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fore, brethren, be persuaded to be fellow-helpers to the truth.
And if you are thus disposed, I am satisfied you will give me a patient, I should rather say, a cheerful hearing, whilst I lay before you a general account of that excellent institution, which I am desired now to recommend to your pious and charitable regards; I mean, that of the Incorporated Society for propagating Christian Knowledge, and promoting the arts of eivil life, in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.
This society has existed for near a century past : during which time its pious views have, indeed, been extended to fo reign parts, encouraged by the liberal donations of some worthy persons deceased. Nor have their endeavours thus directed failed of success, as appears by the accounts they have received from abroad. But the principal object of the society, is the civilization and instruction of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. And whoever considers the large extent of country under that description, the number of its inhabitants, their gross ignorance, and wretched poverty; and, what deserves particular attention, the unwearied endeavours of the emissaries of Rome to revive and promote the Popish interest among them: who ever, I say, considers these things, must acknowledge the great utility of this object to the Public in general, as well as to individuals.
The society are empowered by two Royal Charters to erect schools where they shall judge proper, for teaching children to read; and, particularly, for teaching them the English language, where hitherto the Erse has prevailed; for forming their morals, and instructing them in the principles of the Christian religion; and for bringing them up to husbandry, manufactures, or other useful trades. There are near eight thousand children of both sexes educated in these schools : and, to the honour of this respectable Society, I must observe, that they are not only concerned to have it in their power to support these schools, but are unwearied in their endeavours, by every prudent regulation and precaution, to prevent the abuse of them, and to render them effectual to the important ends proposed.
And they have had the happiness of seeing the success of their endeavours; for, with the blessing of God, the thick mists
of ignorance, which formerly overspread these parts, are not in some good measure dispelled, and the desirable fruits of industry and humanity begin to take place of that wretched indolence and barbarism, which had for many years disgraced the Highlands. To which it must be added, that these improvements have had a happy effect to weaken the force, if not entirely root out, those slavish principles, and those predilections in favour of a Popish pretender, which have once and again threatened the existence of our excellent constitution, and the extirpation of the Protestant succession in the illustrious house of Brunswick.--An object to which, it is apprehended, this well directed charity hath more largely and effectually contributed, than even those wise and salutary laws, which were enaeted at the close of the last rebellion, for abolishing their feudal tonures and hereditary jurisdictions.
But the advantage which has arisen from this charity to individuals, in regard of their spiritual and everlasting interests, is the best recommendation of this important institution, and the noblest reward of the unwearied pains which the Society have been at in the management of it. It may be truly affirmed of them, “ that they have been helpers to the truth.”
But, successful as the Society have been in their attempts to compass these great ends, and large as the donations have been which they have from time to time received, there remains yet a great deal to be done, and which cannot be effected without farther assistance. The advocates, I must again repeat it, of that most enormous and pernicious corruption of the Christian religion, Popery, are very numerous and indefatigable in those parts. Whoever reads over the account of the Society with attention, will be surprised to find what efforts those determined enemies of the truth use to counteract the design of this institution a. This consideration therefore will I hope, have its effect, in concurrence with those motives I have so largely insisted on in this discourse, to dispose you to a cheerful and liberal contribution on this occasion.
a There are in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, about twenty thousand Papists. They have two regularly established seminaries of learning. In one parish (South Uist) there are near three thousand people, about three hundred of whom only are Protestants.
Let me beseech you then, by your regard to order and subjection among mankind, which is of such importance to the good of society--by your love of civil and religious liberty—by your affection to the house of Hanover, and our excellent constitution-by your tender compassion for the immortal souls of men—and, especially, by the gratitude you feel to our Lord Jesus Christ, who has laid the foundation of the gospel in his most precious blood ; let me beseech you to assist in every way you are able this great and good design. And, as you will feel a real pleasure in becoming “ fellow-helpers" with this respectable Society to the Truth; so I have no doubt, that what you thus do faithfully to the brethren and to strangers, who will bear witness of your charity a, will not fail of meeting an ample reward in the great day of the Lord.
a 3 Juhn v. 6.
NATIONAL CALAMITIES THE EFFECT OF DIVINE DIS
PREACHED ON OCCASION OF
THE GENERAL FAST,
FEBRUARY 21st, 1781.