Project Canterbury

Addresses to Candidates for Ordination
On the Questions in the Ordination Service

By Samuel Wilberforce
Lord Bishop of Oxford

Oxford and London: J.H. and Jas. Parker and F. and J. Rivington, 1860.

Address XII. Maintaining Quietness and Peace.

BRETHREN IN CHRIST,--The next question in our Ordinal is this, "Will you maintain and set forwards, as much as lieth in you, quietness, peace, and love, among all Christian people, and especially among them that are or shall be committed to your charge?"

This question, unlike most of the others which we have considered, is peculiar to the English Ordinal. We are, therefore, naturally led to enquire what it was in the history of our own Church which specially accounts for its insertion, and how far do those circumstances still continue at once to justify its place amongst these solemn questions, and to guide our own practical conduct of our ministry.

Now in this enquiry we shall do well to look first to the service itself for any light which may there be thrown upon this question. First, then, we may notice that it does not occur at all in the service for the Ordination of Deacons, an omission which would seem at once to mark it as concerning that which appertained to the authority of the priesthood. And this becomes still more evident when we look to the service for the Consecration of a Bishop, and see how the question is there enlarged. For in addition to the enquiry, "Will you maintain and set forward, as much as shall lie in [229/230] you, quietness, love, and peace among all men," there follows this further question, put to every bishop at his consecration, "and such as be unquiet, disobedient, and criminous, within your diocese," (will you) "correct and punish according to such authority as you have by God's Word, and as to you shall be committed by the ordinance of this realm?" Here, then, the full scope of the question becomes manifest. For the opposites of that "quietness, love, and peace" which we promise to maintain are distinctly named as "unquietness, disobedience, and crime;" and the bishop declares that to those who are guilty in this matter he will apply not only the exhortations of God's Word, but the disciplinary treatment of correction and punishment.

This, then, may guide us to the plain and obvious meaning of this question, and to the reasons for its insertion in our Ordinal.

It was impossible that so great a change as the Reformation of religion in this land in the sixteenth century should be unaccompanied by evils of a magnitude in some degree corresponding with its blessings; and one of the first and greatest of those evils was the shaking of Christian peace and love. The mere quickening, indeed, of religious earnestness must, amongst fallen men, always endanger peace. The soul that is suddenly wakened up to the perception of the vast realities round it, and of its own share in them, is driven into action; whilst this action must of course partake of the nature of the agent. The quickened zeal of seraphim burns evermore with the pure flame of unmingled love. But so it cannot be with such as we are. For even when the man is indeed offering himself up to God, there are [230/231] many earthly elements which, from their grosser nature, will mingle heavy clouds of dark and offensive vapour with his attempted offering. Limited knowledge, partial views, incompleteness in his best surrender of himself, and hence clinging selfishness, old prejudices, unworthy motives, cramped affections,--all these mar his service, and give it an earthly, self-willed, inharmonious tone. Consequently, there is in almost every case some want of full agreement among men of the most vehemently earnest zeal; often there is direct opposition, and the threat of bitter, mutual violence. This is the sword of which our blessed Master spoke as that which He was come to send on earth. His blessed truth, in its perfect purity, from His own lips of absolute knowledge and entire love, could not but awaken this earthly strife in earthly hearts. And such is the rule of His kingdom evermore. Wherever, therefore, there is a great awakening of religious earnestness either in a single heart, or in a parish, or in a nation, this evil of unquietness, religious strife, and discord are lying in some deadly ambush near. And evermore, therefore, at such a time is it a matter of the deepest wisdom to labour, as for the very chiefest and most necessary thing, for a spirit of quietness, peace, and love amongst those who form the fermenting mass.

This danger, which at all times besets such great movements, for special reasons particularly beset our own Reformation. For it is one part of the curse of an unrighteous tyranny, that it not only oppresses its victims during its supremacy, but that even in its removal it still blights them by the licence which is engendered by its dissolution. And so it was with us when, of [231/232] God's great mercy to our land, the old papal tyranny being swept away, the reasonable rule of the early Church was re-established, and His holy Word put into the hands, and brought home to the consciences, of all. The new liberty bred in many parts a wild licentiousness: with such a visible tearing of its victims, did the evil Spirit hardly depart from them whom it had possessed.

