on the 14th of November, in the Year of our Lord
PRINTED BY T. AND J. SWORDS
No. 99 Pearl-Street.
Whereas there is reason to fear that the Pastoral Letters issued from time to time by the House of Bishops, and addressed to the members of the Episcopal Church, fail of their intended effect for want of sufficient publicity, it is hereby made the duty of every clergyman having a pastoral charge, when any such letter is published, to read the same to his congregation on some occasion of public worship.
BEING again assembled in General Convention, with the Clerical and the Lay Deputies of the different Dioceses of our Church, we again address you, as required by the 45th canon of 1808.
It is a subject of mutual congratulation among us, and the result of communications to one another of the concerns under our respective superintendence, that our Church continues to be on the increase, in proportion to the increasing population of our common country. We also learn, that in various vicinities in which our services had been for many years disused, and the voices of our ministry had been unheard, there is a revival of them, under agences rendered effective by the good Providence of God; and, as we trust, under the holy influences of his Spirit. In many other places not yet supplied, there appears to have been cherished a preference for the principles of our communion, under a severance which had been produced by events originating in the change of political relations: this having been the result of causes which no [3/4] human sagacity could have either foreseen or governed. Further, these sources of satisfaction are unallayed by any known dangers, threatening material injury to the peace and the brotherly regards which have distinguished our Church from the time of its organization to the present day.
It is a great deduction from the satisfactory view now taken, that in some of the new states in the west and in the south, there is not yet heard the voice of a minister of our communion in her services; and in extending evangelical truth in connexion with her ecclesiastical institutions; and that, in some other states, there are at least too few to afford any immediate prospect of organizing ecclesiastical bodies within their respective bounds. It is a consolation to us, under this privation, that during the present session of the representative body of our Church, there has been communicated to them the intelligence of the organizing of our Church in the state of Mississippi; which has accordingly been received by us as a branch of our ecclesiastical union.
On these triennial occasions of addressing you, there has been, to a certain extent, a sameness in what we had to offer; that is, so far as concerns a persevering adherence to the pure and holy religion of the Gospel; and, as explanatory of it, to the doctrines of our Church, as set forth in her articles; to her services, as seen in her Book of Common Prayer; and to the illustrating of both in a holy life and conversation; of which there is no grade not encouraged and cherished by the whole body of our institutions.
 Notwithstanding this sameness of our addresses in a degree, there has always been a mixture of variety, resulting from circumstances appropriate to the several times; and adjudged by us to give weight to lessons, which are proper to all times and places. Such a circumstance now occurs to us, in our having lately witnessed the elation of the public mind, at the period which stamped the duration of half a century, on the existence of our commonwealth. It is a tract of time which has been fruitful of great events, and on which we cannot look back, without sensibility in reference to the concerns of our Church in the various scenes through which she has passed; nor without noticing the improvement which may be made of them. In this retrospect we review the gloomy prospects by which our Church was clouded, because of her being identified in public opinion with a government from which she was now to be for ever severed, the state in which she continued for many years, destitute of the provisions essential to the succession of her ministry; her subsequent manifesting of herself in a new form, with uncertainty as to the result of measures dictated by the exigences of her new condition, but of which we could have no assurance of success, although there was humble hope of it in the promises of the Saviour to his mystical body, wherever seated; and added to all this, the more agreeable considerations of the success of the measures adopted, and a consequent increase and prosperity, at least equal to any expectations which had been entertained by us.
It is a wise improvement of the transactions which [5/6] pass on the great theatre of life, when they incite us to look up to the control of them in the Providence of God. In so doing, we shall often discern the accomplishment of events, not only beyond the designs, but even in contradiction to the wishes of the agents. This opens to us a magnificent view of the divine economy. We behold a vast compass in its plans; and must be convinced, that be the immediate mover of any measures who he may, there is an invisible sceptre of moral rule too weighty for any other hands than those of a Being of infinite knowledge; who comprehends the whole series of the events intended by him; who connects them in a chain, of which the smallest link is as necessary as the greatest; who traces the dependence of each effect on its cause from the beginning, and through whatever is to intervene, to the remotest distance, and final issue; who keeps before him the extent of created nature, with the minutest incidents, as well of the material as of the intellectual world; and who thus fills and governs all things.
