Графични страници
PDF файл

selves to be prevailed on by any temptations of ease, of pleasure, or of mere convenience, to abandon those of whose salvation


have most solemnly taken the charge, and bound it by the most sacred ties upon your own souls. You will feel that the care of a parish is a most serious and important trust, and that it is not, without the most indispensable necessity, to be devolved on any other but the incumbent himself. You will undoubtedly recollect, that when you are instituted to a benefice

you do not say that you will execute the office by yourselves, or by your sufficient deputy. No. The bishop does in the most express terms commit to you, and to you only, the cure of the souls of that parish, and you must in your own persons

be answerable for their salvation. Stewards, watchmen, shepherds, labourers, these, and every other expression that implies personal attention, unremitted assiduity, vigilance, and fidelity, are applied to you in Scripture. “ You are commanded before God and the Lord Jesus Christ to be instant in season, and out of season, to reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine; to watch in all things; to do the work of an evangelist,



and make full proof of your ministry.” And the ordination office enjoins “that you never cease your labour, your care, and diligence, until you have done all that lieth in you, according to your bounden duty, to bring all such as are, or shall be committed to your charge, unto that agreement in the faith and knowledge of God, and that ripeness and perfectness of age in Christ, that there be no place left among you, either for error in religion, or for viciousness in life.”

These are all of them most evidently personal duties; and it is to my conception utterly impossible for any man who seriously believes that he must give an account of his stewardship at the last day, to read such injunctions as these, and then render himself incapable of fulfilling them, by needlessly absenting himself from his cure, seeking amusement or employment elsewhere, and trusting to another for the discharge of duties, which belong solely and entirely to himself. Let him be ever so careful in the choice of his substitute, can he be perfectly sure that nothing necessary will be omitted, and that not only all the stated offices of the church, but all


the various and no less important private duties of the pastoral care will be performed with the same exactness and punctuality as if he himself had been present? Is he in short prepared to answer, as he must, at the tribunal of Christ, for every neglect that has happened, every soul that has been lost among those committed to his care, and whom perhaps he has never seen or thought of for months and years together? This is a most awful consideration; and I leave it to the serious attention of every one whom it


Another circumstance which deserves notice, and seems to require regulation, is the Sunday duty performed in the churches of this diocese. I observe that in general, throughout the county of Essex at least, there is service only once in the day. I observe too that this has in several parishes been a long established custom, and therefore I impute no blame to those who have only conformed to that custom. Yet still I conceive they will upon reflection see the necessity of making some improvement in this article. In most other dioceses the practice, I believe, is dif

ferent. different

be re

ferent. In that at least from which I was removed to this, there were through a very considerable part of it, and that even in the smallest parishes, not only prayers, but a sermon too, both parts of the day. I do not mean to require this from you; but I do very earnestly recommend it to you, in general, to have a sermon once, and prayers twice in the day, and more especially in those places where this was formerly the practice, and where single duty has been a late innovation. There I must beg that the ancient custom may stored. In other cases, and particularly where the parishes are so near each other, that the congregations not only may, but actually do go from one church to the other, there perhaps service once a day in each may

be sufficient. But where this is not the case, it appears to me highly necessary that each parish should be called to public worship, as the canons, the liturgy, and the rubric evidently require, both morning and evening. Unless this is done, the service is incomplete, there will be one half of the day totall.y unoccupied by religious duties; and if it is not employed in them, it will be employed, I fear, in a very different manner. It is too large a portion of time to be trusted entirely in the hands of the common people. It is too much to be spared from that sacred day, the whole of which, even when most religiously observed, is hardly sufficient to counteract the bad impressions of the other six days of the week. On the due observance of this day, and the appropriation of a large portion of it to sacred purposes, depends, I am convinced, the very existence of religion in this country. Scarce one symptom of it ever appears among us, except on the Lord's day ; and when the sanctity of that is gone, every thing is gone with it. We cannot therefore bestow too much time and pains in keeping up to the utmost, the spirit of that divine institution, we cannot rescue too much of it from the growing encroachments of worldly business, and worldly pleasure.

It appears indeed that some exertions rather more than common are necessary to awaken in the general mass of the people that sense of duty, and ardour of devotion, which seem almost extinguished in their breasts. It

appears that though your efforts for that

purpose seem not to have been wanting, yet, in

many places,

« ПредишнаНапред »