THE NECESSITY, USES, &c. OF
IN BEHALF OF THE
PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL S. S. UNION
CHURCH BOOK SOCIETY,
AT ITS THIRTY-FIRST ANNIVERSARY,
The Church of the Holy Communion, New York,
ON SUNDAY EVENING, JUNE 21, 1857,
REV. A. N. LITTLEJOHN,
RECTOR OF ST. PAUL'S CHURCH, NEW HAVEN.
PUBLISHED BY THE SOCIETY.
ECCLESIASTES, VII. 12.
"THE EXCELLENCY OF KNOWLEDGE IS,
THAT WISDOM GIVETH LIFE TO THEM THAT HAVE IT."
HOWEVER broad the meaning which the Scriptures attach to the words "knowledge" and "life," they here, as in other places, bring them together in the relation of cause and effect. This relation between the knowledge and the life of religion, clothes the subject, on which I propose to speak, with a gravity and importance which, I am sure, will command your serious attention. It has seemed to me that I could best serve the interests of the Institution, in whose behalf I am to speak, by discussing at large the object it labors to promote. I shall, accordingly, ask you to consider the general subject of a Church Literature, its necessity, its uses, and the conditions of its production. If this can be made to appear as it ought, there will be but one opinion as to the duty of enlarging the resources and expanding the operations of this society. It is to be presumed that Churchmen are insensible to its claims, only because they inadequately appreciate the work it has undertaken to do.
 A Church Literature is simply the written and published mind of the Church: or, in its more intense and effective forms, the life of the Church putting itself on record in the sphere of thought and feeling. All rational and spiritual life has a tendency to embody itself in speech as well as action. Eminently true is this of the life of the Church, because it is the complement and perfection of all rational and spiritual life. Having such a life, the Church must have a Literature suitable to its genius and requirements.
But the necessity of a Church Literature will become yet more apparent, if we turn to the outward functions of the Church. The Church was instituted for certain ends, as the propagation of Divine Truth, the maintenance of Christian Worship, the preservation and enforcement of discipline, the training of souls for the life to come, the guardianship and transmission of Holy Scripture. To accomplish these ends she employs various means, some of them directly authorized and established by her own Head, and some the creation of her own collective wisdom and admitted discretion. Of the former sort are the Ministry, the Sacraments, the preaching of the Word, and stated Public Worship. Of the latter sort are the several schemes of Missionary labor, Parochial organization, Institutions for the religious instruction of the young, and a Literature expressive of and appealing to the common mind and heart of the Church. These latter instrumentalities are all [4/5] of them important, and nothing is gained by attempting to elevate one at the expense of the rest. Each will have its place and its work. Each will be fostered by the Church, if she aims to be healthy in tone and effective in administration.
Now, if the Church is to discharge the duties laid upon her as the mother of the family of Christ; if she is to provide the food on which they shall subsist--and there can be no higher duty--she must have, besides the Bible, besides a Theology or systematic exhibition of Bible truth, a Literature built upon and representative of the feeling and the thought of her children; she must have not only learned treatises and elaborate apologies indicative of her intellectual power and conservative of her doctrinal integrity; not only text books and question books employed formally in the work of instruction, but books narrating in an attractive style the characteristics and vicissitudes of the Christian life, and setting forth in suitable colors the perils and miseries of a wicked one; books of Christian biography and travel, books of Christian experience, wherein souls have put on record, with all the admixtures of personal peculiarities, their sense of the light and joy and consolation of the Truth as it is in Jesus; books for the young, books for the middle aged, books for the old; books for the ignorant, and books for the educated--in brief, the Church must have what all understand by a Literature. It is a part of the food which her own [5/6] instincts will compel her to provide; and it is a kind of food to whose quality she cannot be indifferent, without peril of self-destruction. As for Theology, she is always sure of that. Her best learning and most serious thought will ever be devoted to some of its aspects. Her ancient and priceless treasures in this department, will reveal their wealth more and more, as time advances, and as the religious consciousness wearies of the accumulating follies of new theories and experiments. Theology, so far as it ought to be modified, will be by the collision of opposing systems, as well as by the earnest and profound thinking which always goes with a living faith. But of a suitable Literature she is not equally sure. It is more difficult to create, more difficult to replenish, and more difficult to guard from corruption.
