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water, should in any wise lose his reward; a reward not of pardon, as for a meritorious work performed, but a large increase of those blessings which minister to solid peace, and enduring joy.
And now, perhaps, you will be ready to acknowledge that in almost any other parish the minister ought, even for his own people's sake, to make some exertion on behalf of the great work of fulfilling Christ's last command. In your case, however, you are ready to say, it is impossible, the weapon here recommended is not placed within your reach. In fact, the difficul. ties with which you are beset, though you would gladly exclude them, press into your mind. Let me speak of one or two of them.
Your thoughts recur to the ignorance of your flock as regards the commonest matters, and you fancy it impossible that they should ever realize the existence of such a state of things as is taken for granted in the most ordinary relations of Missionary enterprize. But I would remind you, that to dispel this very ignorance, to familiarize their minds with these very facts, is to raise them in the scale of intellectual and moral beings, and to loosen the bands of that narrow selfishness, with which they have been hitherto confined, and which helps to harden the soul against the attacks of spiritual truth.
You instance the deep poverty of most of your people, and give this as a reason why you cannot adopt the plan. But I am not recommending the bare collection of money. From the mere habit of giving, some (not unmixed) good may accrue; but the blessing I contemplate must flow from a far higher source, and be built on a far more adequate foundation, I mean, the infusion and vigorous growth of a true Missionary spirit. And this may pervade the heart of the poor and of the rich, with equal power and with similarly blessed effects. As regards money, however, they are few who can give absolutely nothing, and as few are those who will not give something, if they be but fired with the spirit of love for the souls of perishing idolaters. And what if they have but “two mites” to give ? let them bestow them in a right spirit and from a pure motive, and they shall have praise of Him who knows the thoughts and intents of the heart. Nay more, if they have nothing whatever of this world's goods, they can bestow their effectual fervent prayers, and these we know avail much ; yea, so much that it may be truly said, not only that He who prays the most, is the richest benefactor to those for whom he prays, but also, that he lays up for himself the richest store of blessings.
The case of many of those who could gire, awakens a different and a very painful recollection in your mind. Their backwardness, their manifest vexation, when the subject of giving is brought before them, and the niggardly response with which they meet your most touching and affectionate appeals, makes you dread the recurring periods, when you are compelled to call for donations to parochial schools, or to collect the sums required for the due celebra
tion of the service of the sanctuary.* And you cannot help dreading, lest these primary and indispensable objects might suffer by the introduction, or at any rate the frequent intrusion, of another call upon the purses of your people. But do you not forget, that if those who have the means neglect the duty of giving, it is because they have not acquired a habit of so doing? And this, in part at least, because Christian ministers, held back by very insufficient motives, of which false delicacy is often one of the most powerful, have not adequately impressed this duty upon them. Surely, this complaint would not be so frequently called forth if the true principles of Christian charity were more frequently instilled into men's minds; if they were warned that whatever they have is committed to them as stewards, to be used for their Master's service, and for which they will have to “give account;” and if they were affectionately persuaded, that “it is more blessed to give than to receive."
Dear brother, the dread of lessening the resources of your ill-supported schools, &c., is not unnatural, but I entreat you to consider if it do not spring from a want of faith, a distrust of Him, whose are the silver and the gold, and whose also are the hearts of men. And be assured, that. that which is given to the heathen will never diminish the sums contributed to the important objects to which we have alluded.
The allusion is to a place where the district church has no claim upon the parochial rates, and periodical collections
? made to defray the necessary expenses.
But you will remind me, that there are impediments which prevent you from adopting this plan, of a very different nature from those we have hitherto considered. To all the arguments I can advance, you answer, that, however efficacious this scheme may be in other places, yet, in your own case, sad experience has shown that no such blessed results can be expected from it. And this you prove, by pointing to the little effect produced by the exertions hitherto made on behalf of the heathen. Your thoughts, perhaps, will take some such form as this, “ When I preach, under the authority of the Queen's Letter, for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts,' (the very same object as is here referred to), not only are the sums collected pitiful in the extreme, but, so far as my observation has extended, no good result has ever followed, no home blessing has descended upon us. Nor, (you continue,) can I lay the blame entirely on my own indifferent advocacy; for, a short time ago, a clergyman of high and deserved popularity, preached on behalf of the Church Missionary Society, but we had scarcely a better collection; and though many were attracted to the church, yet my congregations have never been the larger; and if any effect were produced for the moment, I fear it has been as the “morning cloud and the early dew."
Dear brother, it is here that so many of us fail. A single sermon, preached in every parish in the country under a Royal Letter, or the
oft-repeated exertions of such an individual as you have referred to, raising a small sum in many churches, may be the means of collecting that which, in the aggregate, swells up to an available, though very inadequate, amount. But so far
concerns my present point, and excepting only an individual here and there, whose heart may be smitten by the arrow shot at a venture, we have no right to look upon such occasional appeals as the means of calling forth a real love for the heathen, or of imbuing the mass of our people with the true Missionary spirit: and we have no right to do so, simply because God has provided us with other and far more suitable means for the attainment of this most desirable end. For though He often blesses us in a way we had no right to expect (being to us better than His word), yet, surely, we act a hypocritical and a presumptuous part, if we pray for and expect a blessing, whilst we leave untried those means of attaining it, which are put within our reach. In this case, the farther and more suitable means are evidently, the zealous, reiterated, persevering efforts of your own ministry, applied in the way at which I have already hinted. Nor can there be a stronger proof of the need of such personal exertion on your own part, than is afforded by the very facts, to which you yourself bear an unwilling testimony, if you adopt the arguments I have put into your mouth.
One objection to the position I have been endeavouring to establish still remains, which