« PreviousContinue »
that the Church of Christ will soon unfettered by positive commands or enter upon a deadly conflict with in- prohibitions, and finding incitements fidelity, and infidelity, too, of a pecu- and restraints only in the promptings liarly subtle and dangerous character. of its own unsanctified researches, it In Germany, in France, in Italy, in leads men gradually to forget even Switzerland, infidelity is fermenting the plain rules of morality. By derapidly, and threatening a fearful ex- grading religion to sentimentalism, plosion at no distant epoch.
and rejecting all restraints which its The essence of this new develop- own weak reason cannot explain, such ment of infidelity,' is a dreamy pan- a philosophy rapidly prepares the way theism, which destroys the relation for open infidelity and atheism. between the creature and the Creator, We firmly believe that the danger and does, in point of fact, introduce to true religion from a false, proud, downright atheism.
pantheistic philosophy, such as is now Strange, indeed, that the later ages prevalent on the Continent, cannot of the world should witness a revival be exaggerated. And as Great Briof those subtle devices, by which the tain has, in the providence of God, tempter has, from time immemorial, been called to occupy the front of the kept the minds of the Hindoos bound battle with the papacy, so also in the in abject vassalage. The Hindoo coming conflict with a subtle infiphilosophical theology, of which Dr. delity, do we believe that our beloved Duff has given so interesting an ac- Church and country, the bulwarks count in his work on India and India of Protestant Christendom, will be Missions, presents most striking fea- called on to take a prominent part. tures of resemblance to the reveries And it is time to be examining of recent German philosophers. The our armour-and by diligent prayer, plans which Satan devised for alluring watchfulness, and study to be premankind from the truth in the infancy paring for the enemy. From the peof our race, he seems about to employ culiar intellectual temperament of the again with the same object, amidst people, Scotland will probably be the the full blaze of modern civilization. portion of the United Kingdom where False philosophy in all ages has been This evil continental tendency will first the deadly enemy of true religion. In shew itself. But, if not firmly reIndia, it has debased the intellect, sisted when it makes its appearance, and demoralized the heart. It has it will soon overspread the whole kept, as it were, icebound the Hindoo country like a withering leprosy, as mind for ages, presenting by far the has already been the case in Switzermost formidable adversary which the land. Gospel has yet had to encounter in We call the Church of God to be the battle-field of paganism. False upon her guard. Let us carefully philosophy, too, has been the insi- watch the first introduction of condious foe of Christianity at all periods tinental infidelity and pantheism of the history of the Church. Shew- amongst us, and give ourselves no ing its animosity to the truth in the rest till we see it expelled and reGnostic heresies in the earliest ages jected. The Church has never been of the Church, it has continued to vanquished when she was prepared produce, wherever its influence was for the foe; but she has been often freely developed, the same withering severely punished when she forgot her effects upon true religion. False militant position, and folded her hands philosophy finds its chief support in in sleep. the natural pride of the human heart. Infidelity is preparing for a deadly, Persuading us that it can point out a it may be a final conflict with Christiway to divine truth different from anity. The notes of preparation are that revealed in the word of God, it heard in the enemy's camp, every day descants
the limitless power of becoming more distinct. Let us be the human intellect, while it carefully prepared. Let us watch and pray, conceals the many memorials of real remembering that saying of the Lord, ignorance on such subject which the “Behold, I come quickly: hold that history of the past reveals. Then, fast which thou hast, that no man take OF WHAT USE ARE PARISH CLERKS TO THE CHURCH IN
thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out; and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of
the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him
my new name." (Rev. iii. 11, 12.)
THEIR PRESENT CAPACITY AS LAYMEN?
Much has been said of late years as to the non-recognition of the parishclerk in the Book of Common Prayer. In order to ascertain the force of such a statement, it will be necessary to refer to that book. It is quite true that the term parish clerk is not to be found therein, but it is also true that frequent mention is made of clerks, or clerk, in various parts of the services of our Church. For example, at the end of the Suffrages, after the Creed, at Morning and Evening Prayer, these words occur,
“ Then the Minister, Clerks, and people shall say the Lord's Prayer with a loud voice.” In the Marriage Service, it states, “ Then shall they again loose their hands; and the man shall give unto the woman a ring, laying the same upon the book with the accustomed duty to the Priest and Clerk, &c.” It further states, “ Then the Minister or Clerks, going to the Lord's table, shall say or sing this Psalm following.”
In the order for the Burial of the Dead, we read—“ T] Priest and Clerks meeting the corpse at the entrance of the church-yard, &c., shall say or sing;" again,
“ When they come to the grave, while the corpse is made ready to be laid into the earth, the Priest shall say, or the Priest and Clerks shall sing,” &c. In the Commination Service we have the following: “Then shall they all kneel upon their knees, and the Priest and Clerks shall say
this Psalm.” In the service for the Fifth of November, the preface to the hymn appointed for that day, says, “Instead of Venite exultemus shall this hymn following be used; one verse by the Priest, and another by the Clerk and
people.” There is also the same directions in the service for “King Charles the Martyr," “ The Restoration of the Royal Family," and the “ Queen's Accession;" which clearly proves that if Venite be said, it must be in the same manner as the hymn referred to. And as these services were all appointed by the Church, and sanctioned by Acts of Parliament, it seems to me but natural to infer, from the Prayer Book, that the Clerk is there recognized, and has been so from the Reformation of the English Church till within the last few years.
