THE REASON FOR
Delivered in St. John's Church, Brooklyn, on Sunday, March 15th, A. D. 1840,
By EVAN M. JOHNSON, Rector.
TO THE RIGHT REV. PHILANDER CHASE, D. D.
BISHOP OF ILLINOIS.
RIGHT REV. SIR,--I dedicate this Sermon to you, who, more than any other, have experienced the evil effects of the delusion which it is the object of the author to expose. If only a small part of the great sums which have been, and are now, paid to Foreign Agents, and Foreign Missionaries, and Foreign Travellers and School Masters, had been placed at your disposal, and you had been enabled to carry out your enlarged plans for extending the Truth and the Church, and if your example had been more generally imitated in that vast region which you have chosen as the field of your disinterested labors, we should not now have to mourn over the increasing ignorance and error which you have so heroically combatted.
I am, Right Rev. Sir,
Truly your most devoted Friend and Servant,
EVAN M. JOHNSON.
Brooklyn, March, 1838.
GALATIANS, vi., 9.
"AND LET US NOT BE WEARY IN WELL DOING."
ALL who receive the Scriptures as the word of God, believe that the time will come, when the Church shall be established throughout the whole world; when all nations shall flock to it as "doves to the window." To effect this, its divine Head will use, as he has done, men, figuratively called, "earthen vessels," as instruments. He has given to them heretofore, and we have no reason to believe he withholds at the present, such power and such aid, as are necessary to carry into effect, in his own time, his great design of evangelizing the world. In addition to the other duties required of the members of this Church, is the [1/2] duty of becoming "laborers with God," in this great work. By the Apostles of our Lord, while they ruled the Church, this duty was faithfully performed.--"Their sound went out into all lands." Their example was followed by those who succeeded them in the office of Chief Pastors of His flock. From what remains of the history of these heralds of the Cross in various quarters of the world, in the first three centuries, we learn that the most astonishing success crowned their labors--they went forth in "the strength of the Lord God, conquering and to conquer;"--"nations were born in a day." It was, during these ages, that the Church was planted in those kingdoms from whence either we, or the ancestors of most of us came. Though doubtless many "vain traditions" have been handed down for historical facts, respecting the proceedings of the earliest missionaries in Great Britain, and many things told of them utterly incredible, yet all accounts agree, as to the great and immediate success of these Apostolic Ambassadors.
A private Christian was taken into captivity by the Irish in the fifth century. During his captivity, his heart sank within him when he "saw the people wholly given to idolatry." After his deliverance he determined to seek their conversion to the "faith of Christ," and their submission to his holy Church. He applied for authority to act as a missionary to the Bishop of Rome, at that time the Metropolitan city of the West. It was granted--he landed among these ignorant and deluded idolaters--he boldly addressed himself to their kings and chiefs--he preached Christ to them without fear of consequences. They renounce their idolatry, and, with all their people, directly submit to him as the authorized ambassador of Christ, the Head of the Church.
We have not an authentic account of the first planting of the Church in England; that it was there, after the Apostolic order, in or very near the days of the Apostles, there cannot be the shadow of a doubt. Long before the Bishop of Rome claimed to be universal Bishop, and long before his authority as such was acknowledged by the churches in the West, was the Church, with its regular, Apostolic order of Ministry, here in existence; the members of which were ignorant of the fact that the Bishop of Rome claimed a superiority over their Bishops. [* At the second synod of the British Church, held at the request of St. Austin, there were present seven Bishops, besides the Abbots. He pressed them to submit to the Pope. Dinoth, Abbot of Bangor made him this answer:--"You propose to us obedience to the Church of Rome; are you ignorant that we already owe a deference to the Church of God, to the Bishop of Rome, and to all Christians, of love and charity, which obliges us to endeavor, by all possible means, to assist, and to do them all the good we can? Other obedience than this to him you call Pope, we know not of, and this we are always ready to pay. But for a superior, what need have we to go so far as Rome, when we are governed, under God, by the Bishop, Caerleon, who hath authority to take care of our churches and spiritual affairs?" vide Spelman, vol. 1, page 108.
