DUTY AND THE INTEREST
RELIGIOUS AND BENEVOLENT INSTITUTIONS
Preached in St. Peter's Church, in the City of Philadelphia, on
BY JOHN CROES, D. D.
Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church In the State of New Jersey.
PUBLISHED AT THE REQUEST OF THE HOUSE OF BISHOPS.
PRINTED BY T. & J. SWORDS,
ST. LUKE XVI. 9.
And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the
mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail,
they may receive you into everlasting habitations.
THIS counsel was addressed, by our blessed Lord, to his disciples, as the proper instruction to be derived from the parable of the unjust steward, which immediately precedes it. Under the characters of the rich man and the steward, in that parable, it was doubtless his design to represent the great Lord of the universe committing to the care and management of men, in the capacity of his stewards, the immense earthly treasures which he has graciously provided for the common benefit of all; and by the unfaithfulness of that steward, in not only misapplying, but wasting, the goods intrusted to him, to exhibit the too frequent unfaithfulness of men, in a similar misapplication of the portions which he has conferred upon them respectively.
As the steward, however, in the parable, when about to be deprived of the office, which he had so shamefully abused, artfully availed himself of the opportunity, which still remained, of securing to himself friends and a home--though by a monstrous aggravation of the injustice, which he had already committed;--and as his lord commended the craft and worldly management of this unjust steward, in [3/4] securing to himself means for his future support; our Divine Redeemer took occasion, from that commendation, to recommend to his disciples, not the injustice, but the same foresight, care, and anxiety, by a faithful execution of their office, to make such friends as would receive them into everlasting habitations; which this steward manifested--after his infidelity had been discovered--to procure such, as would receive him into their temporal dwellings. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.
In endeavouring to illustrate this injunction of our Lord, it cannot be denied that a difficulty presents itself to most persons, who have not the means of critically examining it, relative to the meaning of the phrase, mammon of unrighteousness. The signification of mammon, admits of no dispute. The word is universally understood, especially in the instance before us, to mean riches. But the mammon, or riches, of unrighteousness, as it stands in our translation, conveys to the minds of most readers, riches which are the fruits of unrighteousness or injustice; and this idea is strengthened by the opinion very commonly imbibed, that the resemblance between parables and their application, should coincide in every particular. As the steward, therefore, made friends of the avails of the fraud committed against his lord, to procure an earthly good; both the language of the injunction, and its coincidence with the parable, strongly lead them to the supposition, that our Saviour advised his hearers to make to themselves friends of riches similarly obtained, to procure a heavenly good. But that riches fraudulently acquired, instead of being [4/5] restored to their rightful owners, should be here recommended to be used in furtherance of our salvation, is so much at variance with all our ideas of justice and holiness, and leads to such gross and shocking consequences; that it cannot for a moment be admitted. Besides, in the interpretation of a parable, it is not necessary to suppose that every particular contained in it, must have its exact parallel in the application. It is sufficient, if the obvious intention of the narrator coincides strictly with the principal features in the similitude. Circumstances which are merely incidental, and not within the purposes designed to be served by them, must not be too precisely applied. Now the object of our Lord, in the application of the parable before us, was obviously to incite his hearers, in the discharge of the trust committed to them, to imitate the steward's providence, solicitude, and management, without any reference to the gross injustice of which he had been guilty.
As the meaning, therefore, which the phrase in question most naturally presents, cannot, it appears, be the true one; another must be carefully sought for. It will assist us in the investigation, to compare it with the parallel phrase, in the eleventh verse of the same chapter. There the words are unrighteous mammon, which certainly convey an idea different from the one that mammon of unrighteousness is apt to impress us with. In that verse, unrighteous is used to express a quality inherent in riches, viz. that they are in themselves unrighteous or unjust: in the text, the noun unrighteousness, as annexed to riches--especially when its connexion with the parable is considered--cannot easily be understood in any [5/6] other sense, than that the riches spoken of, are the fruits of unrighteous or unjust deeds. Now, as the sense of the two phrases is precisely the same, and as that which the former most naturally conveys, seems to be inadmissible; it will not be unreasonable to suppose that it should be interpreted by the latter. This supposition will be corroborated, indeed the apparent dissimilarity between the signification of the phrases will cease, when it is considered, that the Greek word adicoV translated in the eleventh verse, unrighteous, may be rendered also, deceitful, fallacious, mocking expectation, also injurious. [* Parkhurst. Hedericus.] Itmay likewise be translated false, as is evidently its meaning in that verse. "If ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous [false] mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches." By a similar translation of the noun adicia, which it will equally bear, the phrase mammon of unrighteousness will read riches of deceitfulness, of fallaciousness, riches mocking expectation, or of injuriousness.