There were, indeed, of God's mercy to this land, many influences at work which made this evil far less amongst us than in most parts of the Church to which the Reformation reached. Yet even with ourselves the evil was distinctly marked. The Anabaptists, the Family of Love, [Sparrow's Articles, p. 171.] and various other sectaries troubled and disturbed our peace. All the records of our history at the time bear abundant marks of the fierce strivings of these spirits of turbulence and evil. Thus Archbishop Cranmer's Visitation Queries, in the second year of Edward VI., enquire, "Whether any undiscreet persons do uncharitably contemn and abuse priests and ministers of the Church?" [Ib., p. 31.] And two years later Bishop Ridley enquires, "Whether any do preach and defend that private persons may make insurrection, stir sedition, or compel men to give them their goods?" [Ib., p. 36.] Nor were these questions needless, for we read that "while the Papists on one hand were so busy in promoting their ends, there were a looser sort of professors of religion," who "disgraced the Reformation, on the other. For some there were that took the liberty of meeting together ... to ... vent dangerous doctrines and opinions;" [Strype's Cranmer, bk. ii. ch. 21. p. 334. edit. 1813.] and, in spite [232/233] of the various measures taken to prevent them, these evils were widely spread. "The people," we are told, "fell to arguing and disputing much upon religion;" the natural result of which was a multitude of quarrels and divisions. [Strype's Life of Grindal, bk. ii. ch. 8.] Thus, in 1577, a royal proclamation states that "there are no small numbers of persons presuming to be teachers and preachers of the Church, (though neither lawfully thereunto called, nor yet fit for the same,) which contrary to our laws established for the public divine service of Almighty God, and the administration of His Holy Sacraments within this Church of England, do daily devise, imagine, propound, and put in execution sundry new rites and forms in the Church, as well by their unordinate preaching, readings, and ministering the Sacraments, as by procuring unlawfully of assemblies, and great number of our people out of their ordinary parishes, and from places far distant, (and that also some of our subjects of good calling, though therein not well advised,) to be hearers of their disputations and new devised opinions. ... By which manner of assemblies great numbers of our people ... are ... schismatically divided among themselves into variety of dangerous opinions.....whereof the sequel cannot be but over dangerous to be suffered." [Ib., Appendix, No. X.] And in another royal proclamation, in 1575, it is declared, that "of some bold, and vain, curious men, new and other rites" are "found out and frequented, whereupon contentions, sects, and disquietness doth arise among Her people; and for one godly and uniform order, diversity of rites and ceremonies, disputations, and contentions, schisms, [233/234] and divisions" are "already risen, and more like to ensue; the cause of which disorders her Majesty doth plainly understand to be the negligence of the bishops, and other magistrates." [Sparrow's Articles, p. 169. edit. 1676.]

Here, then, we may clearly sec the object, and so the full meaning, of this question. The awakening people were in great peril of substituting an unbridled licence of religious speculation for the deadness of their old superstition. From this had sprung, already, unquietness, strife, and a lack of charity: and the minister of God's Word, therefore, was called solemnly to pledge himself that he would strive to maintain and set forward quietness, peace, and love in his flock. He was to use his utmost efforts to set them free from the trammels of the old superstition; he was to awaken and arouse their consciences which had been sent asleep or enervated by the system of enforced private confession, priestly direction, and a vicarious religion; he was to feed their souls with the strong meat of God's Word, instead of the sapless legends with which their appetite had been cloyed, and their spiritual strength wasted: but he was at the same time to guard them from the intoxication of soul which the sudden possession of great truths is so apt to produce; he was to strive to teach them to find their strength in the quietness and confidence of a humble, loving, personal religion; he was to remember how easy and how fatal it would be to make them noisy disputers about religious dogmas, instead of humble receivers of the truth, feeding their own souls, in a meek and loving peacefulness, upon the bread of life.

