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“All the World My Parish”

“You say, you cannot reconcile some parts of my behavior with the character I have long supported. No, nor ever will. Therefore I have disclaimed that character on every possible occasion. I told all in our ship, all at Savannah, all at Frederica, and that over and over, in express terms, ‘I am not a Christian; I only follow after, if haply I may attain it.’

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“If you ask on what principle I acted, it was this: ‘A desire to be a Christian; and a conviction that whatever I judge conducive thereto that I am bound to do; wherever I judge I can best answer this end, thither it is my duty to go.’ On this principle I set out for America; on this I visited the Moravian church; and on the same am I ready now (God being my helper) to go to Abyssinia or China, or whithersoever it shall please God, by this conviction, to call me.

“As to your advice that I should settle in college, I have no business there, having now no office and no pupils. And whether the other branch of your proposal be expedient for me, namely, ‘to accept of a cure of souls,’ it will be time enough to consider when one is offered to me.

“But, in the meantime, you think I ought to sit still; because otherwise I should invade another’s office, if I interfered with other people’s business and intermeddled with souls that did not belong to me. You accordingly ask, ‘How is it that I assemble Christians who are none of my charge, to sing psalms, and pray, and hear the Scriptures expounded?’ and think it hard to justify doing this in other men’s parishes, upon catholic principles?

“Permit me to speak plainly. If by catholic principles you mean any other than scriptural, they weigh nothing with me; I allow no other rule, whether of faith or practice, than the holy Scriptures. but on scriptural principles, I do not think it hard to justify whatever I do. God in Scripture commands me, according to my power, to instruct the ignorant, reform the wicked, confirm the virtuous. Man forbids me to do this in another’s parish; that is, in effect, to do it at all, seeing I have now no parish of my own, nor probably ever shall. Whom then shall I hear, God or man?

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“I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that, in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation. This is the work which I know God has called me to; and sure I am that His blessing attends it.  Great encouragement have I, therefore, to be faithful in fulfilling the work He hath given me to do. His servant I am, and, as such, am employed according to the plain direction of His Word, ‘As I have opportunity, doing good unto all men’; and His providence clearly concurs with his Word; which has disengaged me from all things else, that I might singly attend on this very thing, ‘and go about doing good.’”

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