[2/3] The clergy and members of this ancient church suffered great persecution. Thousands of them were slain by the Saxon conquerors of England. They abandoned the country and fled to the mountains of Wales and to the deserts of the North, to escape the cruelties of these heathen invaders. This Church, thus persecuted, had almost become extinct, and heathenism was planted in its place. God in his good Providence, raised up St. Austin, through whose instrumentality these idolaters themselves were converted. He saw a door opened which he failed not to enter. Properly authorized by the Bishop of the Imperial City, he and his companions went forth to the work to which they were called by the Holy Ghost. They notified one of the most distinguished Kings of their intended visit, and of its object. They went--they set up the Cross--and they preached under this banner, the doctrines of the "Crucified One." He listens--the King examines--his heart is opened--the attention of others is arrested--they are converted--become Christians--thousands are baptized in a day, and the kingdom at once submits to the King of Righteousness. Other missionaries were sent from Ireland to convert the Saxons in the West, and from Scotland, in the North. They were eminently successful; and thus was the land of our ancestors converted a second time "to the faith," and the Church which had been overrun or expelled, recalled, and united with that branch of the one vine, which had now, through the blessing of the Great Husbandman been instrumental of reclaiming from error and idolatry, the successful invaders of the English. These "men of God" were eminently successful, and immediately so. They were not called to wait for a length of time to see the fruit of their labors; but in their life time, they saw the Church well and permanently settled, and some of them were consecrated to the office of Bishop, and ruled for many years "the household of Christ," which he had enabled them to rear. [* Austin was consecrated to the See of Canterbury, by the Bishop of Arles, in France.] I mention these instances only as examples of great success which followed the ministry of some of the primitive Missionaries of the Cross. I might mention many other individuals, who labored most successfully in other countries, all which would prove most fully that signal success attended their exertions.
Compare now, my hearers, the results of these Missionary labors with those which have followed the efforts made in our day, to extend the knowledge of Christ. Within the last fifty years, great endeavors have been made to extend Christianity. TheChurch, as such, I am free to admit, in all its various branches--the Greek, the Roman and the Anglican, seemed to have lost sight of its high vocation for a series of years; but little had [3/4] been done to extend its blessings among the heathen; indeed, through its apathy, idolatry and Mahomedanism had overrun many countries where the kingdom of Christ had been well established. The Church seems to have been awakened to a sense of its neglect and its duty, about the commencement of the present century. Various sectaries which had departed from its unity in England, joined in the formation of a society, the avowed object of which was, the conversion of the heathen to "Christianity." This aroused the Church in England, and she began her work, particularly in the East, where Providence seemed to open the door. [* It may be observed that now, the present time, when the Church in England is making greater efforts than ever to reclaim from error and sin her own members at home, greater success than ever seems to crown the labors of her Missionaries in India. See the late most interesting account, by the present Bishop of Calcutta, of the conversion of great numbers to Christ, and of their union to his Church.] These movements aroused to renewed exertions the members of the Roman Church, and they have entered this field with no little zeal. To what extent, if to any, the missionary spirit has been awakened in the Greek Church, I am not informed. All, however, in this country, whether of the Church or of sectaries, "who call themselves Christians," have become awake to the obligations resting on them, as they suppose, to strive to reclaim from their errors, the heathen and idolatrous nations of the earth. During this period, greater sums of money have been raised by the contributions of the faithful and others; a greater number of Missionaries, of school masters and catechists have been sent forth, than we have ever known before to have been sent. They have gone from the most remote to the farthest nations of the earth. Immense empires have been traversed by exploring agents, at great expense, to find out places where missionaries might be permitted to reside; an immense machinery has been set in motion, which draws from every house and hamlet in our country the dollar and the penny; agencies are established with liberal salaries in our chief city; these agents are required to devote the principal part of their time to devise "schemes" to raise money; [* I do not know the number of sectarian Agents in New-York, or the amount of their compensation. The Church has one Foreign Secretary, with a salary of $2,000 per annum, with an allowance of $915 for clerk hire and expenses. The present incumbent is the Rev. Dr. Vaughn. It has a Domestic Secretary at a salary of 2,000 dollars per annum, with an allowance of $1191 for travelling expenses, clerk hire, &c. The Rev. Mr. Carder is the incumbent. Our two Missionary Bishops receive $2,000 per annum, each, with no allowances. Bishops Chase and Otey, who are in fact as much Missionary Bishops as they, receive nothing, and are wholly unprovided for. I have never been able to ascertain the precise amount paid to our Foreign Missionaries--it is not less than $1000 per annum, including frequent extra allowances. Our Domestic Missionaries receive $280 per annum. [4/5] I submit to any candid person, whether there is any justice that such large and ample salaries should be paid to Agents and Foreign Missionaries--some of our own Bishops remaining wholly destitute of a support, and all of our Domestic Missionaries contending with penury and want, on account of the miserable pittance doled out to them by the executive committee.] many of our most distinguished clergy and sectarian Ministers spend much of their time in attendance on Missionary Meetings and Committees. Thus the most prodigious efforts have been made, and are now making, to carry on the work.