That these qualities belong to wealth, is evident both from experience and Scripture. Nothing perhaps has a greater tendency to attach men to the present world, and consequently to withhold, or withdraw, their attention from the world to come, than the possession of riches. This is true, whether the possessor regards them for their own sake, or as the means of gratifying his inordinate love of pleasure. In the former case, such is the insidious influence of riches, over his avaricious heart, that nothing is permitted to come into competition with them; or check his strong and incessant desire for their increase. [6/7] The great duties of worshipping and serving God, the immutable principles of justice and mercy, the means necessary for the salvation of his soul, and--however strangely inconsistent--even the ordinary comforts of the present life, are all frequently sacrificed to the gratification of this master passion.
In the latter case, the exemption from labour, and other employment, for support; the disregard for public opinion, too common with the rich; and the facility with which they may indulge in vicious and expensive pleasures; have a powerful tendency to increase the natural corruption of the heart; and render it indifferent, indeed opposed, to the invitations of the Gospel, the imperious calls of duty, the monitions of the Holy Spirit, and consequently their own eternal good.
Thus do riches naturally deceive and injure their possessors, and are, therefore, with great propriety, termed unrighteous or unjust, deceitful, false, and injurious: and hence did our blessed Lord, in reference to a case of the mere possession of wealth, unaccompanied with its too frequently pernicious effects, emphatically say, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God. For it is easier, continued he, for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. [* Luke xviii. 24, 25.] Hence also, from its deceitful and injurious influence over the human heart, the same Divine Person said to his disciples, Ye cannot serve God and mammon. [* St. Matt. vi. 24.] To the same effect, St. Paul, in his first Epistle to Timothy, declares that the love of money is the root of an evil, which while some coveted [7/8] after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. [* St. Matt. vi. 10.]
Having thus attempted to obviate the difficulty which many persons experience, respectingthe meaning of the phrase mammon of unrighteousness, asused in the text; I shall now endeavour to show, what is to be understood by the injunction of our Lord, make to yourselves friends of that mammon: andthen to enforce the observation of it.
It will not be supposed, from what has been said relative to the deceitful and injurious nature of riches, that an idea is entertained that it is sinful to possess them, when justly and honourably acquired. Though, the possession be dangerous, as it regards our eternal welfare, it cannot, by any means, be considered sinful. Whatever of a criminal nature may be connected with riches, consists not in the possession or use, but in the abuse of them. Our Saviour, in the text, did not censure or condemn his disciples for having or using riches; he only directed, that they should use them properly, and in subserviency to their eternal interests. The wealthy, therefore, should consider it as a distinguished favour of their Heavenly Father; that he has put them in trust of so large a portion of earthly necessaries and comforts; provided they are faithful in the proper use and distribution of them. They are not to view them as a good bestowed for their exclusive use or emolument, a good to be converted into an object of idolatry, or made the criminal means of their further alienation from God, by the inordinate indulgence of their sensual, or even intellectual desires; but a good intrusted to their care, [8/9] as stewards; and to be dispensed for the great purposes of promoting his glory, and the temporal and spiritual welfare of themselves and their fellow creatures. Making friends of deceitful riches, is applying them to these great purposes. They become our friends, by such application, because they are necessary, in the performance of many of those pious and benevolent deeds, for which celestial rewards are promised. Various are the cases, in which riches may thus be made our friends.
One of the most usual, is the improvement of the frequent opportunities presented to us, of relieving or mitigating the evils of penury, especially when it is accompanied with loss of health. Such is the condition of man in the present state, that, from a variety of causes, among others, defect in his moral or physical powers to procure, or of judgment to use the means necessary for his own and his family's support; gross neglect in his education, by which he is destitute, not only of the most common and necessary learning, but of moral principles and industrious habits; long interruptions of health; the desolate and helpless state of widowhood; the occasional want of employment; and the unavoidable losses, resulting from injustice, war, fire, inundations, shipwreck, &c. from these, I say, and other causes, a considerable part will always be poor, and occasionally, at least, need assistance. Provision, it is true, is generally made by the civil government for the support of those who require permanent relief; but how many cases continually occur which do not admit of the delay, or come within the restrictions of such provision; which only call for temporary or occasional relief; or, from the peculiar circumstances of the sufferers, [9/10] assistance can only be administered, with the utmost privacy, tenderness, and delicacy. The rich, in such cases, are not only the constituted stewards, but the almoners of God. The liberal appropriation of part of the riches, which their Divine Benefactor permits them to enjoy, to the relief of objects, which have such claims upon their humanity as men and as brethren, will, if given, through faith in Christ, and in obedience to his precepts, in one respect, be converting them into such friends as will receive them; that is, be the cause of their reception, not into temporal dwellings, but into everlasting habitations.
