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which have been from time to time imposed upon them, yet surely no pastor who is conscientiously anxious for the promotion of reli.. gion and church principles in his parish, could think much of the labour of occasionally reporting to his diocesan, or seeing that his churchwardens did so, such particulars, for instance, as the average number of the communicants and attendants at church compared with the population of the parish; the progress of the schools and charitable societies; the regulations for the observance of the Sunday, and the degree of success attending them; with similar particulars relative to the state of religion, education, and morals. These the clergy and their churchwardens might present without incurring the pain of making personal accusations, which, as things are at present managed, do little or no good. At the same time, the power of presenting notorious offenders should doubtless be retained ; and a solemn injunction also be added to do so, without fear or favour, so far as may be really practicable in the present circumstances of society.
iv. By seeing that the Pastoral Duties are duly
performed A fourth method by which our prelates may promote religion and church principles,
is by taking care that the pastoral duties are duly performed throughout their diocese. A bishop cannot indeed see every thing, or correct all that he may see. He cannot make his clergy, without exception, everything which he might wish them to be, or extend his power to every case where they are otherwise. There are, however, two indirect but highly efficacious modes of securing the desired object which especially fall within his province -namely, enforcing clerical residence and checking pluralities. We shall have occasion to touch upon these vital points hereafter, and therefore dismiss them for the present, as well as the specification of other particulars which it seems desirable for our bishops to regulate, and to some of which their powerful influence, if not their direct authority, might doubtless be extended with effect. The reader has only to consider in his own mind the vast importance of the pastoral function, in order to perceive how much depends upon the exertions of our prelates in reference to the conduct of their clergy with regard to it.
v. By stimulating the zeal, and enlarging the
knowledge of their Clergy. Again, much may be done by our bishops towards promoting religion and church princi
ples, by stimulating the zeal, and enlarging the knowledge of their clergy.-It is a characteristic fault of national church establishments, that they are too much inclined to become torpid, unless aroused to activity by extraneous impulse. The prescriptive steadiness and dread of innovation which form one of their most valuable excellencies—especially in counteracting the caprice and volatility of successive ages, and in acting, as a mechanic would say, like a powerful fly-wheel to prevent the irregularities of the machinery-are not without their corresponding disadvantages, especially in proportion as they may tend to thwart energy and to check improvement. The life of a retired country clergyman, in particular, is far from being always favourable to the increase of zeal or information. Of ecclesiastics absorbed in rustic occupations or rustic pleasures, we say nothing ; but even men of sincere piety and benevolence, and who are not uninterested in their sacred duties, by being constantly surrounded with a mass of ice, instead of succeeding in melting it, are sometimes seen to become cooled themselves. A clergyman thus situated wants the collision of kindred minds. The rays of zeal and intelligence which shine brightly in busier scenes scarcely penetrate to his sequestered hamlet; and not till
they have lost much of their warmth and splendour. The quiet retired graces which are peculiarly fostered by the surrounding scene are sometimes apt to be indulged by him at the expense of the more active virtues. Instead of keeping up with the progress of the age, a clergyman thus situated perhaps finds himself, as he advances in life, becoming indifferent to every modern scheme of public utility : for he has comparatively little to draw him out; his sources of intelligence are scanty, and what he knows is often lost for want of the opportunity of imparting it to others. Being wiser, more enlightened, and more zealous, on all moral and religious questions, than his immediate neighbours, he is not sufficiently sensible that the great body of his contemporaries are gaining ground upon him; and that discoveries unknown to our forefathers are rapidly changing the face of society, and giving the directors of public opinion no option, but either to keep up with and to regulate the general march of the community, or to sink into obscurity and neglect. This picture may indeed be exaggerated, but some of the general features apply very forcibly to the case of a large class of the Country Clergy.
But very different are the circumstances in which the members of the Episcopal Bench are placed. They are usually men well ac
quainted with the existing state of the church and of the world ;-men of large intelligence ; neither confined to a cloister nor to an obscure hamlet, but mixing with the best informed ranks of society; apprised of every public measure; surveying from an advantageous eminence the busy scene around them; enjoying familiar access to the current literature of the day; and enabled by their legislative office of thinking for others, and by their annual visits to the metropolitan mart of enlightened intercourse, to perceive, and often to anticipate, every varying movement of the public mind, What an opportunity is thus afforded them for enlarging the information and exciting the zeal of their clergy, on their return to the scenes of their Episcopal ministrations; for wiping off the rust which is apt to accumulate around old establishments; and for infusing into the most retired hamlets of their dioceses something of the energy, without the vices or temptations, of a restless metropolis. In these, as in many other respects, their Charges, their periodical progresses through their dioceses, their official intercourse, their private correspon, dence, and even their friendly visits and daily conversation, may be rendered an inestimable blessing to society.
The English Clergy, since their House of