What has been, and what at present is, the success that attends this mighty effort? Let us, my hearers, for a moment look at results. As far as the efforts of the various sects of this country are concerned to spread "Christianity" among the heathen, there is almost a total failure. The Reports of their Missionaries in the East--in India, in China, and in all other heathen lands whither they have been sent, are rather what they hope to do, than what they have done. I look in vain for a single country where there has been made any permanent impression, any impression that would remain if the Missionaries were withdrawn, upon the characters of the great masses of the people. [* Let no one misrepresent what is here asserted. I do not say these Missionaries have done no good to some few individuals. I say they have in no instances effected the conversion of such numbers of the people as to bear any comparison at all to the results of those early Missionaries, through whom, as such, nations were converted.] Shall I not here be met with the inquiry--"Have not the Sandwich Islands been converted?" From what, and to what, have they been converted? It is answered, from heathenism to Christianity. They may have been induced to see the absurdity of heathenism; but that they have not received the doctrines of Jesus, and submitted to the order or rules of his Church, which inculcate peace and love towards our enemies, and charity towards those who differ from them, I think most clearly appears, from the continued persecutions of those who have gone forth to preach the Gospel to those residing among them, belonging to the Roman obedience. They may have become nominal Christians, but neither have they nor their advisers the "spirit that was in Christ." Where else shall we look? what have they done in India, in China, in Burmah? comparatively nothing. I honestly believe the controversies which these sects have raised on foreign ground, about the translation of the Scriptures; the order of their church government, so called; the mode of administering baptism, and the qualifications of its recipients; these, and the jealousies which have grown up by the interference of one sect or society with another, and such like disputes and distractions, have done more to retard, than all their efforts have done, to spread, the knowledge of the Gospel. I look in vain at the numerous reports of the societies under whose auspices these sectarian Missionaries are and have [5/6] been sent forth, for any thing that looks like a permanent change in the religion of any country from heathenism to Christianity.
What has been the success of those Missionaries that have of late years been sent from hence by the members of the Church? In Greece, we have succeeded in establishing two or three schools, and this has been done in direct opposition to the lawful authority of the Greek Church. But, as Missionaries, they have attempted to do nothing, and, of course, have accomplished nothing. One clergyman, (Dr. Robertson,) who has resided in one part of Greece or another for many years, and has spent many thousands of dollars, has absolutely accomplished nothing; and is now supported, at great expense, at Constantinople, to circulate tracts among the Greeks and Turks. Another gentleman, (the Rev. Mr. Southgate,) has been travelling for two years, and is, with his wife and family, about to be sent out again; and the only result is, a "promised journal." I have in vain looked for any results of his labors as a Missionary. China was said to call for laborers from these United States.--Two clergymen, (Rev. Messrs. Lockwood and Hanson,) went out, to go there. They found no opening--they lost their healths--they have returned--accomplished nothing, and are now usefully employed at home. A third, from South Carolina! (Dr. Boone,) is yet there; and is, as far as I can learn, doing nothing as a Missionary, and but little as a physician or school master. I most confidently affirm that all these attempts have been failures, as far as any real and permanent change of religion among those to whom they have been sent is concerned.
Methinks, my hearers, these results, these facts, should cause very serious reflection. They should lead the members of the Church to ask--"how is this? To what cause or causes can we attribute these repeated and repeated failures?" I will, with God's help, now endeavor to point out some of the causes, which, in my opinion, have operated to produce this entire failure in the foreign missionary enterprise, as undertaken and carried on from this country.
The reasons of failure, are not that the true missionary cause is not the cause of God; it is not that he has less regard for his Church, now than formerly, and not that he has less power to make his "name glorious;" the fault is not God's, (as many would seem almost to insinuate,) but the fault belongs to those who conduct the operations, by the means of which it is hoped the conversion of the world is soon to be effected. I hope I shall be pardoned for speaking out plainly, while I proceed to enumerate some of the causes of this failure. I say some of them, for I could not, in the limits of a single sermon, even allude to them all. In doing this, I wish to be considered as speaking of measures, and not of men; neither do I wish to [6/7] impute improper motives to any individuals; but I shall not be deterred through fear of this, from speaking freely and openly of measures.
