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called licensed ; that is, described and recorded in the entries of the quarter sessions. It authorizes, subject, however, to the same condition, their schools and schoolmasters, provided they do not receive into them the children of Protestant fathers ; but it prohibits any foundation or endowment of such schools. It lays open to the Roman Catholics the profession of the law, in its several descriptions of counsellors, proctors, and attorneys, by substituting the new oath in the place of another, by which they found themselves excluded from these employments. In the same way, it renders them capable of serving upon juries. But the part of the act which it more immediately concerns me to notify to you, is that which puts them in the situation of Protestant Dissenters in regard to their eligibility to parish offices, and amongst these, to that of churchwarden. It directs that Roman Catholics may be appointed to these offices in common with the other inhabitants of the parish; and that if they, being so appointed, object to any thing in the oaths, or the duties belonging to the office, they shall and may substitute a deputy, who is to be approved, admitted, and sworn as the principal would have been. This is all that I think it in any wise material to remark in this act; which, so far as it extends the just principles of toleration, will be received, I hope, both by the clergy and the laity, with approbation.
As I last year laid before the clergy such advice as I was able to give them, and that somewhat more at large than usual, I know not whether I can employ the present opportunity better than in recommending to the consideration of the churchwardens and parishes the situation of many of their parish clerks, and of a certain description of schoolmasters in country villages. The change in the value of fixed payments, which in many cases is felt severely by the clergy, has absolutely ruined the provision that was intended for parish clerks. The small payments, arising in most places from houses, in some from communicants, and in some from tenements, and which, when they were fixed, might in a good degree be adequate to the trouble of the office and the station of the person who held it, are become hardly worth collecting ; the consequence of which is, that some parishes within this jurisdiction have no parish clerks at all. I am hardly able to judge how the service proceeds without this assistance, where the minister and the congregation are accustomed to the want of it; but I have found, when the
: clerk has been occasionally absent, and his office not supplied, great confusion to arise from the want of the responses and the alternate parts of the liturgy being regularly supported ; and I am afraid that some part of this inconveniency is felt where the congregation and their minister are obliged to go on as they can, without the attendance of any parish clerks at all. I am sorry, therefore, to see this defect in any parish; because it is a defect which impairs, in soine degree, what we are all concerned to maintain, the decorum of public worship. There is reason also to apprehend, that the extreme scantiness of the income, which leaves some parishes without any parish clerk at all, in others obliges the minister, or whoever has the appointment, to take up with insufficient or improper persons. The remedy which I would recommend for this evil, for so I must call it, is, that, in parishes in which the income of the parish clerk is extremely small, an allowance should be made to them by the parish, of an annual stipend, to be paid out of the church rate. I have no doubt that a vestry is authorized to do this. From the earliest times of our legal history, and long anterior to any statutes upon the subject, parishes or their vestries were corporations for the purpose of providing for public worship, and the assigning a competent salary to a parish clerk; like providing books, vestments, furniture for the communion table and the church, which the law casts upon parishes in all places. This method, I am very glad to observe, is already adopted in some parishes in the diocese. I am now only expressing my wish that it may be extended to others, in which it is equally wanted.
The description of schoolmasters to which I refer is that of schools in country villages, endowed with fixed salaries of from ten to twenty pounds a year; in consideration of which they are obliged, or supposed to be obliged, to teach all the children of the parish or township that may be sent to them. The consequence of which is, that the schoolmaster is not maintained as the decency of his character and the importance of his service require that he should be; that his school is crowded with more children than the care of one man can superintend ; and that he has no emolument from the number of his scholars, to reward or stimulate bis exertions; and thus, upon the whole, these well intended benefactions do more harm than good. Wherever this is the case, and cases of this sort abound in the diocese, I would earnestly recommend, that, in addition to the fixed salary, the scholars should pay half quarterage.
By this means, with a very moderate charge upon the inhabitants, the income of the schoolmaster will be advanced to something like a provision for his decent support ; and he will find, in the profits of his school, what every man ought to find, an advantage proportioned to his abilities and diligence, by an increase of which parents will be amply repaid for the expense that they incur. The endowment will not be thrown away, but, on the contrary, made to 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 instruction.
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 expense, will do well to put their parishioners in the way of procuring it for themselves.
ON AFTERNOON LECTURES.
Of every ecclesiastical constitution the essential part is the parochial clergy; so much more important, indeed, do they appear to me than any other parts of our establishment, that other parts, in my judgment, 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 he 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. Again, there are difficulties which a simple recourse to the original, to a parallel text, to circumstances of time, occasion, and place, or a 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.
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 it will be found in a good measure to promote, and that is, the increasing of the afternoon congregations. Some expedient for this end is peculiarly necessary in this diocese, in most parishes of which the inhabitants are dispersed through a wide district, living, 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 straggling houses. Where the parishioners must go so far to church, 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 of the week. This thinness and desertion of the afternoon congregation, no incumbent of a country parish can be insensible of; and there are two ways of treating the evil ; one, in discontinuing evening service entirely, the other, in endeavouring to bring our parishioners to it. Which of those resolutions is more conscientious, and more satisfactory, judge ye. Now, I