« السابقةمتابعة »
not be the best, or it may not be capable of universal application; every minister must in a great measure be left to his own judgment, as to what is proper or possible to be done in his own parish. All that I would urge is, that active and prudent exertion out of the church, as well as within its walls, is needed; and until this is general throughout the kingdom, the increase of Dissent is chargeable on the negligence of the Established Clergy. But if we grant that, notwithstanding every exertion, Dissent may increase, does it follow that supineness in the clergy is likely to arrest its progress?
tion of his own soul, and the souls of those committed to his trust, often banished sleep from his eyes, from a full conviction that greater exertions were required, before he could say that he had done all that he could to present his charge to the Bishop and Shepherd of souls, or before he could be said to be clear of the blood of his parishioners. The necessity of more frequent private means of spiritual improvement, by the institution of village meetings for prayer and expounding the Scriptures, irresistibly pressed upon his mind. The example of Him who went about doing good, who by sea
The following is the substance of and land, in the mountains and in my friend's statement.
"In a widely extended parish, not numerous in population, but scattered, the public labours of the minister had for many years been exercised by preaching, sometimes thrice, on the Sabbath-day; besides which, parochial visits were not omitted. Year succeeded year, and no visible alteration took place the careless remained careless, and the more vicious and openly profane remained the willing captives of Satan. Dissent also prevailed to a certain extent; and the Wesleyan preachers were exerting themselves in the villages.
The minister witnessed with deeply painful feelings the ruinous state of his parishioners; especially when he reflected upon the shortness of life, the certainty of death and judgment, opportunities passing away unimproved, souls committed to his charge dead in trespasses and sins, and manifesting but few, if any, symptoms of spiritual life. The praises of God were seldom heard in their abodes, and scarcely one anxious inquiry, what must I do to be saved; and in very few families was there daily prayer. The Gospel of salvation was preached, but the suffering subjects of sickness, old age, and mothers confined by numerous families, were prevented hearing its joyful message. The anxiety of the minister for the salva
the wilderness, in the city, village, or poor cottage, by night or by day, wherever two or three were gathered together, ceased not his kind labours for sinners; His command to his followers to preach the Gospel to every creature; their prompt obedience, in daily ceasing not to preach the Gospel from house to house, and the attendant blessings on their labours; the exertions, privations, and sufferings of the noble company of martyrs; the self-denial, prayer, and watchfulness of many of our venerable prelates; with the solemn vows, pledged at the time of Ordination, to do all that in us lies; and, above all, the alarming terrors in God's own word to the careless shepherds, His commands to all, and the heart-cheering promises to his faithful and diligent pastors;-all these holy examples and Divine injunctions called aloud, in language that conscience durst not resist, for more ample means of grace than the Sabbath duty afforded. The minister accordingly commenced a week-day evening meeting in his own house, for prayer and expounding the Scriptures. The poor readily attended, and received the word with joy. Similar meetings were begun in several villages in the parish. The minister's house soon became too small for the congregation, and the meeting was removed to a very large and commodious room in the village.
Dissenters became attached to these
"The private meetings of the
'These means of religious edification have done more towards attaching the people to the Establishment, and have evidently been of far greater service in the reformation of the parish-or, rather, in forming a true spiritual church of believersthan all the efforts before used in that neighbourhood by all parties. The minister may, with gratitude to God, to whom alone be the praise, be permitted to say, that these private means have, by his blessing, brought many out of darkness into light; some of whom have entered into rest, and others are ripening for that blessed country where these transient seasons of refreshing shall be exchanged into a continual sabbath of
praise in the presence of God for ever.
The minister, stirred up by the Spirit of God, and thirsting for the salvation of sinners, in reliance on Divine grace commenced, and by the blessing of God for several years has continued, and trusts by his grace to end his mortal toil and pilgrimage in the same use of these private instruments of pastoral usefulness. In the beginning he calculated that the Christian minister's portion is constant labour and crosses, without the approbation of the world; and he never once shrunk from his laborious duties, though a distance of many miles, almost every evening, calls him to his charge of singing, prayer, and expounding the Scripture to those who generally could not attend the church. The presence of Him whom his soul loves, and who has owned his poor labours in these means, sweetens his toil, and changes labour into rest. Numbers of families in these villages now are found in the evenings engaged in prayer, and singing praises to the Author of all their blessings.
