PRINTED BY GEO. K. LUGRIN,
Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty.
TO THE PUBLIC.
IMPRESSED with the feeling that the earnest solicitations of my Reverend Brethren to publish the following CHARGE, proceeds not from a wish to pay any formal unmeaning compliment to the author, but from a zealous desire to promote the interests of the true Church of Christ, in setting forth the Duties and Importance of her Ministry, and making known certain Truths which the nature of the times requires, I am induced to place it at their disposal.
It contains, I am ready to allow, some things painful to bring forward; for I am anxious, "as much as in me lieth, to live peaceably with all men;" and I believe I may without presumption aver, "I have" hitherto "live in all good conscience" with my fellow creatures "before GOD": But there are circumstances under which it would be a gross dereliction of duty to be silent; and that such have occurred here, will, I am sure, be the candid opinion of "every sensible and just Englishman," of every true and sincere Christian, who shall peruse the following Pages.
Therefore, with a few slight corrections I give this Charge as delivered, and tho' it cannot claim any credit as a literary composition, and may be thought deficient in that order and regularity which would constitute it a well arranged work, yet I may venture to hope, through the blessing of GOD, it will not prove ineffectual in producing the desired good.
And I would "put you in remembrance" that as this, (like works of a similar nature,) has been written, so it is now published, for the use of the Church.
Fredericton, July, 1827.
I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. 2d Epistle St. Peter--1st chap.--12 v.
REVEREND AND BELOVED BRETHREN:--
THE circumstances under which I appear before you in this place are such as to create within me those feelings of diffidence, which originate in a fear of proving unequal to the task I have assumed; that of publicly addressing so respectable a body of my Brethren in Christ as I now see before me: and in such a situation as the present, where nought but the language of sincerity can or ought to be used--where dissimulation should never be known nor the voice of flattery be heard, I bow before you my Brethren, with respectful deference, to the worth and ability I know you possess. Those there are among you who from long standing, tried integrity, and known talent, ought on this occasion rather to speak than to hear, to teach than to learn, to dictate than to obey; and who may be said, in every respect, to be better qualified to stand here than he who now ventures to address you:--But, in those arrangements necessary for the external management of the Christian Establishment unto which we have the happiness to belong, for the preservation of that order and decorum so essential to its respectability and well doing, certain degrees of office, must, as from the primitive times, be maintained and supplied; and like all other establishments, where the interference of man is required, as they cannot always be filled by those who perhaps have the greatest right to occupy them; as merit must oftentimes go unrewarded and the most deserving be overlooked, it has in this instance devolved upon me to assume [5/6] that office, in virtue and authority of which you are this day assembled together. The motives by which I am actuated in this proceeding originate in a sense of duty, attended by a desire to discharge with faithfulness and candour so high a calling; which consideration or sense points out to me the advantage of an intimate and brotherly acquaintance with those over whom I am destined to preside--the necessity of a knowledge of the progress and effects of their ministry, and the expediency of assuring them that 'I will not be negligent to put them always in remembrance of' the 'things' appertaining thereunto, however they may already "know them;" and of "the present truth," the end and aim of all our preaching and exertions, however they may already "be established in it." Under these impressions, then, in commencement, I would lay before you the duties of the Ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; first, in general view, as attached under all circumstances to the sacred office; and afterwards, as connected with ourselves in the character of christian Missionaries. The general duties of the Christian Teacher, it may be urged, are amply explained and enforced by many of our inspired writers, and even by our Great master himself; but "though ye know them," and though they may be, and are sufficient to show us our line of conduct, and point out the general course we ought to pursue as fellow Ministers of the Gospel; still, as "we are but men of like passions" with the rest of our fellow creatures, we require not only that they be sometimes called to our "remembrance," but that they be impressed more forcibly upon our minds by frequent study and particular explanation--"that the man of GOD may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works."