The early missions of the Church, I find, were all undertaken by the Church, as a Church, by the direct and positive orders of the Bishops or Chief Pastors of the Church, established in other countries. I no where find that any great blessing has ever attended the exertions of separatists and schismatics--these have been uniformly "as water spilled upon the ground." It is, then, to me, quite a satisfactory reason, that little or no success has attended the efforts of sectarian ministers among the heathen, because they are separatists. I do not believe that they have any right to look for a blessing from the Divine Head of the Church, so long as they voluntarily cut themselves off from the communion of the one Catholic, Apostolic Church, existing, as it does, in various quarters of the globe. I cannot believe that God is "the author of confusion." It does not seem reasonable that he will grant success to mere human institutions, such as sectarian churches confessedly are. When the world is to be converted, it will be effected by the Church, and not by schismatical sects. [* The reader ought to remember that the author of this discourse is an Episcopal Clergyman, whoconscientiously believes that separation from the Catholic Bishops of Christ's Church, in Apostolical succession, is unlawful--that schism is a sin--that there was no sufficient cause to warrant the first separatists from the Church of our forefathers in the course they pursued, of setting up a "new church," neither is there any scriptural or reasonable ground for them, and their numerous sectarian offspring, to continue in a state of separation and schism.] This ought to be a satisfactory reason to every consistent Churchman; to every one who has any clear and definite ideas of what the Church is, and wherein consists its unity, why sectarian efforts made, as they now are, in India, in Greece, in China, in America, among the Indians, and in other places, have been, and are, attended with so little success, in comparison with the magnitude of the efforts made, and means expended. This reason is only applicable to those who are in a state of separation from the visible Church, by having rejected its divinely constituted ministry, which exists in the branches of the Catholic Church, in uninterrupted succession, from the Apostles of our Lord.
Why is it that little or no success attends the efforts of the true and regular Church of these United States? This is a very important question, and I undertake its answer, in part, with great reluctance, because it is always unpleasant to oppose plans and views which, by their popularity, have become to be thought almost perfect. To my mind, there are very satisfactory reasons to account for the want of success which attends the foreign missionary operations of the Branch of the one Catholic [7/8] Church, called here, the Protestant Episcopal Church.--Those conversant with the history of the Church, know, that by the second OEcumenical Council, in the 4th century, long before the division of the Church into Eastern and Western, at a time when the decrees of the Church were universally obeyed, and have been since recognized as binding upon all its members, a canon was passed strictly prohibiting one Bishop from intruding, or causing others to intrude, within the jurisdiction of another. It was then declared to be an "aggravated schism." This would be a sufficient reason, if other's were wanting, why success has not crowned the schismatical efforts of our clergy, who have gone from hence into the dioceses of the Greek and Roman Churches, without their consent, and in many cases, in most express opposition to their will. If it be desirable to try to effect the reformation, either in doctrine or practice, of these communions, the communications in reference to this object should be addressed to the Bishops, to those who, under Christ, are rulers of the flock. Reforms should begin with them, and receive their countenance. I have never been able to learn that the Church, in any Christian country, as such, has ever been consulted whether it were in want of missionaries. The consent of Bishops to these foreign operations has never been asked or obtained. And does not this sufficiently account for the fact, that as missionaries, the clergy that have thus gone before they were invited, have had no success?--as school masters, under the protection of the State, in opposition to the Church, it is not my design to speak of them. Again; there are serious objections to our foreign missionary plans, whether in operation within the boundaries of other Christian Churches or in China, the only foreign missionary establishments we have at present among heathens. We have seen that Patrick and Austin, when they came into Great Britain, came openly and avowedly as Gospel Missionaries; they took their lives in their hands, and they preached the Gospel to the kings on their thrones. They did not go, the one as a doctor, offering to cure their diseases, and thus to ingratiate their good will, and by stealth preach the Gospel,--neither as school masters, to instil into the minds of youth, as it were in secret, what they call a purer faith, while they were only entrusted with their secular education. There is a want of candor and openness; a kind of disguise and cunning in this method of proceeding, in my opinion, totally unworthy of so great and good a cause. I do not wonder that intelligent heathens, after they have become informed of these schemes, distrust the sincerity of those who adopt them, and refuse to listen to their religious instructions. I leave to those who read our journals, to judge how far our missionaries in Greece and China have been obnoxious to this objection.