"The inhabitants generally are very different to what they were: the Bacchanalian revels, which at the village feasts or wakes were thronged, are now almost annihilated; and the once thoughtless supporters of these festivities now turn their feet at these seasons to the house of prayer. Many happy evenings has the minister enjoyed in his work of faith and labour of love, when his body was worn down with fatigue, exposed to the frost and snow; but his soul could rejoice in the prosperity of Zion, and in the enjoyment of the evidence of the operation of the Spirit of God. Happier moments he never expects to enjoy on this side of eternity. His prayer to God is for strength to labour more abundantly, while the day lasts, and that he may finish his course with joy. He has abundant cause to thank God that he was ever stirred up to use these means, and he has witnessed the blessing of the Lord
ADMIRAL SIR C. PENROSE ON THE CHURCH IN DANGER.
In turning over some old papers, we observed the following among several non-inserted communications from the late Admiral Sir Charles Penrose. The aged and worthy Admiral always took our non-insertions in good part; doubtless considering that it must naturally be our wish to give our readers the best we have to bestow, and that, if we erred in the selection, it must be from infirmity of judgment, not with a view to disoblige any writer who favours us with a communication. We were not sufficiently satisfied with some of the suggestions in the following paper to insert it at the time in an anonymous form; but it may be worth printing at the present moment, as a posthumous memento, with the author's name, were it only to shew how gravely an aged member of a profession not connected with the Church thought of her dangers, and of the importance of applying prompt and powerful remedies.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. There is a prevailing opinion that the Church is in danger; and this is entertained not only by those who do not regret that danger, but is held by many who honestly and sincerely desire that the ministers of that church may continue to endeavour to save the souls of men till all are alike called to give an account at the last great day. I profess myself one of this latter description, truly and zealously attached to the Established Church of England; and for the sake of the Christian cause in general, and the well-being of my own country in particular, I pray that it may be efficiently enduring.
That there are dangers which threaten the church from without,
is sufficiently apparent, but I fear only the neglect of proper precautions against those dangers from within. It has been the ruin of many establishments, that their friends have really considered them as permanently established, whether means be taken for their preservation or not but it is as requisite to guard the doctrines and practice from the effects of the changes of times and opinions, as it is to furnish the necessary repairs to the buildings in which the doctrines are taught and the practice inculcated.
Of the manner in which the temporal concerns of the Church were managed at the Reformation, I am not about to write; but that its worldly tendency has entailed many anomalous evils is not to be disputed; and although many of these may be difficult to remove, and some almost impracticable to attempt, with hopes of good effect, still apathy should not ensue on the part of the temporal and spiritual heads of our Establishment, neither should selfishness operate in so holy a cause. They should not come to, or persist in, a determination, that, because all the known evils cannot be removed, it is useless to attempt the removal of any; neither should they rest content with the debasing hope that all will remain secure in their own times.
I hope and believe, sir, that the effects of the King's Letter for the Church-Building Society, and the consequent appeals from the pulpit, will have proved that the Church has many friends, earnest in its support, desirous of extending its benefits, and to provide that the Gospel should be preached to the poor. So far as my own means and abilities extended, I have from the first been a zealous supporter of that Society, the incorporation of which I heard of with sincere pleasure; and I trust that all the members of the Church will continue to support, and enable its members to proceed at no niggard pace in the fulfilment of its important objects. But, Mr. Editor, I am of opinion that the Church itself is
peremptorily called upon, at the present moment, to do more than merely to assist in raising edifices and procuring personal accommodation for its adherents. If rightly appropriated, the funds of the Church are most ample, and might so enlarge the means of the newly incorporated society as to admit of its assuming with propriety a more expansive title, and to effect benefits of more than mundane importance to the Christian cause. The Society should have in view to gradually effect, among many others, the following purposes:
1. The consolidation of small livings.
2. The causing all churches, and the residence of the ministers, to be centrical in their respective parishes.
3. The providing adequate residences and glebes, where there is a deficiency.
4. To take measures gradually to equalize clerical incomes, and thus effectually put an end to every plea of non-residence.
It has happened, in several instances, that new churches and chapels have been built more in hope than in certainty that suitable provision would be found for the clergymen who were to officiate in them. This has proved a serious evil, and a subject which those who accuse us of want of zeal will not fail to make use of. But it is to be considered, that the lay members of our Church already contribute largely to its support, and it very often happens that there may be a numerous population without the means of providing for adequate church accommodation. This want must be provided for from the general source, and is a case in which the goods of Christians should be in common. It is, however, a case, also, in which the already ample, but badly divided, wealth of the Establishment should be zealously and liberally applied.
