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and institutions of the land. And, no doubt, our task would be comparatively easy and our course smooth, if we could be content to perform a certain routine of duties, and leave our people to their choice whether to profit by them or no. There might be a fair appearance, a decent veil of religion over the face of the country: Christ might have a nominal kingdom. But the kingdom of Christ, though outwardly established and outwardly professed, has no real existence unless he has an inward sovereignty; it is not a name or a form, but the answer of the conscience towards God; the subjugation of the heart to his will and law. And before the heart can be subdued to such obedience, and in order that it may continue stedfast in such obedience unto the end, a severe conflict must be fought, and an arduous victory obtained in the case of every individual who shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead,' Satan must be vanquished, the flesh brought into subjection, and this present world overcome. Surely then it is no slight or easy task, to watch over and to direct, to reclaim or guide, as need be, these individual cases: no common labour devolves on those, who are enjoined to bring all such as are committed to their charge into 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.'

"Such is the expectation of the church, because such was the design of Him by whom that church was founded. For this was the Son of God manifested,' for this he took our nature, for this he lived and died, that he might redeem unto himself a peculiar people,' who should be delivered from this present evil world,' and made meet for an everlasting inheritance. And to accomplish this gracious purpose is the aim of the Christian ministry. To this end, their respective districts in the vineyard are allotted to the appointed labourers. To the same end, it is provided that the child be dedicated to Christ in baptism; be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord at the proper age, should make profession of an intelligent faith: should live as a member of the body of Christ, dependent on his grace, and governed by his laws should be 'stablished, strengthened, settled' by habitual instruction in the will of God revealed in his holy word.

"Happy, brethren, would it be, if this plan were completed, if this beautiful picture were realized by the actual appearance of our parishes, and the state of the country at large. But, alas! how great the contrast!" pp. 2-5.

Our Right Reverend author, in remarking that the parishes in his diocese are almost universally supplied with a resident minister, either the incumbent or a curate, attributes this benefit to the exertions of those who had preceded him. We were reminded by this allusion, and by some of the remarks in the above and other passages, of the following scriptural and glowing description of the pastoral character, from the pen of his lordships's immediate predecessor, Bishop Blomfield.

How beautiful and holy, in all its perfections of obligation, is the spiritual connexion which subsists between a faithful minister of Christ, and the flock which he is appointed to feed with the pure word of God. How many are the methods by which that bond of affection may be more closely drawn. How various are the ways in which a faithful and vigilant pastor may apply himself to the consciences of men, and promote their spiritual welfare; administering instruction, reproof, consolation; becoming all things to all men, that by all means he may save some; always on the watch for opportunities of seasonably interposing the great truths and warnings of the Gospel; anxiously alive to the symptoms of religious improvement in his flock, and looking to that as his strong encouragement and rich reward. Many an anxious care does he experience for the welfare of those who are endeared to him by the sacred sympathies of spiritual affinity; many a sorrow for failures, in which the world thinks he has no interest: many a joy also for blessings, which he alone perceives descending upon the heads of those whom he loves in the Lord. And such a shepherd is not without his recompence even in this world. The sheep hear his voice, and He calleth his own sheep by name, and he leadeth them out, and he goeth before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.' Such, my brethren, were the Apostles; such were the first pastors and teachers of the church of Christ; such have been many holy fathers of that church, who imbibed the true spirit of that Gospel which it

is intended to uphold and propagate; and in proportion as all its ministers by the aid of that Spirit, who is promised to them as an abiding and a sanctifying Spirit, can assimilate themselves to that perfect model of selfdevotion and disinterestedness; of ardent zeal for the salvation of mankind, and of singleness of intention as preachers of the Gospel; in that proportion will they be burning and shining lights, to illuminate and to purify the world, and in that proportion will the kingdom of Christ on earth be set forward, and his great designs of mercy carried on towards their accomplishment."

What friend of the Church of England, what Christian of any church, can peruse such sentiments as these from the pen of one who now fills the metropolitan see of this mighty empire, without blessing God and taking courage. While our bishops thus write and their clergy thus practise, we may humbly trust that our God will not forsake us.

But to return to the Bishop of Chester, from whose Charge we have been led away by the above interesting extract from the writings of his Right Reverend predecessor: his lordship proceeds to speak of the prevailing religious unfruitfulness of parishes, and then of the unfruitfulness of some in particular, as compared with others; and he then inquires, and in part answers his inquiry, as follows:

"Can this be traced to any certain cause? Is there any mode of husbandry which the Spirit especially blesses, so that wherever it is practised, many are saved and added to the church?'

