« AnteriorContinua »
full of the seeds of things. I conceive that, possibly, the time is not far off, when all that we have as yet done shall be swallowed up in the superior splendour of future achievements; and that, together with other Societies, we may lead on in the grand moral triumph of the Gospel over ignorance, superstition, vice, and misery 2. It was said, how correctly it is not my business to inquire, that if the captain of the ship sent in 1818 to discover a north-west passage, when he had entered Sir James Lancaster's Sound, instead of being appalled at the huge chain of mountains, and concluding at the distance of thirty or forty miles that the ice-bergs formed an impenetrable obstacle, had pressed on to the bottom of the Sound, and had sailed boldly up to the ice-rocks, he might possibly have found that what seemed continuous, was not actually so, but that the very passage opened between them, by the discovery of which the most complete success would have crowned his expedition. Now whether that opinion be just or not it is not my concern to examine; all I would observe is, that boldness in pressing up in the very face of the difficulty is in the true spirit of Christian heroism and Christian discovery: and that if, instead of timidly concluding at a distance that the barriers are impassable, we fearlessly sail up
to them, we shall find that the rocks and icebergs leave an intervening passage, a current for enterprize, an outlet into those unknown and unlimited seas, whence blessings may flow forth around the whole earth.
ADDRESS at the Ninth Anniversary of the
Prayer-Book and Homily SOCIETY, May 3, 1821.
Am requested to second the motion just proposed to you'. With respect to the discourse itself, to which it relates, I will only say, that if the design of my friend, Mr. Marsh, was to persuade his audience, that design was most completely accomplished, as it regarded my own feelings. There was not one sentiment delivered, in which I did not most cordially agree: and I trust he will not refuse to those members of the Society who were not present the opportunity of judging for themselves of the arguments by which he would support, and the esteem in which he wishes us to hold, the formularies of our church.
On the subject of this Society, Sir, I do feel considerably; more especially as its funds
1 A motion of thanks to the Rev. E. G. Marsh for his Sermon preached that morning before the Society.
are at present in an unfavourable state. The first question is, What can we do to raise them? For our design should be, not merely to ineet, and lament over the fact, but, each in our respective spheres, to lend our aid; and thus gradually to relieve the Society from its embarrassment, and set it at liberty to perform those important operations to which the Report invites us. And nothing is much more easy.
We have only to set our shoulders to the work, by making collections in different churches, by forming associations, by recommending the Society to our friends, by procuring occasional benefactions, or by doubling our individual subscriptions, at least for one year. Something of this kind should be done for any institution, that has a fair and good object in view. If a society is embarrassed, nothing is more plain than our duty to reinstate it in its proper situation, and in those circumstances of success to wbich it is our wish to raise it. And as to this particular institution, the fact is, that after all the statements made, none of us can estimate the full importance of it.
There is one part, for instance, of the proceedings of this Society peculiarly useful,-it circulates the formularies of our Church complete and entire. This is more than was ever done uniformly before. When this Society was first established, it was not uncominon for large editions of the Prayer-Book to be circulated without the Thirty-nine Articles. How that took place, I cannot say; but I will affirm, that our people, and the young persons in our parishes and congregations, ought to have the opportunity of turning with the utmost facility and convenience to those great statements of doctrine in which such scriptural wisdom and moderation are united, in order that they may become established in the faith. For it is a fact, and will be confirmed by those who have read Ecclesiastical History most minutely, that much of the peace of the Church depends on coming to a right and comprehensive determination on the clear and important points of truth; and then referring to every one's conscience to decide on the minor and less certain ones. By our Articles of Religion we are united in defending our church from the incursions of those who, under the name of Christianity, would bring in a mere cold and starved rule of morals, while they omit those peculiarly Evangelical doctrines, which alone can raise man from death to spiritual life and feeling, from self, to the glories of that Christianity which, amidst all the superstitions by which it has been beclouded, bas guided thousands of humble souls into the doctrine of pardon and righteousness, excited in them the spirit of submission, piety, humility, peace, and holiness, and eventually brought