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tion--it would be a fine opportunity for turning round upon many of the company, who might not themselves be clear in these matters, and saying with Nathan, "Ye are the men." Their answer might be, "We belong to the laity, we belong not to the clergy; and therefore, whatever our sins, they want that special aggravation which, on your own admission, attaches to the crime which we now reprobate and condemn." But our reply would be, "You may be forgetful of your high calling, you may be ignorant of your high calling; but nevertheless, inasmuch as you belong to a Christian church, you belong incontrovertibly to a royal priesthood; and if there be avarice amongst you, it is the avarice of a priest; if there be pride amongst you, it is the pride of a priest; if there be sensuality amongst you, it is the sensuality of a priest."
We would thus take advantage of that very merited scorn of which clerical inconsistency, or clerical profligacy, is sure to be the object. The men who manifest this scorn may be little aware, but it is our duty and our desire to make them aware, that they are passing sentence on themselves, and that all that strong and unmeasured rebuke which they pour on an offending priest is virtually falling on their own heads, unless the power of Christianity be visible in the whole of their conduct. And we are quite persuaded that men vastly underrate, even where they do not wholly overlook, the injury which the vices of any private individual work to the cause of God and religion. They are alive to the injury wrought by the vices of a clergyman; but they shelter themselves under their lay character, and think their own sins comparatively humble, perhaps comparatively lawful. This is only because they do not or will not observe, that every nominal Christian does his part towards keeping his country from taking its place as a witness for God, and a preacher of righteousness to the yet unevangelized world. O if we have drawn no exaggerated picture of the influence which a nation of real Christians would, wield on the surrounding people, we have shewn you that their country would be nothing less than a temple to the whole earth, and themselves the ordained men who held therein the sacerdotal office. And what then is it, but the avarice, and the fraud, and the voluptuousness, and the impiety, which are found amongst the members of the Christian community, that interferes with the ministrations of that community to the tribes which are yet" sitting in darkness?" What is it, in other words, but the fact that the crimes of the priesthood bring disgrace on the religion which they were anointed to teach, that prevents a nominally
Christian people from being the great regenerators of the globe? And have we not, then, a right to come down on every unconverted man amongst you, and to charge him with working that very injury to religion which a clergyman works when notoriously immoral, and all this on the simple principle derived from our text, that it is the high calling of a Christian people to be "a kingdom of priests," or a royal priesthood" to the Lord God Almighty.
Now we would impress on you, in bringing our discourse to a conclusion, that you feel nothing what you ought to feel when indignant at hearing of the wickedness of the clergyman. Again and again would we tell you, you are quite right in considering that the circumstance of the man being a priest, lays on him additional obligation to the fleeing every vice, and the practising every virtue; and that where the obligation is disregarded, the blame can hardly be greater than is deserved: but will you also bear in mind that you are yourselves invested with the office of the priesthood; that you cannot sin merely as lawyers, or merchants, or tradesmen; you must sin as priests, and therefore incur that heavier condemnation which you are ready enough to award to a man of my profession. The anger which breaks promptly forth on any report of clerical iniquity, will then be equally ready to blaze out in your own case, and that because the layman is as much a clergyman to the world as the clergyman is to the church; and you will be more than ever “a peculiar people," and more than ever on the watch against all that is forbidden by the Gospel of Christ. There could not be the moneygrasping, the dishonourable trick, the fraudulent dealing, the pride, the licentiousness, which it is impossible to overlook in a professedly Christian community, if the members of that community regarded their households, and their counting-houses, and their shops, as so many churches in which they had sacred functions to perform, and kept always in mind that a heathen may offend merely as a man, but the Christian must offend as a priest.
And we yet further think, that if you were to regard yourselves as the ordained priests of God, you could not be indolent with respect to any enterprise of Christian philanthropy. We now remind you, from the statement of our text, that you have been appointed to the priesthood on purpose that you may "show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light." And is it not to show forth these praises, to diffuse the knowledge of redemption, that mighty scheme by which
every divine attribute is magnified, and every human want satisfied? If ye be priests, the priests of Christianity, for what end can you have been consecrated, if not that you may disseminate the religion which you have embraced as the true? If it be my part, as a priest to the Christian church, to labour at instructing the ignorant, and confirming the wavering, in the mysteries of our faith; it must be your part, as priests to the world, to labour at providing the means of instruction for the neglected and destitute. It is therefore to men invested with the priestly office, and pledged, by that office, to the devoting themselves and their substance to the great work of propagating Christianity, that we address our appeal on the present occasion. Members of "a royal priesthood," ye must be ready to arise at our summons, and aid in rearing a church in which the Gospel may be preached, and the sacraments administered. There are hundreds perishing around you-perishing through lack of that very bread of life which you have been ordained to distribute. Priests of the living God, can you throw your vows to the wind, and make no effort at rescuing those whose blood will be required at your hands? It is not possible that a clearer case should be made out than that of the necessity for another church in this parish. Eminently favoured as the parish is in being the scene of most active and zealous ministration, its church accommodation is, nevertheless, far below the demand. With a population of more than eight thousand, it has church-room for only fifteen hundred; so that there are thousands who have no access to the house of God, and who can scarcely, therefore, in the least degree, be brought under pastoral superintendence. And of this multitude, there is the strongest ground for believing, that a very large proportion would be ready at once, if opportunity were offered, to attend the ordinances of religion. At all events, we can be quite certain, that if a church were built in the midst of them, and an active servant of God placed as its minister, there would be a speedy thronging up to the sanctuary of the now half-heathen population, and a rapid regeneration would pervade many wild and destitute families. We speak of this as certain, because the experiment has often been made, and never made but with success. Our land has become covered with masses of profligate men, just because, unhappily, our system of parochial ministration kept not pace with the augmenting population: there were no means of grace provided for the teeming crowds; and what marvel if they sunk deep in ignorance and vice? But in the very proportion that parochial ministrations have been made
commensurate with the moral wants of a district, has that district risen in virtue and respectability. So that we can confidently say of many of our metropolitan parishes, that they have become the homes of order, of industry, and of loyalty, in the exact degree that they have been more brought under ministerial care; as though the churches which have been built have hallowed their labours, and been the ministers of civilization by being the rallying points of Christianity.
