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politics in the pulpit, or out of it either : I believe you will be all much of a mind as to those matters. Yet you will not forget the 5th of November, whereon we perpetuate the memory of God's signal mercies to us and to our forefathers, on a double account, in delivering us from Popery and arbitrary power; and I cannot but wonder that
any who are willing to remember the former, should not be thankful for the latter : the 30th of January, which I can hardly think will be repealed while we have a King in England; or the 29th of May, without which we should have had no King at all: all which I think are established by Acts of Parliament, and this last to be read publicly in the church every year the Sunday before, as in the rubric: or the 1st of August, the day of His Majesty's happy accession to the throne of these kingdoms, which for that reason is, you know, likewise to be kept holy. By this you will keep up in your people's minds a just abhorrence of all Popish, fanatical, and disloyal principles and practices; especially if you preach, as I would have you do, a sermon on all those four days, every year, proper to the occasion.
As to party disputes, you shall not say I have attempted to bias you one way or another : the less you meddle with them, I think, the better. Experto crede! Yet you will never forget that you are an Englishman and a Christian.
Catechising is distinguished from preaching, perhaps more in name than in thing, especially as it was among the ancients, when large accurate lectures or discourses were made in public by their greatest men, Clemens of Alexandria, Origen, Cyril of Jerusalem, &c., on all the heads of religion : when the Catechist was a stated officer in the church, as I think he ought to be still, at least in all our larger parishes ; and when the catechumens made so great a part of the congregation. Which office, that of Catechist, seems now to be divided, by our constitution and canons, between the Minister and the Schoolmaster; though these cannot excuse parents and masters in the neglect of it, where they can read, or say it themselves without book. To prevent or cure which too common neglect, I should think it would be a very good way
sometimes, and especially at the beginning of Lent, or whenever you see occasion, to read to your congregation the two first Rubrics after the Catechism; as also the fifty-ninth and seventy-ninth Canons. In all this part of your duty you will have two great advantages : one, in a pious and careful Schoolmaster, who I am sure will be ready and glad to take and follow your directions : the other, by your living in his house, where you will have an eye over the children, and see how they work and profit; especially the charity-children, whose number I wish we knew how to augment, as well as that a way might be found to add some work to their learning; which I
am sure were not difficult, if people were but heartily disposed to do it, and I am not without hopes that you may sometime prevail with your neighbours to do it, though I could not; if you strike soon before the iron cools. This would effectually obviate and silence an objection which I have heard from some thrifty persons, against all the charity-schools in the nation; (as what is there so noble and useful, but some may object against it ?) namely, that they made children proud and idle, and spoil them for servants; so that upon trial, seldom any of them are good for aught : the latter part of which complaint may, for aught I know, in some sense be true; for they are taught in their schools to abhor lying, and to lead a godly life. But of what use should such as these be to many masters ? who would have such qualifications in a servant as are not, totidem verbis, the same with David's: “He that telleth not lies, shall not tarry in my sight: he that leadeth a godly life, shall not be my servant.” For were it not for this sound and honest reason, one would be apt to think a blackguard boy or girl should not make much the worse servants, for having learnt to say their
and catechisms, and to write and read ; and for being broken of what one may almost call their original sins,—their cursing, and swearing, and stealing, and lying.
It is known to have been by the method of constant catechising, that both the ancient Jews and first Christians were so firmly grounded in their religion: as the revival of this practice I believe was, in a great measure, owing to the speedy and wide propagation of the Reformed religion, at its first appearance in the world ; and I doubt its standing at a stay, and the melancholy growth of atheism, infidelity, profaneness, Popery, schism, and heresy, to the too common neglect, or careless and heedless performance of it. Nor do I expect we should recover our ground, without the utmost diligence and application in this office, which I hope has begun to revive for some years last passed; whence we may likewise hope that a better race of men shall arise in the next generation, and, that whatever we may have done, our posterity shall serve the Lord. Γένοιτο. .
Neither can I think we have discharged our consciences by catechising in Lent only; nay, I am sure of the contrary, and that we are obliged to do it, if we have no reasonable let or hinderance, by the Rubric and Canon before mentioned, at evening service on all Sundays and holidays; which, therefore, if I mistake not, was designed instead of a sermon. Nor yet, I doubt, have we done our duty till we have seen our children taught some larger Catechism, after they are perfect in the shorter. Archbishop Wake's is for men, not for children. I had before taught mine Bishop Beveridge's ;
making them draw out the answers themselves, in a method which Mr. — knows. Though you will hardly get your adults, servants, &c., to learn and repeat either this or the other, unless you take
your brother's method, whom I look upon to be one of the ablest Catechists in the nation.
VI. The next part of your office is administering the sacraments: that of baptism now, and assisting in the other, till you are regularly called yourself to the full celebration and administration of it.