In many respects, my brethren, the temper of the [234/235] times in which it is our lot to minister seems to make a like exhortation specially useful. For around us, too, religious disputations abound. It is a time marked by a good deal, let us hope, of real earnestness in religious matters; and wherever there is earnestness there is temptation to division; certainly this time is marked by a great deal of noise about religion, and this is earnestness already turning into strife. Religious questions meet us in general society; they form, to a wholly new extent, the topics of public discussion, even in our Houses of Parliament. God knows whether, with all this interest about religious matters, we are a peculiarly devout, self-denying, or humble generation. But, beyond all doubt, there is amongst us a great deal of religious life of one quality or another: opinions are carried amongst us to the utmost extreme on all sides; so-called religious newspapers, which live upon our dissensions, stir up the strife, and often point it by the most shameless falsehood and personalities; party meetings, party societies, party names, party watchwords abound; and, to say the least, we have great ground for fearing that many lose their Christian love in their party zeal, and that the religion of Christ becomes to them at last little more than the struggle of a faction. Surely, then, at such a time as this, we have great need to listen to this searching, sobering question, put solemnly to us by our Church, and to weigh well the need of observing herein her teaching, and remembering that everything will be in vain in our ministry if it does not form humble, loving souls for Christ's heavenly kingdom.

Let us endeavour, then, to see some of the ways in [235/236] which the temptation against which we are here warned may assault us in our work, and how we may guard successfully against it.

First, then, let us see how it may attack ourselves. It may easily tempt us from that personal dealing with souls in our own appointed sphere which is the chiefest duty of every one of us. To most men of earnestness and energy of character there is something attractive in the large hazards of a public struggle. Some great truth which we do in very deed prize highly, or some institution which, as we believe, is bound up in the bundle of the Church's life, is rudely assailed. We cannot doubt that we are called by God's providence to contend herein earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints; and perhaps we are so called: and if this be clear, let us by no means hang back. And yet let us enter on the encounter with a trembling fear, not indeed of our enemies, but of ourselves. For even as we enter on it, what risks must we run. As we are drawn from our quieter duties in their narrower spheres, to deal with what seem to be, and perhaps are, wider interests on a broader field, how hard is it to maintain quietness, peace, and love in our own hearts: how easy to lose the confessor in the combatant. The loss may, perhaps, be first perceived in the flagging of our full interest in our own peculiar work; we feel it to be hard to come back to it again, and find it just as engrossing, just as full of supreme interest, just as much an object of earnest prayer, daily labour, and perpetual watching, as it was before. To our corrupt nature it is indeed very hard, after "visiting our brethren" in the king's army, and "seeing how they do, and taking their pledge," and [236/237] perhaps being drawn in ourselves to challenge, and with our sling and stone to slay, the contrary champion, to return when the conflict is over to our sheepfold in the wilderness with the same love and care for those committed to us as we had before; to be as ready, in defending them, to meet the lion and the hear in the solitary field, as to go forth against Goliath of Gath before the armies of Israel: and yet if our love be chilled, our affections disturbed, and our care for them drawn away, how spiritless and poor will be our service to them, how small our hope of good, how sure our own and their perpetual declension. How easily may the effect of such a course be traced in the parish. Whilst, perhaps, the busy pastor is maintaining the rights of the Church to conduct the education of the nation, his own village school, which was his constant, perhaps his daily haunt, is seldom entered, the visiting of the sick and of the whole within the cure is greatly intermitted, languidly laboured through, or hurried carelessly over; the parishioners no longer pass before him in his times of meditation and hours of prayer in all the deep interests of individual characters, studied, mastered, watched, and prayed for, and striven with, but they grow into a dull mass, in whose occasional presence his necessary public duties must be decently conducted. His weapon has lost its edge, his ministry its life.

Yet even these are only the external evils consequent on the change, and we have not yet reached their fountain-head of mischief within the pastor's own soul.

This may be most direct and substantive: for the incessant public vindication of any one special truth or [237/238] institution is not without its own danger to us. Our minds are so apt to grow one-sided; the object on which they dwell becomes to our apprehension so preternaturally developed, that the due order and relation of the various parts of truth becomes disturbed in our minds. We may learn the instancy of this danger from that common judgment of men which is fixed in the second sense which the word to 'dogmatize' has assumed. For it shews us that a special zeal for any peculiar dogma of the truth has become in men's minds naturally associated with the habit of a vapouring assumption of a state of authority. This acts back on our own temper. The truth and our view of the truth become confused in our minds, and we grow narrow and authoritative, and obstinate, and too often violent; unable to allow for the appearance which the same truth, as really held, may present to the mind of another; and apt to exact, at the price of endangering peace, breaking limits, and losing love, the implicit reception of our peculiar statement as the test of orthodoxy. Alas! how few are there of whom it can in any measure be said, as of the great champion of the Church's truth against the Arian heresy, "Only in Athanasius there was nothing observed throughout the course of that long tragedy, other than such as very well became a wise man to do and a righteous to suffer." [Hooker, Eccl. Pol., lib. v. 42. 5. p. 180. edit. 1845.]

