Imágenes de páginas

furnish a zealous prelate with favourable opportunities of conferring extensive benefits upon religion and the church; and preaching will of course occar to every mind, as another most powerful instrument for effecting the great objects under consideration.It is true that the state of the church has in many respects changed since the days of those indefatigable Episcopal preachers, Chrysostom, Origen, and Augustine; and that the pressure of urgent business which lies upon our prelates, with other causes that might be mentioned, may not generally allow of their devoting so much time to this particular duty as to some persons might appear desirable. It may also be urged that a bishop preaches best while he

be changed from Sunday to Saturday, for which he said that he should give immediate orders.

“ Thus auspiciously ended this interview; and during the whole time I was charmed with his fine, open, manly, countenance, the peculiar mildness and gentleness of his manner, the elegance of his language, and the clearness and precision with which he gave me the history of the whole meeting.”

Surely,” adds the bishop, in language the truth of which must be universally acknowledged, “it is in the power of such a man, in a station of such eminence, and formed as he is to be the delight, not only of this country but of all Europe, so to win the public affection, as 'to bow the hearts of all the people of England, as it were the heart of one man.'”-Hodgson's Life of Porteus, p. 249.

is so conducting the affairs of his diocese as to see that his clergy both preach and discharge their various duties with diligence and faithfulness ; since he then preaches by many tongues instead of one, and, moreover, acts in his most important office as an overseer,whose business is not so much to perform particular services himself as to see that they are duly performed by others *.

* Hooker seems to be of the same opinion.

“ We grant,” says he, “ that the good which higher governors do, is not so immediate and near unto every one of us, as many times the meaner labours of others under them, and this doth make it to be less esteemed. But we must note, that it is in this case as in a ship: he that sitteth at the stern is quiet; he moveth not, he seemeth in a manner to do little or nothing in comparison of them that sweat about other toil; yet that which he doth is in value and force more than all the labours of the residue laid together. The influence of the heavens above worketh infinitely more to our good, and yet appeareth not balf so sensible as the force doth of things below. We consider not what it is which we reap by the authority of our chiefest spiritual governors ; nor are likely to enter into any consideration thereof, till we want them; and that is the cause why they are at our hands so unthankfully rewarded. Authority is a constraining power; which power were needless if we were all such as we should be, willing to do the things we ought to do without constraint. But, because generally we are otherwise, therefore we all reap singular benefit by that authority which permitteth no men, though they would, to slack their duty. It doth not suffice, that the lord of an household appoint labourers what they should do, unless he set over them some chief workman to see they do it."--Eccles. Polity, book vii.

In addition to all which it may be remarked, that the Charges, or what may be called the Official Sermons of our bishops throughout their diocese, furnish considerable labour of this kind without much parochial preaching. And it should not be forgotten, likewise, that many of them are considerably past middle life ; and that the very circumstances which qualify a person for the office of an adviser and governor often unfit him for popular address ; so that some of the best writers and best bishops which Christendom has produced have been far from eminently impressive or successful preachers. These arguments have certainly great weight; yet, at the same time, when it is duly considered that preaching is one of the most important duties of the pastoral office; that it is of Divine appointment, and that its effects upon the minds of men are usually far greater than those which attend any other means of religious instruction; it will be allowed, that so powerful an instrument for extending Christian piety and the doctrines of the Reformation, should not in any instance be habitually discarded, except for reasons the most urgent and imperative, of the nature and cogency of which private conscience can alone be the judge.

To the writings, the preaching, and the conversation of our prelates, must we especially look

for a practical refutation of the objection so frequently alleged against our clergy as mere moral philosophers, ashamed in secret of the peculiarities of the Gospel of their Redeemer, and ready even to blush for the doctrines of their own church. The public are in the habit of referring to the preaching, the writings, and the public aets of the guardians and governors of the church, for a standard of her doctrines and discipline: they appeal from the litigation of private controversialists, and even from the formularies of the church herself, to the actual principles and conduct of those who, from their eminent station in the hierar: chy, are very naturally supposed both to know best what is right on these subjects, and to feel the greatest interest in the extension of religion and the spiritual efficiency of our ecclesiastical establishment. It will be evident therefore how greatly“ a spirit of devotion" in the higher departments of the church must promote a similar spirit throughout all classes of her members. The clergy in a diocese will, in time, almost insensibly become modelled to the standard of their bishop, and the people to the standard of their clergy. How important then is it that our prelates should be men who have deeply studied the great principles of the Reformation ; that their views of the Gospel

should be accurate and scriptural, and therefore not likely to be affected by the casual controversies of the age; and especially that they should be persons of really devotional habits, so that in advocating the doctrines of the church, and promoting piety among her members, they may always exhibit that heartfelt interest which can spring only from a personal and paramount regard to the spiritual obligations of a servant of Jesus Christ.

iii. By maintaining the discipline of the church.

A third method in which our bishops may promote religion, and zeal for the safety and honour of the church, is by maintaining its discipline.—We live in an age particularly opposed to every kind of restraint and interference; so that if our forefathers wished in vain for the “ godly discipline” to be restored, it would be doubly hopeless for us to expect it now. Our prelates, however, have not wholly lost their power of enforcing discipline. With regard especially to his own clergy, the legal authority of a bishop is still very great, and his influence yet greater ; and in their case, and through their means, something, indeed much, may even yet be accomplished.

The discipline which a bishop is in duty bound to enforce, is either economical or moral.

« AnteriorContinuar »