 I think, my hearers, when we consider that it is to propagate the pure religion of the God of the Bible, and to establish the Church, the chaste spouse of Christ, that these efforts are made; when we also reflect that this God is a being who knows the hearts of the children of men; who sees their various motives of action--it would seem to follow, that all the means used, either directly or indirectly, to effect this great object, should be such as he would approve, and such as his holy Word expressly sanctions. God forbid, that I should judge the motives of any single individual; but I have a right to compare the rules laid down in Scripture to regulate Christian charity, with the popular practice under these rules. If, then, we expect a blessing from God on our charitable efforts to disseminate a knowledge of him, and to plant his Church, we must use such means to carry on the work as we know he approves, and in such a way as he directs. All contributions made for the support of missions, must be considered as alms, given to relieve the spiritual wants of the ignorant and unenlightened. Our Saviour's express rule, with respect to alms, is this:--"When thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men, verily I say unto you they have their reward; but when thou doest thine alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth, that thine alms may be in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." Let us examine some of the schemes which have been most extensively adopted to obtain money to carry on this work, with the light afforded by this rule. How does the ostentatious display of names of individuals as contributors to various amounts? How does the great parade of reports of Churches of what they have done? How does the plan of sending about papers in the pews when collections are made, to induce a large donation, with the express object of exciting a strife who shall appear at the head of the list? How does the inducement often held out, that if a person will give so much towards maintaining a child at school, the name given him by his parents shall be dropped, and the name of the donor perpetuated in his person, and then to publish here the whole transaction. [* The first instance which was ever known to the writer of this, of holding out this kind of inducement to obtain money for Christian objects, was the case of the Trustees of Andover Theological Seminary. One was Abbot, Professor, another Bartlett, Professor, &c. thus naming the professorship during the life time of the founder. On this plan they have found no difficulty in getting funds, and their pernicious example has been too extensively imitated.] How do these accord with the Scripture rule? All these and many more such like plans, are evidently in direct violation of this rule, and encourage pride, ambition, and a love of vain display--passions wholly at variance with the spirit of the [9/10] Gospel of Jesus Christ. I do not therefore wonder that so little success attends missionary efforts, when so much of the money to carry them on is obtained by such unlawful means.
To further on this work, a new and unscriptural standard of piety has been introduced, and operates most extensively among those, who, perhaps are least aware of it; and who would, in theory, reprobate the doctrine which it supports. I mean the doctrine of justification by works. Those individuals and those congregations are said to be the most pious--religion is said to flourish most where they have yielded to such devices, and where they have been induced to give largely to carry on these experiments. It has been said that by doing this, "spiritual blessings are more largely shed upon the souls of the donors." There can be no doubt but that the measure of piety is sought to be ascertained by the amount of these gifts, be the motive what it may that induced the donation. Money, to be usefully employed in disseminating Christian doctrine, must not be obtained by its misrepresentation.
All these considerations have had great weight, in my own mind, in solving the problem, why so little comparative success at present crowns what are called Foreign Missionary efforts. If, however, these had been wanting; if the efforts had none of them been sectarian; if no unworthy motives had been set before the people, and no undue means used to obtain their money; if all had been lawful and right, then there is one objection which has been before made, and which has never been satisfactorily answered, and which still exists in all its force. [* Vide "Missionary Fanaticism opposed to Christian Zeal," 2d edition, page 9 &c.] I think no one will deny that God never calls any one to neglect one duty to discharge another. If,then, it can be made to appear that all the means which have been so extravagantly expended, after having been in many instances so most injudiciously, to say the least of it, obtained, were wanted here in our most destitute country; and that if all these had been applied, and ten times more, then the want would not have been one half supplied--if this can be made to appear, then every dollar sent away, has been taken from a fund which ought to have been greater, and sacredly applied as God in his Providence evidently directs; and those who have been so anxious to excite this "Foreign Missionary spirit" have been "fighting against God," and leading his people to neglect this great duty, to do what they vainly think another, to which he has not called them.
