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justified in priding himself, that I am at a loss to understand how a man, who does not entertain such a preference, can conscientiously solicit admission into the ministry.
One necessary consequence of this well-grounded predilection for the national church will be a punctual conformity to its ritual, a studious adherence to the forms which it prescribes in the celebration of the offices of religion. On this subject I deem it necessary to offer a few remarks, because there exists in the present day too great a tendency to depreciate all external forms, and to represent a strict adherence to them as wholly unimportant. True it is, that the ceremonies of religion derive all their efficacy from the spiritual temper with which they are performed; if that be wanting, the mere observance of an established site : must be altogether unavailing. But that man must possess a very imper. fect acquaintance with human nature, who conceives that a religious society, comprehending within it numerous individuals, can long subsist without the aid of external forms : and that man must possess a no less imperfect acquaintance with the limits of moral duty, who, having once entered into the ministry, thinks that he is at liberty either to omit or to alter at his own pleasure the forms enjoined by the religious society to which he belongs. To suppose that outward ceremonies contribute little towards the maintenance and diffusion of spiritual religion in the world is. to suppose, that the constitution of man's nature has undergone a total change; that he is become altogether independent of his senses ; and that his mind is no longer influenced by association and by sympathy. To suppose that every minister, in the celebration of the offices of religion, is not bound strictly to comply with the prescribed ritual, is to suppose, that it is allowable for individuals to follow their own opinions in opposition to the authority which they are pledged to obey; a supposition so monstrous that it would not be endured for a moment in a question relating to the interests of civil society. But so it is; when religion is concerned, men reason and act upon principles of which, in any other case, they would be themselves the first to discover and expose the pernicious tendency. They are induced to deviate from an established form by the hope of securing some immediate advantage to the cause of religion ; forgetting that-no particular advantage can possibly compensate the mischief arising from the transgression of those general laws by the observance of which society is held together : forgetting too that, if every individual were to assume to himself the same liberty, all uniformity of ceremonies must soon be done away, and with it the benefits of social worship bé entirely lost.
Far then from regarding an adherence to established forms as a matter of trivial importance, the minister of the church of England
will perceive that it is closely connected with the promotion of spiritual religion; and will not only abstain from making any unauthorised innovations, but will be careful that nothing be wanting on his part to give to the public offices of the church their full weight and efficacy. Had the importance of this scrupulous attention to the prescribed ritual been at all times duly appreciated, I am inclined to think that the low and unworthy notions at present too prevalent respecting the rite of baptism would never have obtained so wide a circulation. So long as baptism was celebrated in the mode and at the time appointed by the liturgy, in a place set apart to the worship of God, and in the face of a congregation assembled together to offer to him their prayers and thanksgivings, every circumstance contributed to impress the mind with a deep sense of the exalted and solemn character of the ritę, and men felt a ready disposition to believe that the divine blessing would attend a ceremony administered with every external mark of seriousness and devotion. But when, through the false pride or indolence of Parents on the one hand, and the too easy compliance of the Ministers of the establishment on the other, the practice of baptising children in private houses began generally to prevail; when the rite was no longer celebrated in the temple of God, where every object is associated with devout feelings, but in the rooms of a private mansion, the place of our constant abode, and consequently connected in our minds with the cares, the interests and the follies of the world, not in the presence of a large assembly met together for the purposes of social worship, but of a few persons, less intent perhaps upon the ceremony itself than upon the festive merriment by which
it was to be succeeded when so complete a departure from the views of the framers of our liturgy had taken place, can we wonder that the rite ceased to be regarded with the same veneration, and that men began to doubt whether it were in truth the sign of an inward and spiritual Grace? The careless and negligent administration of baptism, which may in no small degree be traced to the practice of performing the rite in private houses, has, I am convinced, made more converts to the opinion, that regeneration does not take place in baptism, than all the arguments which learned and ingenious men have been able to produce in its support. * The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper is still regarded by the great
body of the Members of our Church with that reverence, which vis due to an ordinance, instituted by our Blessed Redeemer himself vas one of the appointed means of communicating his grace to man. The
very excuses which men are accustomed to make for absent. ing themselves from the holy communion, weak and unsatisfactory has they must appear to the eye of reason, clearly prove the importance which those who urge them attach to a participation in VOL. XX.
that sacred rite. Although they are unwilling to adopt that course of life which will fit them to approach the altar of the Lord, yet by their conduct they manifest their conviction that to approach it is a solemn act, requiring a previous and diligent preparation of the heart. Great then will be our responsibility if, through any carelessness or remissness on our part, or through any desire of substituting our own fancies in the place of the forms which have been prescribed by the authority of the church, we impair the dignified solemnity which attends this holy mystery, or weaken those feelings of awe and veneration, with which it continues to be regarded. If on the one hand it is our duty to guard our hearers from the error of supposing, that the ceremonies of religion possess in themselves any intrinsic force and efficacy ; so is it no less our duty on the other to take care, that we do not by a careless administration of its outward forms lead men to believe that we lightly esteem the spiritual benefits, with which by the ordinance of God himself those forms are connected.
