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NOTES OF A MONTHLY CLERICAL SOCIETY IN SUFFOLK.
April 22nd, 1845. tion than loud, confident, and ram
bling assertion, produces a far greater SUBJECT FOR DISCUSSION
and more general effect, than he who
from his manuscript delivers his more “ The Difficulties of the Parochial
elaborate, calm, and reasoning adMinister.”
dress—the unconnected freedom of THE minister, as God's commissioned the one, often mistaken for the
preservant, bearing the message of mercy sent and special gifts of the Spirit; to man, not only holds the position the close arrangement of the other of great honour, but also of the high- only indicative of a want of power, est responsibility. In seeking to be natural or spiritual, and of any
real clear from the blood of those commit- and deep concern for the souls of ted to his charge, and in his efforts to promote the best interests of the In connexion with this head of people, and the glory of God, difficul- difficulty, it was observed, that geneties of a varied character daily arise; rally a freedom of address, with acvaried, indeed, as the fields of labour ceptance and profit to a people, was which are ministerially occupied, and in a measure to be acquired by every so requiring such a measure of wis- minister, who, feeling its value, would dom and strength, that, with the
address himself to the subject. Family Apostle, the parochial minister, con- exposition, and cottage lecturing, scious of his own weakness, often have proved excellent helps; and exclaims, “Who is sufficient for these from experience it has been found things?” May all our support be from that no natural talents, without a clear above! then in meeting difficulties acquaintance with the doctrines of the as they may arise, we shall be embold- Gospel and the letter of Revelation in ened by the assurance,
“ And lo! I its varied parts, can ever enable a man am with you always to the end of the to speak with edification, or continued world;" and "patience having her freedom, as an expositor or preacher. perfect work, we shall be comforted As to the advantages, or the contrary, by the promise, “My grace is suffi- of extemporaneous address, as comcient for thee, my strength is made pared with written, it was generally perfect in weakness.”
felt that either should be used as Let us notice a few of the difficul- particular circumstances, arising from ties as particularized.
the character of particular congregaI. It was observed that among all tions, should require; that sermons the dissenting bodies, extemporaneous
written in the spirit of prayer, well address was a necessary requisite; arranged--the weighty matter of the that, as the result, a larger amount of Gospel pervading every part~a man's certain impressions was produced congregation before him, as he disamong the hearers, than was to be cusses his subject in his study, and found generally amongst church con- delivered from his manuscript, have gregations, habituated, for the most been wonderfully blessed by God, part, to written composition—the and therefore should be used, when member, alluding to this particular, and where a man's own best judgadding, that one of the greatest diffi- ment might direct. But, further, it culties he had publicly to contend was felt that where the subject is with, was his inability to address his previously and accurately considered, congregation without the aid of a and where either from nature, or inwritten composition; feeling that a dustrious acquirement, a freedom of general impression abroad, particular- speech exists, together with a toleraly among the
and middle classes, ble choice and command of suitable is, that the extemporaneous preacher, language, that then manuscript, with often possessing no other qualifica- much advantage, might be laid aside. That this mode of publishing the tastes than others, partyisms, jealouseverlasting Gospel was more in con- ies, and impediments towards his sonance with the habit of the apostles ministry often arise. If the interand the primitive Church; and in the change extends to all, irrespective of circumstances of our day, that the character, then to some a stumbling more general such a mode of preach- block is raised; the holiness officially ing becomes, the more effectually pressed from the pulpit is represented could prejudices be met, mistakes be as socially compromised. To meet corrected, and the poorer part of our the difficulty, it was observed that if, people be more easily and permanent by the unconverted and influential of ly kept in connexion with the minis- our parishes the interchange was try of the Church. Extemporaneous urged, the minister going among preaching without thought, consider- them as such, speaking and acting as ation, arrangement, matter, correct the minister, carrying his character expression, and where a man is grop- with him, and as a witness for God ing for words, and dosing his people, faithfully maintaining it-such renot only with a repetition of senti- quests for such intercourse will soon ment, but also of meagre, rambling cease to be made, his presence will expression-this of all other preach- soon be dispensed with, as no intering, the least for edification, and as- community of feeling or taste is persuredly the most to be avoided. ceived to exist. With respect to the
