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national body. A soldier is not to regard himself as a military individual, to pursue his own plans of battle, encampment, and siege. A clergyman is not an ecclesiastical individual, with liberty to pursue his own peculiar theories of promoting the cause of Christ; he is required to submit all his plans to the government of the Church. The uniform result of this sacrifice of individual opinion to general expediency, constitutes the strength of nations, the discipline of armies, the union of Churches. Patriotism in a subject, courage in a soldier, piety in a clergyman, are characteristic and necessary virtues; but they become injurious instead of beneficial, unless controlled by the authority to which they are respectively subject.
Such is the theory of obedience. Its practice is equally clear. As a soldier is stationed to one particular spot, to attend to one well known duty, by the performance of which he contributes to the victory, so do the clergy contribute most to the advancement of Christianity, when they confine their exertions to their own sphere of action. The curate to his curacy, the beneficed clergyman to his benefice, the bishop to his diocese. To meet in petty councils with the various sects of dissenters for ecclesiastical purposes : to perform any ecclesiastical action, without reference to the peculiar interests of the Church, is wrong in principle, and therefore in practice. It is the substitution of an imaginary for a lenown duty. It originates in error, it ends in schism.
“ To the law and to the testimony." I am sensible of the unpopularity of my argument, but I appeal to the Scripture. When Christ appointed the apostles and the seventy to their high office, he limited and defined their duties. Holy' and excellent as his disciples were, they were not left entirely to their own discretion. Without this limitation even error and schism might have spread among the apostles themselves. Christ himself did not preach to the Gentiles, and the reason is assigned; “I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the House of Israel." Undoubtedly he wished the conversion of the Gentiles, but by this conformity to his Father's will he left an example to his ministers to limit their exertions to their known duties. After his Ascension, when the miraculous gifts of the Spirit were poured out abundantly on the disciples, they were taught to consider themselves as members of one body. The eye,
the car, the hand, were to know their station. The health of the spiritual body was only to be preserved by the proper perforniance of the functions of all its members. The deacon could not exercise the presbyteral, or the priest the sacerdotal duties. To one was given the power to work miracles, to another the gift of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues, and so on through all the supernatural endowments. The prophet VOL. XVI. Pam.
attended to his prophesying; he that taught, on his teaching; he that ministered, on his deaconship or ministry. Each administered as the Spirit gave them opportunity. The same Spirit still governs the Church; curates, pastors, and bishops, have their respective stations allotted to them by a wise, over-ruling Providence, and they are individually called upon to perform the peculiar duties of their station.
So prevalent is the supposition that no argument in religious discussion is to be drawn from other sources than the Bible, that I very unwillingly omit the testimony of Ignatius, Clemens, Cyprian, and others, to the nature of the obedience required from a clergyman. To quote the apostolic canons would bring on me severe ridicule, though, whatever opinion may be entertained of their genuineness, the greater part cannot be later than the fourth century; and they are a valuable collection of documents, illustrative of the faith and discipline of the primitive Church. I shall therefore omit all authorities of this kind, and proceed to the enquiry, how the principle, thus advanced, that a clergyman is never to consider himself an ecclesiastical individual, will apply to the popular societies?
That a single bishop, or that several bishops have united themselves to a society, is not sufficient to enforce its claims to our patronage : it must be sanctioned by the whole Church in its corporate form. Of course, I would be understood to speak of Ecclesiastical societies only; and the two which more immediately present themselves to our notice are the Bible Society and the Church Missionary Society.
The first object of the Bible Society is the dispersion of Bibles at home. This is our duty as Christians : and our Church has amply provided the means of distributing them to every poor family in the kingdom. The Bible Society was not therefore necessary to enable clergymen to fulfil this part of their duty. Now, as all influence is power, and as influence is created by money, do I not, by contributing donations to this unnecessary society, increase the influence and power of an association, a great majority of whose members oppose themselves to the Church. Are not my triple duties, as subject, churchman, and christian, admirably united by obedience to that episcopal law, which commands me to keep within my own sphere, at the same time that I support that society which is sanctioned by the whole Church, and which enables, every parochial minister to supply his own parish at a cheaper rate than its new and florishing rival? Our Church adopts in her homilies the strongest language, in entreating and exhorting her people to study the Scriptures, and therefore it certainly cannot be considered as the enemy of the Bible, when
providing for the wants of her poorer members on her own plan. Neither can those clergymen be esteemed hostile to the Scripture, who support that mode of distributing the Bible which maintains the influence of an Episcopal establishment. The Bible Society was not essential to the cause of the Church ; for the Bible was, and is, and I trust ever will be, distributed by the authorised minister in every hamlet in the kingdom. The Bible Society was not essential to the common cause of Christianity, for that cause is identified in England with the welfare of the establishment. But the Bible Society was essential to the Dissenters, for it has abundantly increased their interest and confirmed their power.
My Christian brethren, let me seriously ask of you, has the honor of God been truly promoted by this schism-making paraphernalia of speeches, associations, and district divisions ? Cannot we distribute Bibles to the African or Hindoo without increasing the political dangers of the country? Cannot the Bible be distributed among Barbarian, Scythian, bond and free, without the machinery of the Bible Society? Will the kingdom of Christ be really extended by this strange and unnatural combination of truth and error ? This heterogeneous union is not certainly absolutely requisite to distribute Bibles at home. Whether it is essential to enable us to disperse Bibles abroad, is a question which must be decided by our examining the claims of the Church Missionary Society.
