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they expected—that is to say, because the Scriptures have not done that which they never were, but which the Church was, designed to do—and which it does accordingly. Others, meantime, are walking in serious error, and perhaps in the habitual neglect of appointed means of grace, from the same independent study of the Scriptures, and the consequent loss of those advantages by which the Scriptures were designed to be accompanied. Hence again, (for these truths affect both the edification of Christians and the extension of Christianity,) hence arise some of those partial and ill-concerted efforts to spread Christianity abroad, which as they are unauthorized by the Church as a society, so do they in effect impede her exertions, and retard the extension of the Gospel. Hence also in particular, the sacrifice of that important vantage ground which the members of the Church of England never should forego in their charitable efforts to reclaim their Romanist brethren. The Romanist should never be called upon “ to come out” of the Church of Rome, as if it mattered not into what Church he entered, or whether into none at all; as if we did not acknowledge equally with himself the important tenet that Christ did not merely teach a religion, or a system of rules and princi. ples, or dictate a book to guide his disciples, but instituted a society, a society animated like one body by one spirit, and of which every individual disciple of Christ must form a component part. Nay in this country of England the Romanist should be taught that he is in truth but a dissenter from the one established Church of Christ in this nation, to which his fathers once belonged although in error, and to which we still belong having removed those errors.
2. There is then no little need, my brethren, that we should diligently teach these truths at the present day. Or will this be merely to“ magnify our office?”—So far from it, we shall not in effect inculcate the whole truth, unless we sedulously inculcate also the specific duties which it implies on the part of the Christian layman.
By“ the Christian Church” is not intended only " the ministers of the Gospel.” Neither has Christianity any esoteric doctrines, any mysteries into which the layman is not to be initiated. The sacred Scriptures are the common treasure of the clergy and of the laity. But the laity have somewhat more to do than merely to study them for their private edification, or merely to offer up their fervent prayers for the divine blessing upon the ministry of the word by the authorized public instructors of the flock of Christ. These
are their bounden duties beyond question ; but they have others besides. Freely let them give what they have received freely. Nay, and they must impart of the blessings which they have received to those whom Providence has committed to their care, or they will neglect an imperative duty. Public authoritative teaching is not indeed within the layman's province. But domestic teaching, within the bosom of his own family, is the distinct and most important province of every Christian parent, master, teacher, guardian, householder. To introduce the young to the knowledge of Christian truth might almost be called their peculiar province. To prepare their little flocks for the better reception of parochial instruction is in an especial manner their duty also. And every parochial minister knows well how greatly the fruits of his labours would be increased were these sacred duties of Christian fathers, mothers, masters and mistresses of families duly appreciated and discharged.
3. Yet from nothing that has been said must it be for one moment inferred that I would detract from the peculiar awfulness and importance of the sacred office, in this department of his duty, of the Christian minister. “The things
that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” The precept of the Apostle has been obeyed : and the continual succession of the Christian ministry has been preserved in one unbroken chain from the first age of Christianity down to our own. And the ministers of Christ are in a peculiar manner called upon to fight the Lord's battles, armed with “ the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” It is their especial duty to “ preach the word; to be instant in season and out of season”—to teach, and explain, and recommend, and imprint the sacred truths which they collect by diligent study from the holy Scriptures.
Nay, and if their office had not the express sanction of apostolic practice and divine institution, the need of such an office for this very end would have been felt by all considerate Christians. The wants and infirmities of man no less clearly demonstrate the need of the office, than the very form of the Scriptures implies it. As every day is holy to the Christian, yet to hallow the Lord's day in an especial manner is absolutely necessary to all, so is it necessary, although the study of the Scriptures is the bounden duty of all Christians, that one order of Christians should be
especially devoted to this study for the common good of all. Without this aid it may be feared few would read the Scriptures if they could understand them, and fewer still perhaps would understand if they would read them.
But the spiritual wants and deficiencies of men are from their very nature the last which they discover for themselves. We must recommend our services therefore. Their utility must be felt. And felt and appreciated it will be if we strenuously labour to fulfil our vows—if by constant prayer and study united we acquire a knowledge of the Scriptures at once exact and comprehensive, and, like faithful stewards, “ bring forth out of our treasure things new and old”—preaching and expounding the word in our public discourses, not partially, inconsistently, and without method, but fully, and completely, and systematically, in accordance with that wonderful method by which“ at sundry times and in divers manners” the successive dispensations of religion have been disclosed—and, again, in our daily and private ministrations, bringing the Scriptures home to the bosoms of all men, whether for direction or warning, correction or reproof, encouragement or consolation-and, lastly, shewing forth the genuine fruits of religious knowledge, and recommending the Scriptures by our lives. I would even take