« PreviousContinue »
serve to each of the contracting parties sufficient power to enable it to fulfil the terms of the compact; to enable, therefore, the Church to render that service to the State, which the State requires, and compensates by reciprocal aid. By weakening either of the contracting parties, we diminish the strength of the whole. By detaching men from the Church, we create divisions in the State, which may end with the dissolution of both. So congenial is the Church of England with the State of England, that, since their alliance at the Reformation, they have neither fallen alone, nor risen alone. They fell together in the reign of the first Charles; they rose together in the reign of the second Charles. Let not Statesmen therefore imagine, that the Church may fall without danger to themselves. If no reverence, no devotion, is excited by the divine origin of our religion, yet, unless men reject also the opinion, that religion advances the good of civil society, they will pause at least, before they contribute to the dissolution of an alliance, which has so long and so usefully subsisted. They will be cautious how they treat the institutions of the Church, as unnecessary ingredients in a plan of national education. They will be cautious how they patronize seminaries, from which the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England are openly and avowedly discarded. But if such patronage is bestowed, where we have most reason to expect support to the Establishment, we may then despair of being able to fulfil the condition of our alliance. Our utility will cease. We shall lose the power of doing good. No residence, no preaching, no catechising, will further avail. Our flocks will have deserted us ; they will have grown wiser than their guides ; and the national Creed will have become too narrow for minds accustomed to the liberal basis.
But whatever be the circumstances, in which we may hereafter be placed, let us endeavour to fulfil the duties of our station, while we have duties to perform. If we cannot recal the thousands who have deserted the Church, let us double our efforts to retain the faithful band, which rallies round her standard. Let the union of the latter increase with the defection of the former. Let both the Clergy and the Laity, who are still attached to the Church, combine for mutual defence. It is an union of Churchmen with Churchmen, which must promote the welfare of the Establishment. We cannot indeed expect, that Dissenters should be willing to co-operate with Churchmen, when the object in contemplation was the interest of the Church. For this purpose, we must associate anong ourselves : we must retain the strength of the Establishment in its own channel, for its own preservation : we must not divert it into other channels, where the current may be turned against us.
"This is not spoken to their disparagement, or intended as a matter of reproach. However well-disposed, however well-affected in all other respects, they cannot be well-affected to the Church, or they would not be Dissenters from it. Their interests in respect to religion are different from ours, and therefore must lead them a different way. Though Dissenters of every description may unite among themselves against the Church, for the support of a common cause, yet an union of Churchmen and Dissenters in favor of the Church, is a supposition, which con. tradicts the common principles of human action. But if we cannot co. operate in the prosecution of this object, it is to be hoped that we shall never fail to join hand and heart in promoting objects of general benevolence.
2 Self-defence is not only justifiable, but a duty. And we are surely not chargeable with intolerance or bigotry, if, while we leave our neigh. bours undisturbed in their religion, we use every fair and honorable
An association of this kind is the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge. It is a true Church-of-England society; and no one is received among its members, without testimony of his attachment to the constitution, as well in Church as in State. Though its exertions, therefore, are not confined to one nation or language, though it promotes Christianity as widely as its means extend, yet, when its benevolence is exercised at home, it never loses sight of those doctrines, which we in particular believe and maintain. For, where the Church of England is established, it is not Christianity under any form, which it is our duty to promote. Our exertions (though without the smallest restraint on the zeal of other parties) must be especially directed to the furtherance of that system, which we are especially pledged to support. The Society therefore for promoting Christian Knowledge does not confine itself, where the Church of England is established, to the distribution of the Bible alone. It adds the Liturgy, in which those doctrines are derived from the Bible, which we believe to be correctly derived from it.' For though, without the Bible,
exertion in support of our own. Hitherto we have rights, as well as they. And, if the defence of those rights is called intolerance, the charge recoils on those who make it. If it is bigotry to disrespect a religion which is tolerated, it cannot be liberality to insult the religion established. If it is right (as it unquestionably is) to preserve unimpaired the privileges of Dissenters, it is a violation of equal justice to trample on the privileges of the Church.
* If other religious parties believe differently, far be it from me to reproach them with their opinions. If I think them wrong, I still respect them as religious opinions. And with the freedom, with which I assert, that our doctrines are in unison with the Bible, with the same freedom let all other parties claim that unison to themselves. But let them claim it without reproaching us for the exercise of the same privi. lege. And let us all submit with humility to Him who alone cannot err, to determine where the Truth is really to be found.
the Liturgy has no support, yet, without the Liturgy, men are left in doubt, whether the principles of our faith should be embraced by them, or not. Without the Liturgy, they want a guide, to lead them to the Established Church. Without the Liturgy, the Bible may be misapplied to doctrine and discipline most discordant with our own. Where the Church of England therefore is established, the Bible and the Liturgy should be united. For every Christian party either finds, or supposes that it finds, its peculiar tenets in the Bible. And hence the Act of Uniformity expressly enjoins, that no Sermon shall be preached, or Lecture given, except in the University Churches, till after the Liturgy has been publicly read. But beside the Liturgy, which is the authorised Repository of our doctrines, the Society distributes a Collection of Tracts, written chiefly by our most distinguished Divines, and containing ample instruction both for our faith and manners. Nor has our Society neglected to provide for Christian education and Christian Schools. With such a Society, it should be the earnest endeavour of every sincere friend to the Establish- : ment to become connected. The names of our Prelates, without exception; the names of our parochial Clergy, to a considerable extent; and the names of many most respectable laymen, are enrolled in the catalogue of its members. We have likewise reason to rejoice that our numbers, within a short period, have rapidly increased, and are still increasing.
'Sect. 22, 23.
* For this increase we are greatly indebted to that excellent plan, the formation of Diocesan Committees, which our Society adopted at a general meeting on June 12, 1810, for the purpose of “ extending the usefulness of this Society, for increasing its influence, and promoting the union and co-operation of the parochial Clergy, and other friends of the Church throughout the kingdom, with the designs of the
- Another Association of the same kind, and closely connected with our own, is the Society of Patrons of this Anniversary of the Charity Schools. This Society is likewise a true Church-of-England society. It contains a thousand members, who, as trustees or subscribers to these assembled .charity-schools, are all employed in supporting the Protestant Religion, as established in this country. They deserve, therefore, the protection of every friend of the British Constitution. And, if viewed in the light of humanity, as well as of policy, they claim the patronage of every friend to human nature.' To this Society we are indebted for the glorious display of these thousands of children, who are
Society.” No plan could be better devised, or more suited to the object in view. As every Bishop is a member of the Society, these diocesan committees, at which the Bishops themselves should of course preside, afford a medium of communication, a bond of union, between every diocese and the board in London. The distant clergy, as well as other friends of the establishment, become in this manner acquainted with a Society, whose usefulness, or even existence, might otherwise be unknown to them. And, when they are admitted members, their communications with it are facilitated by committees, to which they have constant and easy access. Nor is this the sole advantage of the plan. It promotes (what at present is more than ever wanted) the intercourse between the Bishops and their Clergy; it invigorates the principle of diocesan government; it reduces co-operation to a system ; and thus contributes, beyond the reach of individual efforts, to promote both the interests of our Society, and the general welfare of the Church, It would be want of gratitude therefore not to add, that we are indebted for the introduction of this plan to the Bishop of Ely, and for the zealous promotion of it, to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who immediately communicated and recommended it to the Bishops of his Province. See p. 178–180 of the Society's last annual publication.
? See the Preface to the List of the Patrons of the Anniversary of the Charity Schools, 1811.
2 « More than seven thousand children clothed and educated in this metropolis." Ib.