PUBLISHED FOR THE BOARD OF MISSIONS,
AT THE MISSIONARY ROOMS,
No. 231 Broadway.
THE propositions of our text seem, at first sight, to be identical, but, upon examination, it will be found, that, without the latter clause, the former would have been ambiguous. Had our Saviour merely affirmed, "He that is not with me is against me," there might have been room for doubt and cavil as to the degree of its exclusiveness, especially when it is remembered that, in another place, he enunciates the converse of the proposition, "He that is not against me, is with Inc." It might have been asserted, and maintained too with arguments quite plausible enough to satisfy those who were not anxious to give themselves up entirely to the service of the Lord Jesus Christ, that an outward support of the Christian religion, nay, that a mere acquiescence in its existence, was all that was required by these declarations of Christ, when interpreted the one of the other, to entitle a man to the privileges and immunities of a Christian believer. But the addition of the second proposition, "He that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad," has completely exploded all such reasoning, has entirely swept away all such glosses and has affixed this certain and definite meaning to the whole verse--a meaning which can no more be evaded than dispensed with--that he who is not decidedly and actively with Christ, is against him.
 The passage under consideration is no more decided in its declaration of the necessity on the part of those who desire to be co-workers with Christ, of laboring after the same ends, upon like principles and with similar instruments, than we believe the whole body of Scripture to be, when rightly interpreted; but it is terse and pointed in its expression, and therefore well suited to bring out, with prominence and force, the topics which we desire to present to your notice. The context too fetches up the whole matter clearly and distinctly, and gives us a fair field for discussion and comment.
This declaration was uttered by Christ to the Pharisees, upon the occasion of their charging him with casting out devils by Beelzebub the Prince of Devils. They could not deny but that he did cast out devils; but they desired to allay the excited curiosity and interest of the people, by ascribing all his authority over these powers of darkness to the agency and co-operation of Beelzebub, the Prince of Devils. Christ meets them at once upon this assertion, and argues, without all fear of contradiction, that if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself, and his kingdom cannot stand--that one cannot enter forcibly, as he had done, into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man; and was it to be supposed, for a moment, that the strong man would lend his aid to bind himself for spoliation? No! reasoned Christ, you are forced to acknowledge that by my word and by my authority these evil spirits are cast out, and I tell you that they are cast out by the Spirit of God, and that the kingdom of God is come unto you. It had been your privilege and your glory, as the chosen people of God, as the depositories of his oracles, as the witnesses of his miracles, as those to whom pertain the adoption and the glory and the covenants, and the giving of the law and the service of God and the promises, to have advanced my spiritual kingdom; but if ye take this ground, that my works are performed by some other instrument than the [4/5] Spirit of God, I can account you no better than the enemies of my kingdom; for, in this matter, there is no neutrality, "He that is not with me is against me, and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad." Even you, the Pharisees, the straitest of all the sects of the Jewish religion, the most punctilious in the performance of all the duties of the ceremonial law, the most orthodox upon all the doctrines pertaining to a future life, must be accounted as mine enemies, if you deny the presence and the influence of the Spirit of God in these my miraculous works.
This is the point then, upon which Christ made co-operation with him to turn, the confession that his works were performed by the agency of the HOLY GHOST; and this is the point to which I would now direct your attention, that all the evil of the world is to be cast out by the Spirit of God, by the operation of the Holy Ghost, and that every one who attempts to work by any other means, although the end may be apparently the same, although the operations may seem to run parallel for a large portion of the way, is against Christ, is scattering abroad his spiritual kingdom.
