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what, alas ! would be its actual value, if it should prove, after all, but a Tadmor in the Wilderness, with its massy columns dilapidated, its beau. teous proportions destroyed, and its original utility forgotten? A national establishment, however scriptural its plan or venerable its institution, is after all but a means to an end ; a vast machine which requires corresponding springs and movements, and can be practically beneficial only in proportion as its actual performance, abating for the imperfection of every thing human, corresponds to the theoretic cal. culation. Much must be allowed for impediment and friction--for the imperfection of ma. terials and the gradual wear and rust of years ; yet still society has a right to demand that
church establishment shall be found to accomplish its professed object in as efficient a manner as can reasonably be expected, under the actual circumstances of the case, and taking fully into the account the innumerable frailties and obliquities of human nature.
But how may such a consummation be best ensured? This is a most important inquiry; and the answer to it will involve many interesting considerations, a few of the more prominent, of which it will be the object of the present chapter to suggest. It is nothing to the purpose to say that the de.
sired effect would be produced, were all our clergy and laity precisely what it behoves them to be; for the question still recurs, how may they most effectually be rendered so, and what particular processes of amelioration seem best calculated to meet the existing exigencies of the case? The greater part of the treatises which have appeared on this question are rather glowing descriptions of the blessings which would accompany a high state of perfection, than practical suggestions for its attainment. It is intended, in the following remarks, to deviate from this course, by pointing out some of the actual means and instruments for obi taining the wished-for blessing, rather than descanting upon the blessing itself: "", The Author supposes
his reader to be really anxious on the subject: he supposés : him further to be convinced of the total impo: tence of all human means without the constant « dew of God's blessing;" to be looking up implicitly to the Great Head of the church as the Supreme Agent in its preservation, and to be imploring the abundant effusion of His Holy Spirit to extend its usefulness ; yet, at the same time, as prayer and exertion should always go together, to be anxiously inquir: ing in what way, in his own sphere of life, whatever it may be, he can best employ his
personal efforts, feeble as they may be, "to pro
mote a spirit of devotion, together with zeal for : the honour, stability, and influence, of the Established Church.” To such a reader, he addresses the present hints; and he would do it with an humble yet earnest prayer to God, that imperfect as they are, they may not. be wholly in vain, but may be blessed by His Holy Spirit to the benefit of the church of Christ, and be instrumental in exciting its members to new zeal, diligence, and unanimity in its cause.
In endeavouring to point out the best, specific measures for the attainment of the desired end in immediate reference to our own church, it may be well to remark, as a preliminary caution, that no: novel system of ecclesiastical doctrine
or discipline is at all requisite, but only, that the church, as already established, should assume greater efficiency, and avail itself more fully of every due means for increasing its own utility. It is not by a few violent efforts that the Church of England is to be preserved, or Dissent annihilated : nor is it by any species of moral magic that devotion is to be fostered, or irreligion quelled. As our disorder, has been chronic, our recovery must be gradual. The only wise or reasonable plan for increasing
devotion and churchmanship throughout the country, is by the systematic combination of all those various means which the church herself has placed within our reach, under a constant recognition of the Divine Agency, and with a humble spirit of devotion and dependence upon God's “
grace and heavenly benediction.” The Church asks for no projecting or innovating spirit: the power of renovation is placed, under God, in the individual and collective agency of her ministers and members. Our wise and holy reformers have amply provided for casual decays and dilapidations, and have instituted a system, which, if fully acted upon in their own spirit, would soon restore the Church of England to that primitive glory which she derived from the blood of her martyrs and the suffrages of an admiring people.
For the sake of method, we shall proceed to consider,
First-What may be done by THE LAITY for increasing the devotion and churchmanship of their members.
Secondly-What may be done by OUR VENERABLE PRELATES ; and
Thirdly-What may be effected by THE CLERGY AT LARGE.
• To each of these points it is proposed to devote a distinct section.
MEANS WHICH THE LAITY POSSESS POR EXCITING
AND MAINTAINING A SPIRIT OF DEVOTION, TOGRTHER WITH ZEAL FOR THE HONOUR, STABIĻITY, AND INFLUENCE OF THE ESTABLISHED CHURCH.
It may possibly be objected, in perusing the title of this section, that it seems to presuppose, what in fact is the most important point to be attained, namely, a desire on the part of the people at large to assist in their own spiritual improvement. Were such a disposition, it may be said, generally prevalent, the most formidable difficulty would be at once surmounted ; for a heartfelt, ingenuous anxiety to be a true Christian is an auspicious precursor to becoming one; as our Lord himself teaches :'" he that will do the will of God shall know of the doctrine.” If the laity were universally desirous of the increase and perpetuity of true religion, the correspondence of each member, in his own sphere, to the scriptural model of faith and duty, would soon effect the attainment of the general object. It is the will therefore, it may be objected, that is principally wanting; and