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Title: A Sermon preached at Christ Church, Kensington, on May 1, 1859
Author: Wright, William Aldis
Language: English
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Transcribed from the 1859 Rivingtons edition by David Price.

                                 A SERMON

                               PREACHED AT

                        CHRIST CHURCH, KENSINGTON,

                             On May 1, 1859,

                      THANKSGIVING TO ALMIGHTY GOD,

                       MAJESTY’S INDIAN DOMINIONS.

                                * * * * *

                                  BY THE

                        REV.  WILLIAM WRIGHT, M.A.

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                       RIVINGTONS, WATERLOO PLACE.

                                  * * * * *

                            2 SAMUEL viii. 14, 15.




AS an aggregate of individuals professing faith in Christ, we, the people
of Great Britain, may with truth and reason venture to assert that our
Queen and our Legislature are on a footing, as to God’s protecting care,
with highly favoured and heaven-honoured David of old.  If Almighty God,
under his earlier revelation, did actually guard and help in temporal
matters a ruling prince of this lower world, who was a man “after his own
heart”—as David’s plainly-told history everywhere assures us that He
did—none can reasonably say that it is either impossible or improbable
that He should vouchsafe to guard and help our presiding Monarch and our
law-giving Senate in the administration of public affairs, baptized as
they are “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
Ghost;” educated as they are in the very details of his later and last
revelation; and supposed, pledged, and believed as they are to be seeking
_individually_ after the mind which is in Christ, and the sanctifying
influence of the Holy Spirit of God.  All, indeed, must at once see, and
grant as a foregone conclusion from which there is no appeal, that our
monarchical and representative government, being _essentially_ and
_generally Christian_—being so in spite of the Judaism, vice, and
infidelity which may be discerned in it, and which in no way interfere
with our present argument—is, by virtue of its admitted and
preponderating Christianity, brought under the immediate guardianship and
protection of the Most High.

Such being the case, or since we believe such to be the case, we most
naturally, and, I may add most consistently, pray for the “High Court of
Parliament” which assembles from time to time “under our most religious
and gracious Queen.”  Our prayer in this matter is as simple as it is
beautiful.  A prayer is it which none who are in the habit of praying at
all for others can possibly object to.  It simply asks of God that He
would “be pleased to direct and prosper all their consultations to the
advancement of his glory, the good of his church, the safety, honour, and
welfare of our Sovereign and her dominions.”