This may seem to be harsh doctrine, and it is harsh to those who desire to set up their ways in conflict with Christ's ways, but it is as true as it is harsh. It is striking, upon the face of Scripture, how little Christ seems to have considered this world at all; how little he regarded its ways, or its opinions, or its feelings, when they came into conflict with that spiritual influence which it was his object to establish. "My kingdom is not of this world." "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me, before it hated you." "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own, but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." And what world was this of which Christ was speaking in this place? Was it only the Pagan World, the world of idolatry, to which they were ultimately to be sent as Missionaries and heralds of the cross? Was it [5/6] solely a world, knowing nothing of the true God, and changing his glory into an image made like to corruptible men and to birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things? No! this world, that hated him, and that would hate them, was the large body of the Jews as well as of the Gentiles--was the nominal Church of God as established among that chosen people, as well as the ungodly and the uncovenanted Pagans. It was no matter to Christ, whether it were Jew or Gentile--whether they worshipped God upon Mount Zion or Mount Gerizim, whether they trembled at the nod of imperial Jove, or kissed their hands to the Sun when it shined, or to the Moon walking in brightness; the hour had come, when the true worshippers were to worship the Father, neither in the Mountains of Samaria, nor yet in Jerusalem, but in spirit and in truth. The old forms of worship had their end in him, and upon their destruction was his kingdom to be built up, a kingdom altogether independent of the forms of society; altogether irrespective of the world, when we use that word to signify the institutions, or the fashions, or the opinions, of men in an aggregate capacity. It was, ultimately, to modify them all, and by its spiritual influence to improve and ameliorate them; but this was only one of its collateral objects. The great purpose of Christ in his humiliation was to build up a spiritual kingdom, whose citizens were to be chosen out of the world by the Spirit whom he should send upon the earth, who were to be called, and justified, and sanctified, and then glorified. The condition of the world was to be affected by Christianity no further than the fruits of the Spirit, as exhibited in the lives of Christ's true disciples, should have the power to affect it; for the world was only the battle-field on which the great struggle between the powers of evil and the Spirit of the Godhead was to be sought. In that beautiful chapter of St. John's Gospel, in which he is comforting his disciples in view of his departure--is preparing them to enter upon the mighty warfare which they were to wage after his ascension--Christ [6/7] does not console them with any promise of turning the hearts of the great or the powerful in their favor, of enlisting the arms of the warrior or the wisdom of the statesman in their cause, of modifying the institutions of the world so as to give them a speedy earthly influence; but he promises them that he will give them another Comforter, that he may abide with them forever, even the Spirit of Truth whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him. This was his comfort, because it was the only comfort that was consonant with his purposes--the only comfort that his true disciples should desire to have, if they would gather men into his kingdom. If his main object had been to improve the world, to do good to men considered as inhabitants of this earth, his religion would have been much more mixed up with the arrangements of society, would have been consolidated at some central point, whence its currents of blessing should have flowed out over the earth. But the glory of the Godhead and the salvation of the souls of men were his great purposes, and these were to be brought about, by a divine influence working upon the hearts of individuals, under whatever sky, or government, or religion, they might be found.
The great agent by which these purposes are effectually wrought out, is the Holy Ghost, as we have just intimated, the third person of the adorable Trinity. This requires to be considered somewhat more particularly, because it does not receive the attention which it deserves, and because its neglect leads to the most fatal consequences. Men, now-a-days, seem to be forgetting the absolute necessity of this divine agent for the success of their efforts in the cause of Christ, and to be setting up other powers and other influences to effect those purposes. Alas for such weakness! what is the power, what is the influence, which any man, or any combination of men, can have, compared with the power and with the influence which Christ must have derived from his miracles and his [7/8] wisdom! And yet, says HE, "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened until it be accomplished." Christ himself, the Master, needed this SPIRIT, before he could accomplish the purposes of his coming. Compare the effects of Christ's preaching and teaching, with the effects of the apostolic preaching after the descent of the Holy Ghost. Where was the kingdom of Christ during his existence upon earth, during the time that he was speaking as never man spake, and working the wonders of a God? It had literally no place; even his own chosen disciples, those who were his personal attendants, who hung daily upon his lips and witnessed all his miracles, could not understand its nature or its purpose! After his death, one hundred and twenty were all that could be gathered together, as the result of his efforts during the three years of his ministry, and they doubtful, hesitating, timid! But what a change! in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, how did the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the day of Pentecost alter the whole aspect of affairs. The Spirit of Truth was come; the apostles were enlightened to understand the great mystery of God; their hearts were inflamed with the love of Christ as with new wine; their lips were touched as with a live coal from off the altar. Thousands were added to the Church daily, and the kingdom of Christ laid, at once, its foundations broad and deep in the regenerated hearts of the children of men. From that moment it had free course and was glorified. The warriors of Christ filled with this Spirit, rushed into the midst of an opposing world, contended single-handed against legions of wickedness and built up upon Christ and the Prophets a spiritual temple, whose lively stones were hewn by the Holy Ghost out of the rough rocks, and were cemented together with their blood.
