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own condition. But by decent allusions in the stated course of our preaching to events of this sort, or by, what is better, such a well-timed choice of our subject as may lead our audience to make the allusion for themselves, it is possible, I think, to retain much of the good effect of funeral discourses, without their adulation, and without exciting vain curiosity.
If other occurrences have arisen within our neighbourhood, which serve to exemplify the progress and fate of vice, the solid advantages and ultimate success of virtue, the providential discovery of guilt or protection of innocence, the folly of avarice, the disappointments of ambition, the vanity of worldly schemes, the fallaciousness of human foresight; in a word, which may remind us, "what shadows we are, and what shadows we pursue," and thereby induce us to collect our views and endeavours to one point, the attainment of final salvation; such occurrences may be made to introduce topics of serious and useful meditation. I have heard popular preachers amongst the Methodists avail themselves of these occasions with very powerful effect. It must be acknowledged that they frequently transgress the limits of decorum and propriety, and that these transgressions wound the modesty of a cultivated ear. But the method itself is not to be blamed. Under the correction of a sounder judgement it might be rendered very beneficial. Perhaps,
as hath been already intimated, the safest way is, not to refer to these incidents by any direct allusion, but merely to discourse at the time upon subjects which are allied to and connected with them.
The sum of what I have been recommending amounts to this: that we consider diligently the probable effects of our discourses, upon the particular characters and dispositions of those who are to hear them; but that we apply this consideration solely to the choice of truths, by no means to the admission of falsehood or insincerity*: Secondly, that we endeavour to profit by circumstances, that is, to assist, not the reasoning, but the efficacy of our discourses, by an opportune and skilful use of the service of the church, the season of the year, and of all such occurrences and situations as are capable of receiving a religious turn; and such as, being yet recent in the memory of our hearers, may dispose their minds for the admission and influence of salutary reflections.
My Reverend Brethren, I am sensible that the discourse with which I have now detained you is not of that kind which is usually delivered at a chancellor's visitation. But since (by the favour of that excellent prelate, who by me must long be remembered with gratitude and affection) I hold
*This distinction fixes the limits of exoteric doctrine, as far as any thing called by that name is allowable to a Christian teacher.
another public station in the diocese, I embrace the only opportunity afforded me of submitting to you that species of counsel and exhortation, which, with more propriety perhaps, you would have received from me in the character of your archdeacon, if the functions of that office had remained entire.
THE absence of your chancellor from the kingdom upon a mission connected with the interests of learning and with religious inquiry (and for this reason excused by his diocesan, as I hope it will be thought excusable by you), has led me to supply his place upon the present occasion.
I know of no late alteration in our ecclesiastical laws, or in the state of the church, which requires to be noticed; but I think that there is a new and growing opinion which, if it should come to prevail in the public mind, would be injurious not only to the ends proposed by the establishment of a national church, but to the general improvement of civilized life and that opinion is, that it is not for the advantage or safety of the state that the children of the poor should receive any kind of education, or be even taught to read. This opinion I have found by experience to have been taken up of late-not as a pretence to fence off from subscribing to Sunday or charity schools; not merely as a doubt thrown out at random, but advanced politically as a grave pro
position. Did I believe that there were any just foundation for this opinion, I can only say that I should lament it most extremely; because it is in the highest degree both dishonourable to human reason, and disparaging to the institutions of social life; it, in fact, insinuates that the bulk of mankind can only be governed by the suppression and debasement of their intellectual faculties; and it likewise insinuates that the institutions of civil life rest for their support upon the ignorance of the greatest part of those who live under them. Both these opinions I believe to be false; and yet they are both implied in the doctrine of those who would alarm us with the danger of instructing the poor. It has been said, that when the poor are once taught to read, bad books may be put into their hands to which it might be sufficient to give the answer which has often been given; namely, that not only liability, but proneness to abuse, adheres to every faculty, to every attainment, to every energy of our nature. But in the case before us, a more particular answer may be returned to the objection; which is thisLet parents and masters be what they will, they always wish to have their children and servants good. I think that this admits of few exceptions: consequently the books which come into the hands of young persons, so long as they are under the superintendence of others, will generally be of a kind favourable to virtue-and these are the books which