To my mind, nothing is plainer than that if the Church must organize for the training of her young through the agency of Sunday Schools, she must also organize for the provision of such a Literature through an agency like that whose claims are now urged. This is a work which cannot be extemporized under the spur of an emergency, far less left to take care of itself. The Literature which the Church needs, is a thing of slow growth, and its circulation is nearly as slow as its growth. All things considered, it is astonishing that this whole subject has not aroused a deeper interest. The Church's inmost life, as well as her outward and [6/7] practical offices--the Church's organic relation to the welfare of her members her duty to feed the flock of Christ; her obligation to conform her course in the governance and nurture of her children to the circumstances providentially existing around her--all conspire to show the hold this matter should have upon her, and to deepen the surprise that she has done so little for it.
Have books power to affect life, to change motives, to shape character, to alter conceptions of right and wrong? Are books, in a reading age like this, among the mightiest forces operating upon the human soul? Is it true that books, next to positive habits, mirror the future of nations as well as individuals? If so, then is it imperatively demanded of her that she look narrowly to the reading of those who are committed to her charge. But beyond this, if it be her duty to warn her children against evil associates in society, so it is equally her duty to warn them against bad associates in the shape of bad books. And what way so effective to this end as to supply them with good ones? The very discipline of the Church--her power to benefit the soul through its obedience to law, is vitally concerned in the right discharge of this duty. For, if she lose the general control of her peoples' reading, she measurably weakens her hold upon their characters. But to weaken her grasp over the habits and sympathies of individual character, is first to enfeeble, and then to annul her powers of discipline.
 There can be no question, then, as to the necessity of a Church Literature.
(1) It is necessary as the utterance of her own life and experience.
(2) It is necessary to the right discharge of her duties in the cure of souls.
(3) It is necessary as an indirect yet influential auxiliary to wholesome discipline.
This view will be greatly enforced if we consider some of the more important uses of such a Literature. Were the Church equipped as she ought to be in this respect, she would be felt, far more than she is, as an antagonist of several of the most serious evils of the day. Let us study our subject, for a few moments, in its bearing upon some of these evils. Certainly there are aspects of the time which clothe it with an interest and importance unknown to any previous period of the Church's History. It is of little account where we begin the discussion of the point. Take then, first--what is known as our Common School System, the theme of so much eulogium, and the source of so much mingled good and evil? By many it is beginning to be acknowledged that not the least of the benefits it is likely to confer, will be the early solution of the problems--given a human soul, how much of pure, isolated head culture can it endure without ruin to its immortal part:--given the duties and aims of an accountable being, how far, without an utter disruption of the bonds [8/9] of domestic and public life, can smartness be substituted for honor, policy for right, self-will for reverence and subordination, and loose notions upon the highest subjects of human concernment for positive convictions.
I would not speak too strongly on a matter which has elicited such diversity of sentiment; and yet, if one speak of it at all, he should speak truly. I hold it to be an abuse of language, an ignoring of the wants of human nature, to call the training furnished by that system, education. For, to fulfill its task, education must grasp our nature on all sides, and develop it according to the order and the proportion which God has established among its powers. For those which God intended should rule and direct the rest, it will care most; for those which brutes share in kind with us, it will care least. According to this order, the conscience comes first, then the affections and sensibilities, and then the understanding. That surely ought not to pass for education which reverses this order and sets at naught this proportion, dealing mainly with the lowest faculties and only incidentally, if at all, with the highest. That is not Astronomy which employs itself only with satellites and the nearest stars. That is not Geology which concerns itself only with the sand and gravel scattered upon the earth's surface. That is not Ethical Science which treats only of maxims and expediencies, to the neglect of the seminal principles of moral duty. Nor, on the same ground, is that education [9/10] which increases the power of man, while relatively it diminishes the moral restraints under which it shall be exercised, which divorces religion from morals, and then, so far as systematic training goes, divorces moral from mental culture. And yet this is what is known among us as popular education. Having ceased to respect the image of God in the soul of man, having abandoned all direct and avowed efforts to revive and invigorate the faded lineaments of that divine likeness, it has forfeited all Christian sympathy worthy of the name, and sundered itself from the noblest instrument, as well as the chief end of human progress.
