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THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND PREACHER.

Patronized by the Clergy and others.

THE DUTY OF CHURCHMEN.

A SERMON

PREACHED BY THE

REV. JOSEPH HASLEGRAVE, M. A.

At St. Peter's, River Lane, Islington, Sept. 3d, 1837,

FOR THE BENEFIT OF

THE CHURCH PASTORAL AID SOCIETY.

(CORRECTED BY REV. J. HASLEG RAVE.)

Text.-" Where is the Flock that was given theerthy beau

tiful Flock ?”—Jerem. xiii. 20. It is recorded of an ancient monarch, that when he was reviewing the millions that composed his mighty army, he burst into a flood of tears as the thought crossed his mind, that the ravages of time would soon number every one of them with the dead. But if to this thought another and more overwhelming be added, that death is but the transition to another state of being, a state unalterable and eternal, the happiness or the misery of which is in exact accordance with the moral dispositions with which it is entered, then who can survey the mighty multitudes of mortal immortals, living without God and without hope in the world, hourly passing into eternity, and not feel the throbbings of compassion proportionate to the estimate formed of the destiny which awaits them. Such, it would seem, were the reflections stirring in the breast of Him who knew the value of the creature man, as he surveyed the multitudes around him, and was moved with compassion because they fainted, and were as sheep having no shepherd; and afterwards, as he stood on the brow of the murderous city, and contemplated their privileges, which had exalted them to heaven, and their neglect and their iniquities, which would sink them low as hell, he wept tears of divine compassion0 Jerusalem! Jerusalem! and if we profess to be his fol. [No. 10.]

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lowers-if the same mind be in us that was also in Christ Jesus—if we have sympathy with him who endured the cross to save the soul, then shall we, like a David, a Jeremiah, a Paul, and the saints in all ages, be deeply concerned for the souls of those that are ready to perish ; and if there be a tree whose leaves are for the healing of the nations, and we ourselves have been refreshed beneath its shade and our lips have tasted its life-giving fruits, we shall rush forth, with the remedy in our hands, to the succour of the perishing, and the salvation of the lost.

The chapter whence the text is taken, as well as the entire book of our prophet, affords a striking illustration of that truth :-" The nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall utterly perish.

It would seem that the Jews were now fast approaching to fill up the measure of their iniquities, which would bring upon them the merited threatenings of God. The prophet, therefore, in this chapter, is striving to awaken this stubborn people to repentance. He tells them by the sign of a girdle spoiled, that their pride should be stained, and by the sign of bottles filled with wine, that their counsels should be blasted. He entreats them-one and all, the king, the rulers, and the people—to take warning, to humble themselves before God, because of that fearful announcement“I have given the dearly-beloved of my soul into the hands of her enemies ;' otherewise, that all he could do for them would be to weep, but their ruin would be inevitable, their land would be laid waste, Judah would be carried into captivity ; already the enemy was at hand that should do this; the Chaldeans to whom they had sought for assistance, and with whom they had joined in league, were coming from the north ; and then, as addressing the state, he asks, what will you now do with the people committed to your charge ?

-where is the flock that was given thee-thy beautiful flock : what safety, what protection can you now afford them?

Brethren, the whole of this is of easy but awful application. All Scripture is given, &c., and therefore this among the rest. And if we have betrayed our national ark by league with the sworn enemies of truth, if our Protestant Church and Kingdom have abused their privileges, and

made their mercies the lap on which to slumber ; if the flock have been stinted of their pasture, and no folds provided for them; if they have been wandering on the dark mountains of error and sin, and no shepherd appointed to search them out; if the Chaldeans, whom it has been our folly to trust-even the ranks of popery, infidelity, and errorhave made inroads upon us, may not the words of the prophet be again sounded in the ears of our sovereign, our nobles, our rulers, our priests : “ Lift up your eyes and behold them that come from the north ; where is," &c.