It will now be my humble endeavour to show the use of Parish Clerks in accordance with the 91st Canon of the Church : " That he shall be of twenty years of age at the least, to be of honest conversation, and sufficient for his reading, writing, and also for his competent skill in singing, if it may be.” Such are the qualifications required by the Canon, and the inference to be drawn from thence is, that the person so chosen must be a Layman, as no one at that age can be admitted into holy orders.
At the period of the Reformation, our blessed Reformers clearly saw the awful errors into which the Romish Church had fallen, yet did not attempt to form a new Church, but rather to reform the old one. Neither did they totally cast aside the Service Books, but in both instances they removed the bad, and retained and set in order that which was good, and agreeable to God's Word; bearing in mind the apostolic admonition : "Let all things be done decently and in order;"“ Hold fast the form of sound words.” These holy men, in order to carry out
their wise arrangements, ordered, or As to dissent, the question is easily sanctioned, the continuance of one answered, because they publish their clerk to each parish church, whose doings far and wide. duty was to assist the minister in the The Wesleyans, who, I believe, are various offices of the church, so that one of the most influential and flouthe worship of Almighty God might rishing sects, into which Christianity be conducted in a devout and be- is unhappily divided, have a Confercoming manner. If he is a truly ence, superintendents, second and pious man, and understands his duty, third-class preachers, class leaders, and he will, to the best of his endeavour, prayer leaders. Hence we learn from cultivate a devout frame of mind, their proceedings, that the prosperity making the responses where neces- and increasing numbers of their sosary, following the minister in the ciety are the result of combined and general confession of sins to Almighty well-directed efforts. Other dissentGod in an humble, distinct, and ers, seeing the success which has ataudible tone, thereby inducing the tended this co-operation of preachers congregation to unite their voices and people, have, in many instances, with his in this, and every other part adopted their plans, and thereby met of Divine service, where it is their with similar success. duty and privilege to join their There is a man now living in St. minister in prayer and praise to the James's Parish, Bristol, who, for ever blessed Trinity.
several years past, has been in the But with what propriety could this habit of constantly visiting the nebe done, if there is no leader to guide glected village of W. in the them? Only let an unprejudiced County of Somerset, as
a local person visit those churches where the preacher. He first procured a room clerk is dispensed with, and, if I am for the use of a small Sunday-school, not mistaken, he will soon perceive a as well as for the purpose of preachgreat want of harmony, especially if ing to any of the villagers who could the clergyman, from over exertion in be induced to attend. In the course his laborious duties, or from bodily of time, sufficient influence was gained, infirmity, has a weak voice. He will and funds raised to enable the parties also discern the need of a person near concerned to purchase a piece of the minister, competent to lead the ground, and build a chapel. The congregation in their devotions, as congregation has increased, and conappointed by the compilers of our tinues, to the best of my knowledge, Scriptural Liturgy; and not some in a flourishing state. All this has four or six little, giddy, thoughtless been effected entirely through the inboys, saying Divine service in a sing- strumentality of the individual above song tone, without any devotion alluded to. This plain matter of whatever. But such a novelty and fact is one instance amongst many change as this, we trust, will be utterly that might be adduced; but this will discountenanced by the rulers of our suffice to show the importance of the Church, and strongly opposed by the subject under consideration. These congregation, wherever such an at- proceedings of the Dissenters are not tempt is made.
brought forward for imitation ; but at I now proceed to consider of what the same time, it is my firm persuafurther use parish clerks may be to sion, that such a class of men as the Church in its present state; whilst parish clerks, possessing genuine some enquire of what use are they, piety, and duly qualified, under the and others are trying to do away with sanction and appointment of the them altogether, affirming that they Bishops, if raised one step above a are nowhere recognized in the Book layman, might be of great service to of Common Prayer.
the Church of England in her present In order more fully to show the state of trial from enemies without, need of such persons in the present and traitors within her pale. The day, let us look at the signs of the times settlement of this question, however, in reference to the rapid increase of after all, properly belongs to the dissent, popery, and infidelity. clergy, as they are the most competent judges as to what kind of service in every way qualified for the office; such an inferior servant of the Church and then be presented to the bishop as a parish clerk, may render them in for his sanction, and appointment their sacred duties.
thereto. But if such an one may be per- It should, however, be strongly enmitted to suggest a few for their con- forced by those in authority, that such sideration, the following appear to clerks adhere strictly to the rules laid me amongst the most necessary :- down at the time of their appointment, To assist the minister in visiting the and do not depart from them under sick and the poor, read the Scrip- any pretence whatever. Should this tures to them, &c., similar to the plan increase of the duties and responsiof the Scripture Readers' Society, bilities of the parish clerk ever take recently formed
under the sanction of place, I think suspension will rarely, several of our Bishops. In extreme if ever occur; and as to final dismissal cases, to baptize sick and dying in- for misconduct, I would fain hope it fants, bury the dead, and perform will be unknown. whatever part of the Church offices That it may please thegracious Giver the bishop, or ordinary, may think of all good to bless these imperfect proper to sanction.
remarks, which I have presumed to Each person so employed, should, suggest, for the benefit of His Church, of course, be well known to the is the earnest prayer of His very unminister as a sincere and humble worthy servant, member of the Church of England,
A PARISH CLERK,
THURSDAY BEFORE EASTER.