Other cases, in which the possessors of wealth will comply with the injunction of their Spiritual Master, are the employment of a portion of it in the promotion of objects, which conduce to the general welfare and happiness of man, in the present life. Among these, are the cheerful support of government; the diffusion of literature, science, and general knowledge, by the institution and support of Colleges and Academies; the instruction of the children of the poor in useful learning, and moral and religious principles; the encouragement of industry, and of beneficial inventions and discoveries; and the preservation of the public morals and health. It cannot be doubted, that proper distributions of a part of their wealth for such purposes, in connexion with those of a more obligatory nature, is well pleasing to their Almighty Benefactor; and, if they be the result of their faith in the Saviour, will ultimately contribute to their residence, in that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. [* 2 Cor. v. 1.]
 But if the application of riches to the promotion of the welfare and happiness of men, in the present state, is, if made from religious motives, acceptable to God; and consequently instrumental to the eternal good of the persons, who thus apply them; how much greater, in these respects, must be the value of the application, when made to such objects as tend to the promotion of men's spiritual and eternal interests? And they are so applied, when liberally contributed to the support and propagation of our holy religion.
To cheerfully bestow their proportion to the erection of seemly edifices for the glory and worship of God--frequent and munificent examples of which, to the honour of Episcopalians, have recently been exhibited in this city; [* Three spacious Churches--two of which are elegant--have been erected in Philadelphia within the short period of two years.]--to rebuild or repair those, which are decayed, that they may not lie under the reproach, expressed by the prophet, that, while they dwell in ceiled houses, the Lord's house lieth waste; [* Haggai i. 4.] to give from their abundance, and as God has prospered them, the means necessary for the comfortable and respectable subsistence of those, who, by divine appointment, minister in holy things; [* 1 Cor. ix. 13.] to withhold not the aid, which piety and Christian charity call on them to contribute, for the purpose of providing the poor with the Holy Scriptures, the Book of Common Prayer, and religious tracts; and to promote with their wealth, all other judicious institutions, which have for their object the spiritual instruction, and ultimate salvation of their fellow men; necessarily come under this high character, and under the injunction of our Lord to make to themselves friends of fallacious riches.
 But among the objects of this nature, to which I would particularly invite the attention of the members of our communion, there are two, which are, at present, of paramount interest; and therefore have a high claim for support upon that fund, which the Bountiful Creator has intrusted to the rich, as his stewards. It is scarcely necessary to mention, that I allude to the General Theological Seminary, and the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society; both instituted by the united wisdom of our Church, sitting in General Convention.
Of the utility and importance of institutions for the instruction and preparation of pious, and otherwise suitable young men for the Gospel ministry; there can be but one opinion in the Church of which we have the privilege of being members. A liberal, at least, a classical education, has always been required by the parent Church, as a qualification, in candidates for holy orders; and we her offspring have trodden in her footsteps. If this is true, as it respects a competent portion of human learning; surely a much greater reason exists, that they should be well instructed in those divine subjects, which it will be their peculiar province to teach to the people that may be committed to their charge;--subjects, which involve the sublime and interesting truths of the being, nature, and attributes of the Deity; the creation, primeval rectitude, and apostacy of our race; their awful destiny, in consequence of that apostacy; the wonderful redemption wrought for them, by the incarnate Son of God; the means necessary to become partakers of that blessed release, and the adoption of sons; the influences of the Holy Spirit on the human mind, to induce and enable it to comply with the [12/13] terms of the Gospel; the nature of that piety, purity, and brotherly love, which the Christian character involves; the immortality of the soul; the resurrection of the dead; the awful day of judgment; the everlasting punishment of the wicked; and the ceaseless enjoyments of the righteous, with their Lord and King. To become well acquainted with these great truths, in all their details; to collect, arrange, and show the mutual and combined influence and force of the several passages, interspersed through the sacred volume, which relate to each subject; to be able, by referring to the languages, in which the Holy Scriptures were originally written, and to the labours of numerous learned Commentators and Theologians, to clear the obscurities, reconcile the apparent differences and contradictions, and explain the other difficulties, which may occur, in those divine oracles; the obvious, and in, some degree, unavoidable result of the translation of languages, which have for ages ceased to be vernacular, in any country; of the various readings in different manuscripts, through the errors of transcribers, and sometimes, perhaps, the fraud of heresiarchs, prior to the invention of printing; and of our