After having thus looked back on the past, we find ourselves encouraged to look forward to the future: although not as imagining, that we are authorized to presume, from any existing circumstances, that the end will be such as our imperfect judgments may infer. Against this there are many objections; of which it is not the least, that men are led to approve of evil, under the expectation that God is making it the mean of good. This, however, ought not to hinder us from contemplating any present state of affairs, in relation [6/7] to what may be believed to be its effects in future; so far as may be concluded from the observation and the experience of former times, and by correct reasonings from causes existing before our eyes.
Under the operation of this sentiment, we are encouraged, not presumptuously to affirm, but modestly to conjecture, as to what may be the divine design, in the peculiar circumstances under which these states were settled, and have since grown to eminence among the nations of the earth; and in this anticipation we engage, with the view of making it instrumental to duties, which it is the design of this address to set before you.
In endeavouring to look beyond the veil that conceals futurity from our view, different minds will be more or less sanguine, according to their different temperaments and habits of thought. As the subject is seen by many, and among them by those who now address you; when we consider the magnitude of the event which has given a new world, as it were, for the accommodation of the human race; and when we trace, in the experience of past ages, that nothing but the possession of civil liberty, with its endearments, could have brought this part of the American continent to its present state of cultivation and of prosperity, we cannot but perceive, in this event, the counsels of the great Being, "who doth according to his will in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth."
We may, therefore, build our hopes on the foundation, that the use and the benefit of mankind was the [7/8] object of divine Providence in bringing the land which we inhabit within the reach of intellectual improvement and civilization. But God, in the accomplishment of his purposes, acts by the instrumentality of second causes; and in this great work renders as well the faculties of the human mind, as the laws which he has assigned to matter, subservient to his will. Now it is only in a state of civil happiness that those powers are competent to the effecting of an object like that contemplated. It is not by the subjects of despotic sway, insecure in their possessions, and liable in their persons to the capricious will of their rulers, that the rough bosom of nature can be made to disclose its treasures. No, it is civil and religious freedom, with the security and the incentives which it supplies, that must brace the nerves and keep alive the hopes of hardy industry. It is this which, making the peasant rejoice in his hopeful offspring, and in the certainty that he is labouring for himself and for them, must tempt him to brave the hardships and the dangers of the wilderness, and to hew out for himself a possession in its recesses.
What a prospect does this consideration open to our view! As the Chaldean seer, surveying the Israelitish camp, and having an insight into futurity, exclaimed with wonder--"Who can count the dust of Jacob, or number a fourth part of the tribes of Israel?" we may ask--Who can count the numbers to be hereafter sustained by a cultivation, of which the present is no more than the beginning? Who can have a conception of the fields laden with harvests, which shall succeed [8/9] to our immeasurable deserts; and of the cities which, in centuries to come, shall adorn the banks of our innumerable lakes and rivers? Or who can form an idea of the extent of useful arts, which, throughout this new field of ingenuity and of labour, shall be set at work for the adding to the stock of human comfort? Here is an object worthy of the great Being who sways the sceptre of the universe, and whose providence is thus illustrated in verifying what is declared of him in his word--"The earth hath he given to the children of men."
