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or scorned by the Infidel, have been thought wor» thy, after having“ been put in trust with the Gospel,” of being continued to dispense its blessings ? Happy would it be, for society in generai, would the Clergy direct their united endeavours to restore our own Church to its former splendor-by bringing back those, who having, with unbecoming precipitation, and unnatural degeneracy, first deserted, would afterwards, either betray it by stratagem, or overturn it by violence-by persuading those who affect to be of her Communion, to attend her services, to observe her ordinances, and to conduct themselves like men who enjoy the preaching of the Gospel in its genuine purity, unadulterated by wordly wisdom on the one hand, or by crafty mysticism on the other hand: The accomplishment of this blessed end depends solely on the Clergy themselves. My observations on this subject I offer with deference, I hope, therefore, without offence, but not, I implore the Almighty, without effect. First, let every Clergyman enquire, impartially, of his own heart—and the enquiry is to be one day made, by him “ to whom all hearts are open, and all desires are known”—whether Religion has, in his parish, failed of its influence, either through negligence in the discharge of his duty, or impropriety in the conduct of his life? Whatever be the answer which his conscience gives, let him next enquire -whether he reads the public prayers with so much devotion as to inspire his congregation with a spirit of piety? If he reads them with
irreverent precipitation, or with disgusting tediousness, instead of inducing men to“ pay their vows in the great congregation,” he is, without, perhaps, being conscious of it himself, the cause of alienating their minds from the service of their Maker; and the absence of his parisioners from the House of God is to be attributed, either to his want of seriousness, of consideration, or of judg. ment : next let him enquire whether the discourses he delivers, produce the effect which was intended to be produced by the preaching of the Gospel ? Has he the satisfaction of perceiv. ing decorum triumphing over degeneracy, sobriety over intoxication, and piety over profaneness? If he fail entirely of success, either the subjects of his sermons, or his mode of treating, or of delivering them, are not applicable to the wants, or not powerful over the affections, of his pari. sioners; and having, therefore, neglected, whether to cultivate the soil with diligence, to select the seed with judgment, or to sow it with all requisite care, he cannot be surprised that he has not an abundant crop at the time of harvest. I presume to suggest these considerations, as it is by their having an universal influence, that thou. sands who have deserted the Church, are to be brought back into the fold; and, that the vast numbers, who call themselves Churchmen, but who live some without the profession, and many without the practice, of Religion, may be deterred from evil courses, and established in virtuous habits:
Observation on the state of the Church, has confirmed me in the opinion, that some improvements are wanting, to attach men more steadily to her service. We see in the morning's large congregations in many parishes; and in the afternoons we see the very persons, of whom those congregations were composed, sitting in their houses, or standing at their doors, regardless of their obligations to go a second time “ to the House of the Lord.” This prevailing inattention takes its rise, I apprehend, from three causes-either, that their attendance on the service of the Church, in the morning, proceeds from custom almost independent of religous principle, and that they persuade themselves they thereby sufficiently discharge their duty ;-or, that they receive little edification, and feel little interest in the celebration of divine service ;-or, lastly, that they can when they are disposed say their prayers at home, and that there is, therefore, no occasion, to go to Church for that purpose, seeing there is no public instruction. The almost universal neglect of evening service, owes its prevailance, I doubt not, to one of these three causes. If, which seems most probable, to the last, the objection may easily be removed. The Clergy, indeed, allege, that their parisioners would not, from the influence of confirmed habit, be prevailed with to attend evening service. I know some conscientious Clergymen, who instituted evening sermons; but they complained, that their Churches were not so well attended as the conventicles, and therefore, precipitately, unadvisedly, and I had almost said, irreligiously, discontinued their instruc. tions from the pulpit. Patient labor, and unre. mitted perseverance, might, accompanied by God's blessing, have been ultimately successful. Had my friends—instead of being discouraged by obstacles, which diligence might have, gradually, lessened, and judgment, eventually, surmounted prepared awakening and pathetic discourses, level to the understandings, and interesting to the affec. tions, of their hearers, and enforced their public preaching, by personal visits, applauding and confirming the attention and piety of the well-disposed among their people, they would not, I am persuaded, have had reason to complain, either of the indisposition of their hearers to instruction, or the inutility of their own labors. But I would suggest an attractive improvement in preaching, or rather, I would substitute a more efficacious mode of improving the morals, and informing the understandings, of men. Would every Clergyman, after the morning service, give notice, that, as a Psalm, or Lesson, or the Epistle, or Gosple, seemed either peculiarly striking, or not easy to be understood, or often misapplied, the explanation of it should be the subject of the evening instruction, he would soon, without question, have a re. gular congregation.
It' were greatly to be wished, as an additional incentive to attend public worship, that the elocution of the Clergy of the Church of England, were more impressive than it is--an acquirement not to. be generally attained-unless the two Universities, seeing the indispensable necessity of it, should consider public speaking, as an ESSENTIAL part of an academical education. Of what use to nine parishes out of ten, is the best critical scholar, or the deepest mathematician, if he is not able to deliver a sermon, so as to engage the attention, and affect the heart, of his hearers? He, feeling his professional deficiency, accompanied, at the same time, with a consciousness of superior learning, despises them; and they, not knowing how to appreciate, and deriving no advantage, from, his knowledge, disregard him. Thus is the bread of life, when distributed by his hands, deprived of its vital sustenance. Had he employed a part of his leisure, in the University, in cultivating the talents of a public speaker, that he might have become, agreeably to his designation, an instrument “ of turning many to righteousness”-he would, instead of being professionally useless, have “ converted many from the error of their ways." What possible advantage can a congregation derive from hearing a young man, who is entirely unacquainted with the art of public speaking, read for fifteen or twenty minutes, an elegant essay, or an ingenous disquisition, equally adapted, with a few verbal alterations, to an assembly of Catholics, Jews or Mahometans-ashamed all the time of looking them in the face ? Such an one might have been active as a shopkeeper, skilful as a farmer, diligent as a tradesman, and may, perhaps be distinguished as a philosopher-but it is