ignorance, in many respects, of the customs, manners, prevailing opinions, proverbial sayings, architecture, and other arts, of the Jews, and eastern nations generally, at the early periods, when those holy writings were severally composed; to be prepared to answer the cavils and sophistry of infidels; to refute the specious arguments, and expose the artful, though false pretensions, of hereticks to superior learning, more rational views, and, as they say, a spirit, which better comports with the Christian precepts, than those manifest, [13/14] who call themselves orthodox; that is, those indeed, who truly and strictly adhere to the Apostles' doctrine; in fine, to convince gainsayers, [* Titus i. 9.] and to be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh us a reason of the hope that is in us. [* 1 Peter iii. 15.]Attainments so extensive, in connexion with a comprehensive and accurate knowledge of the Christian Church, in every age of its existence; it will readily be perceived, can only be the result of the most diligent application to study; and even then, must, in a considerable degree, be defective; unless the students are directed and aided by Professors of skill, and competent knowledge in the several branches of Theology.
Under the impression of these truths, our Church has made provision, by the institution of the Seminary just mentioned, that her candidates for the ministry may be regularly and well instructed in the knowledge peculiar to their profession. That it may, however, effectually answer the purposes intended; extensive funds are requisite, as well to remunerate Professors of high character and attainments, as to aid young men of piety and capacity, who are desirous to devote themselves in the character of his ministers, to the service of their Lord; but who, unhappily, are deficient in the means necessary for their subsistence, while they pursue their studies in the Seminary.
That funds to a considerable amount have already been contributed, is not only a subject of mutual congratulation among the members of the Church; but excites in them, I trust, the most grateful feelings to her Divine Head; that he has put it into the [14/15] hearts of many benevolent and worthy persons, belonging to our communion, to bestow so liberally upon this important object. Still the means hitherto provided are not sufficient, either to afford a decent support to those of the Professors, who receive salaries; or to meet the pressing applications of pious, though comparatively indigent, young men, anxious to become labourers in the vineyard of their Lord.
Can it be doubted, then, that the liberal support of an institution so useful to the promotion of our Lord's kingdom, the blessed reign of righteousness and peace; and the eternal welfare of the souls of men; an institution so necessary to the extension, the prosperity, the character, and dignity, of the Church of which we are members, and to which, from its primitive doctrines, discipline, and worship, we are so cordially and strongly attached;--can it, I say, be doubted, that the liberal support of such an institution, is obligatory on Episcopalians generally, but especially on those who are rich; and that it is one of the cases, in which they are, in the text, enjoined to use the wealth committed to their care, that it may bring a blessing on themselves.
The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society is also an institution, if liberally supported, and judiciously conducted, capable of immense benefit. It will be the means, under the Divine blessing, of collecting, organizing into Churches, and partially supplying with pastors, the scattered members of our communion, who have emigrated from the shores of the Atlantic to the interior states and territories of the Union; many of whom are now without shepherds to lead them, and administer to them the bread of life. It will also be the means of extending the [15/16] light, and other blessings of the Gospel, to the benighted heathen of our own country, and of parts of the eastern continent.
The importance of these objects, and the deep interest which they ought to excite in every pious and benevolent mind, it will be the province of the Right Reverend, or the Reverend Gentleman, who may be appointed to preach the Missionary sermon before the Society, to exhibit. I have merely brought the subject to the notice of Episcopalians, as one of the cases, in the generous and cordial promotion of which, not only may incalculable good be produced; but such friends be made of their fallacious riches, as shall, through their faith in Christ, lead them into everlasting abodes of peace and rest.
Without sufficient funds, however, the Society can effect but little; and it is not to be concealed, that the contributions have not as yet equalled the expectations of its friends and advocates. It is true, several of the dioceses had previously formed Missionary institutions to afford a partial supply of ministers to their own vacant Churches; and therefore plead their inability to contribute much to the general one. The fostering care which they thus exercise towards their destitute congregations, cannot be too much applauded. But the Christian spirit, which prompted to this, should not be entirely exclusive. Christians, especially those who are blessed with wealth, should remember, that they have other brethren, brethren of the same communion, who need, who cry, indeed, for their help. The ignorant heathen also, children of the same Heavenly Father, and our brethren, by one common nature, can only come to the knowledge of the truth, as it is in Jesus,--unless by the intervention [16/17] of miracles--in consequence of the pious and benevolent donations of Christians, to this and similar societies.
