The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online


Delivered at the Anniversary Meeting of the
Gloucestershire Auxiliary Society

       At a time like this, perhaps, when the Infidel is abroad and the
Atheist and Disbeliever triumph in their blasphemy, it behooves the humblest
Christian to range himself beneath the banners of his faith, and attest, even by his
martyrdom, the sincerity of his allegiance - (Great applause.) -

       When I consider the source whence Christianity has sprung, the
humility of its origin, the poverty of its disciples, the miracles of its creation,
the mighty way it has acquired, not only over the civilized world, but which
your missions are hourly extending over lawless, mindless, and imbruted regions;
I own the awful presence of the Godhead;  nothing less than a Divinity could
have done it !

       The powers, the prejudices, the superstitions of the earth were all in
arms against it; it had nor sword, nor sceptre; its founder was in rags, its
apostles were lowly fishermen, its inspired prophets poor and uneducated; its
cradle was a manger, its home a dungeon, its earthly diadem a crown of thorns
! And yet, forth it went, - that lowly, humble, persecuted spirit, - and the
idols of the heathen fell, and the thrones of the mighty trembled, and Paganism
saw her peasants and her princes kneel down and worship the unarmed conqueror

(This admirable portrait of the Divine spirit and attributes of Christianity
was hailed with the most enthusiastic peals of approbation.)

       If this be not the work of the Divinity, then I yield to the reptile
ambition of the Atheist. I see no God above, I see no Government below; and I
yield my consciousness of an immortal soul to his boasted fraternity with the
worm that perishes !

       But, Sir, even when I thus concede to him the Divine origin of our
Christian faith, I arrest him upon worldly principles. I desire him to produce
from all the wisdom of the earth so pure a system of practical morality, a code
of ethics more sublime in its conception, more simple in its means, more happy
and more powerful in its operation: and if he cannot do so. I then say to
him, "Oh! in the name of your own darling policy, filch not its guide from youth,
its shield from manhood, and its crutch from age. (Applause.)

       Though the light I follow may lead me astray, still I think that it is
light from Heaven ! The good, the great, and wise, are my companions; my
delightful hope is harmless, if not holy, and wake me not to a disappointment
which in your tomb of annihilation I shall not taste hereafter !

       To propagate the sacred creed, to teach the ignorant, to enrich the
poor, to illume this world with the splendours of the next, to make men happy
you have never seen, and redeem millions you never know, you have sent your
hallowed missionaries forward, and never did a holier vision rise than that of
this celestial glorious embassy. - (Applause) - Methinks I see the band of
willing exiles, bidding farewell, perhaps for ever, to their native country;
foregoing home, and friends and luxury, to tempt the savage sea, or men more savage
than the raging element; to dare the Polar tempest and the tropic fire, and
often doomed by the forfeit of their lives to give their precepts a proof and a
expiation. - (Applause.) -

       It is quite delightful to read over their Reports, and see the blessed
product of their labours. They leave no clime unvisited, no peril
unencountered. In the South Sea Islands they found the population almost eradicated by
the murders of idolatry. "It was God Almighty," says the Royal convert "who sent
your mission to the remainder of my people!" I do not wish to shock your
Christian ears with the cruelties from which you have redeemed these islands. 
Will you believe it, that they had been educated in such cannibal ferocity as to
excavate the earth, and form an oven of burning stones, into which they
literally threw their living infants, and gorged their infernal appetites with the
flesh. Will you believe it,  that they thought murder grateful to the God of
Mercy, and the blood of their creatures as the best libation ! In nine of these
islands these abominations are extinct, infanticide is abolished, their
prisoners are exchanged, society is now cemented by the bond of brotherhood, and the
accursed shrines that streamed with human gore and blazed with human unction,
now echo the song of peace and the sweet strains of piety.

       In India, too, where providence for some especial purpose, permits
these little insular specks to hold above one hundred millions in subjection, a
phenomenon scarcely to be paralleled in history, the spell of Brahma is
dissolving, the chains of the chaste are falling off, the wheels of Juggernaut are
scare ensanguined, the horrid custom of self immolation is daily disappearing,
and the sacred stream of Jordan mingles with the Ganges. - (Great applause) -
Even the rude soldier, mid the din of arms and the license of the camp, makes
(says your missionary) "the bible the inmate of his knapsack and the companion
of his pillow." Such has been the success of your missions in that country,
that one of your own Judges has publicly avowed that those who left India some
years hence can form no just estimate of what not exists there.

       Turn from these lands to that of Africa, a name I can now mention
without horror. In sixteen of their towns and many of their islands we see the sun
of Christianity arising, and as it rises, the whole spectral train of
superstition vanishing in air. Agriculture and civilization are busy in the desert,
and the poor Hottentot, kneeling at the altar, implores his God to remember not
the Slave Trade. - (Applause) -

       If any thing Sir, could add to the satisfaction that I feel, it is the
consciousness that knowledge and Christianity are advancing hand in hand, and
that where ever I see your Missionaries journeying, I see schools rising up,
as it were the landmark of their progress. And who can tell what the
consequences of this may be, in after ages? Who can tell whether these remote regions
may not, hereafter, become the rivals of European improvement? Who shall place
a ban upon the intellect derived from the Almighty? Who shall say that the
future poet shall not fascinate the wilds, and that the philosopher and the
statesman shall not repose together beneath the shadow of their palm trees? This
may be visionary, but surely, in a moral point of view, the advantages of
education are not visionary !

       (A long and continued burst of applause followed this passage, which
prevented the detailing of some most excellent remarks on the advantages of the
cultivation of the human mind.)

       These, Sir, the propagation of the Gospel, the advancement of Science
and of industry, the perfection of the arts, the diffusion of knowledge, the
happiness of mankind here and hereafter, these are the blessed objects of your
Missionaries; and, compared with these, all human ambition sinks into the
dust; the ensunguined  chariot of the conqueror pauses, the sceptre falls from the
imperial grasp, the blossom withers even on the patriot's garland. But deeds
like these require no panegyric: in the words of that dear friend, whose name
can never die, - (in this allusion to his lamented friend, CURRAN, Mr.
PHILLIPS's feelings were evidently much affected.) - "they are recorded in the heart
from whence they sprung, and in the hour of adverse vicissitude, if ever it
should arrive, sweet will be the odour of their memory, and precious the balm of
their consolation.

       Before I sit down Sir, I must take the liberty of saying that the
principle objection which I have heard raised against your institution is with the
principle motive of my admiration. I allude, Sir, to the diffusive principles
on which it is founded. I have seen too much, Sir, of sectarian bigotry: as a
man, I abhor it; as a Christian, I blush at it: it is not only degrading to
the religion that employs even the shadow of intolerance, but it is an impious
despotism in the government that countenances it; these are my opinions, and I
will not supress them. Our religion has its various denominations but they
are all struggling to the same mansion, though by different avenues; and when I
meet them on their way, I care not whether they be Protestant or Presbyterian,
Dissenter or Catholic, I know them as Christians, and I will embrace them as
my Brethren.

(This noble and liberal sentiment was received with the warmest burst of
heartfelt sympathy and delight.)

       I hail, then, the foundation of such a society as this; I hail it in
many respects, as an happy omen. I hail it as a nugury of that coming day, when
the bright bow of Christianity, commencing in the heavens and encompassing
the earth, shall include the children of every clime and colour beneath the arch
of its promise and the glory of its protection. - (Applause) -

(After Mr. PHILLIPS sat down the cheering continued for some time.)