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the words which alone can cheer the with this chapel, about 250 in number heart of the survivor, when the cur- -of providing every family now destain of the grave is drawn between titute of that treasure, with a copy of man and the dust to which he was once God's word, (for the preservation of devoted, and to which he shall soon which we shall take sufficient precaureturn.
tion,) not forgetting some suitable meWe shall however put your sin- morial to those who are already supcerity to the proof,—we shall receive plied;—and appropriating the surplus your contributions this day both for the in lieu of the Easter collection to the present and permanent relief of your general objects of the Society. And if poorer brethren. We propose, should any would know our reason for exhortthe influence of gratitude for mercies ing you thus to keep the feast, let him vouchsafed, operate equally upon you, turn to the twelfth verse of the four(which may God grant;) with that of teenth chapter of St. Luke's Gospel, fearful apprehension of judgments and so give, as he desires an interest provoked ; to bestow a portion of your in the prayers of those who feast thanksofferings at this time in distri- thus: “ Thou shalt be blessed; for buting one day's solid and substantial they cannot recompense thee—for food to every poor person, man, wo- thou shalt be recompensed at the reman and child, residing within the surrection of the just.”—Amen. jimits of the District Society connected
DELIVERED BY THE REV. W. DEALTRY, D.D. OF WINCHESTER,
AT ST. JOHN'S CHAPEL, BEDFORD ROW, ON WEDNESDAY EVENING, MAY 1, 1833.
ON BEHALF OF THE PRAYER BOOK AND HOMILY SOCIETY.
1 Thess. v. 21.-" Prove all things: hold fast that which is good."
The notion which has sometimes, original, she says to every doubtful been broached, that Christianity is and humble mind—“ Take nothing of herself unable to stand against the upon trust; God has bestowed on wisdom of an enlightened age, is you the means of ascertaining the often founded on a total misconcep- truth, and it is your part to try them.” tion of her spirit and character. So “ Prove all things, hold fast that far is she from being afraid of the which is good.” The Apostle, in the light, that she willingly abides, and true spirit of the religion which he even demands, the most rigorous taught, called on those who had alscrutiny; conscious, that where the ready embraced the Gospel to act inquiry is honestly conducted, it will upon a similar principle. Whatever tend only in its result to a welcome were the real or supposed advantages reception of her truths. In present resulting from Christianity, to which ing to us the evidence of her high their attention might be drawn, it
behoved them to bring it to the test | land ; but in order to simplify the of close examination, to see whether case, we will, in that part of our subit were good, and whether it were inject which relates to the question of accordance to Scripture, and tended religious establishments, inquire geto the benefit of mankind.
nerally, whether it be the duty of The same Apostle, in writing to governments to provide for the supthe Philippians, states the same, with port and maintenance of religious a considerable variety of expression; establishments under any forms: leavintimating, that cases may occur, in ing out of sight those points which which, although there is no distinct may be considered as peculiar to scriptural command for our guidance, different churches. yet it is our duty to act on them; We say, then, in the first place, reference, as to their propriety being that the principle of religious esleft to the examination of a sound tablishments is good; and therefore, judgment. “Whatsoever things are in conformity with the rule of holdtrue, whatsoever things are honest, ing fast that which is good, they whatsoever things are just, whatso- ought to be maintained. For, by ever things are pure, whatsoever their means religious knowledge is things are lovely, whatsoever things diffused among multitudes, who would are of good report; if there be any otherwise remain in a state of gross virtue, if there be any praise, think ignorance. What would be the conon these things. Those things which dition of those inhabitants of the ye have both learned and received, country, who are not congregated in and heard, and seen in me, do: and towns and villages, as we are, but the God of peace shall be with you.” are spread abroad through the land, And in no other terms, I conceive, if they were left to seek instruction but those adopted by St. Paul in the for themselves ? Is there such an aptext and in the passage just cited, petite for divine knowledge, that, in does our national church wish to refer general, they would exert themselves her cause to the public judgment. to attain it? To suppose this to be Supposing there had been no express the case, is to show great ignorance command in favour of religious es- of human nature, and of historical tablishments, (as, it must be admitted fact. An established church can there is no prohibition of them) we scarcely be expected, indeed, to bring must then have recourse to the ge- all who are included in her ministraneral tendency of such an institu- tions to a saving knowledge of the tion, availing ourselves likewise of truth; it may not be able to bring the light which the history of past to every man, even the elements of ages has shed on the subject. To Christianity: but the effect of it will this argument, then, let me address be to give wider influence to the myself: it is one which I should not harmonizing principles of religion, choose for the pulpit under different and fixed limits to barbarism, and to circumstances, even on an occasion procure a general reverence for the like the present, but these are not word of God, for the sanctity of the ordinary times, and this is a ques- Lord's day, the solemnity of holy tion on which there exists great mis- worship, and for those great moral conception, and from which results precepts, by which the order of sogreat mischief to the cause of reli- ciety is essentially maintained. Even gion. My main design will be the in this low estimate of the moral and vindication