrepresented—if I were to say that it is simply because the duty, or rather privilege, to which the people are called by the Church, is scarcely ever urged upon them with earnestness or energy by her ministers; and probably I should not be right in attributing it to that alone: still I must be permitted, with all respect for the office and persons of the clergy, to say that I believe their supineness to be the cause, mainly and prevalently. The blessings that might be expected to follow the faithful use of such a means of grace, and the good effect that would in all probability be wrought upon many by the public worship of God, when it could not be considered, even by the most worldly, as a mere fashionable formality, or originating in the love of excitement, it has never been my lot to hear dwelt upon, or alluded to, from the pulpit; and what the minister of God is not careful to impress upon his flock-especially if he be a pious man—they will seldom be apt to think of much importance.
I am well acquainted with a town in which a more than common proportion of the inhabitants are by profession—and I believe in reality tooreligiously disposed, where a striking example is presented of the correctness of my view. For some time-more than three years, I believe—there has been established in one of the churches, originally at the suggestion of the Bishop of the diocese, a daily morning service at seven o'clock, which is administered, as I can vouch upon my own knowledge, with devotion and zeal by the excellent curate of the parish. To this service-conducted purposely before the hours of business have begun, that the more persons may avail themselves of it,I have never seen more than twelve or fifteen persons come ; frequently there are not so many; and of those who do come the chief part are of the humblest classes of society. There is a tolerably large number of clergymen in this town, many of whom are most faithful and exemplary in the discharge of their pastoral duties; and yet, of them all, not one is ever to be seen attending, even for example's sake, this public worship of the Almighty. I will not say they treat it with contempt --for that would be, I am sure, most unjust towards them—but assuredly they appear to regard it with indifference. Their conduct is the more to be lamented, because I am morally certain, if but two or three of them were to devote only a quarter of an hour in each year to reminding their hearers from the pulpit that it would be for the honour of God and their own edification not to neglect a proffered opportunity of worshipping Him in the congregation of his people, and only now and then to practise them. selves what they taught to others, the church would every morning be nearly filled. Whether they think lightly of such a result, or do not think of it at all, I cannot say ; but I sincerely trust, that, as you have permitted the subject to be brought forward, you will, for their sake, and that of others in the like situation, or who may be influenced by them, let it be known that there are some in the Church who would gladly see her beautiful service attended, as it used to be in former times, on the days when it is appointed to be read. I have instanced only a single case, and one which may, in some of its circumstances, be peculiar ; but it serves well, I think, to exemplify my general position, that the “inconsistency” of which your correspondent complains is in the main attributable to a want, upon this particular question, of care or zeal in such of our clergy as do not expose and reprove it with the authority it is theirs affectionately but firmly to exercise over their flock. I beg to say, I am not excusing the laity—of whom I am one—for neglecting their privileges as Churchmen, but simply stating a cause, and as it appears to me the principal one, of their so doing.
ON THE EFFECTS OF EDUCATION NOT BASED ON
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. At a recent meeting in aid of the British and Foreign Bible Society an able advocate of the cause advanced a position, to the effect that education, if not based on the Bible, is a curse rather than a blessing. It were better for mankind, he observed, to remain in ignorance, than to be taught even the first rudiments of knowledge, without the inculcation of Scripture principles. This sentiment is often urged in books and sermons, and with the best possible motive, namely, to shew more strongly the duty and importance of training youth in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. But is it a tenable position? Can it subserve the cause of truth? Without doubt, the knowledge acquired, and the principles implanted, by a truly religious or Scriptural education, as far outweigh in value every other kind of knowledge, as eternity in importance outweighs time. But are we therefore to hold in contempt the blessings of civilization and secular knowledge ? Is the cannibal of New Zealand in more enviable circumstances than civilized man, supposing both to be on a level in regard to Christian principles ?
It is surely nothing to the purpose to say, that, knowledge being power, depraved men will, by the acquisition of that power, become more wicked and injurious, and consequently fall under greater condemnation. The Gospel itself is to some the savour of death ; and where it fails to produce its legitimate effect, is the occasion of greater wickedness and deeper condemnation : is that, however, any argument against the Gospel ? Persons born blind or deaf may very possibly become much more wicked by having the use of those senses imparted to them; but may we therefore, having it in our power, refuse to give sight to the blind or hearing to the deaf? A merely secular education may doubtless, through human depravity, become a curse ; and may not also a Scriptural education?
The subject is of sufficient importance to be noticed in your pages, with a view to its deliberate consideration, lest, in promoting what is good, we incidentally do harm, by exaggerated or unfounded statements. Were there reason to believe that the sentiment objected to was entertained by one individual only, or that its avowal was confined to the hearing of a single audience, this communication would not have been obtruded.
ON MIXING WITH THE WORLDLY-MINDED.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. If not preceded by some better correspondent, may I be allowed to offer a reply to the letter of J. L. E. in your Number for September.
The question," how far a Christian is justified in mixing with the unregenerate," appears to me to be one of principle and feeling, rather than Carist. OBSERV. APP.