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SERMONS ON PUBLIC OCCASIONS, CONTINUED.
THE FOREGOING SERMONS, IN THIS VOLUME, BEING CHIEFLY ON PUBLIC OCCASIONS, CIVIL AND MILITARY; THE FOLLOWING ARE DENOMINATED PART II. BECAUSE, BEING PREACHED ON PUBLIC OCCASIONS ECCLESIASTICAL, THEY COULD NOT BE PROPERLY CLASSED AMONG THE FORMER.
CONCERNING THE CONVERSION
THE HEATHEN AMERICANS,
AND THE FINAL PROPAGATION OF CHRISTIANITY AND THE SCIENCES TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH.
First Preached before a voluntary Convention of the Episcopal Clergy of Pennsylvania, and places adjacent, in ChristChurch, Philadelphia, May 2, 1760; and published at their joint request.
LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY,
AND TO ALL THE HONOURABLE AND VENERABLE MEMBERS OF THE SOCIETY, FOR PROPAGATING THE GOSPEL IN FOREIGN PARTS.
MY LORDS AND GENTLEMEN,
AFTER the many excellent Sermons that have been
preached and published by the members of your body, on the propagation of Christ's religion through the untutored parts of the earth; the present publication may be thought to argue some degree of presumption. And this consideration, added to the difficulty of saying any thing new or interesting, on a subject so fully handled by many of the brightest ornaments of our church, would have deterred the Author from letting this Discourse appear in print; if, on the other hand, he had not been encouraged therein, by the express desire of his brethren who heard it, and the hopes that his situation in America may have enabled him to place some particular points in a light, perhaps, somewhat new.
It may be thought a very needless labour to attempt a proofThat the interests of Christianity will be advanced, by promoting the interests of Science; which is the design of the next following Sermon, as a second part from this text. But it hath been the Author's misfortune, in his endeavours for the latter, to meet with men, who, seeming to consider the advancement of knowledge and free inquiry as unfriendly to their dark system, have set themselves up, with rage truly illiberal, to stifle the infant Sciences here. For this reason, the Author thought he could not do a better service than by endeavouring to shew them at large, that they were, in effect, waging war, not only with every thing elegant and useful in life, but even with the extension of our common Christianity, the prosperity of our country,
and the best interests of our species! And if, in the prosecution of this design, he hath been led into a more particular analysis of the Sciences than some may judge needful in a discourse of this kind, he hopes the circumstances of the case will be his plea. It may also be some apology, that it was delivered before a learned body of Clergy.
He cannot conclude without taking this opportunity of expressing his gratitude to the venerable Society, for propagating the Gospel, for the honour done him by having elected him into their body; and to sundry illustrious members in particular for the countenance and protection they have always shewn him, in carrying on the sundry concerns committed to him, in the distant parts of the earth, for the advancement of Science and Religion. More especially, he owes most humble thanks to that truly learned Prelate,* who having himself written so excellently on the accomplishment of the Prophecies, condescended to peruse and make some corrections in this discourse, respecting the explanation of some passages of Prophecy, before the present edition was committed to the press.
PSALM ii. 8.
Ask of me and I shall give thee the Heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
IF you would make the soul of man great and good (says a sublime* writer) give her large and extensive prospects of the immensity of God's works, and of his inexhausted Wisdom and Goodness."
Now, those divine attributes of Wisdom and Goodness are nowhere more gloriously displayed than in the Gospel-dispensation; and in those marvellous revolutions and workings of Providence, which the Almighty has performed, and will yet perform, for the Salvation of mankind, and the final extension of his Son's kingdom to the ends of the earth.
Welcome, therefore, thrice welcome the holy Scriptures, those living oracles of God, which can lend a clue to our meditations, and conduct them, by divine grace, through these awfully improving subjects. Here is the "Mystery which was hid from ages and from generations, but which God at length manifested to his Saints, with a promise that the riches of the glory thereof should be made known among the Gentiles."+
This latter part of the Gospel-dispensation, which relates to the final conversion of the Gentiles, even
• Dr. Burnet in his Theory.
Colossians i, 26.
"to the uttermost parts of the earth," is that which, by the words of my text, and the present occasion of our meeting, I am more immediately led to consider. And, in doing this, I shall, by divine assistance, pursue the following method.
First, I shall endeavour to shew, from the general voice of prophecy-That it is the gracious purpose of God, in his own good time, to bring the Heathen around us to the knowledge of his blessed Gospel, through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Secondly, I shall make some remarks on the present situation of things on this continent with respect to the Gospel-economy, and the probability of a speedy accomplishment of the prophecies which relate to the final conversion of the nations.
Lastly, from this view of things, I shall offer an humble address to you, my Brethren, who are employed as instruments in the hand of God for carrying on this great work of conversion, by the preaching of the Gospel in these distant regions, to which its joyful sound hath so lately reached.
You see here, what a large field is opened; and would to God that I were endued with gifts and powers sufficient to acquit myself therein agreeably to your expectations. But I know the vast, the glorious importance of the subjects proposed; and I feel my own weakness. I beseech you, therefore, to send forth your prayers for me to the throne of grace, that these subjects may not suffer in my hands; and that I may be enabled to speak as becomes one called to the present office.