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several of our dioceses have been expressly included in the commissions issued by the bishops to the rural deans. With the greatest fitness and propriety, therefore, our Association and its three great objects are now primarily confided to your councils; and so important are they in their bearing upon the general welfare, and so near and precious to every one of you in their special interests and application, that if they stood alone as matter of consultation, they would be sufficient worthily to occupy the time, and to support the character and spirit, of your meetings. And in no hands could the Association repose the trust with so much cheerfulness and security. Hitherto indeed its course has been prosperous and serene; its funds, as well as its exertions, have been gradually increasing; the zeal of its friends is unabated, and the blessing of God has been upon its labours: but it is in the very nature of all voluntary societies gradually to fall into decay, unless some constant pains be taken to support them; and since it is obvious from the very constitution of our plan that there is no security in future for its permanent success but a lively and abiding conviction of its unchanging value ;since all things that are most essential in the several institutions which it combines, the means, as well as the ends-the good proposed, and the instruments wherewith it is to be effected-the wants to be supplied, and the resources applicable to them ;-since these, though variously and unequally distributed over the diocese, are yet all locally situated within the compass of your districts, and all comprised within the range of your inquiries; on you, therefore, and on your brother clergy, is imposed the duty, or rather, is conferred the privilege, of guarding them from injury or decline; and it will be a task every way worthy of your councils, and most highly becoming to your office, to cherish their influence in the minds of your friends and neighbours, to set forth their usefulness and their claims, and to promote a pure, and, as far as may be, a perfect administration and application of their funds.
In what way you can best attain these ends it is for you and your reverend brethren to determine, under the advantages of the local and personal knowledge you possess; but there is one point which I am anxious to notice, because it has not hitherto received that degree of attention which it deserves. It has been long a matter of regret to myself, that the Association gradually formed in this diocese, and now almost complete in its objects, by the adoption of the Diocesan Board of Education, is yet constitutionally defective in one important respect, namely, that it does not comprehend in its body nor within the sphere of its operations, an adequate portion of that most important and intelligent part of society-the middle classes. How very prevalent this defect is will appear in a moment from an inspection of the lists of our subscribers, and it requires but little reflection to be convinced how injurious it must be in many respects, and especially to those whose absence is the subject of our complaint. The Association indeed loses the benefit of their counsel and advice, and the poor the blessing of their assistance; but they themselves undergo a sadder loss, for they are cut off from communion with the Church in some of its most interesting labours of piety and charity, and have no share in the benefit of those prevailing prayers and benedictions which rise to heaven from the lips of the poor in favour of their benefactors. That the backwardness
of such persons should, in many cases, arise from a want of sufficient knowledge of the institution and of its purposes, is very probable; and so far the remedy may not be difficult. It must be confessed however, that this is not the whole of the case there is another reason, which lies deeper, and operates more perniciously,—a prejudice strongly prevailing amongst many persons of these classes, especially in villages and country towns, that charity to the poor, and particularly the higher species of it, regarding intellectual and spiritual wants, is a concern peculiar to the upper ranks of life, and lightly,'if at all, affecting themselves. This is indeed a grievous error, whether considered in a religious or a civil point of view. It is directly opposed to the Scriptures which represent the Church as being one body, of which Christ is the head, and ourselves members with Christ and of one another; which direct, that every one should lay aside every week for the necessities of the saints as much as he can spare, and annex the highest and most enduring rewards to those who turn many to righteousness. On the other hand, it is subversive of all social happiness and peace. The nearer we are drawn by the conditions and relations of life to those who stand in need of our assistance, the oftener we come personally in contact with them, the more graceful, healing and acceptable does our sympathy become; and on the contrary, the more offensive