The faithful, and the vile,
The quiet chamber, lighted up Hath made them passing fair :
With day's departing smile. The firstlings of our northern year Saviour ! whose love no tongue can tell, The speedwell, frail and blue,
No limner's hand portray, And primrose stars that glimmer near Light of the heaven where seraphs dwell! Dim with the April dew;
Fountain of life and day! They fail before mine eyes to-day,
By that remembered feast at even, For I am wand'ring back
And by the morrow tide, Long ages, on His mournful way,
Whom should we seek but thee in heaven, My suffering Lord to track.
And whom on earth beside ? I see the town of Mary, yet
The sun is gone, it is the hour Hid in the deep ravine,
When thou wert left alone, A cleft of mountain Olivet,
To struggle in the olive bower Silent, and cool, and green ;
With forms and woes unknown. I see the foot-path trodden still
The vision fades, and round me come He trod, that eventide,
Familiar household things, The foot-path winding down the hill, About the trees and flowers of home, The path, by Kedron's side.
The moon a glory flings. Half hidden by the grey old stem
So fast, the tranquil thoughts must wane, Of many an olive tree,
That seemed with God erewhile, I see thy towers, Jerusalem !
And I shall cleave to dust again, His face is turned to thee.
The worthless and the vile. Jerusalem! oh lost and blind !
Speak with us, Saviour ! by the way, His face is turned to thee,
Till, from our bondage free, The star, the hope of human kind,
Without the shattered walls of clay,
No stranger's face we see,
Seen dimly at our side,
The Christ! the Crucified !
"Who passing through the valley of Baca in a dull and stupid indolence, like
make it a well ; the rain also filleth the the calm that reigns in the dead sea, pools.”—Ps. lxxxiv. 6.
but in such a peace of mind as is The blessed Spirit of God usually lively, active, and constantly accomsanctifies the mind of his afflicted panied with the purest joy. It is not children, by shewing them their many a mereabsenceof uneasiness and pains, sins and their numberless' mercies. but an ease which is accompanied The more clearly they discern, and with satisfaction and supreme delight, the more deeply they feel the former, and it will only have its full fruition the more sensible will they be of the in the immediate presence of God. latter. It has been well said, that (Ps. xvi. 11; xvii. 15.) “the way of contentment is to add another burden ; the heavier the burden of sin is to thy heart, the
“Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures,
nor the power of God.”—Matthew lighter will the burden of thy afflic- xxii. 29. tion be to thy soul.” The heavenly How often do we find the wisTeacher then shews them that the
dom and goodness of Jesus manifest, very affliction (well called “ the valley in giving general principles which of Baca,”) which deprives them of the
will extend beyond the occasion on ordinances, may become the most
which they are spoken. Of this we effectual means of grace, when “the have an instance here, as the text rain filleth the pools."
shews, in the two great sources of our errors in faith and experience. If the
word of Christ dwelt more richly in They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before
us, and if by prayer and faith we more God.”—Ps. lxxxiv. 7.
frequently proved the power of our
God, how secure should we be from The Holy Spirit has so sanctified
the error of the wicked, and how free their afflictions, that their progress
from distrusting fears and anxieties. continues, until they reach their heavenly inheritance.
“ And the woman said unto the serpent,
We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the O Lord God of Hosts, hear my prayer :
garden: but of the fruit of the tree which
is in the midst of the garden, God hath give ear, O God of Jacob.”—Psalm lxxxiv. 8.
said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall
ye touch it, lest ye die.”—Gen. iii. 2, 3. David here seems to remember the Satan's first outward effort was to privilege of private prayer, and to ap
gain the ear of Eve; but it is evident peal to God in it, whilst the efficacy from her reply, that he had already of all his intercourse must depend obtained posession of her heart. This upon the intercession of his Great
is clear from the following conHigh Priest, (Heb. vii. 25,) to whom siderations — “ she made too little an allusion is made in the petition, of the liberal grant of the Creator, “look upon the face of thine Anoint
thankfulness was excluded, she stated ed.”
the prohibition in strong terms of
severity, (hereby introducing super"Who will shew us any good ? Lord, stition,) whilst she faltered as to the
lift thou up the light of thy countenance certain and immediate execution of upon us.”—Ps. iv. 6.
the threatening.” In all this we have, Man, by the fall, has not only lost as it were, the embryo of all his future the possession but the knowledge of temptations ; whilst from the bait happiness. By happiness is under- itself, we may learn the three great instood that perfect and complete good struments which he employs, namely which is suited and adapted to an intel- “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the ligent nature. It consists in a com- eye, and the pride of life.” plete tranquillity of the mind, and not