This is a body of professed churchmen, animated with zeal for the best cause, the universal propagation of the Gospel. Believing with many, that the signs of the times announce the near approach of that millennial period, “ when the lion shall lie down with the lamb, and the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea," they have united to send missionaries into remote and barbarous countries. Undoubtedly they meant to do well. But how can that churchman approve
their society, who understands and practices the demands of an Episcopal Church? They have sacrilegiously appointed laymen to exercise the holy functions of the priesthood. They have commissioned some to preach in our colonies which are under the Episcopal jurisdiction of the bishop of London. Others are sent to places not within our dominions. The London Missionary Society, a body of pious dissenters, have at length been partly successful in the South Sea Islands, and in other stations; yet if the advantage these societies have rendered to the heathen were tenfold, it is our duty, as Christians, to withhold from them our support and sanction, for this scriptural reason: the heathen must be converted in that manner successfully pursued by the Apostles, and therefore commanded by God. The prophecy which has foretold the universal diffusion of the Gospel will be accomplished by miraculous or human means : most probably by the latter.
But until we receive an additional revelation to assure us that we are permitted to deviate from the apostolic plan, we must believe the heathen will be converted by our following this plan, and no other.
The command of our Saviour was express : “ Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.” The manner in which the apostles executed this command is related in the book of the Acts, and in the ecclesiastical history of the subsequent periods. They preached to all nations, they ordained. others to the same duty. I should but insult the learned clergy to whom I write, if I attempted to demonstrate what is so well known and believed by them all; that in those early ages of Christianity no man dared to preach to the people unless he were duly authorised and set apart for that sacred function. The unity of the Church was complete. All were of one heart and of one mind. The people were obedient to their spiritual pastors, and their pastors confined themselves to the distinct and peculiar Office to which they had been ordained. The decrees of the Church at Jerusalem were received by all the societies where St. Paul and others had preached; and this unanimous reception proves the harmony subsisting among the whole visible Church, so long as every man confined his exertions to his allotted station. By this simple means, under the influence of the Spirit of God, the gospel spread with the rapidity of lightning through the habitable world : to India and Abyssinia on the eastern, to Spain and Britain on the western side of Jerusalem. Everywhere and always the apostles preached the Gospel, ordained faithful men, and established Episcopal government.
Never, at that period, was the monstrous proposition defended, that every individual might preach the Gospel who felt a strong inclination so to do. Never was a society of laymen and ecclesiastics then permitted to send unordained incompetent zealots into the vineyard of the Church: much less was it conside reddefensible that societies so composed should send out the Scriptures without their interpreter, or commission the self-appointed to labor in those places already subjected to ecclesiastical control. I would follow the example of these primitive times. I would not therefore, support the society which does nothing more than distribute the Scripture abroad, and makes no provision for the other means of grace, for the administration of the sacraments, the public worship, and the expounding the word of God. Neither, as a Christian, can I support the error, which intrudes its unordained missionaries into those regions already subjected to Episcopal jurisdiction. Both plans are anti-scriptural : both are subversive of
discipline, and totally incompetent to perpetuate whatever isolated good they may at first accomplish.
In the apostolic age, security was given to the Church for the fidelity of the minister, and his perseverance in the orthodox faith. He was subject to his ecclesiastical superiors ; and if he departed from the belief of the Church, he was deposed from his office. On the plan pursued by the modern missionary societies we have no security for truth : we find no control over preacher or hearer. If the missionary depart from his own professed principles, or from the principles professed by those who have paid his charges and sent him into the vineyard, who shall,depose him from his office, or censure his proceedings ? He acknowledges no authority, he submits to no master, he has no guide but his own private interpretation of Scripture. Would St. Paul, were he now on earth, sanction this mode of acting? He commanded that elders be ordained in every city; he charged his son in the faith to reprove, rebuke, exhort ; he directed that all things be done decently and in order ; that is, he established discipline in the Churches. Can we then imagine that we act conformably with his plan, when we send forth missionaries, without any lawful power to enforce rebukes, or charges, or exhortations ?' The very missionaries themselves may become heathen, and what Church authority, or bishop, shall intrude on their liberty of conscience ?
Christianity, in its most corrupted form, is infinitely preferable to the cruelties, the superstitions, the abominations of heathenism; yet we do not support the missionaries of the Roman Catholic Church, because we think that those missionaries propagate error. At the same time we ackowledge their zeal and their devotedness; they preach much of truth, they accomplish much good. The same general objection which prevents a member of the Church of England from supporting a papal mission, applies equally to all the modern popular societies. They all do much good; but on account of some error, either in their constitution or doctrine, we decline our sanction and approbation. Yet our duty is still clear; as Christians we are bound to extend the knowledge of religion through the whole world. How are we to proceed ?
As Christians, churchmen, and subjects, we are required to contribute to the propagation of the Gospel, in that manner which shall best unite the duties implied by these relations. If no society at present exists by subscribing to which we may unite these duties, rather than adopt any one of our popular associations we are required to form another. As I am arguing the point on a general principle, I shall not consider myself as the advocate of any particular society : but as the claims of the Bible and Church Missionary Societies have been examined, and found wanting, I