Page images

ism; and to convince every one who values purity of doctrine, and truly rational religion, that those objects are only to be secured by a humble and cautious attention to the plain and natural sense of Scripture, especially as maintained in all its simplicity and integrity, by our apostolic and venerable Church.

1. Some Particulars in the Ministerial Character and Obligations

examined and enforced, in a Charge delivered to the Clergy of the Dioceses of Down and Connor, at the Primary Visitation at Lisburn, Wednesday, July 24, 1824. By RICHARD Mant, D. D. M. R. I. A.

Bishop of Down and Connor. 8vo. pp. 71. Milliken, Rivingtons. II. A Charge, delivered to the Candidates for Holy Orders, at the

Cathedral Church in Spanish-Town, Jamaica, on Saturday, April 9, 1825, being the Day before the Primary Ordination in that Diocese.

By CHRISTOPHER, Lord Bishop of Jamaica. Jamaica, 1825. III. A Charge, delivered at the Primary Visitation of the Diocese of

Gloucester, in the Months of June and July, 1825. By CHRISTOPHER, Bishop of Gloucester. 4to. pp. 30. Rivingtons. IV. A Charge, delivered to the Clergy of the Diocese of Bath and

Wells, at the Primary Visitation of that Diocese, in July, August, and September, 1825. By George Henry Law, D. D. F. Ř. S. and A. S. Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells, 4to. pp. 30. Rodwell

and Martin, Rivingtons. V. A Charge, delivered to the Clergy of the Diocese of Chester, at the

Primary Visitation in August and September, 1825. By CHARLES JAMES BLOMFIELD, Bishop of Chester. 4to. pp. 88. Mawman, Rivingtons, Rodwell and Martin.

The nature and importance of such a thing as an Episcopal Charge are very unduly appreciated by those sciolists in religion and criticism who complain of the absence of theological learning in such compositions. To all frivolous objectors on this score, the saying of Quintilian eminently applies---damnunt quod non intelligunt. They are neither lectures on divinity nor sermons, but authoritative exhortations; which, to constitute their excellence, require nothing further than the most direct, simple, and earnest enforcement of the truth already known. All exhortation, indeed, pre-supposes some acquaintance with the subjects about which it is conversant. As knowledge implies the existence of truth, so exhortation upon any subject implies a speculative perception of that subject in the minds of those to whom it is addressed. It is an endeavour to render that perception more clear, more lively, more operative, by practical arguments, seconded by the personal character of the exhorter himself. It is evidently, therefore, quite foreign to the purpose of a Charge that it should be occupied with expositions of doctrine. It is addressed to men who are understood to be met.



together, with one heart, and one voice as to all matters of faith,--who, indeed, are presumed to bave, not a moderate, but a deep and familiar acquaintance with theology as a science, from the very nature of their profession; and who come not, accordingly, before their Bishop, to be informed by him as to the nature of their sacred calling, but to receive from him, as the Chief Pastor of their flocks, the needful word of exhortation, ---his opinion, his example, and the benefit of his more enlarged experience as to the right and best method of executing those duties, of the existence of which they are already conscious.

Periodical exhortations of such a nature derive their necessity from the constitution itself of man. It is a fact of which experience informs us, that a mere conviction of duty is not sufficient to keep us invariably in the right path of conduct. Impressions which are of a practical tendency, must be continually repeated in order to render them energizing principles of action. They need to be so worn into the character, that they may imperceptibly suggest what is to be done in each emergency, and not require, as it were, a formal reference to them as advisers on particular occasions. Now the act of habitually listening to exhortations on our duties, is an habitual attempt to enforce on ourselves the importance of the truths of which we are already convinced, and to render our principles more practical. Without such habitual attempts, the mere passive sense of duty would grow weaker, as all passive impressions do, by the constancy of its presence; whereas, when we continually remind ourselves of our duties by hearing the word of exhortation, we counteract such a noxious effect: each renewed perception of their practical cogency, and each earnest endeavour to inforce them on our attention, being, in a manner, active exertions of our principles ;---a circumstance, which, from the contrary nature of active habits, must tend to give us an increased dexterity in their application.

