ST PAUL'S CHURCHYARD, AND WATERLOO PLACE, PALL MALL;
AND J. WARD, STRATFORD-UPON-AVON.
"For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."--Isaiah xi. 9.
"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."--St. Mark xvi. 15, 16.
"For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich."--2 Corinthians viii. 9.
THE Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts has, for 140 years past, laboured to extend to our fellow-creatures in foreign lands the blessings which we ourselves enjoy through the knowledge of the Gospel of our blessed Saviour. I am invited to assist in this charitable work; why ought I to accept the invitation?
1. Because all mankind are by nature "dead in trespasses and sins," and "there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved, but only the name of the Lord Jesus Christ." (See Eph. ii. 1. Acts iv. 12.)
2. Because our merciful Saviour, before he returned to heaven, commanded that his Gospel should be preached throughout the world "TO EVERY CREATURE." (St. Mark: xvi. 15.)
3. Because by that command our Lord made known his will, that every human being should be made acquainted with what he has done and suffered for their salvation.
4. Because, notwithstanding that command, many millions of my fellow-creatures, yea, even the larger part of mankind, are still ignorant of his blessed name.
5. Because our Lord intended that his own disciples (and I am one of them) should in every age be the propagators of his Gospel.
 This is proved, both by the words of Jesus Christ and his Apostles, and by the conduct of the first Christians; for the Apostles, in obedience to their holy Master's command, not only went forth themselves, to preach the Gospel throughout the world, but also taught all the members of the Church, that it was their duty to assist them in this merciful work,--some, who had been ordained to the ministry, going abroad to tell far and wide, that the Son of God had died and risen again for sinners; the rest, staying at home and helping them, both by their prayers to God and by the money which they contributed and sent out for their support in strange countries. Thus, St. Paul and Barnabas and Silas and Titus and Timothy, and many others (mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles) joined them in their endeavour to propagate the Gospel in foreign lands; they planted and watered, and GOD gave the increase. Thus too, when far away, they exhorted those who stayed at home, to help them by their prayers, saying, "Brethren, pray for us, that the word of God may have free course and be glorified." (2 Thess. iii. 1. Eph. vi. 18-20.) And thus, these helped them not by their prayers only, but also by their money. For St. Paul, when ministering at Thessalonica, at Rome, and at Corinth, was in great part supported by the money collected and sent to him by distant Churches. "Even in Thessalonica (he says) ye sent once and again unto my necessity." "I have all and abound, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you." (Phil. ii. 25; iv. 10-18. 2 Cor. ix. 9.)
Thus I learn, that all the first members of Christ's Church,--not the Apostles only, nor the Bishops, Priests, and Deacons only, but all were propagators of the holy Gospel.
I must imitate them in this; and if I cannot go abroad myself to preach the Gospel, I can at any [3/4] rate give my money and my prayers to help them that do go.
6. Because our Saviour plainly taught us all this duty, when he instructed us to pray, "THY KINGDOM COME:" for how can our Heavenly Father's kingdom be established on earth, except through the knowledge of the Gospel of his dear Son? So that by making this our prayer, he has made the performance of it our duty.
7. Because we confess this duty in our public, as well as in our private prayers, beseeching God that "His saving health,"--that is, the Gospel, which alone can save and heal,--"may be made known unto all nations."* [*Prayer for all Sorts and Conditions of Men; see also Third Collect for Good Friday.] And vain are all my prayers for others, unless I act towards them in the spirit of my prayers.
8. Because, England was once a land of idolaters, utterly ignorant of' the true God; and if God had not put it into the hearts of Christians,--or if those Christians had not listened to the stirrings of his Spirit,--to come and preach the Gospel to our forefathers, we perhaps had been to this very day sunk in gross idolatry, and ignorant of our only Saviour.
9. Because my Saviour has taught me to do to others as I myself would be done by.
These are reasons, why I should in some way assist the Church, to which I belong, in sending ministers of Christ to preach the Gospel in foreign lands.
My reasons for joining this Society are,
10. It was the first Missionary Society ever formed by the Church of England. All the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church, and a considerable number of the Clergy belong to it, and it has never done any thing to forfeit the confidence of the Church.
11. The Bishops and chief Ministers of the [4/5] Church being at the head of it, is my best security that its affairs will be properly administered.
12. It is the object of this Society not only to afford the means of religious worship to my fellow-countrymen abroad, who are already Christians, but also to extend the blessings of Christianity to many millions of heathens, especial regard being had to those who, through the Providence of God, are my fellow-subjects. And I believe, that when God joined these many nations to the crown of England, his purpose was, that through the charity of English Christians they might be brought to the knowledge of their Saviour.
13. To some of these countries many thousands of my fellow-countrymen have gone to settle, driven thither by their poverty at home; the greater part of these are as sheep without a shepherd, having no Christian minister to instruct and confirm them in the faith, into which they were once baptized. These are members of the. Church of Christ; and so a portion of God's chosen people: and many of them are now earnestly crying to us, "Come over and help us;" but if we refuse, there is danger lest they lose this heavenly desire, and "perish for lack of knowledge." Can I refuse to help them, and be blameless, when God has commanded me to "do good unto all men, but especially unto them which are of the household of faith?" (Gal. vi. 10.
