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and cadence; his defect on this side will, at the worst,
only not please, but an error on the other side will disturb
and displease; and it may moreover carry the appearance
of affectation and self-opinion, which will expose him to
contempt and censure.
I come next to the second branch of

your

office in the church, and that is reading the public prayers; and I do assure you, there is no little skill required to do this as it ought to be done. I call it indeed reading the prayers, in compliance with the common phrase ; but speaking properly, prayers ought to be prayed, and not read.

There is a certain propriety of accent, cadence, and gesture, that befits the solemnity and seriousness of devotion; and where this is duly observed, the minister will find it a great help, both to warm his own heart, and to draw out the attention and affections of the congregation. I do allow that prayer is a spiritual duty, and is properly the action of the soul : but experience shews us to be so made and compounded, as that our souls receive great impressions and changes from our outward senses. And therefore the minister should choose those accents and gestures that are most apt and proper to excite his own devotion, as well as that of the people: he should pray to their eyes, and pray to their ears, as the readiest way to affect their hearts.

But he must at the same time carefully avoid theatrical accents and gestures; all affectation is offensive to good judges; but that of the theatre is of all others the most unbecoming the house of God, and will disgust serious persons. And yet if accents and diversification of voice be wholly rejected, the prayers will seem cold and lifeless, the attention will languish, and the devotion lose its spirit and fervor.

There is likewise a due medium to be observed in the time and movement of prayers : if they are read too fast, they cannot impress the soul with due sentiments and affections as the minister proceeds ; on the other hand, slow and heavy reading will make the work dull and tiresome; and the impatient hearer will be apt to let loose his thoughts to wander upon foreign subjects, or perhaps compose himself to rest.

So that it requires some degree of judgment to steer between these extremes ; and the reading of the public prayers is an art which all clergymen should set themselves to acquire by study and practice, and by copying after the best examples.

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And yet I fear that it is too much neglected by those who are newly ordained; and that, when they come first into the desk, they strike at random, and without any regard to propriety, into a certain manner of reading, which every body observes to be wrong but themselves : time and use will soon render this familiar; and as they never discover the fault, it becomes a habit, and they never think of correcting it afterwards.

It is indeed difficult to change a bad manner; but difficult things may be done, and often must be done. And to make this point more easy, I will give you one short rule, which may be of use both to such clergymen as are yet to form their manner, and to those who have habituated themselves to an improper one; and it is this : let a minister, when he opens his book, possess his soul with this thought; that he is going to address himself to the great Majesty of heaven and earth, who knows all his thoughts, and beholds all his actions; and that he is in the immediate presence of this adorable Being, who is very jealous of his honour; I say, let him possess' his soul duly with this consideration, and he will naturally fall into all the proprieties of prayer.

The third branch of your office is that of public catechising.

The compilers of our liturgy acted very prudently in making the Church Catechism short and summary, for fear of overburdening the memory, and rendering it distasteful and irksome. For this reason they did not support the doctrines and duties, there laid down, with proofs out of the holy scripture, taking it for granted, that this part would be supplied by the pastors of the church: this has accordingly been done by many of our bishops and learned divines, in their printed expositions of the Church Catechism ; descending to many particular questions and answers, which naturally branch out from the general heads of that summary.

Among these I must mention and recommend one in particular, composed by that most excellent prelate (now with God) who was my immediate predecessor in this diocese and province, in whose steps I beseech God to give me grace to tread.

With regard to children, the chief use of catechisms is to treasure up the materials of knowledge in their memories, though they may perhaps enter very little into the sense of them : but as their understandings ripen with time, and their appetite for knowledge increases, it will be no small advantage that they have the words and sentences ready stored up for use; for they will easily put sense to them hereafter, and then it is that a more copious exposition becomes seasonable and necessary: however, no pains should be spared for enlightening them at present according to their capacities,

And I am afraid that too many of your parishioners who are of mature age, and even some who are advanced in years, have need to be taught what are the first principles of the oracles of God. Shame will hinder such from coming to be catechised like children, but that shame will be covered by your putting in practice the method I am recommending; for light and knowledge will be obliquely conveyed into their minds, and you will, by instructing children in their presence, instruct them at the same time, without exposing their ignorance.

