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86 parishes, with a population of 47,000, where it is less than 1001. ; where the average is 721. 10s. for each incumbent. There are many with much less even than this. Some with no more than 301. endowment; one, containing 1400 people, with only 121. a-year and a house!
But, not to dwell upon these, the extreme cases, how, I would ask, in those 86 parishes just mentioned, can the clergyman, with 721. 10s., and, perhaps, a family to bring up out of it, when his health fails, secure the services of a curate? Clearly, he has but the barest means out of the Church's funds for his own support, and is in no condition to part with any for the payment of a second clergyman.
I hope I have now made good the necessity of the case.
I think you will allow, I have proved that there is great spiritual need in this diocese; and that it is utterly beyond the reach of the clergy to supply what is wanted out of the present Church
Already, the clergy, in many places, are taxed far above their strength. Many burdens are thrown upon them; many and pressing wants come before them in their parishes, which ought, in common justice, to obtain relief at other hands. I do not say this in any spirit of complaint. It is a most
. blessed thing to give; but it would be better for
us all if our giving was more equalized. I do not wish that those who now give liberally, “to their power, yea, and beyond their power,” should withhold their hand; but I do wish that their zeal might provoke others. I do desire that we might all of us, clergy as well as laity, attain to a higher mark, and “abound" to our God in this grace of charity, be it out of our poverty, or out of our abundance, “ more and more!" With regard to the especial object now before
-the support of the Oxford Diocesan Spiritual Help Society-I have no further remarks to make. That Society comes before us by our Bishop's urgent request, and it has, as I have sought to show, in itself, strong claims to recommend it to our sympathy and assistance.
Were further argument wanted to call forth your alms, I might find it in the present season. For this is Advent Sunday! Once again are we reminded of His coming, who, as He is our Saviour, will also be our Judge! Once again, in the decaying year-so typical of our own life's diminishing powers—has the warning gone forth,—“The night is far spent; the day is at hand; let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.” Once, again, the admonition to all — to old and young, to rich and poor—is, “ Be not weary in well-doing.” He will soon be here who will “try every man's work, of what sort it is!”
Then, brethren, see we to this, that we be preparing ourselves to meet Him. Let Him not find us sleeping. Let Him not light on us living a selfish life— living for ourselves and to ourselves. Let Him rather find us alert and watchful; occupied in His service; filled with the thought of His return; doing that which we know to be pleasing in His sight.
In a word, let the Lord find us following His blessed example; going about to do good; seizing gladly every occasion of being of use to others; preaching His Gospel to the poor; lifting up those that are down; binding up our brother's grief; helping our brother's joy; promoting all we can the common good of all, by the largeness and unstraitened measure of our charity.
“ Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law."
REV. xxi. 3.
Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God."
THESE words, spoken by a voice out of heaven to St. John the Evangelist, set forth the glory and happiness of God's people in a future world. And, to complete the picture, we must read the verse which follows:-“ And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
This bright vision will have its fulfilment in that day, when the present state of things having passed away—the earth and the works that are therein being burned up-God shall create “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."
But, though pointing there to the great con
summation of all things, these same words are capable of another application. I do not think we shall be, in any sort, wresting this Scripture a wrong interpretation, if we
view it as unfolding to us the mystery of the Incarnation if we take it
as I now propose to do-as siimming up of the real causes of our rejoicing at Christmas - as conveying to us, in very beautiful language, language easy to be remembered, the reason why we, and millions of our fellowChristians in all parts of the world, keep this day as our great holiday: and further, as supplying us with thoughts that chime in with the service of our Church on this occasion, and such as may be in harmony with that sacred ordinance, of which we are about to be partakers -“Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people ; and God himself shall be with them, and be their God."
Is not this the very language, both of the Lesson from Isaiah, and of the Gospel from St. John, appointed for this day?—“ Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel;" “ which,” St. Matthew tells us, “ being interpreted, is, God with us.
That is the testimony of the prophet Isaiah, who foretold, many centuries before it came to pass, the birth of Jesus Christ, and the manner of His birth.