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" to teach others also." Another Bishop of one of the first Christian Churches was directed by the same Apostle to pay particular attention to the qualifications of those who might receive ordination at his hands, and especially to their profession and propagation of “sound doctrineb.” The writings of this Apostle also contain an exhortation to all the members of a primitive church to admonish their Bishop to “ take heed to the ministry which he had received “ in the Lord, to fulfil ” all its sacred and important duties. But if Bishops are to receive admonition from Christians “over whom” they “ have the ruled," much more should they be ready to receive it from their ecclesiastical supe-. riors, from those Most Reverend Fathers whom the constitution of the Church obliges them to regard as “over them in the Lord.” With particular reference to the Church of England, the late Sir William Blackstone observes;
Archbishop is the chief of the clergy in a “ whole province; and has the inspection of the
Bishops of that province as well as of the in“ ferior clergyf.” And what can present stronger claims to all the vigilance of archiepiscopal inspection, what can be more deserving of your Grace's examination, and approbation or censure, as the case shall be found to require, than the agreement or dissonance of the principles 2 2 Tim. ii. 2.
b Tit. i. 5--9. c Col. iv. 17. d Heb. xiii. 7, 17. el Thess, v. 12. f Comment. vol. i, b. i. c. 11. p. 380.
maintained and propagated by your suffragan Bishops with those of the public creeds and formularies of the church ?
There is a custom in the established Church of, Ireland, which if seriously and conscientiously followed seems calculated to produce great ad. vantages. “ The Archbishops visit the dioceses “ of their respective provinces every third year. . “ – The Archbishop at the time is invested with “ all the canonical powers of the visiting Bishop. “ - The Chancellors and Archdeacons, as such, “ never visit. But the Bishops visit every year; “and in the third year they visit previously to “ the Archbishop's visitation, in order to prepare “ matters for his Grace's ease and satisfaction.“ He continues as long as he chooses at every Bishop's house."
In such a triennial visitation a Metropolitan must gain a large acquaintance with the state of the Clergy in the various dioceses; but especially from the communications which may naturally be supposed to pass between him and the respective Bishops, during his continuance at their houses, he can scarcely fail of acquiring a knowledge of their real principles, and forming an estimate of the excellencies and defects of their episcopal characters. The occurrences and intercourses of such a visitation will lead to admonition, counsel, comfort, or reproof, according to the various exigences of the respective cases.
a Gisborne's Duties of Men, vol. ii, p. 119.
It is said, " that Laud visited the province of · Canterbury, which is the last English archi“ episcopal visitationa.” Whether any violent proceedings of that arbitrary and intolerant Prelate brought the practice of visitation into disrepute, and caused it to be abandoned by his successors, I know not, but take it for granted they have had some weighty reasons for discontinuing it.
But the duties of archiepiscopal vigilance, examination, and approbation, or censure, must ever retain their obligation unimpaired by all the variations of time and circumstances. And it is gratifying to reflect, that whatever superintendence or control may be exercised by your Grace; there can be no ground for the least apprehension of any thing like ecclesiastical tyranny or religious persecution. Every candid mind must approve and unite in the liberal and manly sentiments avowed by your Grace in the House of Lords, in the debate on a bill lately introduced by Lord Sidmouth which tended to restrict and diminish the privileges of the Dissenters. We mustall deprecate legislative interference with the right of private judgement in matters of religion.
But though no man can justly be compelled to join any Christian Church, or to profess a belief in any particular system of theology, yet every one who becomes a member of any Christian Church; and professes his cordial belief of
- Gisborne's Duties of Men, vol, ii, p. 119.
the doctrines contained in the creeds and confessions of that Church, must be considered as having voluntarily merged his private judgement in the judgement of the Church. "This observation is peculiarly applicable to every Clergyman, and gains additional force in proportion to the superiority of his station.
It is justly remarked by the late Archdeacon Paley, that “ the single end we ought to pro
pose by Church establishments is the preserva“ tion and propagation of religious knowledge.
Every other idea, and every other end, that “ have been mixed with this, as the making of " the Church an engine or even an ally of the " State; converting it into the means of strength“ening or of diffusing influence; or regarding « it as a support of regal in opposition to popu“lar forms of government, have served only to “debase the institution, and to Yatroduce into it numerous corruptions and abuses a.
If the only legitimate end of ecclesiastical establishments be the preservation and propagation of religious truth, and this every
ral Christian, friendly to such establishments, will readily admit; it follows, that the system of religious truth intended to be taught must be clearly stated and defined. Hence it has been forcibly and conclusively argued by Mr. Gisborne, that “ Ar“ ticles of religion seem a necessary part of every o ecclesiastical establishment; as forming the
• Mor. and Pol. Philos. vol. ii. p. 305, 6th edit.
only criterion by which those teachers who hold o the doctrines of the establishment can be di. stinguished from those who do not. The un
. “ lawfulness of requiring any subscription what
ever, though not unfrequently asserted, can “ never be evinced. For if it be lawful to require " of a person who applies for an office in the “ state, or an employment in private life, some " proof of his possessing the qualifications ne
cessary for discharging the duties of the post, “ and an engagement that he will discharge thern
faithfully while he continues to hold it: why " is a similar proceeding in the case of ecclesiasti"cal officers necessarily unlawful ? And when “ an office is instituted for the purpose of incul. “cating certain doctrines, is it not lawful and “reasonable to require of those who voluntarily
apply for admission into the office, an explicit “ declaration whether they believe the doctrines ? “ For that belief is a qualification indispensably
requisite to their fulfilling with integrity and “ effect the functions, with the discharge of which they desire to be intrusted a.”
It is evident that the Clergy of the Church of England have been appointed for the purpose of inculcating the doctrines contained in the fora mularies of the Church, the Liturgy, Articles, and Homilies. To pretend, as some have done, that these formularies contain no precise system of
* Duties of Men, vol. ii. p. 27.