The principal cases in which we may, agreeably to our Lord's injunction, make to ourselves friends of delusive riches, having been stated, it becomes us seriously to inquire, whether we have used that portion of it, with which God has distinguished us, in so faithful a manner, as gives us reason to believe, or even hope, that it will conduce to our admission into everlasting habitations.
In the prosecution of this inquiry, let us be careful that we do not indulge partial, or other erroneous opinions on the subject; or seek to justify ourselves for withholding solicited aid, by arguments that will not bear the test of examination. In illustration of these suggestions, it will not be impertinent to suppose, that as the word mammon is exclusively used in the text, an idea may be entertained by some, that no portion of earthly goods could be intended by the Divine Teacher, that would not properly come under that term; and that, therefore, the obligation to contribute to the advancement of the Redeemer's kingdom, and the promotion of the best interests of men, rests only upon those who are literally rich, or possessed of great wealth; that consequently the injunction was not addressed to the comparatively poor; or even to those, who, though in comfortable, are not in affluent circumstances; or who, though blessed with abundant means of support, yet have little or no permanent wealth. It is true, that the possessor of great riches is bound to contribute a much larger portion than his less affluent neighbour; yet the obligation to bestow, in proportion to what [17/18] he possesses, rests as much upon the latter as the former. As every man, saith St. Peter, hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. [* i Pet. iv. 10.] All are alike stewards of the favours bestowed upon them by that gracious Being, who is the author of every good and perfect gift; and are equally bound to distribute, for religious and other required purposes, that part of their income, whether great or small, which they can conveniently spare, after making comfortable and suitable provision for themselves and their families. The conduct therefore of those, who--although not rich, yet in easy and even prosperous circumstances--when applied to for aid, in effecting some benevolent or pious object, decline to contribute, and refer the applicant to their rich neighbours, as the persons to whom alone they should make application; is neither in accordance with the principles or spirit of our holy religion, nor indeed with humane and liberal sentiments.
But though the rich are not the only characters addressed in the text; and therefore, those persons are inexcusable, who, because they are not, in the strict sense of the term, wealthy, think themselves exempted from all participation in the expense of supporting benevolent or religious institutions; yet it is to be feared--indeed, it can scarcely admit of a doubt--that those who abound in wealth, less frequently bestow, in proportion to what they possess, than many of those who are in a mediocrity of circumstances, or even those who are comparatively poor. As an excuse for such practice, if not [18/19] a justification of it, it will perhaps be pleaded--and the plea, it must be confessed, at first view, appears not without force--that the expenses of the wealthy, who are in the habit of living in that style which men of the world consider as corresponding with their possessions, as indeed their friends and associates expect from them--frequently so exhaust their incomes, that they can spare little more for charitable, religious, and other useful purposes, than those of moderate means, whose style of living is plainer, and less costly. That this statement is correct, as it respects a considerable portion of the wealthy, will not be questioned. But will the plea be admitted at the tribunal of God? Will it be considered a sufficient reason for expending in luxury, splendour, and extravagance, that part of the abundance of the rich, which the Almighty and Bountiful Giver intended should be appropriated to the promotion of his glory, and the general good of man; because the opinions and practice of the world, and their own habits, seem to them to make it necessary? If this excuse would be admitted, why was the injunction of our blessed Lord, in the text, given; which urges upon us a practice, directly opposed to the one in question; and to that other extreme, avarice, and its offspring penuriousness? Why also did St. Paul bid Timothy, to charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us all things richly to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. [* Can Tim. vi. 17, 18, 19.] Can it [19/20] be supposed, notwithstanding such pointed and strong passages of Scripture to the contrary, that the gracious, though just Giver of all good things, will suffer his highly favoured creatures to waste on themselves, with impunity, that which he designed for the spiritual and temporal benefit of others?
But if some plea, however insufficient, can be offered in excuse for the practice of that class of the wealthy above described, surely nothing can be suggested in justification or palliation of those, who neither bestow any part of their abundance upon the indigent, or for the advancement of the public good; nor scarcely, indeed, use it for their own comfort or support. They selfishly bury in the earth the talents intrusted to their care, instead of improving them to the gracious and useful purposes for which they were intended; and so far from making friends of the treasures which they possess, the very rust they have contracted is a witness against them, that they have thus far been heaped together, however undesignedly, to the production of a far different effect, in the last days.