The building up of a spiritual kingdom in the world, whereby the Godhead should be glorified and the souls of men be saved, being the great purpose of Christianity, and the Holy Ghost being the alone instrument by which [8/9] it can be effectually wrought out, we see at once how it happens that so large a portion of nominal Christians are against Christ, whilst they deem themselves co-workers with him, or, at the least, neutrals in the conflict. The nature of the work is such, says Christ, that there can be no neutrals--it is a conflict waging between the Spirit of God and the spirit of evil as found universally pervading the world as a whole, and the heart of each individual as a member of that world--it is a struggle incessantly going on between the divine and the human nature in which every creature is necessarily and actively engaged from the very condition of his existence. It is not a matter in which an individual may participate or not as he shall think proper; in which he may console himself, that although he be doing nothing for Christ, he is, at least, doing nothing against him. The warfare of the Spirit of Christ is with the principles, and the feelings, and the fashions of the world; and he is necessarily a member of that world and a partaker of those principles, and feelings, and fashions which make it evil. No man can live in the world without thought, and feeling, and action; and unless he be decidedly opposed to the Spirit of that world, he must be strengthening and consolidating its power and giving a decided though, perhaps, an imperceptible impulse to its movements. When a mighty overflowing flood is struggling with opposing barriers, that it may desolate the smiling face of nature, it is not every drop of that fierce current, that comes directly into contact and into conflict with that which opposes it; the distant waters seem calm and tranquil, quiet and peaceful; and yet every drop, however distant it may be, however calm and tranquil it may seem, is giving pressure to the mass, is adding strength and impetus to the assaults which are making upon the resisting power. And so it is with man in society; he may not consider himself as an active part of that host which is conflicting with the Spirit of God; but he is, nevertheless, however calm and philosophical he may [9/10] seem, however ready he may be to admit the evil of the world and the excellence of Christ, swelling the mass that is bearing down upon the principles of Christ, and, unconsciously it may be, scattering abroad his kingdom.
What miserable self-deceivers then, are they who imagine that they are acting with Christ, when they lead moral lives and put forth their talents for the benefit of society; who consider themselves as deserving of God's favor for their efforts in the cause of civilization or in the progress of refinement. As we have said before, the advancement of society, the amelioration of things in this world, although it goes on to a great degree under the influence of Christianity, is yet, the least and the lowest of its purposes, entirely subservient to those other great objects of glory to the Godhead and the salvation of individual souls. All the efforts of literature, of science, of laws, of government; all the policy of the statesman and all the power of the warrior cannot, in themselves, advance those great purposes one jot, except so far as they may be overruled by God, and good be wrung out of their evil. The only legitimate instrument for the advancement of these chief ends of Christ's mission are the means of grace established by Christ himself in the world, as they shall be blessed and made profitable by the Spirit of Christ. Whoever passes these instruments by, and adopts others merely human; whoever uses these instruments, but denies the divine influence that is to give them efficacy; whoever consents both to the divine establishment of these means and the divine influence which gives them efficacy, and yet despises them in his life and practice, is against Christ, is scattering abroad his kingdom.
Let us now consider the position in which these views place the Church of Christ and the individuals who nominally constitute that Church, examining, by the way, the ground which our branch of the Church Catholic has assumed in regard to the advancement of Christ's kingdom upon earth.