Let us now glance at some fields of usefulness and duty, which are palpably before our eyes. Let us see in what manner that duty has been discharged. I begin with the colored population of these United States. In those immense states and territories [10/11] at the south and west, where slavery exists, and where more than two millions of human beings that have souls, are in bondage to the whites, all of whom call themselves Christians, and many of whom, notwithstanding all that has been said by abolitionists and others, I believe are indeed truly so, what has the Church done for their spiritual good? Is it not a fact that many of them are heathens still? Is it not a fact that many are totally ignorant that they have souls, and are but little above the brutes? Is it not a fact that those who pretend to be Christians, have been made such as they are by ignorant fanatics, who, unenlightened themselves, are not able to enlighten others, and that therefore nine tenths of the southern blacks who call themselves Christians, are Antinomian Baptists? Their religion is but a name. What has the Church done for them? Have not many of her leading members quietly acquiesced, without due consideration of its consequences, in that odious law which prohibits them to learn to read, that the Bible and Prayer Book may be open to them? With a few most honorable exceptions in some of the southern cities, there has been a total neglect, on the part of the Church, of these millions in their midst. To come more at home.--What has the Church here in New-York and Brooklyn done for the colored race, whose fathers were our slaves, and whose descendants are mostly still our servants? Debarred from any thing like Christian equality with their fellow sinners, they have been almost compelled to meet for religious worship by themselves. There are thirteen thousand or more of these people in these two cities; they have one Church which can contain perhaps nine hundred people. One here has been sold and is gone. If, through an absurd and wicked prejudice these people must be set off by themselves, has the Church done its duty to them; Have we not rather encouraged their separation from the unity of Christ's Church by not providing for them churches and clergy? and has not the increase of schism and infidelity among them been caused by the neglect of the Church?
Another large class of people, one who, by their customs, and habits and business, seem to be cut off from general society--the sailors, have been neglected by the Church. I speak particularly of these, because if any should seem to have been objects of special care, even by those who take to themselves the title of "friends of foreign missions," it should have been these. For it is the sailor who gives to the heathen his first idea of the influence of Christianity upon conduct. [* The author of the "Bearings of Commerce on Foreign Missions," had best set himself to correct the evil lying at his own door, detailed in the following, which I copy from the last Episcopal Recorder "ABOMINABLE.--Last week a vessel sailed from Boston, with a number [11/12] of Missionaries on board, destined for Smyrna. In the same ship 20,000 gallons of New England Rum were sent out! The Boston Transcript says that since the first of January 8000 gallons of Rum had been sent to Smyrna. Last year over 200,000 gallons reached Asia through the same channel! How abominable! How utterly unavailing are the efforts of Christian Philanthropists, while in addition to heathenism, poison is constantly sent there in advance of the antidote." I think there can be little doubt that the sailors who took out these Missionaries and this rum, were well qualified to learn the Turks and Greeks its use.]
What has the Church done for these practical Missionaries, the sailors. A few sectaries, (and I mention their exertions with the greatest commendation, would they had been made upon a better foundation,) have in some of our principal cities, done a little for their instruction, their improvement in morals, and their religious faith. But what has the Church done? What has the Church, with all its wealth and with all its numbers done for this class? Nothing--not a chaple, not a missionary, and hardly a tract has been provided for them.
What think ye was the moral character of the majority of those sailors who carried out to China, to Greece, to Persia, and elsewhere, the Missionaries that our Church has sent? What a comment, in all probability, was their conduct, both among the members of other Christian Churches and among heathens, of the influence over the common people, of that religion which these men went forth with the professed object to teach? What inconsistency this, to send Christian Missionaries with such living comments! Whose fault is this?--It is the fault of the Church--it has neglected wholly its duty to this class of peculiarly destitute individuals.
When we look at the state of the Christian Religion in this country, where the much abused dogma of the Reformers so called, "the Bible, the Bible alone is the religion of Protestants," has been acted upon to its full extent; we see as a legitimate consequence of its literal interpretation, sect upon sect arises and falls--every kind of heresy is taught for the "doctrine of Christ," and infidelity itself almost assumes the name of Christianity. All these multifarious sects are united in nothing else but either in violent opposition to the Church of Christ, or else in disseminating indifference towards it. The natural result of all this is, to cause doubts, even in well disposed minds, of the truth of all religion, seeing, as they do, such abuse of the very best of God's gifts to men. I ask, has the Church no duties to these deluded errorists and schismatics? If so, how has this duty been discharged? What efforts have been made to reclaim these wanderers? I am ashamed to say they have been very small. Indeed, by many members of the Church itself, it has been thought the best way to counteract these heresies and schisms, to treat them as of no consequence. Many [12/13] who call themselves Churchmen, even, adopt some of their erroneous opinions and practices, and with them inculcate indifference to the commands of Christ and the authority of his Church. I say but very little has been done by the Church to reclaim those from error and schism among us who are daily falling its victims. [* Indeed, it is thought by some, who call themselves Episcopalians, that if a clergyman allude to the sin of schism; if he strive to induce any to return to the Church from which they have strayed, it is bigotted and uncharitable. He is called severe in his preaching, and every effort is made to retard his usefulness.]
