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and fulfil the promise—“ The sons of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet, and they shall call thee the city of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel."
1 Is. lx. 14.
THE MEASURE OF LIBERALITY AND SELF-DENIAL, DEMANDED
BY THE PRINCIPLES OF THE GOSPEL.
So great are the blessings which may reasonably be expected from the complete restoration of our parochial system, that we must prepare ourselves to hear men stigmatize the project itself as visionary and utopian. It is thus that we often reconcile ourselves to leave a great and good work unattempted. We acknowledge its greatness, not that we may gather to it all our force, but that we may discharge ourselves from the necessity of making an effort. And we must expect accordingly that men will reply to the proposals contained in the last section, that great blessings indeed might be expected if our whole land were divided into parishes of a moderate size, and if every such parish were provided with its church and its resident minister, and with the necessary institutions for the education of the young, the instruction of the ignorant, and the relief of the poor; but that, as it is hopeless that such provision should ever be made, we must content ourselves with other expedients.
They will admit that some new churches ought to be built, that some enormous parishes ought to be divided, but they will denounce it as visionary, to propose operations so vast as are requisite for the full developement of the parochial system; and therefore they have recourse to other measures more or less beneficial and expedient, but which must ever be wholly insufficient to remedy the evil.
And is this really the case ? Is it hopeless that we should carry out a series of measures which would secure a blessing, and must we content ourselves to abandon the mass of our city population to the powers of darkness, and seek only to snatch from them one here and another there? God forbid! It were indeed visionary to imagine that by any measures we could provide that all men should with a true and sincere zeal discharge their several duties. No system will make every Christian or every Clergyman a man of faith and prayer, of self-denial and patient obedience; for the evil ever were and ever will be “mingled with the good,” until the coming of the Lord to judgment. But although men will ever remain fallen and inconsistent, and in every branch of the Church there will be many unworthy members, it is possible that systems may be ever approximating towards perfection; and the attempt to bring them continually nearer to it, instead of being visionary or utopian, results from a wise practical sense of
human frailty and imperfection. If men were such as they should be, we might take less pains in regulating things by the best systems. Were every man endued with those wonderful powers of calculation which have occasionally existed, systems of arithmetic would be almost superseded; and so too were every minister of the Gospel a Paul or an Apollos, rules and superintendence might perhaps be dispensed with; or, were all supplied with prodigious animal strength and energy, we might leave our parishes much larger than has been proposed, and trust that they would receive all necessary care and attention. But it is because men are what they. are; because the spirit itself is bowed down with infirmity, and liable to the temptations of humanity, to remissness and weariness and faintings; and because even where the spirit is willing the flesh is weak; that we are of necessity compelled so to order matters as no longer to impose upon them an amount of labour, which their moral and physical powers are alike unable to support.
And why should we despair of effecting so necessary a work?
Is it that men will not labour for the good of their brethren? No; for in every quarter of our land energy is displayed in abundance, whenever a work of charity calls it forth. Is it that they are unwilling to conform their labours to the rules of the Church, and to carry out and realize the parochial system? Rather, when fairly appealed to, the laity have
been found eager to take their proper place, as assistants to the ministers of God's word, in their blessed work. What then is the hopeless obstacle? It is the expense. And yet it is not that we want wealth amply sufficient; for herein God has blessed us beyond the example of any former age. It is, that (in the opinion of the objectors) men will not give what is required, though they have it. It is admitted that thousands, yea hundreds of thousands of our countrymen are perishing around us--men united to us by every tie, who speak the same language, are sprung from the same ancestors, many of whom have actually fought with us and for us against our common enemy-who live under the same laws with ourselves, and are liable to punishment if they invade our security or property, whose labour we are daily using for our necessities, our comforts, our luxuries, “ without whom our cities could not be inhabited." These men are perishing for ever on every side; we acknowledge that the evil admits of a remedy, that the remedy is in our own power : and shall we indeed think it visionary to hope that it will be applied ?. The question is (in a few words) whether or not we will be a Christian land-whether we will give up part of our money for the cause of Christ, or will give up Christ for our money. God and Mammon we cannot serve. Long ago we were warned of the impossibility; and now the choice is offered to us whom we will serve;