This is not vague assertion or exaggerated inference. The fact is notorious, reluctant as some may be to admit it, that our Public School System has been driven, inch by inch, away from every landmark of a definite religious faith, away from prayer, away from the Holy Scriptures, away from creeds and commandments, until its work is narrowed down to drilling the brain. But when any system gives up religious truth as a doctrine to be taught, it must give up all care of that part of us to which such truth appeals, and hence all care for eternity. But for what do we live? For what are our children trained? I need not pursue the matter. I need not mention those features of our civil system, or those tendencies of our general culture, which have produced the evil. It is enough to know, that to such a one-sided scheme of popular instruction, our children [10/11] are surrendered six days out of seven. And knowing this, can we as Christians and good citizens, fail to be startled at the certain results upon another generation, to say nothing of the present? It requires no prophet to foretell the future of two such forces working side by side as a stimulated brain and a shrunken heart--a proud, unsanctified intellect, and an untutored conscience. The end must be misery to the individual and perdition to society.
Now this evil, stupendous as it is, lays upon the Church no new duty, though it warns her of a new responsibility. Since the day of her institution she has always been the great teacher of man. Ordained to be the pillar and ground of the truth, commissioned to be the preacher of truth to all nations, she is now, as ever, in virtue of the essential offices of her constitution, the supreme and authorized educator of the race. But never before--no, not even in that dark and stormy period, when the vast structure of ancient life fell to pieces under the stress of its own corruptions; no, nor yet even in that later time, when our modern life was struggling to the birth from out of the womb of barbaric ignorance,--never was she called to hear so grave an admonition to exercise with all diligence and might her divine gifts as the teacher of man, as that addressed to her by this evil. It tells her to awake and put on her strength in the work of Christian nurture. It tells her to neglect no legitimate means which will [11/12] deepen her influence over the young. It tells her to go to the fireside and work there, to go to the Sunday and Parish Schools and work there; and what is more to my present purpose, it tells her to go to the printing press, and throwing the best riches of her mind and heart upon the lettered page, to scatter them beside the oracles of God in the path of that great host of souls who are traveling on to manhood under a system, which, if not infidel, is at least unchristian.
But if an effective Church Literature be of use as a partial remedy for the evil arising out of our defective system of education, equally so would it be in counteracting the kindred evil caused by the vices of much of our popular literature. It is impossible to estimate the enormous quantity of bad books afloat among us, or to measure the ruin they produce. There are no accurate statistics to appeal to on the subject; and yet it is of much more consequence than the imports and exports of our commerce, the bushels of wheat grown upon our soil, or the metals dug from our mines. We are only sure that corrupting books of some sort are almost everywhere in our midst, and that they are the sources of infidelity and crime to an extent which defies computation. It has been stated recently by high authority, [* The London Times] that the satanic press of England published last year 27,000,000 of books and pamphlets, all of them in some form of vicious tendency, a number greater [12/13] than that of the combined issues of all the Bible, Tract, and Missionary Societies of the realm, including even religious magazines and periodicals. Could the facts be got at, there is little doubt but that the same ratio would hold in this country. American depravity is not, in this regard, a whit behind English or French. In some directions it has outstripped both. Where it is at work through the press, it shows a more resolute and shameless determination to be bad than any literary depravity of the old world.
When we think of what chiefly engages the attention of the reading million, and particularly the young of both sexes--of the books not avowedly wicked--of the romances claiming the dignity of a moral, we are only astonished that society stands as firm as it does, and that its best interests are not oftener assailed. That no more of open injury does accrue from so prolific a cause is strong evidence of the power and prevalence of other influences.
A had book, and by this I do not mean merely a book coarsely wicked, or grossly sensual, but a book embodying in polished guise the free and easy epicureanism of the natural heart; such a book travels faster than a good one. A bad book seems to be armed with the ubiquity of an evil genius,
"For the wicked there
Are winged like angels.
Every knife that strikes
Is edged from elemental fire to assail
A spiritual life."