While we thus rejoice in an increasing culture, we may anticipate the same advantages as alluring to our shores the excess of distant population, by which so many exchange indigence and obscurity for easy and plentiful subsistence; and in some instances, for wealth and eminence. If from encouragements thus produced by demands for labour, and by the liberal genius of our constitutions, there should be the danger of being infested by the discontented and the desperate of other climes, every abuse of this sort may be guarded against by salutary regulations; while there will be an over-balance in the rewards which virtuous industry will secure, and in the aids which, from whatever region it may be transplanted, cannot but be brought along with it to the public weal. They who now possess the soil, or are the most distinguished among us by their services or by their talents, are generally the descendants from persons who left the old world, for the better prospects thought to open on them in the new. It will not be hazardous to predict, that for a long [9/10] course of time to come, there will be the like allurement and the like success. While this shall continue every benevolent mind will rejoice in the public legislation, in proportion as it shall protect the worthy emigrant in his peaceful industry, and as it shall deprive the unworthy of the means to disturb and to overthrow.
Above all, and what is the most pertinent to the present purpose, we may consider as connected with the views of Providence in the progress of American improvement, that there will be a greater diffusion of the Gospel, with all its invaluable benefits. We cannot but expect, that, with a growing population, there will be a progressive enlargement of the sphere of the revelation which "has brought life and immortality to light." The advancement of our holy religion will probably continue, as it has been heretofore, gradual, but sure. Ages may roll away, and empires may rise and fall, before there shall come the promised era, when "all the kingdoms of the world shall be the kingdoms of the Lord and of his Christ." But, as we rest our expectations of that event on the rock of his never failing promise, we have reason to rejoice in whatever promotes the accomplishment of it, by extending the profession of Christianity over the immeasurable wilds of this immense continent. Blessed religion! which heightens the pleasures and assuages the sorrows of life; which animates to the discharge of present duties, and opens to the view the prospect of a happy immortality; and, which is the guardian of civil happiness, in the sanctions brought by it to every [10/11] branch of social justice and beneficence. May its radiance continue to extend itself over these western regions, until they shall every where be covered by a population enjoying the full splendour of Gospel day! In the mean time may we all have our minds open to the light of revealed truth! May we look to it, not only as the inspirer of private virtue, but as the best security of social order; which, without its powerful aids, will be lost in a general profligacy of manners!
In proof of this, and to show the benign influence of our holy religion in contrast with its opposite, it is but to look back to a period not very distant, when the dark cloud of infidelity obscured for a while the bright prospect of the spread of Gospel truth, discharging itself in a profusion of misery and of crime, and threatening the overthrow of religion in all its forms. The result is, that the evil has been overruled to good by the moral Governor of the world; the crisis having awakened throughout Christendom new energies, brought into operation with a zeal and in an extent not witnessed since the earliest ages of the Gospel; and the force of which is at this moment felt in every quarter of the globe.
Nothing can tend more effectually to this than the recollection of the deadly foe who has been mentioned, and of the bitter fruit of the tree which had been planted by his hand; than its effects on human happiness, personal, domestick, and civil; than the observing that it lessens the obligations of good faith between man and man; that it diminishes the sanctity of oaths; that it destroys every appearance of honour, except the name [11/12] of it, serving for the covering of crimes; that it prevents industry among the poor, and promotes licentiousness among the rich; that it has destroyed families, and has threatened to destroy the state. These are evils resulting from infidelity, as surely as any effect from its proper cause. There seems reason to hope, that the connexion will be more and more perceived and felt; and that all friends of moral order and of social happiness will be convinced that there is no security for them, but in the profession of religion and the practice of its duties; the restraints of which are thus demonstrated to be as necessary for life as its consolations are for death. When religion is upheld in this important point of view, that of Christ and none other must be in contemplation; because it is evident of all who abandon it, that none other is made a substitute; which is proof, that it is deserted from no other cause than that of repugnancy to its holy requisitions.
Even in the enthusiasm so captivating to weak minds, and which, from the want of rational instruction, has overspread a great proportion of our country, we may perceive evidence how small the prospect is of the permanent success of infidelity in its endeavours to divest religion of her government over mankind. From the fact stated, it appears that this powerful agent, when expelled from the dominion in which she has a right to reign, rallies, and reassumes her empire, manifesting her native strength even in the extravagances to which, through the weakness of human nature, her salutary influence is misapplied. It is far from being designed to advocate the errors either of [12/13] enthusiasm or of superstition; but without the hazard of this, there may be the acknowledgment, that neither of them has an influence so fatal to human virtue and human happiness as the entire absence of religion; which leaves men "without God in the world;" which allows of no motive to good morals, but such as is at the mercy of changing interest and humour; which deprives sorrow of all its consolations; and which has no hope in death; except the vain one of the extinction of our being.
