« ПредишнаНапред »
communion not debased by superstition. But they know not where to find it. Nothing like what they want is presented to their view. It is then, a dictate of humanity to collect the doubting and dispersed members of that falling church. But who is to collect them? Shall our church, or shall some other church? The prevailing form of religion, in the East almost universally, and in the rest of the world generally, is episcopal. Was ever such an opportunity offered of extending Christianity in that primitive form of its discipline which is established in England? The scattered sheep in many lands look for a shepherd. In Hindostan, in Ceylon, in Malta, there are many Christian flocks, which are at this moment without a guide.
THE VOICE OF PROVIDENCE CALLS GREAT BRITAIN
TO THE UNDERTAKING.
In endeavouring to answer the question, “ To what nation has Providence chiefly assigned the charge of extending the Gospel at this time?" let us hear the voice of Providence itself. Let us view the dispensations of Providence, in the recent history of our nation. In the course of the last twenty years, we have beheld the convulsion of the civilised world. Why then, in the general wreck of nations, has Britain been preserved? Or how is it, that, amidst the distraction and horrors of war, the mild accents of the Gospel should be so distinctly heard ? Amidst the din of arms, we hear“ Peace on earth, and good will “ towards men.” In almost
Christian country, we behold a simultaneous effort to promulgate the word of God. Whence then, we would ask, is this general spirit ? “ Is it from heaven, or of
men?”—There must be a period, in the revolving ages of the Christian Church, when the prediction of our Saviour above mentioned shall begin to be fulfilled ; and he himself hath said, " When the fig-tree putteth forth her leaves, ye " know that summer is near."
Let us contemplate the fact as it exists in our own country. That a new impulse has been given to the spirit for promoting Christian knowledge cannot be denied. The effects in foreign lands begin already to appear, and they will soon be visible to all the world. The seed sown will produce, by and by, an abundant harvest. And who is to reap this harvest? The Church of England, or other denominations of Christians ? What form of Christian Worship shall the Government of Great Britain countenance in the world generally? The Episcopal
, or some other form?
It certainly is not a consideration of importance, what church or denomination of Christians may be employed in converting heathen nations, provided that the converts become members of Christ's spiritual kingdom, and that their instructors obtain the plaudit of the chief Shepherd at the last day. We know that thus it must appear in the Divine Mind. But we are not divine agents : we are human agents, and must work in our place. Every church will conscientiously seek to promote Christianity according to that form of doctrine and discipline which appears to itself the most consonant to the word of God. And the smallest sect amongst us would teach us,
by its example, to hold fast our peculiar forms with tenacious constancy and exactitude.
But the Church of England will not uphold her peculiar forms with tenacious exactitude. An enlightened and extensive church is also liberal, and can easily afford relaxation in particular
A deviation from the usual discipline in trivial points, does not affect her character or constitution; whereas a deviation in trivial points is frequently thật which entirely constitutes a small sect, and gives to it its name.
In the establishment of infant churches in different climates, and in our intercourse with people of different degrees of civilization, there must ever be an adaptation to circumstances, which the Church of England will permit and recommend, in conformity to the varying usages of the Primitive Church.
THE MEANS OF EXTENDING CHRISTIANITY.
The rational and legitimate means of extending Christianity, on the part of Great Britain, are these three:-1. To send forth Missionaries; 2. To translate the Scriptures into new languages, and to print new editions in the languages already translated ; and, 3. To extend the National Church. These different measures will be dis cussed in their order.
The primary measure for extending Christianity is, doubtless, to send forth men who are qualified to teach it. We want men of piety and competent learning, who will be content to live among the natives in foreign lands, and to instruct them with patience and affection. The office and character of a Christian Missionary is honourable and important; and our church has recognised it as such.
It will be proper here to shew the actual state of the Church of England, in regard to the maintenance of religious missions. We have three