For instance: In Canada West there are about five hundred thousand souls, nearly all of whom have gone out from Great Britain; there is not more than one Christian minister for every five thousand souls, and these five thousand scattered over a space larger than an English county. Many there and elsewhere never see a Christian minister for years together. A Clergyman, who lately travelled round the island of Newfoundland, met with families who once worshipped God in England, but who, since they settled [5/6] there, had not even seen a Christian minister, some for ten, others for twenty years. "Ah, sir," said these poor people, as they thought of the blessings they once enjoyed in England, "when we are sick or sad, no one comes to visit us; no one cares for our souls." And the Bishop of Nova Scotia states, that as he passed along the sea coast of his large diocese, preaching the Gospel and administering the holy Sacraments, many persons followed him in boats from place to place, eager to make the most of an opportunity, which, alas! came so seldom.
In New South Wales there are many thousands of my fellow-countrymen, who for their crimes and for our peace and safety have been sent thither from this Christian country, and who with their families will live on and die in their sins, unless we send them Christ's ministers to call them to repentance. Sad indeed is the case of those poor unhappy convicts! During the time they passed in an English prison, they were daily visited by a Christian minister, who told them of the mercy, which for Jesus Christ's sake, God has promised to every penitent sinner; but now many of them never hear those happy tidings, and are never warned of the yet greater misery which awaits them, "except they repent:" and thousands of them have in consequence grown worse and worse, from the day they left our shores. Their country has thus inflicted on them a double punishment: for it has not only sent them far away from their homes and their friends, but, by not sending with them Christian pastors, it has, as far as man can see, put it out of their power to attain that blessed home and that never ending happiness, which, through the unbounded grace of their God and Saviour, they might have hereafter attained in heaven. Thus has our country taken to itself a right, which belongs to God alone; it has punished those unhappy men [6/7] and women, not in time only, but in eternity--not in this world only, but also in that which is to come! Surely our country has greatly sinned in this; and we are every one of us partakers of that sin, unless we do all that in us lies to bring back those lost and long-neglected sheep to "the Bishop and Shepherd of their souls." (1 Peter ii. 25.)
But this is not all:
In the West Indies there are nearly a million of people, who were slaves; we have lately given them liberty; they are no longer slaves, but free men; we still owe them "the liberty, with which Christ has made us free." (Gal. v. 1.)
And in the East Indies, there are one hundred millions of souls, who lie "in darkness and the shadow of death," given up to gross idolatry, and knowing nothing of the precious blood shed for them by their Redeemer.
In these and the other foreign countries, which are a part of the British empire, and are thus
especially committed to the care of the Christian people of England, this Society has long laboured and is still labouring zealously and faithfully "in the Lord," to spread the knowledge of the Gospel. It employs three hundred and eighty-two Missionaries; of whom two hundred and thirty-seven are in British North America; in New South Wales, fifty; in the East Indies, forty-seven; in the West Indies, forty; New Zealand six; and at the Cape of Good Hope, two:--besides many Catechists and Schoolmasters, paid entirely, or in part, by the Society. But what are these among more than one hundred millions of souls, inhabiting countries thirty times as large as England? Truly "the harvest is plenteous but the labourers are few!"
How then can I call myself a CHRISTIAN, but especially AN ENGLISH CHRISTIAN, and refuse to help this Society? If I am rich, then I am without [7/8] excuse; and if I am poor, neither may poverty hinder me from joining in this work of mercy; for all that my God requires of me is, that I "be merciful after my power," saying: " If thou hast much, give plenteously; and if thou hast little, do thy diligence, gladly to give of that little;" and for the comfort of those that have little, it is written: "If there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not." (2 Cor. viii. 12. St. Mark xii. 41-44.)
Christian Reader, you are earnestly prayed seriously to consider these reasons, why you should assist in the holy labours of this Society. All that is asked of you is, that you DO YOUR BEST: but this is asked, nay more, is required of you in the name of your God and Saviour. Do it then freely and cheerfully, and then, though it be little, God will graciously accept your offering, and bless it to the benefit of your own soul, and the souls of many others, for whom, as well as for you, "Christ died."
By regularly subscribing something weekly, monthly, or yearly, you will be rendering the Society real help; because they will thus know what they may every year expect from their supporters, and how far they may increase their valuable exertions; and, to show you how much is in the power of even the poorest Christian, it has been reckoned that, if every family in our Church would give one half penny a week, the whole sum would amount to £200,000 a year. This would at once enable the Society to send nearly TWO THOUSAND instead of four hundred Missionaries TO PROPAGATE THE GOSPEL IN FOREIGN PARTS.
"FREELY YE HAVE RECEIVED; FREELY GIVE." (St. Matt. x. 8.)
R. CLAY, PRINTER, BREAD STREET HILL.