We may, therefore, indulge the hope--and the uncertainty of human affairs permits no more--that the morning of prosperity risen on these states, will be succeeded by a suitable brightness of their noon. If the expectation of this should be realized, it must be by public virtue resting on religious motive; which is so essential to the object, that when it is brought forwards independently on such an association, however intended, the effect will be to deceive and to destroy.
For the sustaining of both of them in a happy union, we may now go on to develope the duties which are the obvious results of the review made of the past.
The first duty to be proposed is that of gratitude for our having been born under the light of the Gospel, disclosing the plan of the divine counsels from the beginning to the end of time; assuring of an expiation for sin, and of the forgiveness of it if repented of and forsaken; furnishing the most efficient aids for holy living; prescribing an unerring rule of life and manners; and opening to our prospect a state of never ending happiness.
 To-day to the inestimable value of this best gift of God to man, there is the circumstance of an unrestrained admission to the source of truth in the divine word, without having it forced on us through the medium of the interpretation of fallible men. Attendant on all, there is the privilege of worshipping God agreeably to the dictates of our consciences, without civil restrictions, or the apprehension of civil penalties.
This part of the subject might be shown to advantage, by a contrast of our condition with that of a great proportion of our fellow men in various countries, in which these mercies of Providence are unknown; and all would tend to the practical lesson, that "to whom much is given, of them there will be much required;" that in proportion to our information of religious truth and duty, will be the guilt of that abandonment of God, which leaves in the conduct no trace of the acknowledgment of his being, except, perhaps, in a profanation of his great name; and not only this, but where apostacy is not to such an extreme, which causes at least an indifference to religion, inconsistent, so far as any person is himself concerned, with his being a subject of the covenant of grace; and so far as the world is concerned, with every pretension to the property of the Christian character, which consists in the "letting of our light so shine before men," as that they may be "led by it to glorify our Father who is in heaven."
Combined with devout gratitude for this, best of all benefits, there should be a due estimate of the civil institutions under which we enjoy security of property [14/15] and of person, with thankfulness to the Giver of this and "of every other good and perfect gift." Here is the spring of the most animating incentives to honest industry, encouraging to sustain the social relations dependent on it. In this respect also the importance of the subject is increased by an extension of our view to the inhabitants of other climes; strangers to, or possessing in a much lower degree, the genial influence of immunity from the oppression of power, and a partial administration of justice. If we be sensible of our felicity in this particular, not only does the benefit create a debt of gratitude to the great Bestower of it, but this is essential to its continuance. Of all the gifts of heaven, there is no one which the laws of the moral world will less endure to be abused than that of political freedom. Power in the hands of an individual, and the same in the hands of a privileged few, has been often abused, yet long retained. But such is the nature of popular abuse of freedom, that in all ages the corrective of the enormity has been generally unrelenting despotism. To suppose that freedom will escape abuse among a people over whose passions religion has no considerable controul, is inconsistent with what the whole history of the world attests. Accordingly, the subject furnishes us with occasion to pray for the increase of the influence of the religious principle over all classes of our fellow citizens, and especially over those who are called to offices of high authority and trust, and of imploring for them the guidance of the grace of God; to the end, that, as he has [15/16] declared the fear of himself to be "the beginning of wisdom," or the spring or origin of whatever deserves the name, they who rule may not leave this out of the account, in their labours for the public happiness; which, without it, may be a fabrick splendid for a little while; but without a foundation, and therefore without permanency.