"When I came amongst you three years ago, I made it my principal object to enlarge on the means by which the purpose of our ministry may be most effectually answered. I considered, at some length, the most important articles of ministerial duty. Nothing which has since become known to me, has led to any change of opinion. I then recommended that the power, the weighty and responsible power committed to us in the pulpit, be borne in constant view: that every sermon should be considered as having a work to perform, and be expected to perform it and especially, that the 'great mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh,' should be so prominently set before the people, that personal faith in the Redeemer be not merged in a vague acknowledgment of the redemption, or a general belief in the word of God be substituted for reliance upon Christ as the author and finisher of our salvation. And I still find, as I have always found, that those labours are most successful, and bring most hearts into subjection, where the people are most earnestly invited to look up to 'Christ and him crucified,' for 'wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption.'" pp. 7, 8.

This, we have said, is, in part, an answer to the inquiry of comparative unfruitfulness; but the particulars run into various details connected with the peculiar circumstances of the country, and the measures most applicable to the spiritual welfare of our parishes. Some of the remarks under these heads are of special moment. We shall advert to a few of them.

In every age, the ministers of Christ have had to contend with spiritual apathy, the torpor of ignorance, hardness of heart, the deceitfulness of sin, and open rebellion against God; but there is in the present day, superadded to all these, a widely spread theoretical as well as a practical unbelief, and this especially among those classes of society which were formerly in little danger from this particular quarter. The Bishop of Chester adverts with much concern to this serious cause of dismay.

"The unbelief of the present day has a very peculiar character. It is commonly disowned by the man of education and reflection: he may live irreligiously, but he is seldom irreligious upon principle, or through conviction. But infidelity is openly avowed by those who have no knowledge, or only a smattering of knowledge. The philosophical and argumentative sceptic who can understand the force of evidence, has by force of evidence been driven from the field. But an uneducated multitude become the prey of any designing writer, who, from whatever motive, finds it his interest to persuade them that the Gospel is a cunningly devised fable.' If he ventures upon arguments at all, they are such as pre-suppose a total ignorance of human nature, and of historical facts, on the part of those who are to receive them. But more commonly he addresses other faculties than that of reason, and well understands the

power possessed by scoff and ridicule, when the scoffer and the hearer's will are en gaged on the same side. To this we owe the grievous consequence, that the unbelief of the lower classes in the present day is not merely the unbelief of vicious practice. Their principles are undermined; which renders the evil more serious, and the remedy more difficult." pp. 9, 10.

This alarming evil the bishop attributes in a great degree to that long period of neglect during which the country, occupied with other things, "allowed a generation to grow up and multiply on every side and made no provision for its religion." That generation, his lordship adds, is now the population of our towns and cities, and the present age is lamenting, when too late, and vainly endeavouring to repair, the culpable indifference of the preceding. This statement is correct so far as it goes, but it does not embrace the whole of the case; for long before the era alluded to, long before the childhood of the present generation, the evil had been advancing with alarming progress. During the reigns of Charles II., James II., Queen Anne, George I. and George II., religion had been fearfully declining; the Church of England and the great mass of the Dissenters both sank into spiritual listlessness: nor was mere listlessness all; for unsound doctrine, and a semi-heathen system of ethics lulled the people into spiritual slumber, and left them defenceless against the subsequent attacks of direct infidelity. By the mercy of God a remarkable revival of religion took place during the reign of George the Third, and has been in progress ever since; but the mischief had commenced long before, and the want of churches, and the other supposed causes of the extension of theoretical infidelity, were themselves the fruits of the preceding practical infidelity. The process is this, that when spiritual doctrine falls into neglect, when the pulpit distils such meagre ethics as were admired in the days of Blair, and such Pelagian tenets as gave birth to them, then practical religion decays in a land; the people, careless of their own souls, think little of those of their posterity; measures are not taken to meet the wants of an increasing population; and the people are not sufficiently in earnest about religion to ensure the removal of legislative obstacles to its progress, if they exist, as they have long done in this country,-as, for example, in the selfish restrictions which were so pertinaciously kept up, upon church building; and thus masses of men, infidel in all but name, easily become that also, if any Deist or blasphemer think it worth his while to pervert them. We fully admit all that our Right Reverend author says of the direct effects of the want of churches and other facilities for the religious edification of the people; but we would not have it forgotten that the absence of the faithful preaching of the Gospel was the still earlier cause and primal source of the evil. If the people had been truly evangelized they would not have long remained destitute of the outward appliances of religion, or have suffered, so far as by the blessing of God they could prevent it, the next generation to lapse into a race of heathens.

