Imágenes de páginas

and writings of many of our most eminent divines is rather to convince than to persuade ; so that our clergy are often as defective in making a just appeal to the feelings of mankind, as some other churches are injudicious in employing them to the exclusion of sound argument and rational conviction.

L'un prouve la religion !And what proof can be more convincing to the world than the powerful example of a Christian prelate who, unseduced by the temptations around him, evidences his own unshaken belief in the Gospel by the piety, the zeal, the lowliness, the selfdenial of his character; who, stemming the worldly torrent to which his station and circumstances in life expose him, evidences himself a devoted follower of Jesus Christ ; and who shews the actual power of religion in his own case, by its enabling him to tread under his feet the pomps and vanities and ambition of the world; to “ mortify the flesh, with its affections and lusts,” and to live as one who “ seeks a better country," and who therefore. “ has his conversation in heaven, from whence also he looks for the Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ.”

L'autre la fait aimer!And how can the affections of men be attracted to the side of religion more effectually than by the mild, the amiable,the Christian deportment of a prelate who combines


in himself the various virtues which St. Paul has enumerated as appropriate to the office, in his apostolic advice to the bishops of Ephesus and Crete. The church, lacerated by conflictions both within and without its pale, needs a healing hand : it asks for measures calculated to unite the hearts of its members, than which nothing would more efficaciously tend to produce a scriptural conformity in their opinions. The arts of popular blandishment would be unworthy of a Christian prelate; but the powerful eloquence, the winning amenities of a holy, a charitable, a disinterested life, and the constant exhibition of those blessed “ fruits of the Spirit,” which the Apostle so affectingly describes, are a masterkey to every heart, and have often proved efficacious where argument and authority had been tried in vain.

If the author were required to concentrate in one portrait those traits which appear peculiarly desirable in anAnglican prelate for the purpose of promoting religion and endearing our Episcopal Church to the hearts of the people, he would present the following picture sketched by the hand of the exemplary Bishop Burnet, in tracing the likeness of his devout friend Archbishop Leighton. “I have now laid together," says he," with great simplicity what has been the chief subject of my thoughts for above thirty years. I was forced to them by a bishop that

had the greatest elevation of soul, the largest compass of knowledge, the most mortified and most heavenly disposition that I ever saw, in mortal; that had the greatest parts as well as virtues, with the perfectest humility that I ever saw in man, and had a sublime strain of preaching, with so grave a gesture, and such a majesty of thought, of language, and pronunciation, that I never saw a wandering eye where he preached, and have seen whole assemblies often melt in tears before him; and of whom I can say with great truth, that in a free and frequent conversation with him for above two and twenty years, I never knew him speak an idle word, that had not a direct tendency to edification; and I never once saw him in any other temper but that which

but that which I wished to be in the last minutes of my life. For that pattern which I saw in him, and for that conversation which I had with him, I know how much I have to answer to God; and though my reflecting on that which I knew in him gives me just cause of being deeply humbled in myself, and before God, yet I feel no more sensible pleasure in any thing than in going over in my thoughts all that I obseryed in



Nor, blessed be God, is the present age desi titute of episcopal names which may be placed

by the side of this truly Christian portrait ; and the author makes no scruple of avowing, that in many of the preceding features he has sketched from the life, and animated the torpor of his sluggish conceptions, by a transcript from existing virtues.




In commencing the important inquiry, by what means the clergy may promote religion and maintain the bulwarks of the church, we might almost be disposed to give the question a negative form, and to ask in what way they may not. For so important is the ministeral office, that on its due discharge depends, in a far greater degree than on any other human agency, the spiritual welfare of mankind. To enumerate the various modes in which the clergy may contribute to the great objects under consideration, would be little less than to transcribe

all that has ever been written on the nature and duties of the pastoral office. It would therefore be impracticable on the present occasion to take a very large, and much less an adequate, view of this extensive subject. Much may indeed be considered as already anticipated; for whatever means have been mentioned as lying within the reach of other classes of society, may almost all be made use of with still more ample energy by the clergy. Omitting, therefore, all that is of a more general nature, we shall point out only a few of the means which specifically apply to the members of the sacred order. The foregoing suggestions, of course, need not be repeated, but may be at once transferred to the clergy; especially those which relate to the duties of persons of influence in society : for who have greater influence than the reverend instructors of the people? or on whom, consequently, is it more incumbent, even on this ground, were there no other, to exert themselves in every possible way for the salvation of mankind ?

Among the means which the clergy possess for promoting true religion, and the influence, honour, and stability of the Established Church, the following may be especially mentioned namely,

i. By proficiency in the studies of their profession.

« AnteriorContinuar »