We wish to apply all the considerations which have been presented to the extension of the bounds of the visible body, to which is committed the preservation and the increase of the knowledge of Gospel truth; to be aimed at by each of us in his proper sphere; and in proportion to the means which have been bestowed on him, and to the opportunities which have been furnished to him by Providence. We may perceive great incitement to this in the high character sustained by that communion, and in the properties with which it has been arrayed in the word of truth. It is there called "The kingdom of God;" "the body and the spouse of Christ;" "a building raised on the foundation of the holy apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone;" and "a household," the concerns of which he administers by his commissioned servants. It had been prophesied of in much earlier times, as "a gathering of the people unto Shiloh," or a special messenger, who should be sent; as "the Lord's house, to be established on the top of the mountains," into which there should be a "flowing of all nations;" as "a dominion," which was to be extended "from sea to sea, and from [16/17] the river to the ends of the earth;" and as "a stone cut out without hands," which should "become a great mountain, and fill the whole earth."
What though there may be discouragement to many in the errors and in the wickedness, by which this divinely constituted body has been dishonoured in different times and places. Still there is the promise of its Founder, that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it," meaning by its extermination; and as to the dishonour done to it by the excitements of wicked passions, the same was clearly announced under the figure of "grain growing in a field until the harvest," and under that of "a net containing fishes good and bad." With this diversity, there continues in its full force the last command of our Saviour to his disciples--"Go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature."
It is of this divinely instituted body, with all the properties in which it has been clothed by its adorable Ordainer, that we exhort you to interest yourselves in the extension of the sphere of influence; and if, in our plea in its behalf, we combine the subject with a special regard to the discriminating institutions of the Church of which we profess ourselves members; it is not from sectarian zeal, nor from undue estimation of what rests on the will of man, but because there must be some defined shape in which religious doctrine is to be promulgated, and in which religious services are to be performed. Whatever other provisions there may be for the purpose, those obtaining among us are the most sanctioned by our judgments, and the most [17/18] cherished by our affections, and in both these respects, as the most agreeable to the Holy Scriptures; and we cannot abandon this ground without subjecting our communion to the intrusion of many pernicious errors, fabricated by the erring imaginations of men.
In adverting to a few particulars for the accomplishment of the object of this address, we give the prominent place, not only because of its pre-eminent importance, but because of its being essential to whatever may afterwards occur, to the ultimate use of religious instruction, in its promoting of personal piety, and suitable rectitude of conduct. The great end for which the Gospel, "bringing salvation to all men, hath appeared," is, "that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, they may live soberly, righteously, and godlily in the present world." Here is a summary of duty not to be detracted from without great sin, and not admitting addition from any fanciful ideas of a greater elevation and perfection of the Christian character. We are aware that there may be the form, that is, the specious appearance, of godliness, without the power of it over the wayward passions of our nature; that there may be acts, by which the righteousness of the inward man should be made manifest to the world; while, severed from their proper character, they may be made equally subservient to temporal interest and reputation; and that there may be an abstaining from licentiousness, made subservient to health, to decorum, and to various advantages proper to the present state of being; while it may be "a whitened sepulchre," covering "rottenness within." [18/19] Considering these things as far short of the holy morality of the Gospel, we exhort you to the attainment of the graces which will accompany you beyond a world which you behold constantly passing away from you; and to the being of a cast of character, which will elevate you from a membership of Christ's Church militant on earth, to be members of the Church triumphant in heaven, and to join in the song which is "sung day and night before the throne" of the Eternal.