and unnatural our neglect. Indeed, this is only one symptom, amongst many, of that moral disorder which prevails through a large portion of our social system, and is pregnant with so much alarm; separating, by a broad and dark line, those who labour with their hands from their employers, producing selfishness on one side, sullenness and discontent on the other; and what is worse, intercepting the course of every improvement in morals and religion, which would otherwise naturally flow down from the more instructed orders to their poorer brethren below. With every allowance for the different forms and modifications of civil life, it is impossible to deny that this our state is an entire departure in principle as well as practice from that primitive Christianity wherein all its members were of one heart and one mind; nor can any hope be entertained of arresting the progress of this disorder, and of soothing the distempered feeling which is the consequence, unless by retracing our steps, and by restoring to our society the spirit, at least, of that Christian charity which so sweetly tempered theirs,-unless the sympathies and feelings of Christian brotherhood are acknowledged and established amongst us in all their strength,—unless every rank and order shall be made to feel for every other as for itself, and all be knit together by the ties of mutual respect as well as of kindness and affection. Other measures may indeed be useful and concur to the same end, but this is the one thing needful, without which every other will be in vain; for we may rest assured, that no device can be imagined so calculated to win the hearts of the lower orders to the love of Christ and of the Gospel, as to let them witness the force of it in those above them, prompting every one and warning every one to seek not their own things but the things of others and of Christ, and to be constantly intent upon improving the condition and raising the spiritual character of their poorer brethren. Here then is another topic highly worthy of your counsels, and fit for minds of piety and intelligence engaged together
in the sacred functions of the ministry: the error, however, is one which should be touched tenderly and kindly as a failing of weaker brethren, to which minds of greater intelligence have been only just awakened; but firmly and searchingly as an evil of great magnitude, already deeply rooted in our system, which if suffered to increase, is calculated to deform the beauty and to disturb the fair proportions of our Church, to arrest the progress of the Christian scheme, and finally to subvert the whole fabric of society.
I trust, my reverend brethren, that you will bear with me a moment longer upon this point, which I deem to be of great importance. It may be true that the defect of which I speak ought in this case mainly to be imputed to want of knowledge in the great majority of these persons, and not to want of will. If this be so, and I should be sorry to think it otherwise, can it be said that we ourselves shall be entirely without blame if we suffer a void of this kind to remain amongst us, without endeavouring to fill it up? Men are wont to deem it sufficient that the good they seek has been brought to pass, no matter whether by many or by few; and they are sometimes tempted to please themselves with the thought that however others have failed, they at least have not been wanting to the work; but if we would keep in mind, ought, how frequently and impressively the Church is represented in Scripture as one body with many members, of which Christ is the head, and observe how the comparison is supported and illustrated, we should perceive that no social act of piety or charity can well be complete either in its design or operation unless all classes unite in the work, each according to the measure of its ability. The head cannot say of the foot, I have no need of thee! If it be a privilege that all who have received the gift should minister one towards another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God, why are any classes or orders to be shut out from the enjoyment of this privilege? If it be a trust, why are they prevented from the fulfilment of it? and why are those classes, above all others, to be excluded whose kindness would be most esteemed and valued, because most manifest to those on whom it was conferred? It may be urged, perhaps, that the way is open to them, and that it is their own fault that they are excluded from participating in our labours of love. But have we really taken sufficient pains to invite, to exhort, and, with gentle violence, to compel them to come in? Have we made allowance for their incessant business, and their want of opportunities and information? These are serious questions for us; and unless we, the ministers of Christ especially, shall be able to show hereafter that we have never failed in our endeavours to impress upon these our brethren their obligation as members of a Christian society, we may be justly considered as partakers of other men's sins, and chargeable with other men's miseries.