I proceed to another topic, the most important perhaps to which your attention can be directed, but at the same time the topic on which the greatest variety of opinions is likely to prevail; I allude to the limits, which the Minister of the Church of England ought to prescribe to himself in his intercourse with the world. In the determination of this question the different habits, dispositions, and tempers of men will necessarily have great influence. Some are of a cheerful, social turn; others of a more retired and austere character; and what appears to the former only an innocent acquiescence in the customs of society, will be deemed by the latter a 'mark of a light and frivolous mind, and wholly unsuitable to that grave and dignified demeanour which the minister of the gospel ought on all occasions to maintain.
The first suggestion then which I shall venture to offer, on this subject is, that we be careful not to put a harsh construction on the conduct of our brother, nor to fancy that, because his religion does not wear precisely the same appearance as our own, he is not therefore impressed with a due sense of the paramount importance of religion, and of the awful responsibility which attaches to the discharge of the ministerial functions. To prescribe a ge"neral standard of manners and demeanor, the slightest deviation from which shall be regarded as a proof of deficiency in religious feeling, is not more reasonable than to require that all men shall frame their countenances precisely according to the same model. Religion is not of this exclusive character, it will combine itself with all tempers and dispositions ; with the lively, as well as the sedate ; with the cheerful as well as the grave.
I shall observe in the second place that, in determining to what
extent it is lawful for the christian' minister to mix in the business or in the pleasures of the world, the error against which he should be most careful to guard is that of excess. When we were admitted into the Priesthood, we bound ourselves, if not by an express, yet by an implied promise, « to give ourselves wholly to that of fice whereunto it had pleased God to call us, so that, as much as lay in us, we would apply ourselves wholly to that one thing and draw all our cares and studies that way.". The mode in which we discharge the obligation thus contracted is the criterion, by which men of all classes, but especially those in the inferior ranks of life, estimate our sincerity. If at the very time that we are in our discourses 'enlarging upon the infinite superiority of heavenly to earthly interests, and inculcating the necessity of constant and earnest endeavours to abstract the thoughts from the present scene and to fix them upon eternity--if at this very time we show in our conduct a restless anxiety for worldly riches and distinction, or an immoderate eagerness in the pursuit of worldly pleasures, can we be surprised that our hearers, observing how much our behaviour is at variance with our exhortations, begin to suspect that we are not ourselves in reality persuaded of the truth of doctrines, to which we allow' so slight an influence over our practice? 1.100 4.100
It must indeed be admitted that the world is not unfrequently most unreasonable in its expectations; it requires from the clergy sacrifices of their worldly interests wholly incompatible with the obligation under which they, no less than the rest of the community, are placed of making a suitable provision for their families; it requires from them such an entire dedication both of their mental and bodily powers to the duties of their profession, as would allow them no opportunities of relaxation and preclude them from every amusement, however innocent and blameless in its nature. Is it incumbent upon them to comply with these extravagant expectations ? By no means. In our concessions to the feelings and opinions of the world we must not exceed certain limits, nor allow them to interfere with any positive duty which we owe either to ourselves or others. It can scarcely be necessary for me to remark that the suggestions, which I am now offering, have reference solely to that class of actions which are by' moralists termed indif*ferent. ** Actions, however, which considered in themselves are indifferent, may assume a character of positive good or evil, when viewed in connexion with the effects produced by them on the minds of others. Whether I shall enforce a particular right, or engage in certain amusements and pursuits, may, as far as regards the nature
Service for Ordering Priests.
of the acts themselves, be a matter of indifference. But it ceases to be so, if the world has attached to the enforcement of that right a notion of harshness and oppression, or has connected with those amusements and pursuits an idea of levity and dissipation. The influence, which religion possesses among the members of any community, must in a great measure depend upon the respect and affection with which they regard its teachers. The christian minister will pause, therefore, before he does any act which can have even a remote tendency to excite feelings of an opposite description ; or which, by inducing men to doubt the sincerity of his belief in the doctrines which he teaches, may indispose them to the cordial reception of the doctrines themselves. Knowing that it is his first duty to win all men to the cause of righteousness, he will not be too nice in weighing the reasonableness of the sacrifices either of interest or inclination which they require from him, but will be ready to condescend to their infirmities and prejudices. per : using the writings of the New Testament no circumstance appears to me more clearly to evince the divine inspiration of the authors, than their intimate acquaintance with human nature, and the admirable adaptation of the rules, which they lay down for the conduct of life, to the various relations in which man is placed with respect to his fellow creatures. Were I required to produce an instance in confirmation of this remark, I would refer to the caution, delivered by St. Paul to the Roman converts for their guidance upon certain points which the gospel had left indifferent, ' your good be evil spoken of.”
I have now touched upon all the topics which appear to me particularly to demand your attention. I cannot, however, conclude my present address without reminding you, that the object of these stated meetings between the clergy and their Diocesan is to afford him an opportunity, not merely of offering them such advice as the circumstances of the Church may seem to him to require, but also of receiving from them such information as may enable him more effectually to administer the important office with which he is invested.' If then there be any suggestions which may tend in your opinions to promote either the interests of religion, or your own individual comfort, (which, as far as my sense of duty will allow me, I shall ever be most anxious to consult), let me beg you, my reverend brethren, to communicate them frankly and without reserve, assuring yourselves that they will receive on my part an attentive and favorable consideration.