Consider now in what manner the duty to her own children, in this particular, has been discharged. It is well known, that since the full organization of the Church in this country, there has been a continual stream of population from the older states to the western countries; that this tide of emigration is still setting west. Of course, many families, members of the Church, have been and are, of the number of emigrants. Now I ask, in comparison with the numbers that have gone out from among us, what has been done for them? How few have been the number of Missionaries in proportion to the want of them? How small, and mean, and scanty, the support given to those who have been willing to go forth as such. They have been, in most instances, so entirely dependent for support upon the small addition made to their small allowance as Missionaries that in some instances they have feared boldly to preach the doctrines of the Church, and been compelled to fall in with the liberalism or indifferentism of the day. I honestly believe, that more families who had been nurtured in the bosom of the Church, have been lost to her communion and joined different sects, on account of the neglect of the Church in sending them Missionaries, if to do nothing more, to christen the children, to confirm the faith of the parents, and administer the offices and sacraments of the Church, than have been added to her by the labors of those who have been sent out. Just glance at the extent of this vast region at the West--see the few and scattered, half-provided-for Missionaries that are there--see even Bishops of the Church in that quarter, suffering the evils of poverty; destitute of the ability to establish churches, or support their schools, or to maintain around them a respectable body of clergy, to be their supporters and fellow laborers. Look at many of the younger clergy who have been induced to go there, and who had reason to expect to have been supported in their work of faith and labor of love, they have, in many instances, returned back, with loss of health, for want of the necessary comforts of life, with want of confidence in themselves, because they have been kept in such a state of dependance that they have not dared to be open, and to preach the whole truth. In a word--facts tell us more plainly than [13/14] words can do, that the duty of the Church to her domestic Missionaries, to her Bishops, and to her children scattered abroad through this vast domain, has not one half been discharged. The former have good reason to complain, and I should not wonder if some of them were to abandon their work in despair. It is true then, beyond a doubt, that our whole duty to the colored population, to the mariners, to sectarians and errorists, and to the very members of the one body to which we belong, and of which Christ is Head, has been dreadfully neglected. The efforts to aid them have been feeble and inefficient, for if all that has been contributed, and ten times more had been given them, we could not have supplied their pressing wants. If this be so, how can any one with any degree of propriety say, that God has called the Church, or any portion of her members, thus to neglect this great duty, and to send any portion of means or any number of men from this neglected waste, or field of labor. Can there be any other field more in need of husbandmen? A considerable portion of the Church having been, as I believe, led away by delusion, and having withdrawn more than half its contributions from this most pressing call, and given them to send deluded men away from evident, palpable duty; I do not wonder that little or no success has attended these extravagant, and in many instances, wild foreign missionary efforts. God has not blessed them, and he will not bless them, so long as neglected duty at home cries out so loudly against us.
The prevalence of so much error on this subject; the extent of the delusion which has come over so many; the failure of these attempts to go or to send where God has not called, all these should not cause us to be "weary in well doing; they should call us to renovated exertion." We are to remember that however God may permit, for purposes wholly unknown to us, error and delusion to prevail, yet that he is a God of Truth--that he can, and will, and does, overrule even the wrath of man to his praise. We are to do our duty as it is plainly set before us, fearlessly, conscientiously and fully, and to leave events with him. It appears to me that Providence points out so plainly, so clearly, so evidently, what is the duty of the members of the Church in this country as to their missionary operations, that it is cause for wonder that there should be, or should have been, on this subject, any difference of opinion. Should it be asked, what is the renovated exertion here intended to be recommended? Could I raise my voice so as to be heard by every member of the Church, I would say, continue your contributions with increased and increasing liberality to the missionary cause. If you have heretofore given, to be seen of men, and from worldly motives, do so no more; let your gift be accompanied with a secret prayer, that God would bless the offering. He can so overrule events that one dollar given from a pure motive, [14/15] and from faith in his promises, will do more to advance his Church, than thousands given for vain display. Withdraw your support from those vain and visionary schemes, which perhaps well-meaning but deluded men have set up, and which your God does not sanction by his blessing. Add more, if you are able, in justice to yourselves and others, to what you have heretofore given to advance these expedients. Be not led away with the many devices which are so common, and which, unfortunately have found their way into the Church, intended to divert you from the duty that God has plainly placed before your eyes. Strive by your alms, by your prayers, by your offerings, to aid your faithful clergy, and to sustain them in their efforts to turn from error to truth, the thousands and tens of thousands of your deluded and dying countrymen. In this, you will find yourselves co-workers with God. Here you have a right to look for a blessing, and you will have it.