But again, besides these dangers, more public labours must commonly plunge us into controversy with some, or into opposition to others; we shall have gainsayers to confute, and adversaries to silence; and the weapons of the world, so ready, alas! always for our hands, will seem [238/239] to be thrust into them. We may at first begin to use our various faculties in the encounter really for the sake of truth: but how soon does there spring up in our hearts the love of victory for its own sake! And then how soon does the tongue learn the language of raillery and sarcasm, and biting insinuation; how quick does the eye grow to see a weak point, and the ready hand to strike home at it, and the heated spirit to rejoice in all the doubtful success, mixed motives, and manifold unkind-nesses of the keen encounter of sharpened wits. How plainly in this case is the work of evil being accomplished in our soul, and all hope of the continuance of a faithful and prosperous ministry being destroyed. How likely is it that the once laborious pastor will be transformed into the restless, eager, busy, and by degrees unscrupulous, party leader, a troubler of the Church, a stirrer-up of its discords; above all, a hideous wreck within, living upon external excitements, and more and more a stranger to that deep quietness, inward peace, and heavenly love, which are the Holy Spirit's work, and which must mark the character of every one who is admitted into heaven.

Where, then, is our safeguard? Not certainly in inactivity and sloth. You will hardly suspect me of giving you such a counsel. God's truth must be maintained, the Church's doctrines must be vindicated, her powers of service must be attested and preserved, the dangers of life and action must not make us content with lethargy or death. We must contend, and that earnestly; but we must do it with self-recollection, with continual watchfulness against this ever-ready evil, with perpetual self-suspicion, extending to our motives, our methods, and our acts; with intervals of silence, with continual [239/240] prayers, with an eye ever fixed on our great Exemplar, with a full sight of Him who came to "send not peace on the earth, but a sword," and yet who did "not strive nor cry;" about Whom in closest presence all the hot-ness of the fight ever more gathered itself, and raged, and yet Who was ever "meek and gentle in heart," ever healing each separate sufferer who came to Him, ever giving "rest to souls."

But this danger besets not only us, the shepherds of the flock, it attacks our flocks also. How, then, are we not only to keep ourselves unharmed, but to preserve them from the like contagion?

Now the first requisite for a due discharge of this part of our work is, that we should set it before our minds as a special object of endeavour. "Love," as our good George Herbert says, "is our business and aim." [Country Parson, xxxv.] We must regard ourselves officially as peace-makers, as pledged by our office to prevent discords and to heal quarrels. Their existence in a parish is at once a consequence and a cause of sin. They are a great hindrance to the spread of Christ's truth; we find them to be often the secret cause of men's absence from public worship, still more of their neglect of the Holy Communion; they divide those who but for them would work together for God, they grieve the Blessed Spirit, they make our services dry and lifeless, and they lay waste souls. We must, then, regard it as one part of our duty to use our best endeavours to prevent and to heal them. And we can do neither without self-denial; and this self-denial so borne gives a dignity and nobleness to the commonest actions. Thus, for instance, it should not be a light matter which should keep the incumbent [240/241] of a parish from presiding habitually at its vestry meetings, in order that he may allay the irritations and prevent the strifes which so frequently break out at them. And when so presiding, he should be always on the watch to promote kindly feelings between those who may be naturally disposed to differ. His influence thus used would soon be felt; and his very presence would breathe peace around him.