In thus sustaining the cause of Christian morals, let us be equally tenacious of their foundation in Christian faith; that is, in the leading and essential doctrines of Christianity, which are never abandoned or held in light esteem, without proportionable injury to the other. It is not an unusual way of inducing an undervaluing of both, to give ample praises to Christianity as a moral code, connected with a disparaging representation of its doctrines as matters of speculation. So partial a consideration of the subject is the losing sight of man as a sinner, in that character as needing mercy, which nothing but divine beneficence can extend to him, and which can be had only on the terms proposed to him in the Scriptures, through the meritorious sacrifice of the cross, offered in a nature both divine and human; further, as a being destitute of his original perfection, to which he can no otherwise be restored than by the grace of God giving a beginning to holy affections in him, and working with him when in possession of them; in addition to this, as in his best estate subject to frailties which cannot but issue [19/20] in sins, unless prevented by "a strength made perfect in natural weakness;" and to consummate the view of him, as a transitory being, to be in the world but a little while, knowing that the day of life will soon terminate, without the certainty of a state beyond the grave, other than what is bottomed on "the life and immortality brought to light by the Gospel." These are truths, independently on which we consider moral theory as at best a dressing of decorum to the character, but more generally as too feeble for the resistance of even an ordinary measure of temptation.
While we thus exhort to what we consider as of the most prominent importance--personal piety, manifested by a religious life and conversation; and with this, correct views of the dispensation of grace; we would not lose sight of the mean of upholding the important object, by a visible profession, and by habitual attendance on all the offices of our holy religion. Our Lord has stamped on the community of his followers the character of "a city set on a hill, which cannot be hid," and of "a candle set not under a bushel, but on a candlestick," that its light may be visible and of use. You need but look around you to remark how much the disuse of the worship of the sanctuary is followed by deterioration of morals; and how much this tends to the temporal as well as to the spiritual injury of many who are prominent in the social system; and to the corruption of the lower classes of society, by example descending to them from the more elevated. When St. Paul exhorts the Hebrew Christians--"Not forsaking the assembling of [20/21] yourselves together, as the manner of some is;" it appears by attention to the general drift of the epistle, in respect to the intimated fault, that it was not without there having been a proportionate departure from the integrity of the Christian profession, endangering there being in them "an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God." In like manner, whenever in any vicinity of our extensive country, there has been discontinuance of social worship and of the sound of the preached Gospel, the effect has been felt in the ruin of individuals and of families; in excesses of political contention; and even in the decay of the courtesies of life. This should suggest to others, whose delinquency is counteracted by better habits, not yet borne down by the corrupt example which they are presenting to the publick for imitation, that but for this, the whole political body would be covered by an ulcerating sore, tending to its entire putrefaction; and that, therefore, there may be profitably addressed to them the admonition in the epistle which has been referred to--"Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God."
While we are thus attentive to the cultivation of religious affection, not only as a principle in the mind, but as venting itself in external acts of homage, let us not be regardless of those of the fellow-members with us of the body of Christ, who are so situated as to be destitute of the means of grace. This is the condition of the population in many of the districts of the United States. In some instances, the privation extends to [21/22] the extreme, of their being without the sound of the preached Gospel. If, in other instances, the want is limited to the being without the edifying services of our Church, to which they give a preference, in consequence of education or of inquiry; we ought surely to consider the case, as coming under the figurative language of the apostle--"If one member suffer, all the members suffer with it." And while, in the exercise of Christian beneficence of this description, we give a marked preference to a Church which we believe to be the most congenial to the character stamped by our Saviour on his acknowledged mystical body--its being "built on the foundation of the holy apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief corner-stone;" it is a line of conduct which may be pursued without hostility to any denomination professing the truth as it is in Jesus; but, on the contrary, consistently with respect towards them, and with gratitude to Almighty God for any good which, under the operation of his grace, they may have been the instruments of achieving.
We consider it as not irrelative to the object of this address, but, on the contrary, as a fair inference from the argument of it, that the members of our communion throughout the United States should be invited to take a reasonable part in the prodigious efforts now put forth for the evangelizing of the world. The sending of the Bible on the errand for which there has been so often the instrumentality of the sword; the going of missionaries, with the message of the Gospel in their mouths, and not, as heretofore, with the armour of [22/23] penal law; and the extending of the dominion, not of some earthly conqueror, or of a power described in the Apocalypse "with two horns like a lamb, and speaking like a dragon;" but of the cross, with the more congenial accompaniments of "peace and good will to men;" gives the promise of a degree of success, to which the opposite means have been found as inefficient, as they were destitute of any authority from the Scriptures.