1. To be impressed with a proper sense of the high importance and awful responsibility attached to the sacred office of the Ministry, is certainly the primary duty of all those who are called to undertake it; for there is not on earth a situation wherein man can be placed, or human agency be employed, of such vital consequence as that which the Preacher of the Gospel occupies--his own eternal existence not only depends upon the faithful performance [6/7] or neglect of the trust reposed in him, but the welfare of his fellow creatures, the salvation of their immortal souls. Without such impressions, however he may assume the work of an Evangelist, he cannot 'wait on his ministering' effectually, in as much as it evidences a want of that Holy Spirit by which he should be moved, and which Christ had promised should be with his faithful Preachers to the end of the world--and hence he appears before GOD but as an hireling to the Flock; he is used merely as the scaffold to the building, which, when completed, is cast aside; and after a life of earthly toil to no heavenly good, he is taken away and his place knoweth him no more:--a want of this feeling again induces a carelessness of manner and an idleness of disposition that is prejudicial to the Institution he professes to serve, and injurious, in the extreme, to the cause of Religion--Therefore my Brethren, "I would not be negligence, even in this instance, to put you in remembrance of these things"--hat we may "in all things," and especially in this one, the first and most important, approve ourselves "as the Ministers of GOD."
The Calling to which our lives are devoted, my Brethren, as ye well know, is distinct from all others, its appointment is not of this world, nor is the influence under which it is supported, vested in man. We are as Ministers of the Gospel, a peculiar people, set apart by GOD to good works; to works divested of all secular views, and which tend only to the furtherance of the Will of GOD in the salvation of the Souls of Men through Jesus Christ: it follows then, that to approve ourselves as such, as "faithful ambassadors for Christ," we must be impressed with a proper sense of our duty, and make in paramount to every earthly consideration: we must be persuaded that our determination to assume the ministerial office emanates from an internal desire to become serviceable to GOD, to show his ways and teach his laws unto man by precept, and enforce an obedience thereto by example. We should commence our labours under the influence and power of that Spirit through which all holy men of old have been moved, and which by the sure word of GOD, shall never fail us; and we should pursue them [7/8] with a singleness of heart and sincerity of intention, that will at once convince our respective flocks, it is their benefit and not our own we pursue; "that we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves their Servants for Jesus sake."
These are the principles upon which the Christian Minister's duty, under all circumstances and in every situation, should be pursued. The principles upon which, in obedience to the Apostolic injunction, he should "preach the word, be instant in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all long suffering and doctrine"--It is thus that "by pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand, and on the left," he should make full proof of his ministry.
That, that 'through honor and dishonor, thro' evil report and good report, he should by manifestation of the truth, commend himself to every man's conscience, in the sight of God;' until through the merits of Him, whose faith he hath preached, and whose glory he has sought, he passes to that "crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall" in the great day of final account, bestow on every faithful steward of His mysteries, and upon all who through their instrumentality, are made to "love his appearing."
The thought of being instrumental under the Divine Guidance in the great work of Salvation, is sufficient to inspire us with the dread importance of our office, and to create in us an anxious fear lest, 'after having preached to others we ourselves should be cast away.'
And does there not, my Brethren, often whisper within us, "a still small voice" that bids us beware how we neglect our duties; nay, that even awakens in our bosoms a painful apprehension, I may term it, on the approach of the Sabbath, that we shall not acquit ourselves to the approval of our GOD, or the edification of his people?
But on the other hand, a due sense of the honor, the dignity conferred upon us by GOD, in calling us to the ministry, is sufficient to hold us, not above our fellows, [8/9] but above the World, to render us proof against any temporary advantage it may hold out to our spiritual injury, and make us rise superior to the numerous allurements and attractions by which its votaries are ensnared.
But 2, wide and comprehensive as the duties of the Ministry are, generally, we find others more particularly, more peculiarly incumbent upon us as Missionaries for implanting the Gospel in the foreign parts and possessions of the Empire--as messengers of "the glad tidings of Peace" sent out, not precisely in the same character as those in some other parts of the world, who have the Heathen prejudices only to contend with, but to minister to those who already to a certain degree believe in the name of Christ--to confirm the Word, which hath already been disseminated for us, and in the literal meaning of the term, to "turn the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just."
The way of the Lord is prepared and made ready to our hands; and unlike the Teachers in the apostolic age, or the Reformers of later periods, we have no difficulties to contend with, but those which the perverseness of human nature at all times presents. The road is opened to us through the wilderness, and we have only to make more 'straight the high way of our GOD; to exalt the humble valleys, and bring low every lofty mountain that would raise itself in opposition to Him, to make the crooked straight and the rough and difficult places plain,' o remove the lets and hindrances to the progress of the Christian Traveller, and to furnish him with such aids and comforts on his journey, as shall enable him, however laborious and difficult he may sometime find it, to "go on his way rejoicing," in the full assurance of finding, at the end, that glorious rest which is prepared for the people of God.
