Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

populous parts of the county of Middlesex, and also in many great towns in other parts of the kingdom, not a tenth part of the church of England population can be accommodated in our churches and chapels, to worship God after the manner of their forefathers. We who subscribe this letter, have maturely considered the subject; some of us have occasion annually to traverse a considerable part of the kingdom, and we are thoroughly convinced that the great majority of the people of this land are, notwithstanding all that has been said to the contrary, strongly attached to the church of England, and that one great cause of the apparent defection from the church, and of the increase of Sectarism and Methodism, is the want of places of worship upon the establishment. We know that those who are strongly impressed with a sense of the duty of worshipping God, but who hắve not had the means of obtaining correct notions of attending only to duly commissioned instructors, wander from the fold, rather than not worship God in public at all, and thus become for ever lost to the church of England. If this be the case in general, and if the duty of every member of the church, ecclesiastical or lay, has for many years imperiously called upon him to strain every nerve, and to exert all the means with which Providence has blessed him, to provide a remedy for this dreadful evil, think, we entreat your Lordship, to what an amazing degree this call has been enforced upon all of us, by the business in which this nation has lately been so meritoriously and gloriously engaged. We, who subscribe this letter, your Lordship, to whom it is addressed, all the other prelates, and many of the most virtuous and distinguished nobles and commons of our land, have been exerting their utmost strength, and dedicating their time, their talents, and their wealth, to the important purpose of edu

cating the children of the poor in the principles of the national church. We endeavour, and we trust we shall succeed, in teaching thousands (and we hope, when we are gone to our rest, that thousands yet unborn will be taught) that by a due conformity to the principles and doctrines of our most holy faith, as illustrated by the precepts, and by the rites, ceremonies, and liturgy of the church of England, they may be made wise unto salvation. Think then, my Lord, what our responsibility will be, if, after having instructed them in those things which we think of the highest importance, the moment these children become adults, and are gone forth from our protection, we afford them no opportunity of practising what they have learnt under our tuition. Will it not be the greatest act of cruelty, after we have taught them the way of salvation, to debar them from the means of walking any more in it, but compel them, by the want of free churches or chapels for the accommodation of the poor, to return again to that state of spiritual misery, from which the members of the national school had rescued them, or drive them into the arms of Methodism and enthusiasm, which will be stretched wide to embrace them all? Will it not be a heavy offence in the sight of God, after feeding these children with the sincere milk of the word, that they may grow thereby, not to afford them any free churches or chapels in which the means of grace, which we have taught them to use, may be dispensed for the supply of their spiritual needs ? Will not this be to withhold from them the word of God himself, the bread of life, and the cup of salvation? This is an injury of such magnitude, that we, as laymen, deplore it, and deprecate the continuance of it; and as we are sure that our spiritual fathers and many of our rulers in the state feel it as deeply as we do, we trust that no time will be lost, but that every energy will be called into action, to remedy, as speedily as possible, such a dreadful evil. Another consideration has been pressed upon us, by a highly revered prelate of our church, who in the dispensations of divine wisdom has probably been preserved to us to this day, after a lengthened life of benevolent activity and piety in his high and holy function, to see this great work begun, if not fully accomplished, in his time. It is to this effect :-We are now rejoicing, as a nation, under the wonderful and accumulated blessings of heaven, for putting a sudden stop to the mad career of the most dreadful scourge that ever afflicted the human race. Can we render a more grateful expression of our humble and devout acknowledgements to Almighty God for all his mercies, than by immediately dedicating to his honour and service a number of free churches and chapels, sufficient to supply the spiritual wants of all his faithful worshippers in the established church of England ? Can the Prince Regent better begin his peace-administration, or more convincingly prove to his own subjects, and to the world at large, that he is determined that his throne shall be established in righteousness, and that he looks up to the Almighty alone (who has given him rest from his enemies on every side) for future favour and protection to him and to his people, than by sending down a message to both houses of parliament, that it is his royal pleasure that this measure, so big with importance to this country as a Christian nation, should immediately be taken by them into most mature and serious consideration? We are aware that the session is now too far advanced to do any thing effectual this year; but the matter might be so matured that it might be brought forward as soon as parliament meets next winter, and if the Prince be prevailed upon towards the end of this session to send a message to both houses of parliament, indicating generally his intentions and wishes upon this momentous subject to a Christian people, we venture to believe, that a measure more calculated to conciliate the affections and good opinion of his people could not be devised. .“ Our chief object in addressing you, my Lord, is this: that it has been suggested to us, that a proposal of this kind would be better received if it originated with laymen; and we, who subscribe this letter, and many more, who would be ready to assist in such a pious labour, but whose names are not added to this address, because we would not at present burthen your Lordship with a variety of names, are desirous of knowing your Lordship’s sentiments upon that head, not wishing to throw upon the shoulders of others any responsibility from ourselves. But we have been also informed, that steps have been already taken by our rulers, both in church and state, upon this important business. If it be so, we heartily rejoice, and shall háve done our duty in mentioning the matter to your Lordship; we wish not to interfere with them, in what, no doubt, they have maturely considered: they shall have, as far as our means or ability extend, our most active co-operation, and we wish them good luck in the name of the Lord. All we desire is, that so good a work may not be permitted to slumber. On the other hand, our desire was, if nothing was in immediate contemplation, to have your Lordship’s sanction (for without your sanction there is not one of us who would undertake a work of this nature) for calling a private meeting, chiefly of clergy, nobles, and other excellent laymen, well affected to such a measure, to digest some plan, and for carrying it into immediate execution, for the erection of churches and chapels, a great part of which should be for the accommodation of the poor in districts where they are most wanted; that such plan should afterwards be submitted for your Lordship’s approbation, and if that obtained, be by you submitted to the Prince Regent, to the archbishops, and his majesty's ministers. Whether there should be first a commission and then a bill, or an act of parliament first, and then a commission, as was the case in the reign of the pious Queen Anne, about the building of fifty churches (not above eleven of which, by the by, ever were built), 'must be matter of future consideration. There never was a period, my Lord, and we write it with honest exultation, when the true church of England was blessed with more active, able, and zealous ministers than at present; but if they have no opportunity, for want of decent accommodation, of preaching the Gospel, and especially to the poor, (to whom it was emphatically to be preached,) nay, not to a tenth of the population, both of the rich and poor, the people must perish for lack of knowledge.

“ We are aware of your Lordship’s pressing avocations, and particularly in the first year of your episcopate, in this very laborious diocese; but we know and feel that no subject can be of greater importance in the eyes of a Christian bishop, of your deservedly high character, than that upon · which we have presumed to address you ; and as we think that now or never is the time, we trust that you will be able to give it a few hours of your serious consideration; and we are willing to assist and to co-operate with your Lordship to the utmost of our power.

“ Our names, (though few for the reasons before assigned,) we trust will secure us from any motive in this address but the welfare and enlargement of the Church of Christ, as established in this happy land; and when the subject presses so strongly upon our own consciences, it is, as we conceive, a bounden part of our Christian duty to request

« FöregåendeFortsätt »