Imatges de pàgina

tural and primitive, the obligations of that Christian covenant which they then assume, its inestimable privileges of redemption and grace which are then proffered them: you invite them to renew their baptismal vows in an ordinance ranked by an apostle among the principles of the doctrine of Christ, and powerfully tending to instruct and to edify those who receive it: you call them to the table of the Lord in exhortations which warn the presumptuous and persuade the thoughtless; and in confessions as humble as the broken heart can suggest, or the trembling lips utter-in supplications as fervent, in praises as ardent as the most humbled soul can feel, or the most impassioned spirit send to heaven-you prepare them for feeding spiritually on those emblems which, in the most sublime acts of adoration, oblation, and praise, have been consecrated to set forth that body and blood which give life unto the world. It is that Book of Common Prayer, for dispensing which you are now called on to contribute; and it is that Book of Common Prayer only, which, in this varied, sublime, rational, and interesting manner, exhibits the great truths of that sacred volume with which, as its best and appropriate associate, the Society which this day asks your aid hath connected it in their benevolent contributions. It is this liturgy which, in that parent church which first compiled it from the purest records of the primitive ages of Christianity, is its glory in prosperity, as it was its best consolation and safeguard in adversity; and it is this liturgy which most powerfully contributed, during those civil commotions which well nigh overwhelmed our infant and feeble Zion, to preserve her, depressed indeed, but not shorn of that

strength and lustre in which she is now advancing, we trust, to a name and a praise in our land.

4. You extend with our church the blessings of an apostolic ministry.

For "how can they preach, except they be sent?" is a question which came with earnestness and force from the lips of an inspired teacher; and how can they be sent, except by those who have received authority from the divine Head of the church to send labourers into his vineyard? is a question which carries with it its own solution; and who have authority to send, but those who, in succession, have received it from those whom the Saviour commissioned for this purpose, and promised to be with them to the end of the world? That authority, even varying sects acknowledge, is possessed by the church of which you are members; and in extending it, therefore, you extend that ministry which Christ and his apostles constituted, which the holy men of the first ages of Christianity adorned in their lives and consecrated in their deaths, and in union with whose ministrations we are united to the mystical body of Christ, and exercising a true faith, are united in living fellowship to him, its everlasting head.

And in extending our church, you not only extend a rational religion, an evangelical system of doctrine, a well ordered form of worship, an apostolic ministry; but

5. Lastly. An excellent form of ecclesiastical polity, providing, in perfect congeniality with our civil system, a checked and balanced legislation, by the co-ordinate powers of its bishops, clergy,

and laity-the two former in person, and the latter by delegation, in diocesan conventions; and the laity and the clergy by delegation, and the bishops in person, in separate branches, in the general legislative body of the church-a system which secures, as far as human provisions can secure it, in a single executive in every diocese, an energetic, stable, and responsible administration of ecclesiastical business and discipline.

In extending then our church, you act the part of good citizens by extending a system congenial -more so (it is capable of proof) than any other, and as much so as is practicable-with the permanent and not delegated exercise of the authority of the ministry, with those civil constitutions which, imperfect as in some respects they may be, (for imperfection alloys all things human,) are our just pride, because they are the best security for personal rights, private independence, happiness, and the public weal.

Surely then, my brethren, you cannot hesitate as to the mode by which it is your duty to promote the spiritual interests of your fellow-men: it is by extending, as you have opportunity, and as you have the means, that church to which you have the happiness to belong; for thus you diffuse a rational digest of religion, a sound form of evangelical doctrine, a scriptural and primitive liturgy, an apostolical ministry, a correct form of ecclesiastical polity.

The highest good, then, which you can do to your fellow-men, and especially to those of the same household of faith, is to devote, as opportu nity offers, your talents, your time, your example, your influence, your worldly substance, to the ex

tension of your church. I am confident there is not among you an individual so insensible to those considerations of reason, of feeling, of the divine law, which urge the duty of doing good, as in no respect to labour to promote the welfare of others, and especially to relieve the temporal wants of his fellow-men. And yet, after all, laudable and essential as is that charity which does good to the bodies of men, which relieves their temporal necessities, how limited in its operation, how inferior in its effects, to that benevolence which relieves the wants of the soul, which provides for that higher part of our nature which is to survive when all that can in this world gratify or afflict us shall have passed away like the shadow of the morning. In diffusing among your fellow-men the power and the hopes of religion, you provide them with the only effectual solace under those ills which no human power can avert, and no human benevolence remove; you exalt them in all those relations that distinguish them as men and as citizens, and you open to them the fountains of spiritual and everlasting felicity in that state of being which is to be their final abode. If it be a duty of Christian benevolence to seek to improve the temporal condition, to elevate the temporal character, to supply the temporal necessities of your fellow-men; must it not be a still higher duty of the same benevolence, to seek to improve their spiritual condition, to elevate their spiritual character, to supply their spiritual necessities? for they are destined to live, according to their spiritual character and condition here, in a state of endless felicity or wo. You may be the instruments, by your benevolence, of saving souls from death.

The church, my brethren, with which you are connected, has been exhibited to you in those high claims which her rational and evangelical doctrine, her primitive and unrivalled liturgy, her apostolic ministry, her judicious ecclesiastical polity, entitle her to. The peculiar circumstances in which your church is placed, most powerfully urge the duty of liberal contributions for extending and preserving her in all her characteristic excellencies. In our cities she is respectable in the number and in the worldly advantages of her members-in this city, eminently so; but in many of the numerous villages and districts of our wide-spread country, she is not to be found; in others, a few of her dispersed children still acknowledge her; and in those where she is organized, her congregations, with some exceptions, are not large in regard to numbers, nor powerful as to pecuniary means. The causes of this may be found in the facts that the eastern and middle states were originally settled by a non-episcopal population, and that elsewhere a variety of unpropitious circumstances reduced her to a state of extreme depression. In some places in our southern districts, where once she flourished, she is scarcely known; in others, she has only imperfectly recovered from a feeble and depressed condition. Many are her children who, scattered through the immense regions of our rapidly-settling wilderness, anxiously seek to enjoy again her fostering care, her spiritual nurture; and experience proves, that frequently it is only necessary to exhibit her in her genuine character among those who are strangers to her, to command their esteem, their confidence, and their choice. Her spiritual guardians, those who are

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