 It is in the visible Church of Christ that these means of grace are concentered--in that vast "congregation of faithful men in the which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same," and upon that visible Church rests the responsibility of carrying out the designs of the Godhead in the world. It is not for us to limit the operations of the Holy Ghost; it is not for us to decide through what other channels its blessings may flow down upon the human race: it is enough for us to know, that our Church, the Protestant Episcopal Church of these United States, has preserved within herself all those elements which cast upon her, whether she will fulfil them or not, the privilege and the glory of overcoming the evil of the world, of remedying the curse which is written broadcast upon nature and upon society. Her ministry are the successors of those whom Christ himself sent forth into the world as the ambassadors for his kingdom; her organization is that which was moulded under apostolic direction, in the earliest periods of Church development; her faith is that once delivered to the saints, derived from the plain letter of Scripture, and kept and witnessed to, through successive ages, by the faithful in Christ Jesus; her Sacraments are duly ministered according to God's holy ordinance, having been carefully discriminated from all those human institutions that would usurp a like authority with themselves; her practice is scriptural, solemn, glorious, uniting order with spirituality, decency with devotion, the development of sound Christian character with much freedom of conscience and of judgment. To us it belongs, in an especial degree, to gather with Christ. To us it appertains to move forward, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, to the performance of our high and unavoidable responsibilities. The dispensation is laid upon us; and wo is unto us if we do not fulfil it. The sole agent which the Sovereign of the universe has appointed for the blessing of mankind, is [11/12] the Holy Ghost, and that agent has been pleased to link himself with an instrumentality which is perfectly developed among us. The farewell command of our Saviour to his apostles, "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," has descended upon us in its amplest meaning and its fullest power, and at our peril as a Church and as individuals must we fulfil it. It does not rest with us to decide our duty in the matter; this command is an accompaniment of our creation as a Church, it cleaves to us, if we have not faith to reckon it for glory, as a burden that will cover us with the displeasure of our Lord. We cannot get rid of it, because we cannot get rid of the ministerial succession and the sacramental bonds which have come down to us from generation to generation and from age to age. We may apostatize; we may deny the Lord that bought us and sin against the Holy Ghost; but we cannot, so long as we wear the livery of Christ, so long as we glory in our close and intimate union with him, divest ourselves of the duties which cluster around his blood-bought Church, which attach to the instrumentality through which he has decreed that his Holy Spirit shall operate! My beloved brethren, let us at once take, in repentance and humiliation, this our proper ground; for rest assured that chastisements will otherwise come upon us; that discipline, severe but sanctifying, will otherwise be administered upon us; that judgment will begin at the house of God.
In the Convention of 1835, our Church, as a Church, took the ground that "the field was the world," and that the Church was the instrumentality through which that field was to be cultivated. About this there seemed to be no difference of opinion, and she prepared herself, in her solemn council, with her congregated piety and wisdom, to enter upon her holy mission. She divided her duty, for the sake of convenience, into two branches, making no distinction as to their spiritual importance, nay, studiously [12/13] placing them upon an equal footing and organizing them with a like agency. The apostolic plan of weekly offerings was recommended as systematic and certain, and capable of ramification into every nook and corner of the land; so that the charity of all her children might be brought into active exercise. Let us examine this scheme in detail and exhibit the signal advantages which it embodies.
And, First. It carried out the spirit of all our other church arrangements, by leaving room for the exercise of private judgment, where such exercise might be allowed without detriment to Christianity.
As in the kingdom of nature there are certain limits, within which the great principles that regulate her movements are permitted to operate, so that deviation on this side or on that, within given points, shall not disturb the harmony of the universe; so in the kingdom of grace there are like limits, within which differences of speculative opinion shall not interfere with the salvation of the soul. This natural and scriptural rule our Church has. seized upon and turned to good account. She has framed her articles, her liturgy, her offices upon it. She has moulded her sons and her daughters by it, so that those holding views of doctrine and of practice, varying within her legitimate limits, are often found walking together in perfect love and heavenly fellowship. And, with reason; for the great points of Christian doctrine being safe, and the ecclesiastical organization of Christ being maintained, why should she attempt to force differently constituted and differently disciplined minds to think alike, or beings of diverse temperaments to feel alike? It would be a vain attempt; and her energy and her strength would be wasted in fitting her children to some Procrustian bed, while, ever and anon, she would be obliged, in self-defence, from the growth of discordant opinion within her own bosom, to cast out successive masses of disagreeing and unharmonious matter. Under her present rule she combines and she uses, for the great purposes of Christ, different minds, [13/14] different temperaments, different talents, preserving harmony, where there is ample scope for discord, and efficiency, where, under another system, there would inevitably be neutralization.