And what we now earnestly entreat of you is, that you will contribute liberally and cheerfully towards making this always successful experiment, in the parish of St. Bride. There is nothing needed but your liberality: the land will be granted, the Church Commissioners will meet a large part of the expenditure, but only on condition that you come forward with sufficient subscriptions to ensure the completion of the work. I know not what more to say to you. I speak to you as members of the Established Church-that church which is said to be in danger, though I believe it not; for threatening has but strengthened the devotedness of her sons. Never was that church more efficient, never more laborious; and I have no fears for what I know to be apostolical in constitution, when I can sce (thanks to God!) that it is increasingly apostolical in practice. I call on you, as members of this church, to throw up around her another rampart. Every temple that is built is like a new wall. Give us temples enough in which to minister, and we ask no other bulwark against infidelity, or popery, or dissent.
Thus, by such an appeal as the present, we bring to a touchstone your professed attachment to the Established church. We cannot be satisfied with such a demonstration as may be given at "Conservative Meetings," where resolutions are passed breathing the warmest zeal on behalf of the church. There is a vast deal of support now tendered to the church, the motives of which are purely political, and not at all religious. Men who can scarcely be said to have at heart the interests of Christianity, are shrewd enough to perceive that if in any hour of infatuation, or of dark and desperate policy, the legislature of this country should renounce its connexion with the Established Church, there would be in consequence such an undermining of the foundation of good order and genuine civil liberty, that it would be doubtful whether the dislocated system would ever again settle into strength and security. Therefore are many pressing forward in defence of the church, whose anxiety to sustain her is not the anxiety produced by the consciousness that the church
is God's great instrument for reclaiming the moral wilderness, and that to increase her efficiency is to save many souls from death. This is the consciousness with which we trust you are fraught; for we speak to you as the priests, sworn, as it were, on the altar of Christianity. Baptized with its waters, and bearing its banners, come forth to the help of the Lord against the mighty. The summons is not mine. I do but echo to you the cry of thousands suffering the consequences of long and cruel neglect, and who now wait the advance of the priesthood of the Lord, to bring them the blessings of the Gospel of Christ. They shall not wait in vain; I feel that I speak to those whose souls are stirred by the summons, and who are already resolved that, to the full of their ability, they will contribute to the erection of the church. Already I see that church arising; I hear many of those who are now the profligate and the ignorant, blessing God that he ever put it into the hearts of his priests to provide them a sanctuary and a teacher. I hear the old and the young-the healthful in their occupations, the dying in their struggles-invoking a rich recompense on the liberal men who compassionated their destitution and resolved that it should end. Is there -O there cannot be-the individual amongst you, who will refuse to take part in a work for which the call is so urgent, and of which the reward is so great? All will give liberally and cheerfully, not as though it were an ordinary charity sermon for a school or a dispensary, but proportionably to the magnitude of the undertaking. Remember as you give that you are giving to provide means of Christian instruction for hundreds now living, and for thousands yet unborn; and then give in scant measure if you can.
And finally, we again address you as "a royal priesthood," trusting that there are many of you who feel that they have undertaken the priestly office, and will endeavour to honour God by its due discharge. Persevere, beloved brethren, in your holy ministrations; continue to offer up yourselves a living sacrifice, to preach to the world with the beautiful eloquence of a righteous life, and to waft towards heaven the fragrant incense of your prayer and your praise. You shall soon enter within the veil; and there, in the presence of the great Minister of the sanctuary, discharge a loftier priesthood, and walk a nobler temple. You shall be kings and priests for ever and ever: kings, seeing that those who suffer with Christ here, are to reign with him hereafter; priests, inasmuch as you shall not rest day nor night, presenting the oblations of your thankfulness, and proclaiming the worthiness of the Lamb to all orders of intelligences.