Could I speak so as to be heard by those who have turned their backs upon the wants, the destitution, and the necessities of the dying souls of their own countrymen, and who are living abroad in heathen or Christian lands, with a full supply of all their wants, and who are so mistaken as to think that God calls them to this--I would say--Return at once to this suffering field of labor. Do not rob the children here of their bread. Think of it--how can you answer to God for the thousands which you have already taken from your needy and suffering fellow-missionaries at home; think how many more schools might have been founded here--how many more souls converted to Christ and his Church. Come back; see your error; enter the field that God has appointed you to labor in; be no longer the means of retarding the progress of his Church here, by withdrawing from it any portion of those charitable funds so necessary for its support. Let it be your prayer, my hearers, that God would open the hearts of these men to see their delusion, to repent of their error, and come back and labor till their life ends, here in the vineyard which he hath planted with his right hand. To these, indeed, I cannot speak; but I can speak to you, my hearers, who have come here this evening to give your aid to the object now commended to you. Do you really believe that the time will come when the Church of the Redeemer shall be established throughout the world? I ask what can you do to forward its progress? Shall you neglect present duty while you see iniquity come in among us like a flood. You must agree with me, that our duty as Churchmen has not been discharged as it ought to have been, to those who have settled in the borders of our cities. Where are the small churches and the faithful pastors that ought to have been placed in the upper wards of our great metropolis? Has not this field been left almost wholly in the hands of sectaries? In our own city, some prudent and thoughtful Churchmen [15/16] have provided churches in our outskirts. But what have the great body of Churchmen, as such, done to aid them? Is it not a fact, that while some thousand's of dollars have been here raised in one way or another for foreign missions, these churches have been neglected; their debts, where they existed, have been suffered to accumulate; the worthy clergymen who supply them have not been half supported; and unless some favorable change can be effected in public sentiment, they must be abandoned and lost to the Church, and handed over to sectaries.
[* Few places afford so striking an illustration of the practical operation of the present "missionary spirit," as the city of Brooklyn. During the last year, two churches have been sold--the one, built by the exertions of the colored people, and the other, intended for a free church, St. Paul's. Another, Trinity Church, in Clinton Avenue, which cost $15,000, is about to be sold for want of $3,000. Another, Christ's Church, I am told is involved in debt, and has not paid the interest due for the ground on which it stands. Two clergymen, one with a large family, serve the Church for less than $400 per annum. One has received but little or no compensation for his services the last year, and his church having been sold, he has discontinued his labors. (Even in this very Church a collection has been made during the past year for Foreign Missions.) Look now at the following extracts from the Reports of two of our Churches, as spread abroad in the Journals of our Convention for the last year.
"Christ Church, Brooklyn--the Rev. Kingston Goddard, Rector--Domestic Missions, $578.64; Foreign Missions, $624.38; The Young Men's Education and Missionary Society held a meeting in the chapel, at which $100 were collected, making in all $1,493.02."
"St. Ann's Church, Brooklyn--the Rev, B. C. Cutler, D. D. Rector--Contributions for missionary and charitable objects, $1,832."
These two Churches have contributed this last year $3,325 for missionary and charitable objects abroad; a sum sufficient to have saved both the Churches from the hammer! Let every thoughtful person put that and that together, and say whether a "missionary spirit" which leads to such results ought to be encouraged or cherished.]
Is this the way the world is to be converted to the Church? No. Begin then the work of reform here to-night. A small congregation of Christians have secured to themselves a humble house of worship; lots of ground have been given by some of our most worthy friends and neighbors; they at present enjoy the most useful and valuable service of a young clergyman, well known to most of us, and highly esteemed by all. The question for you to decide is, whether they shall be enabled to secure his services by giving him a bare support. If you think they ought to do so, then, when no eye can see you but that of God, drop your liberal contribution, accompanying your gift with a secret prayer to God for the success of his labors, and that God would take from all hearts blindness or indifference to this good work. Do not sound a trumpet before you. He that overrules all, can so overrule events that the smallest trifle given from a sincere heart, will do more good than thousands given for mere ostentation and display--and may the blessing of God follow your pious gifts and prayers. Rest assured that "he who seeth in secret will reward you openly."