 How quickly it runs the now open and now secret circuit of parlors, chambers, garrets, cellars, school-rooms, counting-rooms, factories, the homes of the apprentice and the laborer! And then how shall be described what it bears away in its descent to darkness and death, or what it leaves behind as a memento of its corrupting presence? As well describe the marks left on the viewless air by Satan's feet, as he hangs poised over a tempted soul. And yet some fruit is left, whether obvious to the eye or not. In one, perhaps, it has blighted a hope that once soared to God and a better life. In another, it has dealt a fracturing blow upon some sacred vow or hallowed bond. In another still, it has planted in the depths of a virgin spirit thoughts which shall seethe and burn for many a year, like secret volcanic fires, only at last to burst forth and light the way to a broken heart and a dishonored name. In yet others, perhaps, it has silenced the voice of conscience, and taught tender minds that duty is a sham and pleasure the only reality. But it were idle to attempt to trace the several forms and capacities of evil influence bound up in the pages of a vicious book.
Knowing the sources of much of the favorite reading of the mass, it were easy to anticipate its moral characteristics. From minds some of whom write for hire, some for bread, some for a vain notoriety, some from the impulse of diseased activities of heart and intellect, and yet more for the propagation of godless theories about [14/15] society, faith, and morals--from such, what else could be looked for than just what we have? They write to please, not to profit; to gratify the heart as it is, not to elevate and reform it; to convert it to some new scheme, not to draw forth and apply to its disorders those changeless and life-giving truths which have their root in the relations which bind us to God and another world, and their expression in the word of Revelation. And hence, whether they give us fiction, essay, biography, history, or review, they recognize, practically, no other than a speechless God who reigns in a dead eternity, hardly condescending to notice the crimes or the virtues of His creatures; sometimes dwarfing him to the level of a huge material force, and at others dissolving His personality into a vague, witless, and impotent pantheistic principle.
Now, it is inevitable that the conception of God, let it be what it may, will tone and fashion all thought and feeling lying beneath it. A speculative vice starting at the summit of our moral relations, even at the Throne of the Most High, is germinant of all inferior vices. The works of this class of thinkers are examples of it. Some of them are intensely humanitarian. With every art of genius they paint the griefs and the wrongs of the poor and the oppressed. Threading the lanes and alleys, the cellars and garrets of these huge centres of life, they sound in the public ear the loud wail of that common and yet buried sorrow. Careless of the [15/16] signs and seals of a special ordination, they come to us as a new and more living priesthood of humanity, preaching by serials, and baptizing with the fires of their own misdirected sensibility.
And yet this humanity, eloquent and picturesque as it often is, has no proper moral basis. It offers no amelioration other than that which can be produced out of the existing natural order. It summons to its aid no distinctively Divine element. Now, all humanity that has meaning and power, all humanity that is enduringly earnest, is but another name for love to our neighbor. But love to our neighbor is only the earthly and temporal side of love to God. But there can be no such love to God if He be only a speculative abstraction, or a mere fatalistic, material power. It is the God of Revelation only, the God incarnate in Christ Jesus, who can be the object of such a love, and therefore the source of a real humanity in the heart of man.
Another vice of these writers, arising from a wrong conception of the Divine Nature, is to be found in the fact that they never portray transgressions and crimes as violations of an eternal law, without whose sanction no morality is conceivable; but only in their immediate effects on the transgressor or on the welfare of society. Hence they seldom or never speak of a moral act as sinful or holy, as God views it; but as proper or improper, expedient or inexpedient, wise or foolish. For the same reason their writings are characterized by an [16/17] utter exclusion of all sense of a human and responsible eternity of existence. Earth, sense, and time are always uppermost in the scenes of their fictitious idolatries. The interests of this life are sadly exaggerated, and its destinies are made to constitute the only hell or heaven. The now is all, the hereafter nothing. Of necessity, the standard of practical morals created by such views, cannot rise above or contradict the rule of expediency, the law of honor, or the sway of custom--all of them the creatures and contingents of a corrupt will, and therefore the dominant elements of a moral code at once heathenish, selfish, and wicked.