The Bishop of Chester alludes to another prevailing impediment to religion arising out of the peculiar circumstances of the present eventful times :"It is a part of an advanced stage of civilization to occasion great inequalities of condition, and frequent changes and reverses. It is a state in which every individual finds it an arduous task to maintain the condition in which he was born. He commonly may maintain it by prudence and persevering industry. But as soon as he relaxes either his exertions or his frugality, he sinks from his position, while another is ready to step in and take his place, which he cannot without great difficulty recover. The state of society to which he belongs exposes him to manifold temptations; and if he yields to those temptations, the same state of society makes such imprudence ruinous to his future fortunes. His consequent distress, however, he attributes not to its true cause, but to the government and institutions of the country; he lays the blame upon the body politic, civil or ecclesiastical; as if any legislation could alter the providential ordinance, which in the general course of things, has connected individual character, either virtuous or vicious, with individual adversity or prosperity.

"But this discontented and restless frame of mind is the most unlike possible to CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 375. 2 A

that good ground,' that 'honest and good heart, which having heard the word, keeps it, and brings forth fruit with patience.' There is no preparation in the soil: and the word, though scattered all around, never penetrates, so as to spring and grow up.' "The result is, that although our country contains within itself, as I sincerely be lieve, a deeper fund of Christian zeal and piety than it ever possessed before, there exists, unhappily, a stronger counterpoise of irreligion. And that irreligion is active. The careless apathy or the dissolute sensuality of former times, though it had as much ungodliness in it as may be found now, was far less dangerous. Our lot has been cast upon a period when there is nothing neutral. Every man who is not the friend, is the enemy of religion.

"Such, I imagine, is the conviction to which in almost every place the minister is brought when he surveys his charge. He is sensibly reminded of the justice of those scriptural metaphors, which describe ungodliness as a state of sleep, or of death. He finds too many in this condition: a greater or a less proportion: largest probably, in those crowded districts where multitudes keep one another in countenance, and vice offers more temptations. But whether they be few or many, the question is, how shall their number be diminished? Are there any means by which those who are now dead in sloth, or dead in trespasses and sins,' may be brought to hear the voice of the Son of God, and awake from their spiritual death, that Christ may give them light?"" pp. 11-14.

The means recommended by his lordship deserve serious consideration. The first is an anxious attention to the spiritual instruction of children and young persons. The second is, what Dr. Chalmers calls "the aggressive system," including more particularly cottage lectures, and familiar expositions of Scripture from house to house, or in such a manner as shall best meet the wants of the people. We wish we had space to quote all that his lordship has written on this important topic; but we cannot refrain from transcribing as much as we can find room for.

"We all know by sad experience the apathy which comes over the unenlightened mind in regard to the soul and its future condition, when it has long resisted and grieved the Holy Spirit. But how is it to be awakened? Whilst all unconscious of the winds that blow, and the waves that threaten, what voice can so speak as to be heard, and say,' What meanest thou, O sleeper? Arise and call upon thy God.'

"One thing is evident. The ordinary means of grace are unavailable. The church is open, but neglected: the voice of truth is raised, but never heard. Even if opportunity be found for private warning, or occasional exhortation, it falls upon the ear in vain. It costs more to convert a soul. To leave the companions of indolence or profligate indulgence; to attend the house of God; to employ the Sabbath in the business for which it was given to man; these, under such circumstances, are not matters of trifling exertion, matters of course or custom; but strong efforts of faith, which can proceed from no other source. Faith, however, at present, there is none to affect practice. There may be no open denial of the truth of Christianity; there may be a general belief of the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come; but confessedly there is no operative effectual faith, such as may overcome habits of apathy, or resist the influence of example: and the principle itself must be implanted, or we look for its results in vain. If the minister waits in such cases for times of penitence or messages of invitation, he will wait for ever. It is the misery of spiritual sleep, that it has no waking hours. We might as justly expect that a Lazarus should rise unsummoned from the tomb, as that the man who lies in the darkness of spiritual death, should by any natural process begin to feel his ignorance and his sin, and shake off his grave clothes, and come forth to seek religious knowledge. He is warned, probably, from time to time; he is reminded that he is living in neglect of a positive duty. And this, perhaps, he will not deny. But what he needs is, not precepts, but motives: not merely a condemnation of present habits, but an effective reason why they should be changed.

"Faith then must supply the reason and the motives: must suggest the question, "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord?'