Upon the other heads recommended to the consideration of your chapters in these suggestions, namely, the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, and our other Societies of a kindred spirit for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts, it will not be necessary for me to dwell long: their claims have been so long established in the hearts and minds of every minister of our Church, and their present exigencies have been lately urged upon you with so much force, by
persons deputed to the diocese expressly for that purpose, that I can scarcely hope by any words of mine to add to such recommendations. I cannot avoid remarking however, that there is something in the aspect and position of our Church in its missionary character at the present moment, which raises it to a high degree of eminence in our view, and renders its success a matter of the deepest interest to all who have the commands of their Saviour at heart. The numerous channels which, by the providence of God, are laid open to its influence through the wide expanse of our growing empire, the profound peace prevailing throughout the world, the manifold and powerful means and instruments for propagating the Gospel, so seasonably collected and brought to perfection at home, the many faithful hearts and learned tongues which are enlisted in its service, and the providential care in which the way has been prepared for the reception of the truth by the breaking down of the strong-holds of idolatry in the East, constitute together such an overwhelming evidence of a divine power going along with their efforts, that it is difficult to conceive any mind so dull as not to be smitten with admiration for the work, or so sordid as to withhold his contribution, however small, from the support of it. With such arguments you can scarcely plead in vain, and if ever the chilling question should come across the mind of any one you address, "Of what avail can be the best-directed efforts of one or two societies volunteering their services in so vast a field?" then let him be reminded that it was by a small but seasonable aid from the Society for Propagating the Gospel, that the expiring embers of the Episcopal Church in America were, with the blessing of Almighty God, kept alive, when abandoned by the authorities at home, and depressed and trampled upon by the adverse sects which vindictively surrounded it: and that this very Church, then like "the Syrian ready to perish," thus timely rescued from destruction, is now so prosperous and flourishing, though dependent only upon its own Apostolic character, and the affection and zeal of its members, that it numbers more than twenty bishops, a thousand clergy, and 800,000 members within its pale, having quadrupled its numbers in the same period that the general population has required for doubling; and what is more directly to our present purpose, that it is now actually propagating throughout the world, by means of its own resources, that form of Christianity which was then, under God, preserved to it by our timely aid. Surely no one can listen to these extraordinary results, and be afraid to have his lot with these societies, which, through faith of the Saviour's promise, and in obedience to his last command, are now casting their bread widely in every direction upon the waters, assured of finding it after many days.
Other advantages there are, likely, indeed almost certain, to grow out of these re-unions, on which I need only glance, namely, the promotion of social intercourse and comfort amongst persons engaged in the same
It appears from Mr. Caswall's work on the American Episcopal Church, that the revenues applicable to Missionary purposes were doubled (i. e. from 6,000%. to 12,000), in a single year, by substituting for the former system of Missionary Associations, a weekly oblation at the time of the Holy Communion, in every parish throughout the Church.
high calling, aiming at the same ends, and encompassed with the same dangers and temptations; the communication and diffusion of tried improvements in the pastoral and ministerial care, the mutual assistance and encouragements in congenial studies, the wider exercise and influence of superior minds in the prosecution of what is good; and more than all, perhaps, a clearer insight into the moral state and condition of the people in every district, and a more uniform and systematic application of the means calculated to improve them but there is one other benefit respecting which I cannot be silent, and which, without appearing eminently in any portion, promises to prevail throughout the scheme, giving grace and brightness to the whole, namely, a stong tendency to a more perfect union of counsels and of action amongst the different members of our ministry, supplying in some measure a want in the English Church, unknown to its early history, and almost peculiar to it now; I mean that of periodical assemblies and synods, and of the cooperation which they are calculated to produce. I am not indeed prepared to say that our ancient system of convocations could be revived with advantage in the present temper of the public mind, or would in fact be the best remedy for the evils under which we labour, but sure I am that there never was a moment in the history of our Church when the advantage of brotherly counsels amongst its ministers was more necessary. No one can be insensible to the difficulties which surround our establishment at the present moment, and few will deny that there is sufficient learning and piety amongst her ministers to cope with and overcome them; of zeal too there is abundance, and of discoursers and contemplative students not a few. What, however, is most wanting is a more cordial union and a more perfect understanding amongst the members of the ministry, in order that its energies may be brought to bear with undivided force upon the body of the Church, and not only upon the Church, but also upon those who have wandered or have been led astray from it. It is a painful fact, that the clergy of our Establishment, though labouring earnestly each in his own field of duty, know less of each other and consult less together for the common interest of the ministry than any other in the whole world. The fault however is not so much a defect of disposition for union, as the absence of all occasions and opportunities of cultivating it: they have no general meetings excepting at visitations, when they come together to hear and not to communicate with each other; and were it not for the decided advantages and superiorities which they possess in many respects, and above all, in the scriptural and apostolical character of their order, there would be great reason to apprehend that they might sometimes fail in their conflicts with other sects, who understand so well the advantage of concerted and united efforts, and are always found to apply them skilfully in their opposition to the Church.
Nor is it only the loss of union and collective strength which is the effect of our isolated labours and sectional speculations. The clergy are sometimes associated in each other's minds with some opinions of little consequence on which they differ, or with some local and conflicting interests by which they have been disturbed, rather than with those great and healing principles and truths which lie tranquilly in the bosoms of the great body of them, to be called forth only in moments