As for baptism, I doubt not but you will perform it in so grave and solemn a manner as becomes so sacred an office; and hope you will bring the godfathers and godmothers, as your brother has done at Haxey, though I could never do it at Epworth, to repeat the responses. And yet something I have done, nor have the least apprehension that you should let them break through that good order which has cost me the biggest struggle I ever had since I came to the parish, in prevailing with the people to bring their children to church for public baptism, as their wives to be churched ; whereas both were commonly done before in their houses, where they had godfathers and godmothers, and the whole baptismal office, as they generally have it still in the Levels; though I would never administer it there in that manner. But in case of real necessity, (whereof you are the judge, and yet might not perhaps do much amiss if you threw in sometimes a grain of favour to quiet the fearful puerpera,) God forbid they should ever want private baptism, whether it be day or night, that they send for you. But then you will do what you can, and take the best vouchers you are able, for their bringing them to church to be received there soon afterwards, at the farthest when the mother is churched; because, some will keep them an enormous while before they will do it, sometimes a year, or near, or more : as they also will commonly do before they get their children christened at all, either publicly or privately, and will bring such monsters of men-children to the font, as will almost break your arms, and with their manful voices disturb and alarm the whole congregation: for which, all such parents will deserve to be presented, if they will not be reformed or dissuaded from so ill a practice. The midwife,
who deserves a licence, though I doubt she has not one, is a decent, sensible woman, and I am sure will serve the church in this matter as far as she is able. There was a dispute about the place of churching women, which we have evidence has been in the same place, the pew where John Peck sits, for fifty or sixty years last passed; but I hope that dispute is now over. You will, I hope, keep them to the Rubric, in letting you know sometime the day before, when
they have a child to be baptized, be it to be done either Sunday or holiday; (though you will indulge them as far as to do it likewise on prayer-days ;) that you may appoint whether it should be brought in the fore or afternoon. As for churchings, you will find many, especially of the poorer sort, will be for getting this over before the child is baptized; and when the woman is once at liberty, notwithstanding their fair promises before, will drive the other sometimes world without end; for their children have died unbaptized. I wish with all my heart you could break this bad custom: I desire you would consult your brother about it, whose advice and practice will, I know, have great weight with my people, when you plead with them for this, or any other necessary alteration. When you have any adults, you will prepare them for baptism, and then give me notice, who have had a general verbal licence from the Bishop to baptize them.
As for the other sacrament which you know we have, as your brother has, once a month, no better directions, I think, can be given, where they are practicable, than those which we had from our then Bishop Wake, in his Letters to his Clergy, anno 1711, p. 5: “ After you have read the exhortation, the Sunday before, prescribed by the communion-book, to add the two first Rubrics of the same book; and there expressly to admonish all such as intend to be partakers of the holy communion, to signify their names to the Curate the day before, as the Rubrics require, to the end that every Minister may know who they are that do customarily neglect this holy ordinance; and also be the better enabled, by good advice and instruction, to prepare such as should need his assistance to come wortbily to it; and to advertise those whom for their open and notorious evil living they are forbid to admit, that they do not in anywise presume to come to the Lord's table, till they have truly repented and amended; of whom, if any are repelled, and cannot otherwise be reclaimed, an account is to be given to the Ordinary within fourteen days ;” as a list of those who altogether refuse to communicate, is, by Canon cxii., to be exhibited to the Bishop or his Chancellor.
There is a collection at the sacrament, at which I gave something myself, for example, more than from any conceived obligations; though on both accounts to briefs. This sacrament money, when entered into the church-book, is kept in the box appointed for it, with three canonical locks and keys; one of which I have in my own keeping. That money I have agreed shall be disposed, three parts to pay for the children at the charity-school, the fourth reserved in bank for such poor sick people as have to constant relief from the parish, and who come to the sacrament; though I
understand by your brother it is all given for the charity-children at Haxey.
And now I am on the head of charity, there is a considerable sum, left by legacies, to be distributed in cloth to the poor every Christmas, wherein the Minister is, by will, concerned ; though they have got a way, for some of these last years, of shutting him quite out of it, and ordering it how they please, even those who have nothing to do in particular with the disposal of it; which ought, I am sure, to be regulated, if we know how to do it. The register ought to be kept according to the seventieth Canon, and the christenings, &c., writ down every Sunday after morning or evening service : processions kept up every year, in Rogation-week, which might have prevented a great deal of loss to the parish and the Minister, if it had been constantly done formerly.
VII. Your last, and not the least difficult, task, is that of discipline, chiefly coercive, what we have left of it; as I think we have still more than we make use of. One main branch of which, and which I believe would go a great way, if duly and impartially executed, is that relating to the sacrament already mentioned. The others are presentments, excommunications, &c., for which you will have particular directions in your book of Articles, if you can persuade Churchwardens to observe them, whom you will do well to remind of the twenty-sixth Canon, and to read it over to them ; to prevent, if possible, their being guilty of the horrid sin of perjury. As likewise of the ninetieth Canon, “ That they diligently see that all the parishioners resort to church, and not stay idling in the churchyard or porch,” much less, surely, in the alehouse ; though it would be well if
you could keep your Church wardens themselves out of them, and that even in the time of divine service. It has never been my custom to suffer any to be presented for ante. nuptial fornication, where the women held out to the seventh month ; because I know there may be, and often has been, in the month a natural living burden. But as for others, either antenuptial or no-nuptial fornicators, or any of the same crew, they neither have had, nor shall expect, from me any favour. You may perhaps sometimes catch the Dissenters napping this way, as well as those whom they call the men of the world; but I never made any distinction between them and others, having brought them to public penance, from whence they found they were not screened by the Toleration. As for the rest, the Dissenters will live inoffensively and friendly with
if you will let them alone, and not humour them so far as to dispute with them, which I did at my first coming; for they always outfaced me and outlunged me, and, at the end, we were just where we were at the beginning.