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to teach, " endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Anxious for the salvation of the souls over whose welfare he is appointed to watch, he is "to rebuke vice; and if any be overtaken in a fault, to endeavour to restore them in the spirit of meekness;" to '* beseech them in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God." He is to declare unreservedly the whole counsel of God; not to exhibit one doctrine of the gospel in a more prominent light than another, but, taking the Bible as his unerring guide, to set forth fully and consistently " the truth as it is in Jesus." Acquainting his hearers with the whole and every part of christian duty, he will tell them to have faith first of all; and then " to their faith add virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, charity." These things he is to teach and exhort; and " both by his life and doctrine to set forth God's holy word, and show it accordingly."
But to preach with effect; to "do the work of an evangelist," "so as to give full proof of his ministry;" to prevail with the drunkard to be sober; with " him that stole to steal no more;" with the swearer to " bless and curse not;" with the Sabbath-breaker to " come into the courts of the Lord's house, and fall low on his knees before his footstool;" to check the hardened sinner in his career of ungodliness; to convince the gainsayers, silence the infidel and the blasphemer, check the presumptuous, comfort the weak-hearted, encourage the penitent;— to do this effectually, which is the only true end of preaching, is a task which nothing but a firm reliance on the Divine assistance will enable a minister to perform. It is not by learned discussions on points of faith; it is not by general exhortations to practical holiness; that any good and permanent effect can be produced. Let his discourses be as learned, and his exhortations as earnest as they may, they will be but as "sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal," unless they are directed to the peculiar circumstances, habits, and dispositions of those to whom they are addressed. To apply his reasonings, his rebukes, his reproofs, his exhortations to every member of his congregation; to take up the parable of Nathan, and say to each individual of his flock, "Thou art the man;" to probe the conscience, awaken the remorse, and quicken the energies, of all around him; something more will be required than the mere ordinary routine of a Sunday sermon. Even the dreadful denunciations of God's eternal vengeance against the impenitent sinner will fall unheeded from his lips, unless each individual be made to feel that the sin, of which he is especially guilty, is included in the condemnation. Besides the public preaching of the word, therefore, it is a minister's duty to visit his flock, and to accompany his visits with such wholesome advice as circumstances may suggest. He will thus be enabled to acquaint himself with the vices and errors most prevalent among his people; to observe whatever of good requires to be encouraged, and whatever of ill to be condemned; and not only to forward more successfully their spiritual improvement, but frequently, perhaps, to advance their temporal welfare.
In these his private visitations, he will be called upon more especially to attend at the bed of sickness, and to minister consolation to those afflicted with disease, and bowed down with infirmity. This is at once the most affecting, the most awful, and oftentimes the most painful part of a clergyman's duty. To converse with a fellow-creature on the brink of eternity, whose conscience tells him that he has "fought a good fight, and that, having kept the faith, he has finished his course" with the prospect of an eternal reward in heaven; "knowing that his Redeemer liveth," and that, by virtue of his atonement, he shall live with him, is a privilege which none can duly appreciate, but those who have been favoured with it. But how awful the difference, how sad the contrast, to watch the dying bed, to catch the expiring sighs of the wilful and hardened sinner: called at the last hour, perhaps, when the physician of the body has ceased to kindle even a ray of hope! How mournful the solemnity of offering a prayer for one who has never learnt, and is now unable, to pray for himself; and for the salvation of whose soul there is, perhaps, as little hope as for the recovery of his body! Even when dissolution may be yet at a distance, it is a source of serious concern to a minister, where sickness has overtaken a member of his flock, whose life has been at constant variance with the precepts of the gospel. The first thought that will naturally arise in his mind, is the fearful nature of his own responsibility, and a dread lest the evil ways of the sufferer should be in any degree attributable to his want of religious instruction. Is it owing to my neglect, he will ask himself, that this sick member of Christ's Church knows so little of the state of his soul, and that he is so little prepared for eternity? Should his sickness end in death, when we are assembled round the opened grave to commit his body to the ground, "earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust,"—shall I look to meet the soul, which now inhabits that dying body, in confidence or in dismay? If it be doomed to everlasting misery, have I neglected to warn it to flee from the wrath to come? if it be received into glory, have I been the happy instrument of its admission into the mansions of eternal bliss? Shall I be enabled to appeal to the great Judge of all the world, when we shall meet together before his dread tribunal, that this soul, and all for whom I have to answer, if they perish, have perished by their own fault? Have I laboured that this departed member of the Christian Church, who was baptized into the death of Christ, should so die unto sin, and live unto righteousness in this world, that in the world to come he may have life everlasting?
