Page images

their use or interest ; for. they supply lessons both of warning and instruction. They warn us of the guilt and danger of allowing new Settlements to be planted without any adequate provision for their spiritual wants; and they teach us that the fellowship of the Church is the strongest tie between the Mother Country and her Colonies. At all events, they will not have been collected in vain, if they direct the attention of any to the exceeding importance of laying well the foundation of future empires, by basing it on the unchanging principles of Christian faith and holiness.

Such principles, deeply impressed upon the minds of the first Colonists in a new country, will be transmitted to successive generations; and it is only necessary to remember how rapidly population increases in a young Settlement, to give to this consideration all the weight that it deserves.

At the time when the Church established its first Mission on the shores of New England in 1702, the total population of the North American Colonies


be computed at 250,000—at the Declaration of Independence it was about 3,000,000—it amounts now to 17,000,000; and should the same ratio of increase continue (of which there seems no reason to doubt) it will, in one more century, be between two and three hundred millions, who will all, more or less, bear the impression which has been stamped upon them by their fathers, the founders of the several Colonies.

1 Sce page 23.

Whatever be cast into the soil of a new country, be it good seed or tares, will take root, and spring up with an abundant barvest; and this is a truth which no country was ever so bound to understand and act upon as England. Our Colonies in every part of the world are fast growing into great nations; and upon ourselves—the Church and realm of England—it depends to mould their institutions, and fix their principles. Happily the members of our Church are daily becoming more alive to this great responsibility. They see, in the diffusion of our language, the extension of our commerce, the vastness of our Colonial empire, and the wonderful facilities for reaching the most distant parts of it, a Providential call to avail themselves of such unexampled opportunities for the furtherance of the Gospel. The more thoughtful, surely, must see in the fact that all this power and influence have been given to England, rather than to Italy, or France, or Spain, an indication of God's gracious purpose to make the Church of this country a chosen instrument for bringing Heathen nations within the fold of His blessed Son. May He who hath so freely bestowed these talents, give to our Church and nation the grace to use them as a wise and faithful steward !

The following “ Notices ” will show that the Church of England was not barren of good works during the last century. In many a lone settlement on the Continent and in the Islands of America, she had the


privilege of being the first to plant the Cross of Christ ; nor has she any cause to be ashamed of the roll of her Missionary names. Not to mention Hunt and WHITAKER, of whom little is known but their high purpose and devoted zeal, the memory of THOMAS BRAY must ever be had in honour.

He freely devoted himself and his fortune to the promotion of God's glory, and seldom has any one been privileged to perform services more extensive or more lasting. The name of BERKELEY is second to none in the honoured list of Missionaries. In natural endow. ments, and in the accomplishments of science and literature, he stands pre-eminent, and few have ever given up so much to follow their Heavenly Master. Though all must lament that his noble designs were frustrated, none will be disposed to ask, “For what purpose was this waste ?” save those who are incapable of appreciating the high moral importance of such an example as that of Bishop Berkeley.

The Church that can boast many such must have a well-filled quiver ; but the reader will not fail to recognise in Keith, and Talbot, and Johnson, in CLEMENT Hall and John Beach, in Bishops SEABURY and Inglis, many of the same qualifications which have distinguished the devoted servants of God in every age of the Gospel. The early Missionaries in North America laboured single-handed amid manifold difficulties, and did all that men so situated could accomplish. In later times, the Church in the Colonies has

obtained a more perfect organization, while the resources of the mother country have been largely increased. As, therefore, more has been given, more will be required than in times past. In every direction there is a cry for help. Not only are thousands of our poorest countrymen in the Colonies destitute of the means of grace, and entire Provinces without the blessing of Episcopal government, but multitudes of the Heathen in our vast Indian empire are, by manifest tokens, showing a readiness to learn the way of God more perfectly.

Here, then, is a work of surpassing importance committed to the hands of our Church ; and, may we not reverently conjecture, committed to her as being the most faithful depository of revealed truth? It is surely no undiscerning partiality to regard our own mother Church of England as occupying a position of advantage, both for the defence and for the propagation of the Gospel. In the old world it may probably, ere long, become an ark of safety for those who can find no sure footing amid the developments of a subtle theology and the pretensions of unauthorized human systems. Assuredly, too, the same Church is specially called to impart the gifts she has received—her pure doctrine and her Apostolic ordinances—to Heathen lands and newly-settled Colonies. To this call she is becoming daily more awake; and the following “Notices” have been compiled, not without the hope that the record of what was done in one department


of Missionary labour by our forefathers, may help to arouse us to more zealous and combined efforts.

It is right to say, that a large portion of the present Volume has already appeared in the pages of the “British Magazine," from which it was regularly adopted into two, if not more, of the ablest and most influential Journals of North America. Much, however, has been since added, and the whole has been arranged in more convenient order. Without making any idle apologies for the faults and imperfections which may be found either in the plan or in the execution of the work, the author desires simply to state in explanation, that his book was written not to supersede any other work on the subject, but because no other existed. The “ Historical Account of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel,” by Dr. Humphreys, contains indeed a useful summary of the operations of the Missionaries in the North American Colonies during the early part of the last century; but there the history ends. A valuable compilation of a different kind, consisting principally of extracts from the Anniversary Sermons preached before the same Society, and arranged under appropriate heads, was published in 1819, under the title of “ Propaganda," and contributed to make the past and then present condition of the Church in the Colonies better known. This Work is the more deserving of honourable mention as

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

1 - The Church " newspaper, Cobourg, Canada West; and the “ Banner of the Cross," New York.

« PreviousContinue »