of the Church of Eng- political effects of such a system, how many are the blessings it is calculated capable of improvement, we most to afford. Without religion there readily concede. We look not for would be no security for social order, perfection in any institution which is no effectual restraint on the lawless not, in all its parts, the work of inand headstrong: and without an es- finite wisdom : but can it be doubted, tablished religion, the greater part after the considerations now suggested, of the population in any extensive whether an establisment which gives country would be destitute altoge- to the people universally the Holy ther of its influence, and ready for Scriptures, and which whatever be any deeds of outrage to which their the defects of its ministry, provides inclination or their interest might for the instruction of all classes of lead them. “ Had Constantine, and society, in the essential doctrines of his successors,” says the Christian the Gospel, and teaches them to lift historian, permitted idolatry and up their hearts, in the pure worship irreligion to continue neglected, I see of God can it be doubted whether not how without a miracle, Chris- such an institution is beneficial? Is tianity could have pervaded the Ro- it not a source of great good to a man empire at all: half, or the country, and does it not tend emimajor part of the known world might nently to promote the divine glory? have remained in idolatry and irre- If there be any force in the reasons ligion to this day."
here adduced, one of the best blessBut, in asserting the importance of ings which a country can possess, is religious establishments, we should a sound national establishment of take higher ground. As it is, the religion; and a more deplorable evil great end of Christianity to make can hardly fall on the people at large,
Wise unto salvation;" to and especially on the poor, than to “ Turn them from darkness to light, deprive them of its influence. Is it and from the power of Satan unto not right, therefore, that the state God;" so is this the great end which should make such provision? It may an established church is to have in be replied, that the word of God, view, and this is the benefit, which, | (indirectly at least) forbids it ; that by the divine blessing, they aim to such an institution, therefore, whatimpart. By inculcating the general ever may be its alleged excellency principles of the Christian faith, and or expediency, is in the highest sense upholding the worship of God, it unlawful. The first reflection which contributes eminently to the growth occurs to us on hearing of the unlawof true religion. Many persons are fulness of religious establishments is, thus raised up in the villages, as well that the discovery is of very recent as in the cities of our land, who origin. It would be very difficult, I adorn the doctrine of that Saviour, believe, to point out any writer who and by their character and example, held such an opinion, until within the recommend to others that which has last thirty or forty years. Previwrought so powerfully in themselves. ously, the objection had not been, as Thus it is, that in every successive'age, to their lawfulness, but as to their the glad tidings of salvation are made form and quality; their lawfulness, known to persons who would other- as well as their expediency, and newise never hear them, and thus mul- cessity, were universally admitted. titudes are trained up by them. That It is remarkable, that in favor of ecclesiastical establishments, even the religious establishments, no persons best of them, are in some respects, I have expressed themselves more de
cisively than some amongst the most , fear of the Lord : and this duty could eminent and distinguished ornaments not be affected by the magnitude of of the Dissenting body: I allude espe- the family: it grows out of the relacially, to Owen Flavel, and Mat- tion of the head of the household, and thew Henry. And in adverting to those committed to his care: it must the novelty of the opinions which therefore have been equally valid, reprobate all ecclesiastical establish- whatever the number that composed ments supported by law, I have said it. Accordingly, in the case of Abraenough to throw at least considerable ham, whose domestics and servants suspicion on them. That a fact of were so numerous, that
upon a sudden such importance, as the scriptural emergency he could call out three unlawfulness of the system, should hundred and eighteen servants, all have escaped the minds of so many qualified to bear arms, and ready at good men of former ages, must in- once for pursuit or battle,--his attendeed be a startling proposition, and tion to the religious instruction of his require very cogent proof. For, it dependants is mentioned by the Alis remarkable how anxious religious mighty as a reason for his blessing communities have generally been to being bestowed upon him.-“For I confirm their own opinions by appeals know him," said God, “ that he will to antiquity. Not only has it been command his children, and his housethe policy of the Roman Catholics to hold after him, and they shall keep allege, that their religion came down the way of the Lord, to do justice from St. Augustine, and St. Jerome, and judgment, that the Lord may and St. Chrysostom, and finally, the bring upon Abraham that which he Apostles of Christ; but the abettors hath spoken of him.” Would Abraof that heresy which denies the Lord ham have been blameless if he had that bought them, have attempted to left these persons to find religious infortify themselves with a similar ar- struction for themselves? Or would gument, being content to enlist the he have been guilty of forging chains suffrages, even of questionable cha- for their understandings and their conracters, because they were ancient, sciences, and acted an unbecoming rather than come forward without the part, if, in the event of being unable aid of antiquity: a tacit but distinct, to instruct so large a number himself, acknowledgment, that in the com- he had provided that they should not mon opinion of mankind, the novelty be left without suitable teachers ? of an argument is not one of its re- Would he have discharged his duty commendations.