But although some portion of this arduous task is spared us, as we may undoubtedly be said to possess "wells" of refreshing water, which we "digged not," "vineyards and olive trees which we planted not," but which the Lord in his mercy hath furnished unto us--though we dread not the barbarous cruelties of the Heathen, or the more inhuman tortures of some who profess and call themselves [9/10] christians; still we have, through that evil spirit which continually goeth "to and fro in the earth, and walketh up and down in it," much every way to demand our unwearied, devoted exertions. Separated as we are from the Parent Establishment, and sharing but occasionally in those advantages which the Chief Pastoral presence ever affords, the duties of the private Clergyman are consequently increased, and many things devolve upon him, which under other circumstances would not be required--it is not sufficient that he abide by the bare line of duty marked out for him, and think that when he has attained thereto, he has done all: the one who rests contented with, perhaps, a formal, tho' at he same time, heartless and unfeeling round of duty, whatever good he may do in his degree, need never expect that proof of a valuable Ministry and approved labour, which is afforded by the increase of the Church, and the progress of true pity--no! he must, with true apostolic zeal, labour hard in the vineyard: exertions both mental and physical must be kept in action; the study of the minds and dispositions of those with whose spiritual guidance he may be intrusted, must be applied to; and if possible, a personal knowledge of every child under his charge, attained. St. Paul, who had attained a thorough knowledge of human nature, used it, as we find, in many instances, to the happiest and best effects. He knew well how to "be all things to all men," in the true unreserved scriptural acceptation of the expression, 'that by all means he might save some'--'unto the Jews he became as a Jew that he might gain the Jews; to them that were under the Law, as under the law that he might gain them that were under the Law; to them that were without Law (being not without law to god but under the Law to Christ) that he might gain them that were without the Law--To the weak again he became as weak, that he might gain the weak'--and all this did he, not from sinister and base motives, but as we should do 'for the Gospel's sake, that he might be partaker thereof with them.'
That there are different tempers, feelings and ideas, existing in every flock, cannot be denied, and none [10/11] more so, I may venture to observe, than amongst those over whom many of our Clergy are here called to exercise spiritual authority--unlike a country wherein they have long established custom and well digested rule to smooth their way, where all, comparatively speaking, are "of one mind in a house," they have in many instances the temperaments of all climes to deal with; and occasionally to answer and withstand the prejudices and opinions of almost every denomination of Christians, who conceive there should be no exclusive advantages, such as National Establishments afford, but that all should be equally cherished and adopted by the State: which, to meet effectually and inoffensively, requires the utmost caution, lest a want of that knowledge I am now urging, betray us at one time, with an undue asperity against involuntary error; at another, with a dangerous inactivity, where interference and decision are absolutely requisite.
But knowledge, however accurate and extensive it may be, is not every thing that a Christian Minister needs; disposition and manner are also important in the account. In all our dealings with those who oppose our opinions, or dispute our right to privileges, as members of a religion adopted by the state, a mild disposition and conciliatory manner are brotherly and politic. "A soft answer turneth away wrath"--a patient and modest demeanour is a powerful assistant in the inculcation of truth. Where shall kindness and endurance be looked for, if not in the ministers of that religion, among the most genuine fruits of which are "long suffering and gentleness," and especially whilst those Ministers pretend to press upon the unenlightened, or the superstitious, a Gospel of Love and universal Charity?
It is indeed highly requisite that we always be prepared to exhibit the true spirit of our Church, in allowing that others have rights as well as ourselves. Liberty of conscience is the unalienable right of all. Our Ecclesiastical Constitution supposes it. The state expressly grants it to every denomination of Christians, as a chartered franchise. This toleration, however, must be [11/12] the same, and neither more nor less than the laws in the Mother Country define it. It conveys a freedom to worship God according to the best conviction of the mind, upon sober and candid inquiry; but no right to political power in the community without the common securities which the State requires.
This is a thing totally different from that wild and disorganizing liberty which is too often assumed as the permission of the Laws towards the Settlers in the distant dominions of the Empire: a liberty, which, as it operated upon the unwary and the ignorant, produces to us, the most afflicting and humiliating trials, in our professional labours.