The proper design of these pastoral addresses is so well set forth in the first of the Charges now before us, that we cannot do better than refer to the following passages in it, in confirmation of our remarks.

" It is in further application and illustration of the pledge," says Bishop Mant, " which we gave to the Church on our admission to a participation of her ministry, that I propose at present to address you: not with a reiterated reference to our rule of ministerial duty, to which I have been already adverting, but in exposition of certain other particulars belonging to our professional character, which at the same time we promised to observe. You will not, I trust, suppose from this, my reverend brethren, that I regard you as generally ignorant of your professional obligations, or as generally inattentive to their claims. Of truths, which the wisest already know in the theory of their duty, it is well that they should be occasionally reminded: in practices, which the most active are in the habit of already performing in the

discharge of their duty, it is well that they should be supported and encouraged. A greater confidence of conviction, a greater strength and energy of action, may grow out of friendly and well-timed admonition. • Wherefore,' that I may express myself in apostolical language, ‘I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance.' And in a later passage of the same epistle, St. Peter speaks of 'stirring up the pure minds' of those whom he addressed, ' by way of remembrance:' implying, as a valuable commentator observes, that the memories of the best Christians stand in need of refreshing, and the affections of the holiest require to be continually excited.'”—p. 6—8. * * * * “ It has been under the influence of the same conviction, that many valuable Charges have been delivered by these and other Prelates to their respective Clergy, at their visitations, not upon subjects of intricate research, and deep and recondite learning, but upon matters of familiar duty; which, as they ought to be perpetually applied in practice, so ought they to be perpetually present to our minds; to be revived, if they are languishing; if they are still in action, to be strengthened and inforced, by all the means of which they are susceptible. Indeed, as Archbishop Secker remarks, in a volume of this kind of compositions, of which I should rejoice to know, that it was not in the hands only, but in the memories of every Clergyman of the Church, “these meetings were designed, partly to give the Clergy opportunities of conferring with each other, and consulting their superiors on matters relating to their profession; but principally to give Bishops opportunities of exhorting and cautioning their Clergy, either on such general subjects as are always useful, or on such particular occasions, as the circumstances of things, or the enquiries, made at or against these times, point out; and of interposing their authority, if there be need.' Upon this principle the same very learned Primate avowed, on another occasion, that he had never attempted in his former visitations, nor should he in that, to entertain his Clergy with any thing new and curious ; thinking it,' as he added, “ much fitter for me, and better for you, to speak to you of such points immediately related to common practice, as though easily understood, are too frequently disregarded."" pp. 11, 12.

But as the fullest and best answer to all who inquire what an Episcopal Charge ought to be, we would invite the reader, whether clerk or layman, to the attentive perusal of those whose titles we have prefixed to this article. The clerical reader will undoubtedly find in them more than a simple gratification of his curiosity,---he will find in them much to amend his heart and to stimulate him to the effectual performance of his holy function. To him, therefore, we would earnestly recommend a careful study of them in their detail. For our part, we must content ourselves with giving a few extracts from them, our limits scarcely permitting us to do more than make general references to the matters discussed in them.

The Bishop of Down and Connor, after setting forth, as we have seen, the importance of continual exhortation on the subject of the ministerial duties, enters upon the consideration, first, of that example of holiness which is required of a clergyman, and then of those occupations and amusements which ought to engage him in his private and domestic life. He points out on the one hand, the excellent effect which the exemplary conduct of a clergyman must have on his parishioners; and on the other hand, the incalculable evil which must result where the preacher is not a pattern of that righteousness which he teaches. This good example should extend, the Bishop further observes, not only to the great essentials of Christianity, but to other matters of minor and subordinate importance; to such things, that is, as are implied in the precept which enjoins abstaining " from all appearance of evil," and in that which requires the disciple to be “wise" as well as "harmless." Punctuality in the time of commencing the public service, and devoutness of manner in its performance, are justly enumerated among particulars of this kind. Nor should the clergyman be an example to his flock in himself alone, but in his family;-observing family worship, and every member of his family, as far as possible, attending constantly at the service of the congregation. The Bishop then proceeds to the subject of clerical occupations. The obligation imposed by the ordination vow, of private devotion, and of the study of the Scriptures, as well as of other books conducing to an acquaintance with them, is first noticed under this head. With respect to the study of the Scriptures, the subjoined advice of his Lordship appears to us most salutary and excellent.