In such parishes as afford a sufficient auditory at the evening service, this work may be then most conveniently performed, till the short days come in; but where the parishioners lie remote from the church, the morning will be the fittest time. It will indeed prolong the service for half an hour; but they who come to worship God but once in seven days may look upon this as an easy composition; and if the minister should not grudge his pains, it will be hard if they should grudge their time, when they have no worldly business upon their hands. If you

should at the same time take occasion to explain and enforce the doctrines of protestantism, and of the established church, it might be of great use to fortify your people, and prevent apostasies, and perhaps to bring over such as may have the curiosity to be your hearers. And to speak the truth, there is no other way of effecting this properly upon reasonable creatures and Christians, than the way of reasoning and conviction. Coercive laws may restrain and disable those who avow principles that are destructive to the church and state, and coercion in those cases is wise and necessary; but they can never convince any body: they may tie up men's hands and tongues, but never reach their hearts; this is only to be done by enlightening the mind, and working properly upon the conscience.

I must therefore, my reverend brethren, most earnestly press you to be assiduous in the discharge of this part of your office; declaring at the same time, that I shall dis

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tinguish with my regards such ministers and curates, as shall distinguish themselves by their diligence upon this and the following head;

Which is, fourthly, the reviving of that almost antiquated exercise of expounding the holy scriptures to your congregations.

I am afraid the bulk of your people are very little acquainted with this divine book ; some for want of inclination to read it, and others for want of proper helps for understanding it; and yet this is the book that is able to make them wise unto salvation a. This book is the great rule of their faith and practice, and according to this book they must be judged at the last day.

Who then should teach them to understand it but their pastors, who are called by that honourable name, because they are to feed their people with knowledge and understanding b? For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of Hosts C.

By this means you will by degrees lead those into the knowledge of the holy scriptures, who will not be at the pains, or may want leisure, to read them at home; or if they do read, yet, for want of commentators, are sometimes at a loss for the true sense.

Let me add, that this exercise will be of no small advantage even to yourselves, as it will lay you under a necessity of studying the word of God, which you are by profession, and promise at your ordination, bound to do: for a clergyman can no more be unskilful in the holy scriptures, without great shaine and reproach, than a lawyer in the law.

The Epistles and Gospels, and Lessons for the day, will furnish you with choice of subjects for this work, which will become easy and familiar to the minister, after he has once made himself master of the sense and connection. And the same notes will generally serve, as the same portions return in an annual rotation.

But let me not be misunderstood: I am not recommending this as an additional task, over and above the sermon, but to be substituted sometimes in the place of it; and which, in my judgment, will be more profitable; especially if care be taken to make such practical inferences and applications in the course of the exposition, as may naturally arise out of the text. This will indeed make it a sermon in another shape; with this difference only, that the variety of subjects and incidents will enliven the attention, and give a more agreeable, as well as instructive entertainment to the audience; who, 1 dare say, will come with a better appetite to this exercise, when judiciously performed, and fill your churches better.

a* 2 Tim. iii. 15.

b Jer. iii. 15.

e Mal. ii. 7.

It will remain in the minister's discretion to interpose a sermon when he pleases; but he will do well to note down those Sundays, in order to expound in the following year those portions of holy scripture, which by this means were omitted.

And if the people were admonished to bring their Bibles with them, according to the good old practice of our ancestors, and to accompany the minister as he reads and expounds, they would understand and retain it better, and be enabled to spend an hour most profitably in recollecting and repeating to their families what they had heard at church.

If this custom, practised in the times of puritanism, was laid aside in a licentious age, when all seriousness in religion grew out of fashion, let us not be ashamed to revive it; for it is no shame to learn that which is good from any body. After all, if a sermon in form should, in compliance with custom, be found indispensable, it may however be shortened to allow for the time that had been spent in the exposition.

I come now to the second general head I proposed to speak to, viz. your duty at large, and out of the house of God.

The first I should mention is the visitation of the sick. And let me assure you, that this is a very critical office at certain conjunctures, and that great discretion is required for the right discharge of it; for there may be danger in administering either too much fear, or too much hope. To awaken a sick man to reflect

upon

his

past life, and to call his sins to remembrance, in order to a particular repentance, will be of great use to him ; but care must be taken, not to throw him into despair of God's mercy and forgiveness; for this will prevent his repentance, and shut the door of mercy against him.

On the other hand, to set only the mercy of God before him, and deal out hope too liberally, will be the way to make him secure at a time when his soul is in the utmost danger, and when repentance is all that he has for it. And by-standers will be too apt to lay hold of such sweet doctrine to their own undoing.

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