In the view of it now stated to you, it is all that any Government can safely extend to the subjects which dissent from itself in Religious creeds: and so far ours most freely, and liberally concedes to its dissenting subjects, the liberty to decide and to act: but neither its countenance, nor support; nor consequently can ours of the establishment, which is incorporated with it by indissoluble ties, be fairly asked, or conscientiously granted, to principles, which we know to be opposed to the doctrines of the Gospel. Towards the persons however of those who seek us in the spirit of Controversy, we are to profess no sort of hostility. In cases where we are called upon to give a reason of the hope that is in us, we may explain with temper, and argue with moderation; and, if we fail to convince, at least recommend that blessed spirit which "never faileth," but "heareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."--This we should do, even when men are perverse and contentious, striving for victory rather than truth; how much more are we then bound to this course, when we know their leading principles and lives to be in accordance with the precepts of the Gospel, and that they only dissent from us in unessential matters, or because their education, and previous habits of reasoning have too powerfully engrossed their faculties, to admit of any full or salutary concessions.
Far it be from me to advocate the slightest change or innovation upon what we all know and feel to be, the [12/13] good old way. The blessings which have already been diffused; and the light it is hourly extending through the world, prove it to be 'the truth, in which we are already so firmly established;' and which, under the influence of the means now at work, shall (perhaps soon) so spread, as literally to fulfil the Prophets' prediction, "Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit." "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad; and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose."
For nothing earthly would I urge a compromise of principle.--Where this is required, no choice or discretion is left; but let me find Christian sentiments under any form, I shall feel it my duty to respect them.
This is the temper and the uniform injunction of that branch of Christ's Church, in whose services we are engaged. She fondly cherishes the appointments which experience has shown to be wise. She respects settled order as conducive to the most beneficial effects; but she is a considerate Church; "wherever Christ is preached she rejoiceth therein."
We may, my brethren, with becoming pride, (if pride under any shape may be allowed) point to her preeminent tolerance and charity, as sufficient evidence, that she is founded on the rock of Christ; that she is derived from God, and not of man.
A further duty which seems especially although not particularly incumbent upon the Provincial Clergy, arises, from our supposed relation, in past and present times, to the Church of Rome. Among the many objections urged against the Church of England by Dissenters, no one is more common that that she bears too near an affinity to the former, to be a saving Church. It is a singular circumstance, that she should at the same time be liable to such opposite objections.--Whilst one party brands us with our dissimilarity, as a damnable thing; and calls us a rotten branch, cut off for our own unworthiness, and perished in our separation; the other imputes it to us, that we are still in effect, but a connexion and dependant of that Hierarchy; and that our sameness is the principle of our ruin. Errors, both of which I would [13/14] earnestly enjoin it upon you to correct, that we may be freed from aspersions so ungrounded, so injurious.
Say to those who would make the inquiry, that, deeply as we deplore Schism and estrangements, among children of the same father, and brethren of the same Redeemer; yet, as the conditions of her Communion, extracts from us, according to our conception, a deadly sin; we cannot at that price, seek salvation within her pale.
Tell them, our faith is built on the doctrine of the Bible; not of the See of Rome.
Tell them that "we believe Christ meant what he said," when he brake the Bread and gave the Wine to his Disciples; but that we receive that declaration precisely in the same sense as that wherein he says, "I am the door"--"I am the vine."
Say to them also that we consider "adoration," and "worship" as synonymous terms in Scripture, therefore we withhold our addresses to the Saints and Angels.
Bid them remember we do not substitute "Penance" for Repentance, nor can any of our learned translate the word METANOIETE, or attach any other signification to it, but that of "Repent ye."
Say we have no commutation for the punishment of sin in our Church; that no "Corban," however rich or valuable it may be, can in any degree atone for wickedness or the neglect of moral obligations.
That we hold not to works of supererogation, for we know that having "done all those things which are commanded us," we are after all but "unprofitable servants," and that we never can do more than is "our duty to do."
That we abhor and detest the abominable principle that the end will justify the means--that we may "do evil" in order that "good may come."
 That we withhold not the Scriptures from the great mass of the people, but elucidate and expplain their blessed pages, and open the once sealed book to all who will look therein.