“It were well, indeed, that the exhortation in the ordination service were literally observed, which recommends the daily reading and weighing of the Scriptures:' it were well, I say, my reverend brethren, that every clergyman should hold it to be his duty, and accordingly establish it for his practice, not to permit a day to pass without reading a portion of the Bible, but to allot some part of every day to the study of God's word. The exercise would doubtless enable him, by almost imperceptible degrees, to 'wax riper and stronger in his ministry ;' for, whilst it would habitually give to his thoughts a professional direction, it would qualify him more fully to discharge the duties of his profession, as a Scribe instructed unto the kingdom of heaven ;' to lay up in his mind a fund of biblical information, and, like the householder, to bring forth out of his treasure, as occasions may require, things new and old.

" But in speaking of the study of the Holy Scriptures, I cannot forbear to recommend that such study be prosecuted as much as possible in the original languages. However excellent may be the translation of any author, and few translations of any authors can be mentioned which surpass or even rival the excellence of the authorized English Bible, still the translation will fail of exhibiting a full idea of the original. The principle applies to the Holy Scriptures in as high a degree at least as to other writings; perhaps in a higher degree than to most others. The knowledge derived to the student through the medium of the original languages is more clear, more profound, more complete, more satisfactory in every respect, more productive both of improvement and of delight. The power of reading the New Testament in the original, it is to be presumed that all Clergymen are possessed of: that power were continually exercised by the daily reading of a chapter in the Greek, it would in a short time be greatly augmented; it would add by corresponding advances a large accession to the stock previously acquired, of theological learning; and the result, I ain sure, would be highly gratifying, as well as highly beneficial, to every Clergyman, who enjoys those feelings which belong to his profession. An acquaintance with the original language of Scriptures of the Old Testament is much less generally prevalent. I lament that it is so ; and I think it much to be desired, that instruction in Hebrew should form a necessary part of the course of education in our Universities, and a regular branch of examination in candidates for the ministry of the Church. I am perfectly sensible, my reverend brethren, that I am by no means qualified to address you in the character of a profound Hebrew scholar. But possibly upon that very account my present suggestion may come to you with a stronger practical recommendation. For thus much I am desirous of observing, for the encouragement of any amongst you, who may be willing to take this mode of fulfilling your ordination vow, in the article now before us, and to study the Scriptures with all diligence in the way in which they may be most profitably studied, but who may at the same time be incapable of studying them in that way by reason of their actual ignorance of the Hebrew language, that there is not one amongst you, at least amongst the younger members of our profession, who might not at no distant period attain that knowledge, with a very inconsiderable pecuniary expense, with no uncommon exercise of his faculties, and with no large sacrifice of his time; but eventually, I am persuaded, to the great increase of his enjoyments, and to the improvement and enrichment of his mind.” p. 33–35.

As to the study of Hebrew, it is surprising, indeed, that it should not be among the indispensable requisites of a candidate for holy orders. If the proper understanding of the New Testament alone were regarded, nothing surely can be more conducive to such an end, than an acquaintance with what may be called, at least, the religious language of those by whom it was written. Their manner of expressing themselves upon the subjects of religion must have been, in a great measure, conformable with their established idiom on such subjects; as far, at any rate, as the different genius of one language would admit of the adoption into it of the idiom of another. The Septuagint, perhaps, in some sense, may be called an original of the Old Testament. So far as it is quoted by the writers of the New Testament, it may be deemed an authentic exposition of scriptural truth; but still the study of it, though highly useful, by no means supersedes a reference to

« EelmineJätka »