It cannot be questioned, if we admit a Divine Providence in the affairs of men, that the Church of England hath had committed to her the solemn and momentous trust of being the bulwark of the faith in our land, and on her rests the duty of providing for the Lord's family, and gathering the wanderers into his fold. It were little to object that the Church of Rome may put forth the like claim in the seat of her authority. Our argument has to do with what is confessedly in all essentials a pure branch of Christ's universal Church, and not with an apostate section. We are assured on Scripture authority, that the great Head of the Church may be provoked either altogether to withdraw the candlestick, or to cause its light but dimly to shine. We know also that he may, wheresoever and whensoever it pleases him, awake the slumbers, affect the hearts, and open the eyes of men, and make them the honoured instruments of purifying his Church, and reviving his work, as we believe he did in the glorious reformation, never to be forgotten, when the Church of this country broke the fetters of

popery, and became, what even her opponents have allowed, a pre-eminently scriptural Church ; and notwithstanding the apathy and indifference which in by-gone days have disgraced her, yet has retained unsullied the truth as it is in Jesus, and is now (blessed be God!) shaking herself from the dust, putting on her beautiful garments, and becoming more than ever a praise in the earth. It is for this Church, thus purified, thus owned by God, thus established by Divine Providence as the mother of Britain's children, that we assert, that to her is intrusted the care of souls, for which she is responsible, and for which she must render an account. That her constitution admirably adapts her to this, I am bold to assert. What is that constitution, to use the words of one of her brightest ornaments, but that every sheep should have its fold, and every fold its shepherd. That she has not fulfilled her high trust, is a cause, with whomsoever the blame lies, of the deepest humiliation and grief. But let us rejoice, brethren, that she seems now in earnest to wipe away her disgrace, and that she is now sounding her voice in the length and breadth of the land, bemoaning the past, confessing her neglect, and calling in to her aid the energies and devotedness of her children.

Assuming, then, as a fact, that such is the real position in which our Church stands in her connection with the state, let me, by way of illustration, press upon you

1. The weighty responsibility that devoltes upon the National Church.

If it be true that God has in a mysterious way, we pretend not to explain, or even to comprehend, made the salvation of man very much depend upon his fellowman—and we think the position is easy of solution—the very terms of the ministerial commission itself seem to imply this. “ Unto whom now I send thee," said the great Head of the Church to his Apostle, “ to open their eyes," &c.

In conformity with which it is elsewhere said, -it pleases God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe, and hence argues the Apostle,—" Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. But how shall they call on Him,” &c. --so that, though salvation be all of grace from first to last, yet in its application it is unquestionably evident that God employs human agency, We

may, perhaps, venture an opinion that the word of God is in some measure connected with the salvation of every soul, inasmuch as it is the only instrument ordained of God for the moral renovation of our nature.

If then we are not wrong in our hypothesis, if souls perish because the pastors are negligent, if the flock wander because the shepherd warns them not, if they die in their iniquity, but their blood will be demanded at the watchman's hands, then how tremendous the charge of souls !

We know what responsibility is connected with that which is merely earthly and perishable. It is fearful, indeed, in an ignorant pretender, or negligent physician, who mistaking his patient's disease, unintentionally' kills where

friends had anxiously hoped a cure. It is fearful, indeed, in a careless or ignorant pilot, on whom every eye fastens as the storm rages, with a consciousness that their life or their death is in a great degree bound up in the faithful discharge of his duty. It is fearful, indeed, in the case of a judge, on whose patient attention, painful investigation, impartial and conscientious fulfilment of his solemn trust, hangs the destiny of the culprit that stands before him. But it is surpassing fearful in the ignorant, thoughtless, unfaithful and negligent pastor—from whose lips the people are to receive saving truth or killing error, whose exhortations will quicken to diligence or lull to indolence, whose example will point to heaven or lead to hell, whose influence beyond the stretch of human calculation, will mightily bear on the present and the future weal or woe of the souls committed to his charge. O, the responsibility! Well may the most faithful, the most laborious, the most devoted pastor say with truth, as he surveys his work, and thinks of the things he has left undone, and the things that have been done coldly and heartlessly,—“Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, o, my God!”

And, let it be remembered, this is the responsibility which the Church has imposed on all her ministers. She positively requires of them, ere she appoints them to the solemn work, that they shall confess before God, and in the face of the congregation, that they trust they are inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost, to take upon themselves so weighty and so awful a charge. She then reminds them of the character they sustain-messengers, watchmen, and stewards of the Lord, whose duty it is to teach and to premonish, to feed and provide for the Lord's family, to seek for Christ's sheep that are scattered abroad, and never to cease their labour until, as far as in them lies, they have brought all committed to their charge to that agreement in the faith and knowledge of God, and to that ripeness and perfectness of age in Christ, that there be no place left among them, either for error in religion, or for viciousness in life. Nor is it unimportant to observe, that there is a great difference between the responsibility which thus devolves upon the clergy of the national Church, and that which rests on the ministers of other denominations.

As the nursing mother of all, she binds her pastors alike

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