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8

THE DUTY OF EXTENDING CHRISTIANITY RECOG,

NISED BY ROME FOR MANY AGES.

The Church of Rome, assuming that she was the chief church of Christ upon earth, continued for many ages to obey the plain and unquestionable injunction of our Saviour. But she did not obey the injunction fully. She only executed one part of it. She “ baptized the nations in the

name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost;” but she did not “teach them to ob

serve all things whatsoever Christ had com“ manded.” She taught Christianity without the Bible.

But the Christian Religion is so truly divine, and so replete with moral excellency, that it produces excellent effects, even where it is only partially taught. For example, those nations in the East, into which it was carried by the Romish Church, experienced its civilising efficiency, even though the profession of it was little more than nominal.

The Church of Rome, however, did not only send her preachers into different nations ; she

translated also the Holy Scriptures, and printed new editions in various languages. The gift of tongues had ceased in the Church; and it was necessary that there should be an acquired knowledge of tongues; and new translations of the Bible. The College “ de propaganda Fide” may justly be accounted the chief ornament and boast of the Romish Church. The Translations, Scriptural Dictionaries, Concordances, Grammars, and new Editions of the Bible, which issued from that College, and from other sources under the patronage of Rome, have acquired for that church a renown, of which the equity of enlightened nations will never permit them to deprive her * But though she thus translated the Scriptures, it was not for the people that she translated them. Now, however, these her translations and new editions, in various tongues, may become, by the providence of God, the instruments of enlightening nations, through the means of churches which separated from her communion.

* It is to be lamented, that the just abhorrence in these kingdoms of the doctrinal corruptions of Rome, should have so greatly perverted our judgment in estimating her works and character in other respects. The prejudices of illiterate men have no limit. That Rome so did, or so said, is sufficient to condemn the word and the deed, though both may be perfectly agreeable to Scripture, to reason, to antiquity, and to common sense. We ought to remember, that God has been pleased, in many things, to do honour to the Church of Rome : He has made her the instrument of planting churches throughout the world (of which those in these kingdoms are some), and of translating the Scriptures and publishing numerous editions in various languages; and He has raised up within her pale great and good men, who lived and died in her communion. The argument of the Apostle Paul, when soliciting some respect for the Jews is here admissible," Of whom are the Fathers." It has pleased God to do honour to the corrupt Church of Rome, even as he honoured the wicked Jewish nation, « to whom " were committed the Oracles of God,"

11

THE RESPONSIBILITY OF EXTENDING CHRISTIANITY

HAS DEVOLVED ON GREAT BRITAIN.

Pure doctrine has been restored to the Church, and, together with it, Providence has also blessed our times with a better knowledge of the principles of just reasoning, and of religious toleration, than has existed at any period since the first promulgation of Christianity.

Under such circumstances, the question above proposed becomes one of the most important that can be offered to the attention of a Christian people; “ To what church or nation does it appear that Providence hath chiefly assigned the duty of extending Christianity among heathen nations at this period ?"

Great Britain unquestionably holds the place now, which Rome formerly held, in regard to the power and means of promoting Christian knowledge. Her commerce extends throughout the world ; and she thereby maintains a general communication with mankind. Further, her moral character is respected; and the nations of the earth do obeisance to her wisdom, justice, and humanity. But, chiefly she holds dominion over people of different countries, climates, and languages.

She
possesses territory in the four

quarters of the globe. She presides over two empires in Asia-viz. her Continental Empire in Hindostan; and her Insular Empire, comprehending the Malayan Archipelago, and Austral Asia. She commands the southern and western regions of Africa, a portion of North America, and nearly the whole of the West Indies. And, in Europe, besides her native and IMPERIAL ISLES, she occupies the Island of Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea; and has obtained easy access, after many ages of exclusion, to those countries which were the scenes of Christian Antiquity.

But Great Britain not only possesses the power and means of propagating Christianity which Rome formerly held: by the decay of the Romish Church, an opportunity is offered of inviting the members of that church to receive the Bible, and to contemplate the purity of the Protestant Faith. In many parts of Europe, and of the East, the Romish Church appears to be in a state of gradual dissolution. The strong arm of infidelity has broken the power of superstition. In those countries, the minds of men know ņot where to find rest. Many seek again the asylum of religious hope, and would gladly join some Christian

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