We cannot be on this subject, without recommending to the members of our communion the claims of the Domestick and Foreign Missionary Society, instituted by a former General Convention; and hitherto conducted with an efficiency proportioned to its means, but not to the magnitude of the object, or in comparison of what has been done by some other religious denominations, who have put forth powerful energies for the accomplishing of the same design. We are aware, that in the most of the dioceses of this union there are local exigences; and that in many of them there have been missionary societies formed, with a view to their supply. Far be it from us to endeavour to stop the sources of contribution to a purpose which must be confessed to have very powerful claims on the beneficence of the several dioceses to which the remark applies. We only plead for an extension of the boon; so that while we pay a special regard to spiritual wants immediately within our knowledge, and under our notice, or the tidings of which are brought to our ears from no distant quarters, we may not be indifferent to the carrying into effect of the original command for the [23/24] founding of the Christian Church--"Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." It may be seen in the report of this society, now lying before the assembled Convention of our Church, that among the measures for the accomplishing of the design of their institution, there is that of a permanent missionary establishment, with suitable buildings for a school, and for the accommodation of a family; with a view to the Christianizing of the Indians in the north-west district of the union. It has committed the society to the incurring of a considerable expense; and although there is reason to expect that a part of this will be borne by the civil government, to the constituted authorities of which our plan has been submitted; yet we shall not be sanguine as to the issue, without more liberal aid than has yet been furnished from the several dioceses of our Church.
What with the destitution of so many fields of labour within the bounds of the United States, and the demands for ministers to carry beyond them the glad tidings of salvation; we have all along felt the want of an increase of the ministry, proportioned to the increase of the calls for them; especially as we are more and more sensible of the inutility of an accession, unless it be of men with the qualification of theological and of other literature. In this respect we hope to be gradually relieved by the seminary instituted under the authority of the General Convention, and attested to be ably conducted by those of us who have attended on the annual examinations of its graduates and its pupils. It is a subject of great joy to us, that this seminary, [24/25] although considerably short of the funds equal to the efficiency to be desired, is so far possessed of them, as, in all human appearance, to secure its permanency. It will receive additional security from there having been erected a convenient and handsome building for the accommodation, as well of professors as of pupils; which will soon be in a condition for the reception of them. We ought not, however, to lose the present opportunity of presenting the seminary, as claiming further contributions from the members of our communion: and as this has been introduced in connexion with the subject of an increase of the ministry of our Church, we would especially mention the endowing of scholarships, which we anticipate as being an operative expedient, for the bringing into the gospel field of talents, which, independently on such a source of supply, would be lost, as to any considerable benefit, to the Church and to society.
We ought not to conclude this address, without an affectionate entreaty to our brethren of the clergy in particular, to concur with us in the promotion of all the objects which have been detailed. They and we live at a very eventful period of time; supposed, by many inquirers into the sense of prophecy, to be within its eye in that department of the apocalyptick vision, in which, after a long series of years of corruption and of darkness, there is seen "an angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting Gospel, to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people." Whether the bright prospects thus opened on us are to be [25/26] realized to any now living, or are reserved to more distant times, there is always lying on us the duty of "having our loins girt about, and our lamps burning." It is a low estimate of the ministry to suppose its claims satisfied by an exemption from immorality and from indecorum, or by a round of prescribed performances, without an interest taken in the object of them. It is a life of anxiety and of labour; and there will not be a cessation of them so long as there shall be but partially accomplished the work laid on us in ordination, of "doing all that lieth in us, to bring all such as are or shall be committed to our charge, unto that agreement in the faith and knowledge of God, and to that ripeness and perfectness of age in Christ, that there be no place left among us either for error in religion, or for viciousness of life." That this may be the object of their and of our endeavours, until we shall be called on to give an account of our respective stewardships, may God of his infinite mercy grant, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
By order of the House of Bishops,