Often and often, let me trust, have we loyally and faithfully prayed
after this most becoming and time-hallowed fashion.  Especially, most
especially, let me also trust, did we do so—I feel confident that we did,
if our hearts were not steeled against every patriotic impression—some
two years ago, in this very place, as also in the still larger chamber of
a thoughtful spirit,—at a time which all must well remember,—a time of
deep national distress and heaviness of heart into which, under God’s
fearful and probationary providence, we as a people were cast headlong
and unawares by the event of an Eastern mutiny.  Recall the occasion
referred to.  By so doing we shall be reminded of the great need there
then was for prayer for help, and of the petition we then put up, and so
be enabled to appreciate more livingly and heartily the answer which God
has given us this day in the blessing of peace and restoration of
“tranquillity in her Majesty’s Indian dominions.”  Let memory’s wand
conjure up to our imagination, or, if we please, let fancy’s pencil
sketch to our view the scene, the hour, in which, at the period in
question, we had recourse, with more than ordinary interest and
earnestness, to prayer in our difficulty on behalf of our Queen and
Council of State—prayer to the effect that they might be “directed and
prospered” in all their momentous “consultations” on which, humanly
speaking, hung the dignity, the happiness, and the missionary usefulness
as well as the safety of our beloved country.  You will suppose, then,
that we are just released from the cruel bondage of a warfare into which
we were compelled, as men of faith and feeling, to enter for humanity’s
sake.  Our laurels of awarded victory are still fresh on the hero’s brow.
Our triumphant attitude is, to all appearance, keeping at bay a tyrant
world, and securing “peace on earth and goodwill towards men.”  Time is
about to commence her gracious task of lessening our sorrows for the
brave and bold who are no more on earth amongst the children of men, and
whose remains are swelling with their sad accumulations the once
unbroken, but now grave-studded Crimean plain.  Our minds are turning
homeward.  We dwell upon reforming ourselves.  Social progress and fair
play in all matters, ecclesiastical as well as civil, are points which
much interest us.  We are musing with practical intent upon such things
as become enlightened and well-disposed minds.  We are thoroughly
enjoying national repose, dwelling each man “safely under his own vine;”
and we are doing, and anxious to do, the great, the civilizing work of
peace.  Alas!  “All is vanity and vexation of spirit.”  Our fondest hopes
are broken up, and, in a moment of time, vanish away as a vision of the
night when one awakes.  A cry is heard abroad amongst us; it is no less
than a cry of war—that hell-cry which despots love to raise, and which
all godless and loveless spirits echo in sympathetic sinfulness!  At the
gates of science do we listen, in dread suspense, to hear the
contradiction or confirmation of the evil tidings.  Our worst suspicions
are soon confirmed.  In rapid successions does the magic whisper steal
across the deep, and tell its brief but bloody tale, that ours have risen
up against us in the far East; that many a bitter Shimei has come forth
to curse our rule; that many a mutinous and rebel Sheba has blown the
signal blast of insurrection; that men, women, and children, “bone of our
bone, and flesh of our flesh,” are being scattered abroad by a cruelly
organized persecution, some seeking in hopeless flight a desert solitude,
there to die unfriended and alone; others hastening to the nearest
fastness, there to hold out, a scanty and surprised handful, against an
armed and swarming adversary; and that, once more, numbers of our
fellow-countrymen, together with their wives and little ones, have
actually perished, if not by more hideous means, by the edge of the
sword.  A trembling for the present, and a fear for the future, take hold
of us.  With deepest anxiety do we turn, in this our moment of sharp
distress and bewilderment, to our ruling representatives, bidding them do
in our common name what seemed to them good under the circumstances of
our emergency, and dismissing them to their onerous work with the
benedictory prayer, that Almighty God would of his infinite goodness “be
pleased to direct and prosper all their consultations to the advancement
of his glory, the good of his Church, the safety, honour, and welfare of
our Sovereign and her dominions.”  So it was, I doubt not, that we, as a
God-fearing people, prayed for our rulers when they were summoned to
consider and prepare for the suppression of that Indian mutiny of 1857,
whose simply detailed history is of itself, its plain, unvarnished,
unembellished self, the most cruel and the most heart-rending tragedy
that has ever been recorded!  Of this enough.

And now, my believing and prayer-using brethren—so I would style you
_all_—it is high time for me to challenge your hearty attention to the
joyous and indisputable fact, that your reward for having prayed for your
rulers is at hand.  Your petition on their behalf has been heard on high,
if petition on any national account be ever hearkened to above, or if
what we see before us is not the merest coincidence of blindest chance.
Open wide your eyes, and read for yourselves the heaven-sent answer to
your prayer.  Your Sovereign’s will, your senators’ wisdom, have both
alike worked marvellously well for you and yours.  All their
consultations, resolutions, and decrees, in the matter of the suppression
of the Indian mutiny, have, up to the present moment, been accompanied by
that triple result which you have so often prayed for—“the advancement of
God’s glory, the good of his Church, the safety, honour, and welfare of
our Sovereign and her dominions.”

Let me somewhat enlarge.  God’s _glory_, we do not hesitate to affirm,
has been more or less advanced by the conduct and policy of England in
and during the warfare which has been recently accomplished in the East.
All that we have done in it worthy of praise or remembrance, we have
done, so we believe and confess, through Him, through his strength,
through his teaching, through his Gospel, through the very circumstances
under which He has placed us, and through the very constitutional
dispositions which He has given us.  All, therefore, that has been done
in it worthy of praise or remembrance, do we feel bound to ascribe,
purely and simply, to God, as its author and finisher, entering as we did
upon every work, every encounter, with these words of humility upon our
lips:—“Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name, give glory,
for Thy mercy and for Thy truth’s sake;” and checking the thought of
pride and self-sufficiency which from time to time rose up within on
occasion of our having done well, with the apostolic inquiry and
reproof—“Who maketh thee to differ from another?  And what hast thou that
thou didst not receive?  Now, if thou didst receive it, why dost thou
glory as if thou hadst not received it?”