"But it would be enthusiasm to expect such faith to act suddenly upon the heart, without those means by which it is ordinarily produced. Experience does not teach us that such is the course of God's dealings with the heart: that he thus interposes summarily as it were, and awakens it to its high interests. Those who are alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them,' become only more distant from the knowledge of Him, as they advance in years, and approach nearer to his tribunal. Death comes and hides the man from our view, but cannot shut our eyes against the consequences that await him.

"Must we then sit down in despair, till the end comes; or is there any method by which these 'brands' may be 'plucked out of the fire?'


No man can come unto me,' said our Lord, 'except my Father who hath sent me

draw him.' Now one way in which the Father draws the obdurate and reluctant heart, is by his revealed word. 'Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.' "This seems to direct us towards an avenue by which we may approach the sheep which have strayed and are scattered in the wilderness. They will not seek the shepherd; they know not why they should. The shepherd must seek them. They will not come for the bread of life;' we must take it to them. In season and out of season, in any way that may present itself; and God does often open unexpected ways, we must make the truths of revelation known: we must carry the Scriptures home, and bring them within their hearing.

"Excellent results, far beyond expectation, have been found to proceed from a system of this kind: from the simple reading and exposition of Scripture to such a party as can be conveniently assembled in the houses of the poor. The word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword.' A blessing attends it: it does not return unto him void. The rebuke of the minister, however just and reasonable, is the rebuke of a fellow-creature: it too often excites the opposing passions, and rouses the sinner to an active defence of his wickedness. But here, when the Scriptures are unfolded, it is God who speaks; and 'who art thou, O man, that repliest against God?' It is the Son of God who invites, and says, Why will ye die, O house of Israel? Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life. And at the voice of God, and at the invitations of a gracious Saviour, the hardest heart will sometimes break, and the most inverate lethargy be roused." pp. 16-20.

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"Wherever these lectures have been introduced the congregations increase, the sacramental attendance is larger, the signs of a divine work become more visible. They shew an earnestness on the part of the minister himself, which has an undescribable effect upon the minds of others. They shew that he cannot be satisfied with the state of things existing around him: they shew that he cannot be satisfied while any remain without the knowledge of God, and of Jesus Christ whom he hath sent.'"

p. 21. "It is an indirect advantage of efforts made out of the usual course-whether Sabbath-observance societies, temperance societies, district visiting societies, adult schools, or meetings for exposition of Scripture-that they shew an anxious zeal against ungodliness and for religion. They prove that the ministerial work is no formal duty, but influenced by a sense of its indispensable importance. They are voluntary: and for that reason are doubly valued. The effect, therefore, is the same in its nature as that arising from the minister's general character...... Had St. Paul contented himself with shewing from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ,' and that God commandeth all men every where to repent:' he would have delivered his message, he would have declared the counsel of God. But what force was added to his message and his declarations, when he was able to call them to witness that for the space of three years he ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears?' It was this which gave the point to his argument, How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?'" pp. 22, 23.



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The Bishop goes on to shew the importance of these domestic expositions and instructions, not only for the sake of the ignorant and the profligate, but for those who are really in earnest in religion. He asks:

"What would become of any one of ourselves, if an hour in the week were the limit of our spiritual studies, our scriptural meditations, our communion with God through the medium of his holy word? We feel the force of this whenever applied to our own case, why should we think differently of the flock entrusted to us? Yet how many infirm persons, how many whom distance and family duties preclude from attending church, might be found in every parish, whose regular opportunities of religious improvement are so rare, that an hour in the week would be far too large an average.

"And yet it is by this,-by attention to the divine word, by application to the means through which the Spirit is ordinarily communicated-that one man is made to differ from another,' and the soul is renewed in knowledge after the image of God. Spiritual knowledge has this peculiar characteristic: it has little connexion with superior education, or cultivation of mere intellect. Spiritual knowledge is indispensable to every class and God does not suffer that which is needed by all alike, to depend on any thing which all may not possess: on what different persons must necessarily enjoy in very different degrees. The wisest philosopher can discover nothing more of the nature of God, or of the incarnation of Christ, and the union of Deity and Humanity in his person, than the most illiterate peasant." pp. 24, 25.

"Our ancestors had a just sense of what is requisite to maintain the life of God in the soul. The practices of the Romish Church deviated into superstition, and beeame the form of godliness' without the power.' But they were founded on a knowledge of human nature. And when fasts, and festivals, and vigils, and matins, and vespers were laid aside as profiting little,' because perverted from their right purpose, our Reformed Church prescribed the daily performance of morning and evening prayer, that the means of grace might be constantly within reach. The altered

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