In addition to what has been said relative to the errors which we may commit in our views on this important subject, let us examine also, whether, in our contributions, we have considered ourselves as the stewards of our Munificent Benefactor, and have therefore faithfully given, in proportion to the means, which he has graciously provided for us; or have presumptuously, indeed impiously, held ourselves alone indebted for what we possess, either to the bequests of our earthly parents or kindred, or to our skill and exertions, as the framers of our own fortunes; and, therefore have given, or withheld, as we [20/21] thought proper, without any consideration of the extent of our wealth; and wholly regardless of the authority of him from whom we have received all that we possess. Should the latter have been the ideas entertained, and the course pursued, by anyof us, let such persons reflect on the consequences that must flow from them. They can, in no sense, be considered as coming under the character of those, who, in obedience to our Lord's precept, make to themselves friends of deceitful riches; and therefore cannot be admitted to the enjoyment of those everlasting habitations, which he has so forcibly recommended to their pursuit. For if they have not been faithful in the unrighteous, or false mammon, who will commit to them the true riches!
Let all of us indeed reflect, whether we have heretofore sufficiently considered the nature and importance of the injunction before us; and if such should not be the case with many, whether they have not, in a greater or less degree, been sadly remiss in the great duty there taught; and too indifferent to those celestial rewards, which are represented as the sure consequences of a faithful discharge of it, when it arises from a truly Christian faith and spirit. If any are conscious of such remissness and indifference, let them seriously resolve, with Divine aid, to commence a new course. And as the two great institutions of our Church, alluded to, have at present the most just and urgent claims upon the piety and liberality of its members; let those who have not already contributed, or who are conscious that they have contributed too sparingly, show, by their bountiful donations--donations, that in some considerable degree correspond with the rich gifts, bestowed on them by [21/22] Providence,--that they are sincere in their resolutions, and intend in future to comply with the injunction of our blessed Lord.
The institutions for the support of which aid is thus earnestly solicited, are of no ordinary rank. They are highly important, as it respects the preservation, and wide extension of the faith, which was once delivered unto the saints. [* Jude, verse 3.] Their value, as it regards the increase, the union, the character, and the influence of our Church, is incalculable. Its members, therefore, if in any degree under the influence of piety and brotherly love, cannot permit them to languish for want of support. The application is not addressed to their passions; but to their sense of duty, and their eternal interests. For if the utility of these institutions will be as great as has been asserted; if they will be eminently instrumental in promoting the glory of God, and the eternal happiness of man; can a doubt exist of the duty of supporting them? and is not the faithful performance of duty the very means to secure an endless reward? What Episcopalian then will hesitate to bestow his just proportion on these great instruments for the advancement of piety and virtue, even though it should occasion some retrenchment of his ordinary enjoyments; especially when the idea comes home to his heart, that it is in this manner he must make friends of his fallacious riches, if he ever expect to be admitted into the heavenly Jerusalem? Will he, under the influence of these gracious impressions, suffer himself to be sought for, and solicited to his duty; or will he permit narrow and sectional feelings; [22/23] feelings that tend to disunion, and to rending the body of Christ, to suppress these pious and generous sentiments? Will he not, on the contrary, resisting and rejecting all such feelings, seek for an opportunity, and voluntarily and cheerfully bestow whatever he may think his proportion, to these great and interesting objects?
Such, we would fain hope, under the Divine blessing, will be the conduct, in future, of all sincere Churchmen, who, from whatever cause, have been indifferent to either, or both, of these excellent establishments; and therefore have inconsiderately withheld the support which both duty and interest required of them; or have not contributed as liberally as they ought. May we not take the liberty also to hope, that the gentlemen present, both clerical and lay, who are delegates to the Convention now to be organized, will, on their return home, exert their influence with the churches and individuals of their respective diocesses, to induce them, both to patronize, and liberally support, by their contributions, these distinguished instruments of religious and moral benefit; and also of union, between the several districts of the American Episcopal Church.
That they may be induced thus to do; and that the members of the Church generally, may, from a principle of duty, direct their attention to these great objects, and use their influence with each other in endeavouring to promote them, may God, in his infinite goodness, grant, through Jesus Christ our Lord. To whom, &c.