This is the literature whose word doth eat into the common heart like a canker, and whose poison having done its work at the vitals, begins to show itself in eruptive diseases on the surface of the body politic. This is the literature which readily coalesced with other influences to banish our Religion from the methods of public instruction. This is the literature which prefers the fields before Churches for the worship of God, and declares all human enjoyment the noblest ascription of praise to the Almighty. This is the literature that depreciates and sneers at all effective authority in Church and State, giving to the caprices of individual wills the empty and delusive name of self-government. This it is that satirizes and caricatures the faith of those who insist on Creeds and Liturgies as the sheet anchors of an historical and positive theology. This it is, too, [17/18] that handles the gathered wisdom of the past as a huge fossil without marrow, blood, or flesh; and therefore voiceless and impertinent amid living issues.
It were a strong plea to urge, that, in behalf of the welfare and honor of the Republic of Letters, such a school should be cast out from the great avenues of literary influence. But I am here to plead for a more serious interest. Granting this evil to be in kind and degree what has been supposed, what a duty does it not lay on the Church as the Divine guardian and accredited Teacher of the spiritual, and hence indirectly of the intellectual nature of man! What importance does it not give to the work of a society like this!--a society, one of whose special ends it is to publish and circulate the best remedies which the religious mind can devise--a society which organizes and directs in the interests of the Church, the mighty powers of the press.
This is an evil which law cannot reach. It travels wide of the sphere of the Pulpit and Sunday school. Bibles, Prayer Books, and Tracts are not, of themselves, adequate to the emergency. Through the Press, the mind of the Church must meet the mind of the world. The Divine order, the order of regeneration and reconstruction must speak with fullness and energy in a literature of its own. With strength, versatility, and genius, it must go forth to battle with that which embodies only the instincts, the disorders, and passionate strivings of a fallen world.
 There is a third evil of hardly less magnitude than those just alluded to, in connection with which it would be well, did time allow, to discuss the claims of this Society. I refer to the multiform and prodigious evil engendered by the sect spirit now so rife in Christendom. There can be no doubt that a more effective and abundant Church Literature would render vast service in this direction, as the medium of a sound and judicious Catholic sentiment. Doctrinal controversy will never cure the fracture. Denominational legislation and ecclesiastical diplomacy can do little to heal it. Feelings, prejudices, sympathies, and antipathies--all of them the growth of generations--stand in the way of the conclusions of right reason and the yearnings of a devout piety. Now, could we secure a literature which, while compromising no essential feature of Order, and ignoring or diluting no principle of the Catholic Faith, should yet breathe in all its tones the broad charities of the one universal Church as proclaimed by Scripture and exemplified in the primitive age then we should have an instrument for moulding the affections, and through them modifying those peculiarities whether of doctrine or polity, which fortify and perpetuate the Religious divisions of the day. Would that such an agency were more valued and relied upon than it is. Would that this Institution might be so endowed as to do more than it has done, to give it vitality and power.
 I turn now to notice briefly the Conditions under which alone this needed Literature can be produced. It has been implied all along, that what we have is not what we want. It lacks the temper and edge to cleave down certain of the evils that encompass us. It is too small in quantity and too poor in quality for the work assigned it. It has neither harmony of proportion, nor unity of influence: and so, if in no other way, confesses itself to have sprung from the feeble pulses of depleted veins, not from the strong, surging life of a full heart.
In naming the first of the conditions which are indispensable to the end in view, I shall not, I trust, be thought to detract from the importance of this Institution, if I affirm that any and all external means are powerless to create what our position, in this respect, demands. The required Literature will not start into being at the call of premiums and appeals. No outward friction, however judiciously applied, can rub it into life. No pressure of events and emergencies can drive it through the pores of the Body mystical and corporate. If it come at all, it must come as the unlabored and almost unconscious product of an antecedent life. It must exist as an experience before it exists as a speech. It must publish itself in action before it publishes itself in type. It must be a quickening power, asserting itself in every practical function of the Church, and restoring to her ancient Faith the flesh and blood starved off to a skeleton's leanness by [20/21] our slothful Christianity. It must be and do all this before it can shape itself into a record instinct with life. In this way it will obey the law which shaped the outgrowth of the Written Word of God. The Bible was a life before it was a Scripture. It stirred the world as a practical impulse before assuming to guide it as a permanent and literal Revelation.