Much, indeed, from this point of view, does our national behaviour in the
East during unparalleled difficulties redound to the _glory_ of that God
from whom all “holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do
proceed.”  Never have we been in such straits.  Never have we acted so
graciously and so in accordance with the spirit of our Gospel.  Before us
stood—a sickening and never-to-be-forgotten sight—a vast army in deadly
and rebellious array—an army made up of men with whom we had gone side by
side to victory over a common foe—men our familiar friends, to whom we
had extended, and were learning more and more to extend, the right hand
of social fellowship—men whom we had not only treated kindly, but, as was
reported and believed, had verily spoiled by forbearing gentleness.
There they stand—a rebellious horde—raging “furiously,” and imagining a
“vain thing,” doing all they can, by slaying the innocent and
dishonouring the chaste, to tempt us to forget our nature and our
nature’s God, and to assimilate ourselves to their unholy and fiendish
temperaments.  Nothing, however, that they do disturbs for a moment the
balance of Christian power and influence in our national and common mind.
To war, indeed, do we sally forth in saddest necessity and from a sense
of duty, but it is to a war of a _purely defensive_ character on our
part, and nothing more.  No hunting down the adversary, no trampling upon
him, no tearing away the suckling from the breast, for the sweetness of
being revenged, have characterized our doings.  Vengeance have we
repudiated, or rather, I should say, not dared to handle, being, as we
conceive, an attribute belonging solely to God, and too fearful to be
entrusted to fallen man.  Here and there, it is true, the pulpit and the
press, losing their moral self-possession, raised awhile in our hearing
that ancient Christ-condemned cry of retaliation—“an eye for an eye, and
a tooth for a tooth;” but soon, very soon, was that harsh and ugly sound
let die away and for ever perish in the softer strain of the Son of
God—“But I say unto you, _that ye resist not __evil_; but whosoever shall
smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”  Yes.  No
vengeance, no retaliation—God’s holy name be praised—have stained the
banner of England.  We fought honourably and for noble ends.  We have
slain, alas! but only those on whom the law of God and the law of man
would have passed sentence of death, if required so to do.  We have
fought, who can deny it? but fought that we might “live and let
live”—that the world might be peaceably ordered—and that “peace and
happiness, truth and justice, religion and piety,” might be established
amongst us, amongst the people committed to our charge, even the hosts of
India, “for all generations.”  We are ashamed neither of our deeds nor
our motives.  They, indeed, are not ours; this is _why_ we are not
ashamed of them—but as we have said, they are God’s—God’s, that is, so
far as they are pure, holy, merciful, upright, manly—in a word, so far as
they are Christian.  To Him, therefore, let them be ascribed in the
presence of the whole world, and from them, as from a moral mirror, let
there be reflected, not our national, but his everlasting “Glory.”

Inseparably connected with the glory of God, which has in a measure been
worked out, as we maintain, by the events to which we refer, is the “good
of his Church”—a result we ever pray may attend all our political
consultations and movements.  Who can doubt that the spectacle presented
to the Indian mind in all our transactions of war—our wisdom, our mercy,
our justice—is doing its silent work in many a thoughtful bosom, and
adding some new soul to the Church of Christ even whilst we are speaking?
Many and many a man, depend upon it, has been made to think for himself,
in these troublous times, of the real value and working of his ancestral
creed.  He has often, may be, had doubts as to the superstitions of his
nation, and the doctrines of his overseers.  He has for years, perhaps,
held in secret and deep admiration the aspirations and longings of his
natural conscience, and felt that they ran counter to the senseless
commandments and idle traditions of the world with which he and his race
have been overburdened.  He has longed for a creed which should not
suppress and smother, but fan into a living flame of sterling piety,
those smouldering elements of natural religion which he has treasured
amidst the follies of heathenism on the hearth of a not yet abandoned
conscience.  His wish is gratified.  He has at length found, or rather,
we should say, seen at work, such a creed—seen it in the warrior of the
Cross, seen it in one who can fight and yet be merciful, who can have
within his power a cruel relentless enemy, yet find room for compassion;
who can show at all times and in all places that he has a heart which
beats true to the instincts of our nature, when not lost and sensualized.
He has rejoiced with exceeding great joy to have fallen in with a
religion which is far from contradicting conscience or nature, but which,
contrariwise, advocates and enforces “whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever
things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report;” things which
even in his childhood’s superstitions and the ignorance of his more
advanced years have never altogether forsaken him.  He has pondered over
these things in his heart, and contrasting the plain, true, useful life
of the Cross, with the wicked follies and fancies of the Crescent, has
yielded himself up to the former, and added himself to the Church of
Christ.  May it have been so in many, many instances!