Upon this principle was our missionary organization of 1835 constituted, and, at the first glance, then just entering upon the ministry of the Gospel of grace, it struck me as beautiful, because in harmony with the Scripture and the Church. It seemed to breathe peace, where before there had been a measure of discord, to summon the children of the Church to union, upon the principles of the Church, for the prosecution of the glorious work for which the Church was instituted, the WORK OF MISSIONS. It opened two channels through which the zeal and the charity of the Church might find their vent, leaving it to private opinion and private feeling--nay, I would strike a higher note, and say, leaving it to each Christian, as the Holy Ghost which was in him, might move him to determine in what direction they should flow. It yielded to every Episcopalian the perfect right, without cavil and without accountability, except to his God, to direct his efforts and disburse his charity as he might deem best. The fundamental principle being established, that the propagation of the Gospel through the Church was the paramount purpose of the Godhead, it pretended not to control its individual members in the exercise of their zeal or the expenditure of their talents. It allowed for those differences of mind, temperament, education, discipline, and circumstances which must ever exist among men, for the varying views which individuals take of things according to the relations which bear upon them; above all, it regarded that sacred dogma of our religion, that every Christian is taught of God, is guided by the HOLY GHOST into his true path of duty; and whether the question was one of personal ministerial devotion, or only of pecuniary expenditure, it left it to the exercised soul to determine its career, seeking only to concentrate into one mighty current the [14/15] power of the Church. It left very little more to its Committees than the judicious disbursement of the charity of each congregation or each individual, according to its specified direction. These subordinate agencies were responsible only for the proper expenditure of the means in that channel to which individual or congregational piety may have consigned it. They had no connexion with that choice, no control over that determination. They were not accountable because a particular mission had taken strong hold upon the affections of a Christian or a Church; for that, the individual and the Church must answer to the Holy Ghost; their business was to rejoice over the exhibition of zeal and charity in whatever direction it might expend itself, and to obey the injunction of the contributor. And upon this footing only can the Church place her missions consistently with the belief, that each member is moved by the Holy Ghost in his spiritual determinations, moved, not in the wild, fanatical sense in whioh it is made to usurp the place of the written word of God, but in that scriptural sense in which we pray in the Collect for Whitsunday "that God would grant us by the same Spirit, wherewith he did teach the hearts of his faithful people upon the day of Pentecost, to have a right judgment in all things."
Secondly. It established the view, which, beyond doubt, is the true one, that all Church Missions are but one, and that division was made among them, partly for convenience, partly for the allowance of private judgment. [Art. X. of the Constitution of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. "For the guidance of the Committees, it is declared that the missionary field is always to be regarded as one, THE WORLD--the terms Domestic and Foreign being understood as terms of locality, adopted for convenience. Domestic Missions are those which are established within, and Foreign Missions are those which are established without, the territory of the United States."]
We never have been able to understand how it was possible to make any distinction in a spiritual sense, among [15/16] the missions of the Church. They may be separated for the sake of operation, for convenience in the details of business, but never, never because they involve distinct religious principles or look to contrary results. The duty of every congregation, the great primary duty, is to propagate the Gospel, to spread abroad the glad tidings of great joy, to extend onward that precious treasure of salvation which it hath received through the grace of God and the instrumentality of the Church. The establishment of a new congregation within the borders of our land, whether in our weakest or our strongest Diocese, is but the creation of a new centre from which light is to radiate for the illumination of a world in darkness. The immediate object of Domestic Missions, it is true, is that such new congregations shall be formed; but the moment that they are formed, their scriptural duty is to move forward in the glorious work through which they themselves have been called into existence; to bear down upon the evil of the world; to advance the Redeemer's kingdom, either by the establishment of other Churches to become in their turn fresh propagation societies, or by the instant settlement of their representatives upon the territories of heathenism, according as the Spirit of God, which is in them, may direct. On the other hand, our Foreign Missions are but the concurrent development of the same duty, but the immediate fulfilment of those responsibilities, which all acknowledge to belong to the Church at some stage or other of her progress. And these, in their turn, re-act upon the mother which hath nursed them into strength, by the development of her Faith, by the exercise of her Charity, by the excitement of her Love, nay, ofttimes, by rekindling upon her altar the holy fire which faithlessness, or pride, or corruption, may have extinguished. Our Missions to Greece and Asia Minor are striking illustrations of these remarks, when, after a desolation of many centuries, we, their children in the Gospel through the operation of missions, inhabitants of a land not conceived of in their highest imaginings, are [16/17] travailing to breathe spiritual life and energy into their decrepitude. The Missions of the Church are thus uniformly working out the same principle, the one remotely, the other directly--the one, by an increase of the points from which shall emanate the blessings of Christianity, the other, by the free gift, at once and in full faith, of those blessings to the perishing millions of the universe. The end is the same, the process only is different, and that difference limited, too, to the matter of time; meanwhile each congregation acts according to its Christian judgment, according to the direction which it receives from the Holy Ghost, whom God has made, as Sherlock nobly expresses it, a kind of universal soul, to his Church. Why should there be any contrariety in such a system as this? Why any rivalry? The proper attitude of their respective advocates should be that of a noble Christian strife for the advancement of the kingdom of the Redeemer, of a holy gratitude that God should have put upon them the glory of laboring together for the regeneration of the world.
