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UNIVERSITY

CAI IFORNIA

THE PAROCHIAL SYSTEM,

&c.

SECTION I.

THE PAROCHIAL SYSTEM IN THEORY AND IN PRACTICE.

The great and pressing evil which exists in the moral and spiritual destitution of a large portion of our countrymen, is too certain, and too generally confessed, to require proof. Nor is it denied by any man who calls himself Christian, that some remedy on a large and effective scale must immediately be devised. What that remedy should be, is a question of greater difficulty; on which it is the object of the following pages to suggest some considerations.

And first, it becomes us to inquire what measures will best harmonize with the ancient and tried principles of the Church. True reformations are not effected by an hasty remodelling of existing institutions, on every call of expediency real or fancied, and without regard to the principles on which they were framed, as the archi

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tects of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries improved our great national edifices in the taste of their own times. Such a spirit, shallow and unphilosophical when applied to civil and political institutions, cannot without actual profaneness intrude into the sanctuary, where of late it has been but too busy. We must not introduce new principles, but recur to old ones; to those by which the ancient Church originally leavened the whole mass of national heathenism, and afterwards provided against the gradual increase of a neglected and demoralized population in the very heart of Christendom. These things were effected by means of that system which apportioned every part of the Church to diocesan bishops and parochial priests, and in its further development accordingly we must seek a remedy for the evils of our own day.

i Shortly before the death of St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, bishop of Neo-Cæsarea, “ Il fit,” says Tillemont, (vol. iv.)“une exacte revue de toute la ville et de toute la campagne, pour voir s'il n'y restoit plus aucun payen comme il le souhaitoit extremement. Il en trouva néanmoins dixsept, et levant les yeux au ciel, il témoigna à Dieu sa douleur de ce que son désir n'estoit pas entièrement accompli. Mais il luy rendit grâces en mesme temps, de ce que n'ayant trouvé que dixsept Chrétiens à son entrée dans cette Eglise il n'y laissoit en la quittant que dixsept payens. Il demanda à Dieu la conversion de ces dixsept payens et l'augmentation de ses grâces sur les fidèles ; et puis il mourut en défendant d'acheter aucune place pour l'enterrer, parcequ'il ne vouloit pas posséder un pouce de terre ni devant ni après sa mort, mais mourir et estre enterré comme un étranger qui n'a rien à lui.”

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