if he had neglected to do this? SupBut let us come to the only autho- pose, that instead of the head of a rized appeal,--the word of God. We small family, or the ruler of a tribe, are asked, does Scripture contain any the case was that of a prince of a large arguments in favour of religious es- empire, (we speak of the rulers of tablishments? We answer in the nations) would that have been a more affirmative : we believe that the law- cogent reason against a national esfulness of such institutions can be suf- tablishment, because the means and ficiently deduced from the word of opportunities of instruction in religion God, and that the fair construction of were less ? Did the Almighty when this word, leads necessarily to this he instituted laws for the good governconclusion. It was, doubtless, from ment of the Israelites, forbid the civil the beginning, the duty of every mas- authorities from touching the cause of ter of a family to bring up his chil- his church, or require that we should dren, and train his household, in the be left to the care of the voluntary teacher? On the contrary we find in of God—of good Josiah removing all his ordinances to that people a direct the abominations out of all the counargument in favour of national estab- tries that pertained to the children of lishments : in the only instance in Israel, and making all that were prewhich God ever condescended to legis- sent in Israel to serve the Lord their late for a community, this was the God; without admiring the holy zeal means he adopted. Here was a reli- by which they were influenced, and gious establishment, intimately con- feeling that these things were recordnected, and even incorporated with ed for the example and benefit of the the state : and unless we can show, men of future ages? Let it be grantthat the adaptation of such a system ed, for argument's sake, that these under the new dispensation, contra- kings were typical; let it even be condicts some divine command, or is op- sidered, that in those cases which were posed by some moral law, the question strictly typical, their conduct was not has here been settled by Jehovah him intended for our imitation; yet they self. To object that they were a did many things, surely, that were not theocracy, or that we are unable to typical. How does it appear in such argue from this precedent without matters, that we are prohibited from binding ourselves to observe every following their example? and by what precept delivered to that people, can process is it we prove, that their exerscarcely be considered of much weight tions to advance the knowledge of the peculiarities in the Jewish system, But, to proceed to the period of the their establishment, as an establish- Christian dispensation, what light does ment, might be founded on permanent our Lord, directly or indirectly cast principles, and yet be opposed by no upon this question ? He joined in the law of our moral nature. Such we public service ; he was found in the believe to be the fact, certainly no temple and the synagogues; he sancsuccessful attempt has hitherto been tioned, by his presence the religion of made to disprove it. If a religious his country: and he did more than establishment were useful and neces- this; for while condemning, in strong sary for the Jews under a theocracy, terms the character of the teachers, an established religion is useful for he taught the people to honour them, the Gentiles under any form of govern- as sitting in the chair of Moses. He ment; for it is calculated to retain censured the men ; but he honoured religious knowledge, and to promote their office and ordinances. Had it the worship of God. The rites con- been the purpose of Christ to abrogate nected with this establishment must the religious establishments, as well necessarily be accommodated to the as the other peculiarities of the Jewish particular dispensation. The religion dispensation, would he not have given of the Israelites was supported on the some intimation of the design, especisame principles, under the kings as ally as his observance of his country's under the judges ; and an honourable usuages, and the natural prepossestestimony is given to those pious so- sion of the people in favour of the vereigns who exercised their autho- system, must have generally precludrity in promoting the spiritual welfare ed all doubt as to the lawfulness and of the people. Who can read of the the expediency of it? Was not this, Jehosophat, for instance, sending then, likely to be the opinion of Chrispriests and levites to teach the people tians in after ages, and was it not imin all the cities of Israel—of Heze- portant that they should be disabused? kiah's care for the service of the house