A Church Literature thus produced, would recreate the life that created it. It would hand on and enlarge what it received. It would renew itself in the very act of appealing to the Gospel impulses which gave it being. It would be great, and strong, and broad, because such were the mind, and heart, and purpose whence it came. The fruit of life, it would be spontaneous and free, and as such would be clothed with the grace and unction which inhere in such qualities. In the world, the only minds which have spoken with abiding power, have been those who have spoken as by accident, and under the stress of a life within which made speech a necessity. That life forced them to write as grief forces us to weep, or joy to smile. It is the same in the Church. The only thought that really sways us now, is that which came as the irrepressible utterance of souls moved by a profound spiritual experience. Such experience, least of all, can lie hid. It breaks forth into words and works. It chafes against the barriers that obstruct its tendency to become universal. It yearns for an audience to hear its message of power and bliss. The secret of Heaven, the glory of [21/22] the Cross, the presence of the Holy Ghost, are with it and they must be proclaimed. So spake the mighty men of old, whose lives spun, as it were, by the fingers of God, have been woven into the cables of the Ark of Christ. So spake the martyrs and confessors of the Reformation. And so, in more recent years, have spoken not a few of that elect number who have done what they could to publish, in the regions of night and death, the riches of a free Salvation. Let the Church at large once feel the stirrings of such an experience, and the books she needs will spring up as light issues from the sun, or power from the fiat of God.
Are we then to go without such a Literature for the present? Yes, verily, and always until the Church shall be restored to the condition, which alone make it possible. And where, it may be asked, shall the effort to meet this special want begin? Begin, I reply, just where all effort to increase Christian vitality begins. We must begin with prayer, begin with every Christian man doing his work as he has not before. The Church must revert to the sources of her life, revive the neglected powers of her commission, and stir up the gifts entrusted to her keeping. She must go to her knees in sackcloth and ashes and wrestle with the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, until He grant another Pentecost whose tongues of fire shall flash from her Pulpits, burn in her Missions, glow in her Charities, and force the baptized millions within her borders to cry [22/23] out, What shall we do to be saved? This particular need can be met only by meeting others; just as no single spot on the ocean's shore can be washed save by the tide that rolls its mighty volume over the whole beach.
It may be inferred from this that little can be looked for from the Christian intellect of to-day as a creator of the Literature demanded by the Church's exigencies. Its present grade, temper, and occupations forbid higher expectations. Our hope is in some period, not far off, we trust, when there shall be less controversy, fewer sects and parties, a freer and fuller life, and an utter end of the blind and bitter spirit of localism and insulation.
But besides the general condition of which I have spoken, there are others quite as important in their place. The minds, I remark next, who are to do the Church's work in this direction, must be in thorough sympathy with her historic life, conceiving of her as the one Kingdom instituted for all ages and races. They must appreciate the age and work of an Ignatius and a Justin Martyr, of a Cyprian, an Athanasius and an Augustine, of a Cranmer and a Ridley, of a Laud and a Hammond, of an Andrewes and a Wilson. They must enter into the Christianity of history, not only in its conflicts and labors but as exemplified in divers forms by the Saints of every land and century, reading at their graves the lessons of Providence, and in their lives the capabilities of a sanctified nature; tracing, [23/24] moreover, with wondering eye the ever living, ever present Christ, as He speaks through the human copies of His Word and Life, whether Nicene, Medieval, or Modern. And yet they must be in temper and aspiration men of the present, finding in it their work and joy. For there is a sense in which, in the Church, as well as out of it, it is better to discourse of living trifles than of dead magnitudes. There is a sense in which, ecclesiastically and spiritually,
"We do distrust the writer who discerns
No character or glory in his times,
And trundles back his soul five hundred years
Past moat and drawbridge into a Castle Court."
The writing mind of the Church, to be largely and permanently influential, must, moreover, be one whose religious culture has been fashioned by a complete, not a fractional Christianity. Only by such a culture will it be qualified to address an unstable and divided generation like this. Speaking, generally, it may be safely affirmed, that the bulk of the Religious Literature now in circulation, is little better than patch-work. And it is so, because its authors have conceived of Christianity as patch-work, and not as the seamless garment of Jesus. It is the product, to a large extent, of educated talent, honest feeling, and pious affection; but of minds narrowed to single aspects of the Divine scheme, minds to whom Christianity has appeared as a bodiless soul or a soulless body; as a creedless life or as a lifeless creed; as sacraments without grace or as grace without [24/25] sacraments; as the Church, apart from the individual, or as the individual apart from the Church. Instead of rightly dividing the word and holding to the proportion of faith, they have, in many cases, torn limb from limb, and then reproduced in books the dismembered frame of what God meant should be a living truth in a living body. Everywhere, save in a few favored spots, the issues of our Christian mind reveal the fatal results of such disordered and fragmentary conceptions. While these continue nay, among ourselves, until the Church system shall be held and taught as Scripture and primitive tradition enjoin and as the Book of Common Prayer witnesses, there can be no such Literature as the necessities of the Church require.