Thirdly. The feature, which she recommended, of systematic charity, as a fruit of the Spirit, developed the Christian character in one of its noblest aspects, at the same time that it repudiated all doubtful processes for the collection of money. [See Report of the Committee on the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, published as Appendix B. to the Journal of the General Convention of 1835, p. 121. On page 123 we read--Resolved, 4. That the Diocesan Conventions be requested to recommend this subject to the serious consideration of the several parishes, in their respective Dioceses, and to urge upon them, as one of the most efficient means of procuring funds, the adoption of a plan of systematic charity.]
Means to an end seem to be the divine arrangement for the discipline of the creature, and in spiritual things it is used for the purification of a peculiar people, zealous of good works. The propagation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ--an end advanced by slow and tedious process, when God could, in the twinkling of an eye, diffuse [17/18] salvation over the world--looks to a double purpose, when carried on in a scriptural spirit. It is not concerned merely with the enlargement of Christ's visible dominion, but, likewise, with the sanctification of the existing Church. Nothing is gained, however much the Redeemer's kingdom may be visibly augmented, if, for that end, the Church lowers her spiritual standard by the adoption of unhallowed measures. Under such a system, we are building with one hand, and destroying with the other. We are struggling to win fresh territories fu our Saviour, but, in the struggle, are yielding the old to those spiritual cankers, worldly policy and the arm of flesh. We are laboring, in season and out of season, to gather from the world a body of faithful souls who shall manifest the glory of him that hath called them out of darkness into his marvellous light, and, all the while, are using means which destroy our own peculiarity and associate us with the mass that is looking for success to its human wit and its earthly wisdom. Indeed it might be made a question--a question not to be solved from visible data, because spiritual results are, for the most part, matters of faith, but solvable by that christian instinct, which makes us at once seize upon the right, even where data seem to be wanting--whether the influences of the Holy Ghost will rest upon the resources which are procured upon unscriptural grounds; its passage through the channels of the Church, rest assured, will not sanctify it. "According to thy faith shall it be done unto thee," was the invariable rule of Christ's operation while he lived upon earth, and it is the same at this day in his dealings with his Church. The faith of the Church will be rewarded just in proportion to its legitimate action. It is not the money, which may be collected, that is to carry forward the kingdom of Christ. It is not the treasury of the Church that is to settle the question of her missionary power or her missionary weakness. The sole agent that can give the heathen to Christ for his inheritance is the Holy Ghost, and he must be fetched down by faith, and [18/19] prayer, and holy obedience. These are the levers which shake heaven and then shake earth.
A plan which should develope these graces, at the same lime that it should procure a certain pecuniary income for our missionary operations, must combine, it would seem, all the elements of scripture and of truth. Our missionary arrangement of 1835, that arrangement by which each member of the Church was to lay by in store his weekly offerings for the service of his Lord, was the very scheme we needed. The wonder was, that it had been overlooked so long, especially too, as it stood out, with prominence, upon the very face of scripture, as the apostolic system of charity. With them, the mere getting of money was not every thing; they watched, at the same time, for the manifestation in the churches, of the fruits of the Spirit in connexion with their alms giving. They rested the charity of their disciples, not upon grounds that were false and uncertain and capricious, but upon principles that were immoveable amidst all the fluctuations of human feeling and all the manifestations of the divine purposes. At last we seized upon the truth; like all the great laws of the universe it was simple, and it had lain hid in that simplicity from the grasp of the Church; and under it have we been working, in some slight measure, for the last few years. But alas, in how slight a measure! How little justice has been done to the apostle's scheme, for I cannot give it any lower authorship, however we may bless God for the human agent who developed it. How little does it seem to have been appreciated! It was received with the general acclamation of the assembled Church; it was hailed as the harbinger of an united effort for the cause of Christ and His kingdom. Whence the subsequent indifference--indifference on the part of all orders of the Church? It is hard to understand; impossible to