II. It was noticed as a difficulty other class, those who profess the very general in almost all our congre- Gospel, favouritism in intercourse gations, (and for the sake of consis- should be avoided; and the social tency and decency in public worship intercourse on the part of the minisrequiring immediate correction,) viz., ter, to be at all profitable, even to the “the unnatural habit of sitting instead latter class, should by all means be of kneeling when in prayer, and of free from common worldly chitchat, remaining silent-no response heard, or the gossip of the day; the minister where blessings are sought, sins con- always cautious to avoid expressing fessed, or thanksgiving and praise his opinion of any particular parishoffered up—the one indicating irrev- ioner, if at all unfavourable, in the erence, the other apathy.” It was social circle. Intercourse carefully suggested that much might be done maintained, profitably exercised; optowards the correction of the evil, by portunities for good prayerfully seized, providing kneeling accommodation were urged as well befitting the as far as possible, by occasionally Christian minister. from the pulpit bringing the subject IV. The existence of a wealthy scriptural¡y before the people, and by squire in a parish was considered a private conversation with the most great difficulty. When, unfortunateinfluential of the congregation, urging ly, he happens to be no friend to their example, both with respect to religion, being either a profligate, a the propriety of a kneeling posture, man of pleasure, the patron of sinful as well as the life and interest which
amusements, or perhaps a man of a public and general response infuses mere cold morality; evangelical truth into our holy, our fervent, and, at the is to such rather a torment than a pleasame time, our chastened Church sure. Such a state of things often Service.
has been a source of much difficulty ; III. The character of ministerial but from experience it is found that and social intercourse with a people respect without compromise, faithwas represented as surrounded with fulness without rashness, patience difficulties to many. If the minister marked with steadiness, holiness with keeps himself wholly aloof from social visible consistency, decision free from interchange, he is often considered unnecessary collision, and all accomhigh, proud, not a copyist of the panied with constant prayer for lowly Jesus. If the interchange is strength and guidance, have done observed toward some, as spiritually much either for
the removal of the difmore congenial to his desires and ficulty, or, at least, for its mitigation.
V. A competent supply of qualified visibly in a straightforward course teachers for Sunday Schools, punc- for God's glory, and the true interests tuality of attendance on the part of of his people, and without violently teachers and taught, together with assailing the eccentricities of dissent, the keeping of our children in con- faithfully and lovingly to bring fornexion with the Church, after they ward and urge the blessings and prileave our schools for service or other vileges of churchmanship.”
Such a occupation either at home or abroad; proceeding, with the culture of such a all this is felt as a serious difficulty, frame of mind, will render the trials presenting itself to our notice every bearable, keep the labourer much in day. Much rests with the minister the spirit of prayer, cause the prejuas to the supply and character of dices of dissent to be dissipated, and teachers. If they are not ready at induce the people to abide within the hand, he is to endeavour to make range of wholesome and disinterested them; calling together the most hope- instruction. ful and the best-informed of his peo- VII. The indifference on the part ple, much might be done by his in- of many of our parishioners as to struction, and as the school grows, church or meeting-house-in the the persons there taught may be used morning a worshipper in the former, for the office in due time. . Conver- in the afternoon a worshipper in the sion to God, sobriety of conduct, a latter, as personal convenience may love for souls, responsibility realized, suit—was felt as another difficulty; and conduct among the children in and how to remedy the evil is a diffievery respect exemplary, were consid- culty in itself. If the subject be pubered as essentially necessary in the licly brought forward, church-goers teacher. The infusion of Church are oftentimes so connected with disprinciples, the occasional kind notice senters by marriage and other relaof the pupil; if at a distance a line of tionships, and so little bound in hearfriendly advice; when leaving school, ty zeal towards church membership a testimony from the minister as to as a system, that more evil than good conduct, with an exhortation toward often arises; our own people are likeits maintenance, the opportunity af- ly to become dissatisfied, and every forded them of calling upon the min- such dissatisfaction makes for the ister when leaving their service or opposite interest. Private intervisiting their relations in the parish; course and quiet reasoning with the these were represented as well calcu- people so unsettled, are found a useful lated to keep up the school connexion corrective. Suffolk people are often inwith the Church, children, teachers, clined to reply to ministerial and and minister so kindly affectioned to public remonstrance, “I won't be each another.