Thus, again, we should seek to know the real relations of our various parishioners to each other. There are often long-established grudges in a parish which for years have alienated persons or families, and kept them living in a dull and half-defined consciousness of sin, which our labour, and patience, and judgment may enable us absolutely to remove. The parties want some firm and kind hand gently but resolutely to probe the festering wound, and then draw together its gaping lips, and all is healed. But all this cannot be effected without our being ready to take a great deal of trouble with individual cases, nor without our being well known by our people, as well as our knowing them well, so that they may be ready to bear the touch of our hand as of one whom they know is at once loving and wise. It is far easier, but it is, comparatively speaking, wholly useless, to preach about brotherly love and forgiveness. To be healed, men must be dealt with one by one, and in no matter more than in this special work of ending old differences; for, in such cases, the least offences are great separators, and of all irritable things, angry tempers need to be handled with the gentlest and most discerning touch.

Nor is it only with such discords between individuals [241/242] that we have this special duty. "We ought to be the reconcilers of those inevitable differences which divide classes of our parishioners,--teaching the richer and more educated of our people to feel with a true brotherly sympathy and respect for the peculiar trials and virtues of the poor and ignorant; softening the asperities which so naturally sour the minds of the farmers and middle class as employers,--and often poor and straitened employers,--towards their labourers and dependants; and being often by the side of the labourer and the poor with a view to allay those many bitter thoughts which will assail their minds against those above them in worldly provision. This work, again, is not an easy one. It requires much judgment, a real knowledge of the circumstances of all classes in their details, and even of their habits of thought, and great firmness also, to perform it effectually. We must yield improperly to none if we would succeed. It will not, for instance, really help the poor man if you merely sympathize with his trials; nay, you may so do this as to increase his bitterness against those who seem to him to cause them, and who do not, perhaps, as they should, mitigate their violence. To help him in this hard strife you must first, indeed, have made him sure that you do sympathize with him, but then you must dare, kindly of course, yet plainly and firmly for his own sake, to check his complaints, and to take the side of his seeming oppressors up to the measure of truth, and to make him feel that all the suffering is not, as he thinks, with himself, and all the wrong with them, but that he too is chargeable with his share of the wrong, as they bear theirs of the suffering.

[243] But with even more earnestness than that with which we strive to heal or to prevent these common breaches of peace, must we seek to perform in the same spirit our special work as religious teachers.

From the action of the general principle which we saw at first, just in the proportion in which a parish increases in religious feeling will the dangers of religious discord multiply. The quickened religious life of each man is exposed to all the temptations of religious self-will, party-spirit, self-opinionatedness, and division. Accordingly, it is not rare to see parishes which, after long carelessness, have been awakened to a good deal of religious feeling by an exciting preaching of the great leading truths of the Gospel, if that preaching has not been accompanied by the enforcement of the character and authority of the Church, and of the duty of a quiet, peaceable, and loving submission of the individual will for Christ's sake to her rule, absolutely torn to pieces by division. Every other man is soon a teacher; and "I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas," is the utterance of mouth after mouth, only it is spoken of miserable representatives of those great apostles. Now it is to this evil very specially that this question seems to point; will you so teach your people that, instead of exciting them to a fever of division or puffing them up with a bitter self-sufficient dogmatism, you may set forward amongst them quietness, peace, and love?

And in saying how this is to be effected, the very order of the words suggests much. We must seek to encourage quietness in religion; to beware of sudden, boastful, noisy effects. We must aim greatly at promoting peace. There are ministries which are [243/244] absolutely fatal to peace, which cannot teach a truth without implying that others do not teach it; perhaps do not hold, perhaps contradict it. It is not difficult to see in the sensitive, captious, snarling, narrow tone of religious feeling which sometimes pervades a parish, the fruit of such a ministry, even when it has been zealous, laborious, and, in the main, faithful; but marred by the spirit of partizanship and contention. If we would really be a blessing to our people, we must strive above all things to teach them the great Gospel lesson of "holding the truth in love." We must make them feel that it is better to know but a little and to love much, than to have all other knowledge and to lack that best teaching of charity.

Another great safeguard against this danger is to be found in close and separate dealing with the souls of our flock. We must watch over them, and know them singly in their temptations, characters, and tempers, if we would build them up in reality, meekness, and love. We must not dream of our work being done when we quit the pulpit: great as is the importance of preaching, it must not usurp the whole of our ministry; people may be preached into the unreal, excited state of feeling which is the fruitful parent of self-conscious and self-confident divisions; but if we hope to form in them, under the aid of God's grace, the humble, loving temper of the true disciple, we must follow up the best and truest sermons by the ceaseless vigilance of a daily, loving care.