unravel. The scheme was perfect, for it was God's scheme, standing upon a like foot of inspiration with the other portions of scripture. The Church said "Amen" in its length and its breadth, for it saw its own features stamped upon its whole character; and yet it has come now to be considered as a plan that has failed, as a scheme that lacks efficiency. My beloved brethren, if it has failed, the fault lies not with the plan; that comes from the Holy Ghost--if it lacks efficiency, the blame is not to be cast upon the Committees; they are only the obedient servants of the Church in its operations. The difficulty rests with ourselves--from the highest to the lowest, from our bench, reverend brethren, through all orders of the clergy, to the humblest Christian. We have not grasped, as we should, the mighty truth, that this systematic charity was to improve the Christian character of our people, as well as to furnish us with the pecuniary means of missionary operations--was to be indicative not only of their lave towards missions, but of their love towards Christ. In which Diocese has it been fully carried out? Where is it that every congregation of a Diocese is growing in grace under the action of this scheme, while it performs its duty to Christ and his kingdom? I know of none; and yet it was the determination of the Church that it should be carried out in all; that it should be co-extensive with the borders of the land, bringing back, through its numberless tributary streamlets, the freewill offerings of a Christian Church at unity within herself! Into what a mighty current would it not have swollen, if each Churchman had but done his duty? We should have been spared the pain we have all suffered from blighted hopes and disappointed expectations. Nay, reality would have outrun our fondest anticipations; for faith and prayer would have accompanied the cheerful gifts of the Church, and have rendered them an hundred fold productive. We should have heard no complaints of the expensiveness of the system; for the bread, the mere bread, which we give our agents, would have been the veriest pittance in comparison of the amount that should have been at the disposal of the Board. We should not have been called to mourn over the destitution of our beloved brethren, who have gone forth to bless the world, trusting to our charity and our love. There would have been more than enough to comfort all [19/20] their hearts, to cheer all their efforts, to place them above the carking care of daily subsistence. All the evils of the system are reducible to a single fact--a painful and a mortifying fact--that it has not received the cordial support of the Church. For the most part it stands upon the statute book a dead letter;' nay, worse, it stands upon the face of the Bible, the apostle's scheme, finding but scant favor in the apostle's Church; here and there are glorious exceptions, exceptions proving in every respect the soundness of the Church's position; but alas, these are few, just enough to make us lament the neglect of a system that is capable of such mighty results. [In the Diocese of South Carolina, in which the plan of systematic charity has been carried out in good faith, the contributions to missionary purposes for the fifteen months preceding the meeting of the General Convention of 1835, amounted to $2,020 05, two thousand and twenty dollars. five cents, (see Journal General Convention, 1835, p. 41;) while her contributions, under the new system, for the twelve months ending the 15th June, 1839, were $11,940 81, eleven thousand nine hundred and forty dollars eighty-one cents, and for the year ending the 15th June, 1840, (a notoriously trying year,) $10,373 93, ten thousand three hundred and seventy-three dollars ninety-three cents. This single instance speaks volumes; for, between those periods, her ministry had undergone very slight alterations.]
As individuals making up the nominal Church of Christ, there are many of you, my hearers, who would be very unwilling to be found fighting against Christ, who would be shocked at the charge of scattering abroad his kingdom, although you may not yet have come out decidedly and actively for his principles and his glory. And yet such is your position; unless the glory of God and the salvation of souls, by the agency of the Holy Ghost, are the purposes of your lives and the principles of your action, you have other purposes in view, you are acting upon other principles, which, so far as your influence and your example extend, are working against Christ. He has mighty purposes to whose fulfilment he has devoted himself; he presents to man the only agent that can perfect them; you pass by that agent altogether, and adopt other instruments contrived by the wisdom of man, having a fairer show to the reason and the sense, and thus manifest to your fellow [21/22] creatures, by your conduct, unbelief in Christ's agent and disregard for Christ's purposes; and your example is counteracting all the efforts of the friends of Christ, is scattering abroad that kingdom which they are striving to establish.