And here it may be remarked that the admission of infants into the Church by baptism, and of adults also, who have not hitherto partaken of the rite, is another appointed office of a minister of the gospel. Our Lord's commission to his Apostles comprises an injunction to "baptize in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost;" and he has moreover expressly declared that, " except a man be bom of water and of the Spirit, he cannot inherit the kingdom of God." The extreme importance, indeed the indispensable necessity, of this sacrament, as the seal of our initiation into the gospel covenant, cannot, therefore, be questioned for a moment; and it is almost impossible to account for the apparent unconcern with which parents, who neglect to bring their children to the baptismal font, seem to regard their eternal welfare. That such neglect prevails to a very lamentable extent, is matter of notoriety. I have told you before, and I now repeat the warning, that you are not only hazarding the spiritual welfare of your children, but risking a consequence, which could not fail to overwhelm a parent with the most bitter sorrow and shame. Children who die unbaptized, and, therefore, without the pale of the Church, are denied the rite of christian burial. Full well do I know the torrent of ill-will which would burst forth against the minister, who should refuse to violate his conscience by reading the service in such a case; but after this public, this repeated warning, what can you expect?" To ask no questions, for conscience' sake," would avail nothing; for my ministry among you must tell me of the fact; and, whatever the anguish of your feelings, whatever the bent of my own inclination, I am bound by a solemn vow, which I could not transgress.
"Those that are baptized, and come to years of discretion," are required by the Church to ratify the promise which was made in their names at their baptism, by the solemn rite of confirmation. To prepare the younger members of his flock for their presentation to the Bishop, is another duty of the christian minister. Of the nature and importance of this ceremony I shall take occasion to speak at the proper time; hut there is another duty, introductory to the examination which it will then be necessary to institute, which is no less essential—I mean that of catechetical instruction. The Church Catechism is a brief epitome of that religious knowledge which a Christian ought to possess in order to his soul's health; but for this end, not only the form of words, but their substance and meaning, should be thoroughly acquired. In former times, catechising was a regular part of the service; and, although the instruction afforded by the schools established in almost every parish has very generally superseded that practice, yet its occasional use is unquestionably attended with considerable benefit. Be it, however, publicly in the church, or privately in the schools, it is the duty of the minister to assist in it.
With respect to the ministration of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, it will be my wish to speak more at large to you, previously to its next celebration. Having, therefore, set before you a brief outline of the duties of an ambassador of Christ, let me entreat your prayers in my behalf, that I may be enabled to fulfil them; "that utterance may be given unto me, that I open my mouth boldly, to make known to you the mystery of the gospel; and that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak." And be not ye offended, as though I preached not the gospel unto you; for woe unto me if I preach not the gospel! "It is a very small thing to be judged of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self; but he that judgeth me," and those who would cast reproach upon me, " is the Lord, who knoweth the heart."
Besides your prayers to God for the success of my ministry among you, let me entreat also your co-operation in furtherance of it. Great and important as the duties of a christian minister are, there are others scarcely less urgent on the part of his flock. What those duties are, I shall endeavour to explain to you in another discourse; and in the mean time, let me exhort you to reflect seriously on what I have this day addressed to you. To these my public instructions, I shall ever be ready to add my private admonitions: and, wherever and whenever I can forward your welfare, I shall be ready and anxious to do it. "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for you is, that you may be saved;" that your sins may be washed out in the atoning blood of Christ; and that you may live with your gracious Redeemer in eternal happiness in heaven. W. T.
OBSERVATIONS ON CERTAIN PARTS OF THE LITURGY OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE CHRISTIAN REMEMBRANCER.
