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TO THE CLERGY.
condition must be in colleul the taili. Diques must be. In such case, with lamenting Jeremy, we may weep over the fallen "city become you flow as a widow; she that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces: among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her; all her friends have dealt treacherously with her. The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts: all her gates are desolate: her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted, and she is in bitterness. Her adversaries are the chief; her enemies prosper; for the Lord hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions.' That God, the Countries where his Church was hard, who spared not Love song fed anuch was originally planted, but in consequence of their corruption suffered the light of his truth to depart from them, will most assuredly not spare this country und similar circumstances. When the nces when the purpose for which the Church has been established is not answered, it will not long be suffered to mock the design of its Divine Founder. In the prophetic language, when the vine-yard which God has enclosed shall cease to be duly cultivated; and the vine be suffered to take its wild and natural growth; the hedge by which it had been separated from the waste will be AASTADIG 20 of OWO pulled down; and the boar out of the wood, and the wild beast of the field, be permitted to devour it.t Some anti-Christian power, www.lebra nonw 191 intent upon nothing but plunder and destruction, or a domestic to nonreiber sit. bemon 4 enemy having the same object in view, will or later be let BAR TODOS PA loose upon a Church when in this degenerate condition, and become the instrument of executing upon her the vengeance due to her enghlw *Lam. of Jer. i. 1, &c.
To nomine, 10139; 911s
+ Ps. lxxx.
crimes. May God give the people of this nation such a sight of their danger, as may tend effectually to guard them against it!
Indisposed, as I think I am, to superstition and enthusiasm, the present events of Europe are nevertheless of so awful and alarming a kind, as to affect me with the most serious and interesting concern. Upon the authority of sacred writ we are assured, that the time must come when "the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our God and of his Christ.”* That Being who declareth "the end from the beginning; "+ before whom all nations are as nothing, yea, less than nothing; will make human policy subservient to the accomplishment of his wise purposes. What important page in the great history of the world may now be turning over, it is not for us to determine. As Christians, we look with reverence to the issue of the Divine councils, whatever it may be; knowing that all things will work together for good to those who have the Lord for their God. At the same time we should want the feelings of men, did we not tremble at the threatening aspect of that black cloud, which has been long pouring forth sweeping destruction upon the nations around us.
In such a critical season, the office of the priesthood becomes more than ever an office of dignified importance. In the character of atoning Aaron, with incense in his hand, the priest is called upon to stand as it were between the dead and the living; and, if it may be, to stay the plague, the
*Rev. xi. 15.
† Is. xlvi. 10.
Is. xl. 17.
worst of plagues, that plague of religious and moral disorder, which has long deformed the face of civilized Europe.
Should not the salt have quite lost its savour, the land which we inhabit may yet be seasoned and thereby preserved. In such case, the judgments of the Lord now in the earth, instead of bringing down and destroying, will be employed in mercy to purge and purify our Church and nation.
To this end the priests and ministers of the Lord must stand between the porch and the altar, and exert themselves, before their eyes begin to wax dim, that they may not see; and ere the lamp of God goeth out in the temple of the Lord.* If, consequence of the unsettled notions which now prevail upon religious subjects, Christians are continually dropping away from the Church, let it be for any cause rather than on account of the irregularity, incapacity, or want of zeal, in its ministers.
Ignorance, among the lower order of people at least, is well known to be one general cause of separation from the Church. Let it be an object with the clergy, then, to remove that ignorance with respect to the Church, by bringing their people so acquainted with its nature, and the design of its establishment, that they may feel it their duty to continue members of it. Whilst they are suffered to remain uninformed upon this subject, the preservation of Christian unity is not to be expected.
But above all, their object must be to take away all just reason for the desertion of their ministry, by giving full proof of their evangelical commission.
* 1 Sam. iii. 2, 3.
With the Apostle, they must be able to say to their hearers, We" take you to record this day, that we are pure from the blood of all men; for we have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God."* The plea generally advanced by modern separatists, that sound doctrine is not preached in our Church, upon how partial ground soever it may really stand, must at all events be effectually removed. For the people must not only be taught, that it is their duty to live in communion with the Church; they must moreover be satisfied, that they shall be profited by that communion. In a matter of this importance, men will take the liberty to judge for themselves: and if they have reason to think that they are not fed with the true bread of life within the walls of the Church, they will unquestionably seek it, where they fancy it may be found, either in fields or in conventicles.t
And if to the preaching sound doctrine the clergy would add an occasional explanation of the meaning of our Church offices, that their congregations may become active and spiritual performers in them, the people would soon be convinced that those Christians who would offer up to God the most reasonable service, must come to the Church of England to do it.
This is the only way, that I know, to preserve the unity of the Church; and to revive, through Divine grace, the spirit of Christianity; by informing men, in the first place, that there is such a thing as an established constitution of the Church of Christ, and that Christians are to consider
* Acts xx. 26, 27.
† Vindiciæ, c. i. p. 39.
themselves members of it, as a fold of sheep gathered
It were devoutly to be wished, and I trust there is but one opinion among my brethren upon this head, that every minister of the Church might so discharge his duty in these respects, as to be qualihey fied, in the language of Archbishop Sharp, thus to address himself to his people: "This I am sure of, so long as you continue in our communion, you are in the communion of the true Church of Christ. I dare answer for the salvation of all those who, continuing in our Church, live up to the principles of it. But I dare answer nothing for them, who, being brought up in this Church, and having so great opportunities given them of knowing the truth, do yet depart from it. I pray God they may be able to answer for themselves."
I conclude this discourse with what brethren my the clergy, may probably thank me for redeeming from oblivion; I mean that prayer from the elegant pen of Erasmus, which was heretofore set forth as a part or appendix to a Primer or Liturgy, which Henry the Eighth caused to be published by the supreme authority of the Church of England, and which appears strictly adapted to the circumstances of the present times.
"Domine Jesu Christe, qui omnipotentiâ tuâ fecisti omnes creaturas, visibiles, invisibiles, et Divinâ sapientiâ tuâ gubernasti disposuistique omnia