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unfeelingly some of the younger members of the robe appeared to view these sad exhibitions of the fruits of vice; would he not feel a desire to make the most of this extraordinary occasion? Would he not endeavour to improve it for the benefit of the spectators, while addressing himself to the unhappy criminal? Here he would not fail to recal their attention to those circumstances which the trial brought out, in proof of the danger of being led by our passions, of keeping wicked company, or of profaning the Lord's-day.
* In all these endeavours, he would shew with what supreme deference he regards the Bible. This would likewise appear when addressing the criminal on preparation for death. His language on this awful subject would rise above the vague ideas of those who are not well grounded in the Christian Scriptures. He would speak like one who has meditated on the law of God, as well as the law of the land, and has thereby seen how necessary repentance is to every one, and on what foundation all hope with respect to the soul must be placed.
Hereby our judicatories would forward the purposes of our religious assemblies, bringing home to the business and bosoms of men’truths which they hear elsewhere; and thus teaching them to consider the instructions of their faith
ful pastors-not as the language of a particular profession, but as the united voice of all who have any extraordinary claims to attention : as the counsels of wisdom, wheresoever or by whomsoever she speaks *.'
THE MEANS WHICH OUR VENERABLE PRELATES
POSSESS FOR EXCITING AND MAINTAINING A SPIRIT OF DEVOTION AMONG THE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH, TOGETHER WITH ZEAL FOR HER INFLUENCE, HONOUR, AND STABILITY.
IF the extent of the remarks which it is proposed to offer on the subject of the present section were measured by the importance of the topic, it would be difficult to know where to
* Zeal without Innovation, p. 274.-It is trusted that the pious author of the above remarks was rather narrating what he had really witnessed, than sketching an ideal scene; for of many who have adorned the judicial bench, it may be remarked, in the justly laudatory language of Mr. Wilberforce speaking of the late Lord Chief Justice Kenyon, that those who would “ encourage virtue, and discountenance vice," and would “enforce the laws by which the wisdom of our forefathers has guarded against the grosser infraction of morals," may“ congratulate themselves, that in a leading situation on the bench of justice, there is placed a man, who, to his honour be it spoken, is well disposed to assist their efforts.”
end—if, by its delicacy, where to begin. For on the one hand no order of men equally limited in number possesses any thing approaching towards the power which our venerable prelates enjoy for promoting national devotion, with zeal and affection for the church; yet of no class of persons is it more difficult to speak without infringing upon the just decorum which their station so peculiarly demands; and more especially when, as in the present instance, the remarks flow from the pen of an obscure individual among the subordinate clergy.
It would not, however, be giving a just view of the great question under discussion in this Essay, were this important division of it passed over: a few remarks, therefore, will be offered, not however as suggestions to the venerable body to whom they relate, and who must be infinitely better acquainted with the duties of their exalted station, and the facilities which they possess for benefiting the church of Christ, than the author of these feeble hints can pretend to be; but in order to exhibit to the world the high importance of their sacred function, and to shew, what many persons not professedly unfriendly to the church are slow to believe, that far from holding an easy or superfluous office in society, they rank among those who have it most in their power to promote the best interests of
réligion, and the present and eternal welfare of mankind.
A British prelate may be regarded in a threefold view ; either generally as a person of rank and influence in society, or in his pastoral character, or in his peculiar capacity as an overseer in the church of Christ.
With regard to the first and second of these views, it may be sufficient to refer to the first and third sections of the present chapter. Whatever has been urged with respect to the possessors of wealth, influence, and patronage, applies with peculiar force to the members of the Episcopal body; who, to the duties arising from the share which they may possess of these gifts of Divine Providence, add the still higher and peculiar ones which result from their sacred profession. An angel might almost envy the opportunities of benefiting mankind and promoting the glory of God which are enjoyed by a truly conscientious prelate in the Anglican Church. If we view the office only in its incidental annexation with rank and power ; or if, abstracting from it these appendages, we consider it simply in its connexion with the ordinary functions of the priesthood ; it will still appear in either case to be one of high responsibility. For if a simple pastor by God's blessing can effect, or exert himself to effect, all that we
shall endeavour, at a future page, to shew lies within his legitimate sphere of duty, how much more a member of the sacred profession who enjoys the advantages of exalted station and extensive influence; who mixes on terms of equality with senators and nobles ; who lifts his mitred front in courts," a legislator to his country, and a judge and magistrate în causes of the highest importance to the welfare of mankind! And if to the general character of a clergyman which he possesses in common with his subordinate brethren, and a man of high station and extensive influence in civil society; we add, whatever he enjoys exclusively and alone, either of authority, estimation, or patronage in virtue of bis peculiar office, it would be difficult to estimate how great and multiform must be his opportunities of doing good.
It is true that the modern changes in society, and the accumulated restrictions of precedent, combining with some other causes, may present many impediments to the full exercise of Episcopal discretion with which the public are not acquainted, and the peculiar nature of which they might not know how to estimate, But making every proper deduction on these and other accounts, the power which our prelates possess for promoting the extension of religion and church influence is still undefinably great ; and