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answer a better purpose to all persons interested in it than it does at present: the schoolmaster will receive the benefit of it, in having a certainty to depend upon; and the inhabitants will save one half of what they must otherwise pay for the same in
I cannot conclude this charge without adding one more to the miscellaneous subjects which compose it. It may be expected that the bishop will next year hold a public confirmation: this solemnity, may become the instrument of many good purposes; but its utility depends entirely upon the preparation that is made for it, and, in my opinion, upon another circumstance, which is little attended to, that of not bringing young persons to it too soon; I should think the age of fourteen was quite as early as any impression could be received from it that was likely to last. But what I wish to recommend upon this subject is, to distribute among the catechumens a tract published by the present bishop of Landaff, entitled "An Address to Young Persons after Confirmation," and which appears to me to be by much the best adapted to the occasion of any that I have seen. Such of the clergy as may not find it convenient to distribute the pamphlet at their own ex, pense will do well to put their parishioners in the way of procuring it for themselves.
OF Or every ecclesiastical constitution the essential part is the parochial clergy; so much more important, indeed, do they appear to me than any other part of our establishment, that other parts, in my judgement, are only so far valuable, and so far worth retaining, as they contribute, or can be made to contribute, to the good order, the reward, or the encouragement of this. The incumbent of a parish, resident among his flock, and engaged in the quiet and serious exercise of his duty, composes one of the most respectable characters of human society; and, notwithstanding that insensibility both to public merit and to religious concerns which is complained of, and justly complained of amongst us, a character of this description will never fail of obtaining the sincere esteem and veneration of mankind.
The duty of a Christian teacher is of two kinds; one kind consists in a regular performance of the various services which are prescribed by the laws and canons of the church; this may be called the technical part of our office: the other kind consists in such a laying out for opportunities of working by
every means upon the consciences and understandings of those committed to our care, as is prompted by a firm conviction in ourselves of the truth of Christianity, and a corresponding solicitude to bring men to the knowledge and practice of its duties; this may be called the effective and substantial part of our occupation. Of the former it may be observed, that whilst it is indispensable, in point of decency and order,—whilst it is all which any form of church government, or any system of ecclesiastical discipline, can enforce,-it may yet fall far short of a faithful discharge of our public trust: a man may comply with every article of the rubric, and every direction of the canons; and yet perform to his parishioners a cold, reluctant, and ineffectual service. On the other hand, where the principle I have described has taken due possession of the mind, a clergyman no longer asks concerning any expedient which occurs, or which is suggested to him, whether it be required by law, or whether he can be censured for the neglect of it; but whether the expedient itself be likely to produce any solid effect upon the religious character of the persons with whom he has to deal. I have premised this reflection, in order to introduce to your notice the recommendation of a practice, which I have reason to believe would be attended with beneficial consequences to many congregations. The practice I wish to recommend is the expounding portions of Scripture after evening service; and I must request your indulgence, whilst
I lay before you what has occurred to me concerning the use and practicability of this expedient, The advantages which I apprehend would result from such interpretations of Scripture are either direct or consequential. The end immediately aimed at is to produce amongst the people a more general and familiar acquaintance with the records of our religion than is at present to be met with. I am one of those who think that the Christian Scriptures speak, in a great measure, for themselves; and that the best service we can render to our parishioners is to induce them to read these Scriptures at home, and with attention. Now the way to induce men to read, is to enable them to understand. When a private person, reading the Scripture, is stopped by perpetual difficulties, he grows tired of the employment; on the other hand, when he is furnished as be proceeds with illustrations of apparent obscurities, or answers to obvious doubts, the attention is both engaged, sustained, and gratified. There are difficulties in Scripture, in common with all ancient books, which cannot be resolved, if resolved at all, without a minute and critical disquisition, which will end probably at last in a dubious or controverted explication. Topics like these cannot be accommodated to the apprehension of a popular audience, or be successfully agitated in a public discourse.onAgain, there are difficulties which a simple recourses toy the original,toha parallel text, to circumstances of time, occasion, and place,ora
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short reference to some usage or opinion then prevailing, or to some passage in the history of that age and country,will render clear and easy. Points of this sort may be set forth, to the greatest part of every congregation, with advantage to their minds, and with great satisfaction. I am apt also to believe, that admonitions against any particular vice may be delivered, in commenting upon a text in which such vice is reproved, with more weight and efficacy than in any other form. ot This describes the direct purpose to be aimed at in the exercise I am recommending; but there is also a secondary object, of no small utility, which ite will be found in a good measure to promote, and that is, the increasing of the afternoon congre gations. Some expedient for this end is peculiarly necessary in this diocese; in most parishes of which the inhabitants are dispersed through a wide district, diving, some one, some two or three miles distant from their church, which is commonly situated in a small village, or within the vicinage of a few strag gling houses. Where the parishioners must gosO farmtomchurch, if nothing but evening service be performed, they do not go at all; and their vacant afternoons are often so ill, employed, that I am afraid it may be said, of a numerous part of many parishes, that Sunday is the worst spent day ofo then week. This thinness and desertion of the afternoona congregation no incumbent of a country oparish o can be insensible of; and there are two ways of treating