With respect to the first-mentioned head, I need only call the attention to the deplorable poverty of many of our clergy, and the lamentable want
of the adequate performance of Divine worship and the residence of spiritual pastors in many places.
With respect to the second head, it is well known that many country churches were built near some religious establishment, or a hamlet where the whole population of the parish was then collected; whereas, to my own knowledge, many large populations reside six, seven, or more miles from their proper place of worship, and very many are the meeting-houses which have been erected in consequence of this misIchievous defect.
In reference to the third head, it is certain that many of our clergy are very badly lodged, and many do not reside in consequence of this plea.
I consider the proposal in the fourth head to be essentially necessary to promote the well-being and permanence of the Established Church, the inequalities of which are in many respects mischievous even to absurdity. It is very material to remember, that the law requires the payment of tithes from all alike, yet how unequal is the distribution of pastoral duties. Give them neither poverty nor riches" should be a petition inserted in the prayer for the clergy. There are not wanting brilliant instances where the will and the act of Christian charity, in its fullest sense, have been equal to the largest means, and the active benevolence of the possessor kept pace with the flow of his possessions; but long experience and observation has convinced me, that the clergyman who drives about his parish in his gig is (generally speaking) a much more effectual servant to his Heavenly Master, than he who drives out of it in his chariot.
If the evils I have here alluded to had not existed, the greatest number of dissensions from our Church would never have taken place. I write in censure of no man, but I call upon my fellow-Christians of the Establishment to endeavour to remedy as many of these evils as they can, and not to refrain from an attempt
to remove such as can be removed, or at least ameliorated, because others are not removable. I particularly call upon the bishops and pastors of our church to shew that they do not, as some of their opponents aver, prefer things temporal to things which are eternal. In reading Bishop Heber's instructive Journal through the provinces of the East, it is curious to observe, that the want of that which when abused is the root of evil, prevented the attainment of much good; and it is evident that the improvements I advocate cannot be attained without an adequate fund. Whence is this to be supplied?
I reply, from the zeal of the members of the Church itself, of all denominations, and more especially from the far too rich endowments of many of the dignitaries and other members of the Establishment. These far exceed, not only all that is requisite for a liberal support of the high stations of the possessors, but are clearly injurious to the well-being of a Christian church. St. Paul, who, in all concerns which did not militate against a Christian's conscience, was all things to all men, would, if he could now be the reformer of our Church, make liberal allowance for the usages of the times, but he would put an end, not only to the pomp and state, which has too justly given rise to the saying that "the pride of the purple casts a stain on the milk-white purity of the surplice," but so apportion the temporal income, as that none should remain in want of what is requisite, or receive that which was redundant, for the reasonable support of the stations in which Providence had placed them. I recommend strenuous endeavours to establish societies in every archdeaconry, in aid of the now incorporated Society. I seriously advise, that the redundancy of all clerical incomes above a certain sum (and, for argument's sake, I will say 500l. per annum) should be charged with a per-centage, in an increasing ratio proportioned to the
increase of income. For instance, if an annual clerical income was more than 500l. and did not exceed 700l. per annum, would a deduction of five per cent. on such surplus be a heavy charge? If the income amounted to 1000l. per annum, would a deduction of ten per cent. on the surplus above 500l. be too much? And if all who in their several stations enjoyed benefices of upwards of 1000l. per annum, were to have even fifty per cent. so deducted, would not such remaining incomes be more than ample for what should be a churchman's wants? I throw out these suggestions merely as a mode of shewing that the wealth of our Establishment is great: and it is, I think, a fair deduction, that poverty should not press on any of its members. If my station in life and abilities of persuasion were very different from what they are, I would propose a petition to the King, as temporal head of our Church, to appoint such a Convocation, consisting of both clergy and laity, as would be capable of forming a correct judgment of what steps could safely be taken to remove the evils which impede the benefits which might be derived from the better use of the ample means the Church possesses. As well as the more equal and beneficial disposition of temporals, I would pray his Majesty to call the attention of this assembly to the important inquiry, whether the progress of knowledge, in the course of time, had not shewn that some verbal niceties, if not errors, the retention of documents which were produced in the height of controversy, and some other causes, had been the means of causing schisms which need not have been created, and dissensions which would not otherwise have taken place. And I would pray that they should be specially charged to consider, whether, without deviating from the plain and simple Gospel doctrines of our Church, and without deteriorating the admirable Liturgy used in its practice, means might not be adopted which would prevent further dis