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cannot, in my judgment, be too often inculcated nor too earnestly impressed. The last five are termed Conferences, denoting a plain and familiar manner of address: the others are called Synodal Discourses, or Ecclesiastical Charges; the tendency, indeed, of them all, is the same-to illus, trate the nature, and enforce the duties, of the Clerical character.
“ As the duties,” says the Editor, “ of the ecclesiastical profession, are very different from those prescribed to the rest of Christians, this part of the works of Father Massillon, in which he confines himself to the instructions of the Clergy, may not, perhaps, appear so interesting as his Practical Discourses; we may, notwithstanding, justly assert, that the public, in general, may derive from them the highest advantage. For all men may now know, what sort of labourers they ought to supplicate of the Almighty, for the cultivation of his Vineyard. Taught by these Exhortations, the solemn obligations imposed on the Christian Ministry, all men may see, that nothing is so deplorable as the blindness of parents, in bringing up their children to the Church, who have not TALENT and DISPOSITIONS adapted to the calling, thereby becoming the destroyers of the souls of their offspring, as also of an infinite number of Christians, lost by the unpar. donable negligence of those Ministers, who, unqualified as to talent, and indisposed as to principle, obtrude themselves as labourers in the Gos, pel-field.
“ The species of eloquence which prevails throughout these discourses, is not that of Sermons. Energy and warmth become the pulpit ; the tone of the Charge in general, and especially, that of Ecclesiastical Charges, should be more mild and gentle. This is what Father Massillon strictly regards : he addresses his Clergy, as men acquainted with their duty, in the observance of which, he labors to establish himself, and to the conscientious fulfilling of which, he expresses the utmost solicitude to recal the Shepherds of the flock : he does not urge those strong and forcible remonstrances, which are sometimes delivered from the pulpit, to awaken men from their insensibility ; but he represents, in the most feeling and pathetic manner, the melancholy and dreadful consequences, which arise, not merely from the profligacy, but even from the indifference, or the ignorance, of the Clergy; that the Preachers of the Gospel cannot bring ruin on themselves alone; but that, with their own, they involve the destruction of a number of souls, for whose redemption the Son of God vouchsafed ta shed his most precious blood.”
“ The Charges, which I denominate Episcopal, because they were composed during the Prelacy of the author, are in that style in which a Bishop should address his Clergy.. He varies his voice in
a thousand different ways; but it is always to voice of a father, or rather of a brother, who addresses his fellow laborers in the ministry ; he descends to the most minute and simple details, which he ennobles and renders interesting, by the turn he gives them, and the expressions in which they are conveyed.”
This amiable Prelate discovers a thorough knowledge of the human heart. The most conscientious Clergyman, may, after perusing these Charges, be surprised to find, that, in many instances, in which he had, as he might think, discharged his duty, comparatively well, he has been seduced by indifference, or diverted by inattention, to the neglect of some parts of his vocation, which have a power. ful effect in deterring the profligate from vice, disturbing the lukewarm in indifference, and confirming the religious in piety.
When Massillon delivered these discourses, the Clergy of France, were rapidly declining from the professional diligence and exemplary demeanor, by which they had formerly adorned a Church, whose doctrines are inconsistent with truth, and whose ceremonies are repugnant to reason. The reader will perceive the good Father's solicitude to restrain them from the paths which led to national evil, and individual ruin—which subject. ed their religion to censure and reproach, and themselves to scorn and derision. He does not exercise their understandings, by profound argu
ments, or learned disquisitions ; but, always keeping in view the inestimable value of salvation, and the indescribable horrors of reprobation, he brings them at once, before the Tribunal of God, and introduces the souls lost by the profligacy of their example, and the inefficacy of their ministry, into the divine presence, as testifying against them. From the inattention and degeneracy of the French Clergy, have arisen, it is said, all the calamities with which that unhappy nation hath been visited.
This translation, if read in the Northern Schools, which every year supply the Church abundantly, and if in the Universities, previous to the first degree, may impress young minds with a sense of the awful obligations, on which they are about to enter. It
may also be equally serviceable to conscientious men, who, disappointed in other professions, or not succeeding in trade, enter, if they have good connections, into the sacred ministry. Parents often, we see, prevail with their sons to take orders, contrary to their inclinations. A father may, in this translation, understand what all men are required to be, to support the ecclesiastical character, without incurring guilt themselves, and without endangering the salvation of the souls entrusted to their charge ; and if his sons do not promise, by diligence in study, by steadiness of behaviour, and piety of life, to “ save both themselves, and those that hear them,” he will, it may be hoped, have the integrity to renounce a probable, or even a promised, advantage, and will suffer them to pursue that course which is more congenial to their dispositions, and better adapted to their talents. This publication will shew the PRINCIPLE by which the Clergy should be actuated, and the ABILITY they should possess: and to those in whom such principle and ability are not found, it is to be wished, that the door of the ministry should not be easily opened.
I submitted these Exhortations to the perusal of a very respectable Clergyman, who would have dissuaded me from publishing them, under the idea that they would be considered as reflecting a degree of censure on the Clergy of the Established Church. I was astonished at this suggestion. For no man, as my friend well knows, however high his station, venerable his character, or enviable his
preferment, has either a greater attachment to the Church, or a more exalted opinion of her Clergy, than myself; and my attachment arises, neither from gratitude for past, nor expectation of future, favours. The Clergy I consider, and such they, I believe, are very generally considered, as Scholars, as Divines, as Christians, the most learned, useful, and examplary body of men, of which society can boast. But is this to preclude me from offering to the world, in an English dress, the discourses of a Catholic Prelate, which, had the Clergy of his nation observed, their religion, would, it is probable, have been now flourishing, and themselves, instead of deing murdered by the Assassin,