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ard expositors of Scripture, with the writings of our principal divines, and a few other necessary books of reference, to say nothing of works of general knowledge which are highly desirable to a clergyman of active mind and literary habits, will cost a sum which a very large portion of the clergy cannot by any economy and self-denial command, especially at first entering on the duties of their profession, when they most need such a treasure, but when their little property is, in numerous instances, ex: hausted by the necessary expenses of their education. And, indeed, even in after-life, how are such purchases to be made out of the pittance which usually falls to the lot of the parochial clergy, especially the unbeneficed part of them, and which is often little enough to pro
“ bread to eat, and raiment to put on,".. for the individual himself, deducting nothing for the claims of a wife and family ?
Were the importance of this subject duly felt by the religious and benevolent part of the public, we may surely presume, that in an age and nation so justly celebrated for liberality as our own, something more would be done than has yet been attempted, to supply this lamentable deficiency. A sum which would be one. rous or overwhelming to a stipendiary curate would be but a trifle to a parish, or even to
one wealthy individual ; and a donation or bequest of a few score pounds would lay a firm foundation for a parsonage library, which might prove of incalculable benefit to future generalions, long after the benevolent founder was translated to another world.
The liberality of successive incumbents, with other donations, would doubtless, in many cases, add considerably to the original endowment. It frequently happens that collections of books, which would be of great value if bequeathed for such a purpose, are scattered after the death of their owners,
or are sold for a trifle not worth consideration. The sacrifice in such cases in presenting the whole to the parsonage library would be of very small amount; and even if it were larger, would be more than compensated for, by the anticipation of the magnitude of the blessing which might accrue to posterity by the benefaction.
To the preceding arguments it may be added, that the laity are quite as much interested in the measure as the clergy, and would abund, antly reap the reward of their liberality in the improved character and increased diligence of their pastors, the fruit of whose studies woald be especially seen in their pulpit compositions, which no talent, piety, or assiduity, however great, can prevent becoming meagre and tau.
tological, if a clergyman have not access to a tolérably varied range of books. Many a hopeful student, who promised to become a competent divine and an interesting preacher, has been rendered, after a few years' residence in the country, a complete idler, or has gradually addicted himself to pursuits below the dignity, or unbecoming the duties, of his profession, chiefly perhaps for want of suitable materials for profitably employing his mind and assisting his pulpit labours, especially at his first entrance on his office. There are other clergymen, again, who would read, and “ whose profiting would appear to all,” if they had ready access to proper books; but who will not, or cannot, make a sacrifice to procure them. Considering these and many other circumstances which might be mentioned, the general formation of useful
libraries cannot but present itself to the reader as an object of great and urgent moment.
It is truly painful to reflect, that many a farm-house is better supplied with books than the residence of the official instructor of the parish, whose duty it is to provide for the spiritual wants of his flock, to solve their doubts, to refuté their objections, and to be skilful in all the varied knowledge of a profession which those who have most studied have confessed to be inexhaustible in its demands on the time, the talents, the
assiduity, and the prayers of its members. The necessity of the measure under consideration is more urgent than ever, since the increased attention paid to general education ; and it will be rendered more pressing still if the plan isug? gested for parochial libraries for the poor shall be extensively adopted.
It is the more surprising that this highly important, and perfectly feasible, mode of assisting the cause of piety, and promoting the honour and utility of the church through the medium of its agents, should not have been more ardently espoused, when we consider, that upwards of a century ago it was judged by the Legislature to be of such importance that an Act was passed * to encourage the object, by making suitable provisions for the preservation of libraries thus constituted, and to prevent the bounty of disinterested individuals being abused. It is trné, that the noble example set about that time by Dr. Bray has not been wholly lost. His valuable “ Parochial Library Institution still continues in existence, and has done much good ; but what are the libraries which it has founded, compared with the wants of a country like this ? † Surely here then is a claim on
* 7 Ann. cap. xiv.
+ The number of the libraries founded by this institution is not correctly ascertained. It appears that Dr. Bray in
British liberality and piety which ought not to pass unheeded; and especially when it is added that this institution, which is unhappily too little known, has recently contemplated en larging its plans of operation, and extending them, if the liberality of the public shall permit, to every parish in the kingdom. This would lay a general foundation, though much must still be left to local donations and private exertion, in order to render the libraries adequate to their intended object.
3. The right use of Influence is, if possible, still more important than even patronage or wealth ; because it can often command both the others, and exert itself where they are wanting. In how many ways it may be em ployed in extending piety and church principles, it would be impossible, and unnecessary if possible, to detail. As, however, under both the former heads a slight specification has been attempted, it may not be improper here also to glance at a similar exemplification,
his life-time instituted upwards of fifty parochial libraries in America (chiefly in Maryland) and other countries abroad, and sixty-one in England and Wales. The most extensive of these was St. Botolph's, Aldgate, in Loudon, containing 330 volumes. He founded also sixty-seven lending libraries in England and Wales, and sixteen in the Isle of Man. From his death, in 1730, up to the year 1818, the numbers were eighty-six parochial and fifty-three lending libraries. :.