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How, then, shall the dangers with which we are thus menaced, be, on our part, most effectually encountered ?
Next to your fervent supplications to the throne of
and a firm reliance on that Providence which has so often averted from our Church perils the most imminent, let me exhort you, my Reverend Brethren, to put your adversaries to rebuke, by such wellregulated zeal, and such irreprehensible conduct, as shall render ineffectual any efforts to deprive you of that strong hold in public opinion, which will be a shield against a host of foes. An assiduous discharge of all your pastoral duties is indispensably requisite; not only such as relate to the public ritual of the Church, and your discourses from the pulpit; but also the visiting of the sick, the instruction of the ignorant, the consolation of the afflicted, the relief of the necessitous, and the education of the children of the
poor in the principles of our Established Church. Your labours in these respects will be greatly facilitated by enrolling yourselves as members of those venerable societies, which, framed on the pure principles of our Church, and conducted under its immediate auspices, have long been successfully occupied in promoting these and other laudable
purposes: and your render you,
union with them will at the same time best evince your adherence to that system of church-membership, which both gives additional weight and respectability to the pastoral office, and affords, under Providence, the best possible security, that no evil shall accrue from your well-intentioned efforts. But, above all, will be requisite, such unintermitting caution and vigilance with respect to your own personal demeanour, in the various concerns of social and domestic life, and in the daily and hourly habits which form individual character, as may if possible, invulnerable even to malignity itself.
By attention to these general rules of conduct, many, I am persuaded, among
the hum. blest of God's faithful Ministers, are, at this moment, doing much to strengthen the hands of the Church, and to discomfit its adversaries. It
may be given to few to stand prominent in the field of warfare, to engage
in individual conflict, and to gather trophies of success. But all are, more or less, advancing the general cause, by remaining steadfastly each at his post, and unobtrusively discharging the duties assigned to him. By persevering in this course, you will also best ensure to yourselves a fair portion of public favour.
So long as the Laity see that you are thus intent upon your duty, and that you are pursuing the course appointed to you upon higher principles than worldly interest or self-importance, you will command respect and esteem even from those who differ from you, as well as from those who accept your ministrations.
Be assured, too, my Brethren, that the Clerical character is becoming daily better understood among us, and more correctly estimated. The rapid progress of education, in all its branches, has introduced into
every rank of society such accessions of general information, that a Clergyman will find himself less able than heretofore to maintain the credit due to his station, if his attainments fall short of what may reasonably be expected. If his office as a Parish Priest entitle him to respect, let him remember that it subjects him also to a severer scrutiny; and that where any requisite qualification is notoriously wanting, it is not all the weight of assumed authority that will cover the defect. Public esteem is guided by other rules. It is not to be extorted by arbitrary mandates. It results from opinion, from observation, from comparison, from those mixed feelings and sentiments which, however they may occasionally err, afford, upon the whole, a pretty accurate criterion of real desert.
But it is time to close these reflections. The inference from them all is briefly this: —that our conduct should exhibit firmness, tempered by moderation ; a zeal according to knowledge; vigilance, untainted by mean suspicion ; courtesy, not degenerating into feeble compliance; ingenuousness, free from offence, yet incapable of being misunderstood :-in short, that we adopt, as a golden rule, that comprehensive exhortation of the Apostle, “In malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.”
DIOCESE OF DURHAM,
REVEREND BRETHREN, SINCE we met together at my primary Visitation, public events of deep interest have passed before us in such rapid succession, that it is difficult to fix our thoughts upon subjects which more immediately belong to our own profession. The ordinary occupations of the Clergy, whether in the humbler or higher stations of the Church, whether in comparative seclusion from the world or in its more active scenes, have been, and still are, interrupted and disturbed by the din of political strife, intruding, more or less, upon every class of society with its almost incessant annoyance.