driven; you must not lord it; I will VI. It was observed that the rest- go where I please. Rebellious indeless efforts of dissenters generally to pendence is very common. The fact mar the minister's exertions, to excite that dissenters closely attend their and keep up certain prejudices, to chapels, and do not desert them for unsettle the minds of inquirers, and, by church, being urged, this tells well, various ingenious modes, to cause them a3 likely to produce a corresponding to leave the Church, and finally settle action with respect to steady church atdown in some of the particular schisms tendance, for in general the people are of the parish, constitute a difficulty of disinclined to occupy the position of a very painful character. The reme- such glaring and visible inconsistency, dy prescribed was, “stedfastness in VIII. Co-operation with dissenters the work of the Lord, the mainten- in support of religious societies, such ance of a patient and unruffled tem- as the Bible Society, &c., is felt by per, the culture of a forbearing spirit, many as a difficulty, and particularly the answer of a good conscience that at the present time, when the hostility his labours are not for a system, but of dissent publicly is so well known, for Christ and his kingdom, an hon- and its workings in private so acutely est simplicity of purpose flowing felt. It is hard on a platform to be
addressed and almost fondled by sure encourage his dishonestya bad dissent, as a “ dear brother," whilst example to others. This is a difficulty off the platform the “ dear brother's" happily not of very common existence. exertions for God and man are often Remedy
-as much as possible all either undervalued, misrepresented, litigation with parishioners should be or seriously counteracted; the “ dear avoided. The case should indeed be brother's” Church, in its constitution extreme to cause a collision; if so, often, and in his own parish, violently enforce the claim; if not, rather for assailed. These are difficulties in- Christ's sake, suffer loss. deed. Under all the trying circum- XI. The characters whom we are stances of the case, it was deemed sometimes obliged to admit to the advisable that the co-operation should sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's be maintained; that the relinquish Supper, constitutes an additional difment would tell rather against our ficulty. An ungodly parent presents Church; that the platform should be his child for baptism. occupied without a particle of com- obliged to administer the rite. You promise, and the co-operation sus- have thoughtless sponsors. Obtain tained in the same spirit, blended communicants for the office, perwith much love, yet free from the ful- haps you cannot. The sacrament is some complimentary habits of the day. applied, Christian profession is made;
IX. The regulation of the minis- but by sponsor or parent no possible ter's family in all its branches, so as hope can be entertained that instrucnot to be a stumblingblock to others, tion necessary to fulfil profession often proves a work of difficulty, a will be ever communicated : thus a trial of a most painful character to the difficulty:
The case of the Lord's conscientious minister. The minister Supper does not bring with it such a and his household should be the trial though some formalists do comlooking-glass of the whole parish, municate, yet the openly ungodly geinto which when they look they may nerally keep away.
This sacrament behold Christianity beautifully repre- acknowledgedly only for holy persented, internally healthy, and exter- sons, and this even in the estimation nally active for God and man. But and practice of the opposite characsometimes there may be the society- ters. The application of our marriage loving wife, the giddy, dressy daugh- service to all parties indiscriminately, ter, the loose, immoral son, the irre- adds to the difficulty. With too ligious, worldly relative, the ungodly many, unhappily, it is not holy maservant; this is unsightly in a parish trimony; and as with our burial -it is the topic of conversation- service, so with this—the language hence a difficulty. What is he to do? of both, applicable to real believers, He must rule his household; a father's is often from necessity, as applied to love must not tolerate a child's indis- all without distinction, lamentably cretion; remonstrance must be used misapplied and perverted. But here wherever the evil exists; if need be, we have no discretion; and if we had, as the servant of God, rigid, instan- perhaps our difficulties would be only taneous coercion; the abomination,
We must therefore be for God's glory, and the good of his more active in seeking to improve the people, as example, must be put aside. objects of application, and thus, in A laxity and a want of decision in this useful way, lessen the difficulty this department, even with good and by labouring to diffuse more widely godly men, have proved an indescri- among all ranks the holy principles bable impediment to, and a positive of the Gospel as the true basis of all blot upon, the public ministry. moral and relative duties.