As to the last result of legislative labour on our behalf, “the safety,
honour, and welfare of our Sovereign and her dominions,” which we prayed
might follow our rulers’ consultations, it is needless to say anything.
Each of us can see the finger of God at work in, and trace its divine
impress upon, the facts of to-day, which call us together to thank and
praise the Lord.  Each has faith and wit enough of soul, let us believe,
to read, in the spirit of the words of the text, the manner in which God
has been with our Sovereign, our national interests, yea! ourselves—“_And
the Lord preserved David whithersoever he went_.”

And now, my brethren, what is the most appropriate thank-offering that
we, Sovereign and people, can make to Almighty God for his mercies
vouchsafed to us?  Undoubtedly that which follows up our advantages and
shows that we are worthy, or labouring to be thought worthy, of the great
position with which God has entrusted us, even the thank-offering which
David made after his preservation, and which is unpretendingly recorded
in the words, “And David executed judgment and justice to all his
people.”  This it is ours to see carried out, so far as in us lies, and
this we trust is being carried out fully and conscientiously by our

But something more have we to offer up to God than judgment and justice
toward the people subject to our rule, though this offering be great and
to be had in highest esteem.  We have heard and seen what kings and
prophets desired of old to hear and see.  Our knowledge is increased, and
so is our responsibility.  All type, all figure, all mystery, are removed
from us, and “God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in
time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days
spoken unto us by his Son”—spoken a word of salvation in the Gospel which
exceeds, in point of moral beauty and spiritual comfort, all that we can
imagine or desire.  This word we dare not enjoy to ourselves.  On we must
pass it, together with judgment and justice, to our people.  It has made
us great, and caused us to “shine like lights in the world.”  Why should
it not make them so, and cause them so to shine?  On we must pass it, not
only as a matter of ordinary and evident duty, but as a matter of
feeling.  Each true believer is, by his very impulse of faith, a
soul-seeking power amongst men.  In his heart is deeply sown the
missionary germ—only requiring the light and heat of a living faith to
raise and mature it to its appointed height and grandeur—when its
branches are sure to spread themselves forth in sheltering love over all
living within their reach.

To this passing on of blessings received to others are we ever invited.
Now, this very day, are we so especially.  “A great door and effectual”
is open to us in the East.  By the violence of
circumstances—circumstances, those emissaries of the great Creator’s
purpose—have the gates of superstition been torn from their hinges, and a
way made for us to enter, unmolested, into the very sanctuary and
stronghold of Belial, there to preach to our heart’s content “the way,
the truth, and the life.”  It is as if an angel—opportunity had been sent
from on high to “prepare the way of the Lord,” and had cried aloud to the
long pent-up and isolated heathen world to receive us—the _missionary
nation of the Cross of Christ_; saying unto them, “Open ye the gates,
that the righteous nation which keepeth truth may enter in.”  Oh! who is
there amongst us that does not now desire to enter in?  Who is there that
does not sorrow over his indolence in not having done more hitherto for
his fellows?  Who does not burn with indignation at his own—his
country’s—missionary apathy, when he contemplates before him, in India
and her immortal millions, a vast sea of souls, now surging with
infidelity, now again raging with superstition, bearing as it does on its
sin-heaving and lust-swelling surface but few, very few, labourers in the
employ of that blessed and acceptable merchandize, the toiling, as
“fishers of men,” for the Son of God?  Who, when he contrasts the
greatness of the work to be accomplished with the contemptibly limited
means he has brought to bear on its fulfilment—one pastor to a million
souls being the provision made by Christian England’s National Church for
the restoration of heathen India to her God and Saviour—who, when he so
contrasts, is not lastingly impressed with a sense of unworthy

Once more—accept, my beloved brethren, whilst it is to-day, this, this
for all we know last, last challenge to visit, gospel in hand, the
degraded millions of India.  Plant amongst them a church.  Erect for them
a school.  Provide them with a minister.  Give them freely the means
which have made you under Providence what you are.  Let them know that
these means are to be the implements of your new spiritual warfare amidst
them.  “Fight,” before them and their children, “the good fight of
faith.”  Tell them you seek, and wish them to seek, that “peace which the
world cannot give,” and “which passeth all understanding.”  Show them
that you delight not in brandishing over their heads the cold and deadly
steel, nor take pleasure in witnessing the fire-flash which heralds a
creature’s death, but that you would rather wield the sword of the Spirit
over their immortal souls, by means of the preached word, and rejoice for
ever and ever in heaven that they were preserved with you and yours unto
everlasting life.

                                * * * * *

                                 THE END.

                                * * * * *


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