And above all assure them we are not a branch of the Papal Hierarchy, nor were we ever; for a season we grew together with the Roman Church in friendly communion, but when she departed from the faith which weas once delivered to the Saints; at the bidding of the Lord we 'came out from among them, resolving not to be partkers of other men's errors--And "these things I will that ye affirm constantly," not in the spirit of contention, but in the spirit of meekness and charity; to exonerate our Institution from such charges and suspicions as I know from experience are not unfrequently alledged against it; and which cannot but tend to its serious injury, if suffered to go uncontradicted.
It happily falls not upon us to counteract the influence of the many blasphemous and immoral productions with which the Mother Country has of late years been deluged; but it is with regret I acquaint you, there is now extant in this Province, secretly lent for the purpose of injuring the Protestant Faith, a Work as infamous almost as ever was penned. It is entitled "a History of the Protestant Reformation in England and Ireland; shewing how that event has impoverished and degraded the main body of the people in those Countries: In a series of letters addressed to all sensible and just Englishmen." It is replete with narrations of the most immoral tendency, and couched in language of the [15/16] grossest nature, and is altogether a work as beastly as it is false; and you will scarcely credit me when I assure you I lately gained a brief perusal of it through the means of a young female into whose hands it had been secretly placed, to confirm her in the Popish Faith, in lieu of the Bible. I would "put you in remembrance of these things" also, my Brethren, and pry you to be on your guard. On the title of this book I would offer one word more. It professes to show how the Reformation has "impoverished and degraded the main body of the People in England and Ireland."
In answer to this I would bid the author look around those Countries where Papal Supremacy holds sway: let him look at Catholic Rome,--Catholic Spain, or Catholic Ireland, and compare them with Protestant England; and tell me where the most abject Poverty, or the most squalid degradation prevails, or where more is absolutely wrung from the suffering poor, to the nominal support of the Church. No mental reservation will here avail him, no perversion of the truth in which we are established will be of any use; for it will cry aloud and spare not, it will lift up its voice in the streets and cry, while it compassionates his blindness, Fie upon thee, fie upon thee, for the falsehoods thou hast uttered.
And having thus feebly, and imperfectly, I fear, laid before you, my Brethren, the duties of our Ministry as proposed, I would now, in conclusion, humbly exhort you to a strict attendance thereto, reminding you how essential it is that we be careful to "offend not in any thing, lest the Ministry be blamed." The Word we preach assures us we shall never be left unaided; and although we must expect to meet with difficulties and disappointments, the encouragements held out on all sides are such as will make us more than Conquerors over them; for "as GOD is with us, who shall be against us?
Can the Minister of Religion receive stronger countenance or encouragement, or have greater cause to 'magnify his office' than in that admirable commendation of the sublime Isaiah, as speaking in the voice of Christ--"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth [16/17] peace, that publisheth Salvation; That bringeth good tidings of good, that saith unto Zion, Thy GOD reigneth!" And never were ant set of men placed in situations where their office could insure more respect, satisfaction, and esteem, from their fellow creatures, than in this happy Province. Kindness and attention are the characteristics of the people unto whom we are called to preach, and the Minister of the Gospel, for his office' sake, bears every where amongst them, a passport to their hearts; and for the most common attention to their spiritual comfort and well-being, he is required with such tokens of sincerity, affection, and love, as cannot be mistaken.
Shall we not then, in return, resolve to wait diligently on our Ministering, and foster such kindness for our religion's sake; and in brotherly union with each other, go hand in hand in the great and good work?
The success which has hitherto attended the long and arduous labours of some now before me, is proof sufficient of their acceptance with GOD, and afford the strongest excitement to the younger brethren, to "go and do likewise."
Therefore, in the "unity of the Spirit, and the bond of Peace," not handing the word of GOD deceitfully, but by the manifestation of the Truth, commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God, "let us through him by whom God "commanded the Light to shine out of darkness" in the preaching of the Gospel; the great High Priest who is over and above us all, resolve to make such proof of a faithful ministry as will entitle us at his last appearing, to the grateful commendation, "Well done, ye good and faithful Servants, enter ye into the joy of your Lord."
And may be Almighty of His boundless mercy grant, that all the Ministers and Stewards of His Mysteries, may thus find favour in His sight, and with all those over whom they have been placed, become "an acceptable people," through Jesus Christ, our blessed Saviour and Redeemer. Amen.