If the Bible be true, you are placed, unregenerate man, in the anomalous condition of a creature that is laboring for nothing. The world is all working under the overruling providence of God for the establishment of Christ's kingdom, and has been so working, perceptibly to the spiritual eye, from the beginning. God has permitted man apparently to effect his own purposes, to build up mighty fabrics of power and of wisdom, to reach great heights of intellectual eminence, to establish refined and luxurious arrangements of society; and all the while he was nothing but an instrument overruled to the introduction, or the establishment, or the propagation, or the discipline, of the spiritual kingdom of Christ. His work has all gone for nothing, has been swept away with indiscriminate scorn, the moment that its proper effect upon the divine purposes has been wrought out. The history of the world is but a succession of these efforts of man to build up his own schemes, and of the inflexibleness of God in moulding them to the designs of Christ; man has built up, but God has pulled down. "I will overturn, overturn, overturn it; and it shall be no more until he come, whose right it is." This is the decree against all your labor for the benefit of man or for the advancement of society, while you separate it from the religion of Christ or strive to accomplish it under any other guidance than the Spirit of God; you can make no lasting impression upon the world for good; you can hand down nothing permanently beneficial to posterity; you can win no name that shall last forever, unless you link your destinies with those of Christ, unless you sanctify your purposes and deify your strength by an incorporation with the Holy Ghost.
It is for this reason that it is so important that the young should unite themselves with Christ. Beginning life upon correct principles, they go forward producing upon society [22/23] influences of which they shall never have cause to repent; they build up families that shall be centres of light and of life; they surround their homes with the blessed influences of religion; they shine examples to their neighborhoods of excellence and of virtue; they become the strong foundations of the commonwealth, lying, perchance, obscurely in the dust, but bearing upon their immoveable bases, the superstructure of government; they employ their influence, their talents, their wealth, to the diffusion of the light of the Gospel of Christ, rejoicing more over the subjugation of some distant isle to the influences of God's Holy Spirit, than over the most brilliant victories of their country's arms, or the most renowned achievements of her policy. These are the men, ay, and the women too, that carry forward the cause of Christ, and with it the cause of human civilization and human happiness, that future generations shall rise up and cover with their blessings.
And how awful it is, my hearers, to be fighting against Christ; to look upon the world in this point of view, as the great battle-field between the Spirit of Christ and the Spirit of Evil, and then to consider yourselves as ranged against that holy and glorious incarnation of the Divinity, against him, that in prophetic anticipation, in the foreseeing certainty of the divine knowledge, bears upon his vesture the exalted title of Lord of lords and King of kings. What a mockery is it of man that God should permit him, in the development of his free-agency, to carry on such a conflict; and how mournful is it to see, with what earnestness and hope, with what pride and arrogance, man mingles in the strife, blindly and recklessly warring against a power that has fixed, by an immutable decree, the purpose of his own will? [Psalm ii. 5-8.] How awful is it to be warring against the God that made you; against the name that is exalted above every name, far above all principality, and power, and throne, and dominion; against him that shall sit Judge over all things in heaven and in earth, and under the [23/24] earth, whose sentence shall usher you either into the mansion of a divine glory and a heavenly peace, or consign you to eternal wo with the damned of earth and the outcasts of heaven! How dreadful to be fighting against a spiritual kingdom which God has founded upon the blood of his only begotten Son, and whose chariot wheels have rolled to triumph over the ruins of every thing earthly or spiritual that has dared to oppose its invincible might!
How encouraging is this view of things to those of you, my hearers, that are gathering with Christ! What a holy confidence should it give you in the sure and triumphant progress of the cause of spiritual religion! What a lively faith should it wake up in the power and the means which God has established for the advancement of the kingdom of Christ! It is well for us always to remember, that while God permits us to mingle our work with his in the propagation of the Gospel, while he grants us the holy privilege of using our gifts for his glory, that the increase is altogether from his Spirit. That alone can break down the strongholds of Satan; that alone can turn back the overwhelming current of a world's opinion; that alone can change a cursed and smitten earth into the garden of the Lord, making the wilderness and the solitary place to blossom as the rose. And when the voice of man's understanding is heard ringing its objections against the efforts of the Church to spread the dominion of Christ over the earth, to give the inheritance of the heathen to her Lord, contrasting the fewness of her laborers with the extent of heathenism, the feebleness of her powers with the mighty mass of a dominant idolatry, the inefficiency of the means with the pride and prejudice of a national superstition, the answer of faith should he always upon your lips, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord." To the eye of sense, the mountain of a world's sinfulness seems very great, but the heart of faith knoweth that before Zerubbabel it shall become a plain, and he shall bring forth the head stone thereof with shoutings, crying "grace, grace unto it."