X. A worldly parishioner-an un- XII. Reproof, as well as instrucgodly man-refuses to pay his legal tion, is a necessary part of ministerial right. If
force him, eternal en- office. A necessity for its exercise will mity sets in; his ears are closed; if occasionally arise. Reprove a child in you act otherwise, you in some mea- a Sunday School, let the cause be ever so well founded—what is the productive of much good, if more freresult? The child is huffed, the pa- quently putin circulation among them, rent catches the infection, the school XIV. Preaching in a parish for a is left, the meeting-house becomes number of years—seeing a regularity the resting-place. Reprove the older of Sunday attendance, but seeing person privately or publicly, the indi- therewith no spiritual life—the old vidual is huffed, he, too, deserts his formality still visible, the people aschurch, and becomes an admirer of senting to all you say, but no heartthe meeting-house. Here is a diffi- reception - beholding profession culty. If you reprove, you are un- blighted, where you were led to hope wittingly causing expulsion; if you better things—all this becomes a are silent, you are tolerating, if not difficulty, a heavy blow and great encouraging evil. The advice is, at discouragement to the minister. all events let us do our duty; be hon- What is he to do? The advice est, be faithful, all in gentleness and was, Let him go on-sow the seedlove; though, alas! dissenting cha- redeem the time with double diligence pels, in the present day, are the centre -leave the result with God, praying and the open sanctuaries for many of for a blessing—let him warn and the proud, the disaffected, and the seek to restore the backslider. God rebellious, towards the independent sees all; "shall not the Judge of all and faithful ministrations of the the earth do right ?” Church.
XV. Schools, trusts, and charities, XIII. It becomes a source of much over which the minister has no direct grievance, when, from any cause, the control, are found to be in general a reading-desk of the clerk is occupied source of much difficulty; particuby an ungodly man. Such cases are larly when the master is inefficient, not very uncommon, but happily they perhaps uppish.
When no useful are passing away. To guard against information is communicated; when the evil, the minister should always funds are applied, not for the furtherseek to have the appointment of clerk ance of the interests of the Church, resting with him. It ought to be so. or the advancement of true religion ; In some cases it is not so, but vested this, indeed, becomes a cause of daily in the parish, and evidently the result distress to the minister. No particuof previous neglect on the part of lar remedy suggested, more than being some previous incumbent. Should watchful in using every influence to such a person hold the office, profan- fill up the vacancies in committee ing the holy words of our service, with advantage, to be active and laboevery effort should be made to get rious in the school, and seize every rid of such a disgrace. Remonstrance opportunity for effect as circumstanwith a vestry might operate much; if ces may arise. the annuity be stopped, the office will Lastly. It becomes a difficulty to become burdensome. And in con- the minister, when the duties of pubnexion with this trial, that is not less, lic life are so multiplied, as to leave where the churchwarden or both but little time for those of a private should happen to be men of the but not less important nature, viz., world, no friends to religion, perhaps household visiting, private prayer, as morally disreputable as the burden- suitable study, school inspection, some clerk; the only recommenda- family supervision. These duties not tion to office being that he happens to being duly apportioned, in the result be the largest occupier, or that his a sad drawback is felt. He who defamily for years held the office, and sires to be most useful will do all therefore, as a matter of course, that things most in season, assigning to he be elected and re-elected in per- each its proper time and place. petuity. Some work, pointing out Other difficulties were mentioned, the duties of the office, its deep res- but time will not allow further componsibility, what should be the char
ment. acter of the office-bearer, might be May God grant, that, whilst in the NOVEMBER—1845.