Mr. Editor,—We have lately heard much about the necessity of alterations in our admirable Liturgy. I do not intend at all to enter into this question, farther than to say, that as far as I am acquainted with the writings of those who recommend such alterations (and I have minutely read several of them), the writers not only differ greatly from one another, but, at the same time, show the greatest ignorance on liturgical questions. The only chance of agreement in such alterations must be found in a desire to bring the Liturgy back to its primitive model: to do this would be, in great measure, a matter of fact; but to attempt to reduce it to the standard of modern opinions, which are as numerous as the tastes of individuals, is only to bring in unlimited confusion. I do not quarrel with any man for proposing such alterations as are orthodox, if he does it in a christian spirit, and with a knowledge of the subject; but for a man to attempt this, in profound ignorance of the ancient liturgies, which are the sources of our^own, and in an equal ignorance of the changes, and the causes of such changes, which our own has undergone, is really such a mark of presumption as cannot be too severely reprobated. Perhaps your readers may imagine such a case would not occur; one example, however (which I believe you exposed at the time), I cannot forbear citing—that of the Rev. Mr. Riland, a curate in Staffordshire. When I tell you that this gentleman seems to be imbued with the spirit of the old Puritans, and with the dogmas of Geneva, you need no further description of the temper in which he deals with our Liturgy. I will, however, say no more on this head, than again to express my astonishment at the profound ignorance of all those whose writings I have seen on the subject.
Some of the observations I am about to submit may seem at first rather matters of antiquarian research than immediately bearing on the subject; but as the most minute knowledge of antiquity is absolutely necessary in those who would dare to touch our Liturgy, they may well be excused at the present crisis.
The design with which the various portions of the Holy Scriptures are read in our Liturgy seems generally unknown. Excepting the Lessons, the Epistles, and Gospels, they are commonly regarded as read rather by way of devotion than as lessons of instruction. But a reference to the original mode of reading them, and to the writings of the Fathers, shows this to be a mistake. Not only the portions of Scripture just mentioned, but the Ten Commandments in the Communion Service, the Magnificat, and other hymns, and the regular Psalms of the day, are merely read as lessons. For the proof of this assertion, I shall only refer to Palmer's "Origines Liturgicas," and Bingham's "Origines Ecclesiastics." Even when the Psalms were sung or chanted, the Fathers still speak of them only as Lessons of Scripture. The Decalogue in the Communion Service is read as a fixed Lesson from the law, in the same way as the Gospel in the Baptismal Service, or the Epistle in the Burial Service, are fixed lessons. The responses inserted between each commandment, and the repetition of the Gloria Patri at the end of each Psalm, no more alter the character of these portions as lessons from Scripture, than the repetition of the forms, "Glory be to thee, O Lord, and " We thank thee, O Lord, for this thy holy Gospel," preceding and following the Gospel of the day, according to the injunctions of Queen Elizabeth, alter that portion of Scripture from its character of a lesson. The ancient liturgies read many lessons from Scripture in succession, and often inserted between each lesson some anthem or response, like those in our service ; and we generally find that some of those portions were fixed and invariable, like the lesson of the Decalogue, and others in our Prayer Book. The mingling of such anthems and responses, or the alternate recitation of one verse by the minister and another by the people, or the singing and chanting of some portions thus selected from Scripture, were never regarded as altering them from the character of lessons into prayers and subjects of devotion. I need not here remark how completely this gets rid of the vulgar objection against our service for the use of those Psalms which contain imprecations against the enemies of David or of Israel; for no one can surely object to them when read merely as lessons of Holy Writ. The number of lessons in the primitive Church seems sometimes to have amounted to no less thankee in immediate succession, according to the five divisions into which they sometimes distributed the Holy Scriptures, as consisting of the Law, the Prophets, the Psalms, the Gospels, and the Apostles; and they were read in the order here mentioned, only the Gospel came last, and they called the preceding lesson not the Epistle, as we now call it, but the Apostle. After the Decalogue, which followed the sermon, the Epistle and Gospel, in the Communion Service of our Church, are the immediate remains of the ancient Lessons, as the Communion Service is the part more intimately corresponding to the Primitive Liturgy; the Morning Service having been united to it in after times.
The next observation I would make regards some peculiarities in the Litany, and the original design of Collects. I have never yet seen any one attempt an explanation why, in our Litany, the former part is printed alternatively in Roman letters and in Italics, without any direction as to the parts to be separately assigned to the minister and people; whilst the latter part has special and frequent directions on this point. "Then shall the priest, and the people with him, say the
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