With these conditions of a religious sort, I must not, in conclusion, fail to couple another, strictly intellectual in its nature. As the writing mind of the Church should have an earnest experience of her work, a thorough sympathy with her historic life, and a clear, firm conception of the unity of the Gospel scheme so, to be successful in its task, it should possess, besides breadth and fullness of general culture, a special mastery over the resources of the highest art. A most suggestive point is this, but it may not be discussed here. Fairly treated, it would show us why, with such sources of inspiration, such interests to advocate, such joys and woes to paint, and such a nature to address the Church, should stand sponsor for so many books which die [25/26] almost before they have a name to live--books (might I be permitted to catalogue them in the words of another)
God's being so definitely, that man's doubt
Grows self-defined the other side the line,
Made Atheist by suggestion; moral books,
Exasperating to license: genial books,
Discounting from the human dignity;
And merry books, which set you weeping when
The sun shines,--ay, and melancholy books,
Which make you laugh that any one should weep
In this disjointed life, for one wrong more.
Good aims not always make good books;
Well-temper'd spades turn up ill-smelling soils
In digging vineyards, even."
A sanctified genius working under aesthetic law, gives the highest conceivable promise of literary excellence. Art is properly the handmaid of Religion. In any other relation its life is imperfect and abnormal. It is the noblest office of art to give shape to that side of Divine Truth which reveals itself in the aspects of moral beauty. There is no reason, other things being equal, why the Literature of the Church should not be the best as a literature. The mind that works under Christian light and motive, beholds the real proportions and related harmonies of truth from its highest to its lowest forms. It works upon a basis of universality as well as immortality, in respect of man's nature. It may not win universal interest, but it builds on universal principles. It therefore enjoys advantages unknown to a merely secular and faithless intellect, and should make to the Church a corresponding return.
 The Sunday School Union and Church Book Society, exists in obedience to a necessity of the Church. It aims to do a part of the Church's work as the Teacher of the flock of Christ. Whatever importance attaches to that work belongs, measurably, to it. It has already done much and promises to do more. The Family, the Sunday School, the Parish, the world are the scenes of its labors. Under the control of the whole Church, having at heart the interest of the whole Church, it means to deserve the confidence, as it now appeals for the aid of the whole Church. Brethren, may it not be laid to our charge that such an instrumentality, in such an age, was crippled by our neglect. Rather may it be a part of our joy, at the last day, that, through this and other means, we did what we could to save the lambs of that great Flock which God has purchased to himself by the precious blood of His dear Son.[* The Union now furbishes fifty-seven Instruction Books for various classes and ages of scholars, besides Lesson Cards and Sunday School requisites; and two hundred and eighty-five Library and Reading Books for Sunday School and Parish Libraries. The Union furnishes, also, thirty-four bound volumes of its Periodicals, together with Tracts, Devotional Guides, &c. It has now in press nearly ready for publication, some fifteen works, all of which will be timely additions to Parish and Sunday School Libraries. Of the thirty-five works published in the past two years, eight are Biographies of American Bishops, and one a Biography of Bishop Heber. It will be seen from this that the Union has done much to meet the demand which has so long existed for popular Biographies of holy men and women of the Church. It means to do more in this way even than it has done. This department of Literature abounds in materials of the greatest value, which ought to be wrought out and brought to bear, as they have not been, upon the religious life of to-day. Particularly is this true of materials yet ungathered from the Missionary records of the Church. The plan of the Union, it is believed, is commensurate with the needs of the Church; but it ought not to be forgotten by any one at all interested in this subject, that to enable the Union to execute its task, more liberal donations are imperatively demanded.]