Page images

that this Society should go forward with young blood and new life in its operations, in the midst of those other benevolent and religious institutions by which it is surrounded. From that excellent institution which met yesterday, the Bible Society, we come here to-day, to show, that while we cordially unite with others of every denomination and confession, we still feel attached to those prayers and formularies, and that paternal discipline of our excellent church, which we have bound ourselves to observe. I remember, Sir, an observation once made to me by an excellent French Protestant clergyman" I wish we had your Liturgy and Prayer-Book, and something like your platform of ecclesiastical discipline, among our Reformed Churches." His opinion was, that if the Reformed Churches in France had established at first an ecclesiastical system on the Episcopal model, there was every reason to believe that the whole, or the greater part of France, would have now been Protestant. When Henry the Fourth was on the throne, there was, perhaps, a third of France Protestants, and there was the most happy prospect of the diffusion of the Reformation in that country. It is, however, pleasing to know, that attempts are now making in different parts, to establish something of the kind; at Neufchatel they have adopted a Liturgy exactly simi

lar to the Liturgy of the Church of England, and nearly taken from it.

I find, Sir, as I grow older myself, and observe the progress of opinion in my elder brethren, that the farther we advance in life the more we love the doctrines and forms of our Church. But our attachment is not that cold and blind attachment which would prevent us from joining with other Christians, on points where we agree-as, for example, in the British and Foreign Bible Society: such an attachment to the Church I disapprove of from the bottom of my heart; and I am perfectly persuaded in my own mind, that that sort of regard to any church is the surest way to withdraw from it the favour of God and the good-will of man. But an enlightened and firm adherence to the Church, I most deeply feel. I find I can repose upon her scriptural forms of piety; I can fall back upon them; they assist and élevate my devotion: and those Christians under my ministry are the most fruitful, and the most humble, who are the most contented with our services; while those who are dissatisfied with the Prayer-Book, complain next of the sermon, then of the minister; and thus overturn and unsettle the great springs of piety, and the prevalence of holy feelings in the soul.

I shall never forget one circumstance, which has raised my esteem of our Prayer-Book, and

which lately occurred in the dying hours of my venerable friend and father in the Gospel, the Rev. T. Scott. During five weeks of suffering, from the violence of the fever which terminated his life, there was one expression he was frequently repeating, which occurs in our Burial Service: "Suffer me not in my last hour, for any pains of death, to fall from thee." One of his sons observed, "I never thought of that petition so much before; but it now has become greatly endeared to me; and the circumstance has made me admire, more than ever, that excellent book in which it is found, and its adaptation to the condition and trials of the servants of God in all the circumstances in which they may be found."

To conclude, Sir, my prayer for you all shall be, as well as for myself, that while the Bible, and the Bible only, is the foundation of our hope, we may live and die in the temper and spirit of our Reformers; and that, in the last struggle of nature, we may none of us" for any pains of death fall from God."

ADDRESS at the Tenth Anniversary of the PRAYER-BOOK and HOMILY SOCIETY, Thursday, May 2, 1822.



I OBEY the call of my friends around in rising to move, that the Report which you have heard, should be printed under the direction of the Committee; and I think I shall anticipate the general feeling of this meeting when I say, that every attempt to give circulation to a Report so much surpassing any reasonable expectation that could have been formed, must be calculated to serve the best interests of this Society, and to promote pure and undefiled religion in our Church. Surely, my Lord, this Society can no longer be considered as a small institution. We have been accustomed in former years to fear, lest our Anniversary should be unable to call up those powerful emotions of the heart, which the larger and more extensive institutions had awakened. But the Report now read assures me, that this Society will

[blocks in formation]

quickly claim its fair proportion of regard in the breasts of the members of our Church. For if we consider that the life and vigour of all our great institutions for the circulation of the Holy Scriptures, the Propagation of the Gospel, and Missions, depend on the personal Christian piety, the perpetual love, purity, self-caution, zeal, and holiness, which pervade the members of them—and that if these principles decay, all such Societies will fall prostrate and lose the divine blessing; we shall see that a meeting like the present, for nourishing in our own hearts the spirit of our Reformation, and diffusing the Prayer-Book and Homilies of our martyrs and first founders, is feeding the source whence all charity flows.

And indeed, my Lord, it seems to me to be an extraordinary commendation of this Society, that it is the ONLY ONE IN THIS EMPIRE, WHICH CONFINES ITSELF TO THE CIRCULATION OF THE

AUTHORIZED FORMULARIES OF OUR CHURCH. Other much older and more venerable Societies, embrace this object in connection with others. But this is the only Institution, which exclusively circulates the Formularies of the Church of England. And need I remind your Lordship and this meeting of the great importance of incessantly referring to all these original documents? Need I say that in the infirmity of our present state, there may arise new and various

« PreviousContinue »