Above all, my brethren, and it is indeed the hardest, as it is the last, thing I will press on you, if we would fulfil this promise we must be ourselves men of [244/245] quietness, peace, and love. And this involves a great deal at all times; for always there must be many temptations to unquietness which specially beset us. Our relations to our flocks, our comparative independence of them, and so the proneness of our fallen nature to study our own inclinations,--it may be our own mere crotchets, rather than their wishes, partly engender these temptations. And, again, our relations to each other tend to increase the danger: the mutual independence of the pastors of separate but neighbouring parishes tends to create a studied difference of tone between one and another; the natural pride of independence vents itself in some badge or other of distinctive doctrine or practice, and imperils unity or aggravates division. Nor is this all. Not only is our separation in different parishes attended with this danger: it besets also our union in the same parish. For under our system, men of the same education, the same birth, and the same means are combined together as incumbent and curate, and have to work and act together. Now it may happen that both absolutely agree, and then all will, of course, work harmoniously: but on the other hand, it will often happen that some difference, in view, in tone, in practice, exists between them; and in such cases harmony can only be maintained by the one yielding simply and lovingly to the other; and in our system the curate must yield to the incumbent. But in many cases this is no easy concession. The curate may be the older, or the wiser, or the more popular man. He may be in the right in the matter in dispute, and may know that he is; and it is hard in such cases for human nature to yield. It is so easy, without even seeming to appear to enlist support, to [245/246] create a sensation, and to divide a parish. There are some men who really, without meaning it, are always appealing to party spirit, creating a faction, weaving an intrigue. The threads of such an entanglement seem to shoot out from them unconsciously, and all is confusion. Deep is the mischief done by such unquietness to the cause of Christ and to the usefulness of a ministry. Years may roll on, and many souls have been lost, before the evil influences of such a lack of peace have passed wholly away.

But besides these dangers, which beset all times, there are some which specially beset such days as ours. For it is hard in times of strife and party spirit to find men who are thoroughly in earnest, and yet who have not consciously identified themselves with any party as a party. Yet if we do become party men, our direct usefulness is fearfully blighted, and we are certain to be stirrers-up of strife; increasing party spirit on both sides, by increasing exclusiveness of feeling on our own side, and embittering opposition on the other. Here, then, we must guard jealously both our own spirit and our own demeanour; for in times of trouble he who would really be a man of quietness must eschew all those party badges by which inward party feelings are at all times vented, manifested, and increased. The most innocent trifles may thus become of the utmost moment. I need hardly remind you that in times of great civil suspicion the mere colour of a dress has been cause enough to deluge the streets of a city with blood. Most closely does this apply to us. Let me suggest to you a single instance. Some amongst us desire, for the very best objects, that our dress as clergymen was more [246/247] distinctly demonstrative of our calling. They urge the wholesome restraint to ourselves which such an outward mark must prove against levity or sports unbecoming our sacred character. They dwell on the self-recollected-ness it would help to engender, and on the aid it would give us in society by reminding others as well as ourselves who and what we are. They point to many and good examples of the usefulness of so natural a distinction. They have much to urge, and they are not unwilling to practise what they commend; they would fain, if it were possible, bring back into ordinary use the cassock and the tippet. Failing this, they adopt a dress as near as possible to it, and as remote as possible from that of ordinary laymen. On the other side, it is urged that the English clergyman is an English citizen; that, like other men, he marries, mixes in society, and takes his full share in all civil and social matters; that he is not like the Roman ecclesiastic, a member of a separate, unsympathizing class: and that on his retaining his freedom from this ecclesiastical separation depends greatly his acceptance and his usefulness with Englishmen. This party, therefore, whilst it would retain those moderate badges of colour and shape which all men identify with clerical attire, would eschew all prominent and startling diversity of dress from that of sober laymen. On their skirts, as on the skirts of the other side, hang a loose cloud of extreme men, who pride themselves in throwing off all the established sobriety of a clergyman's apparel. Now how light a thing this is, and yet how important. For the adopting cither one extreme or the other, marks internal unquietness, and soon disturbs external peace. The hottest strifes and the most lasting prejudices are engendered and kept [247/248] alive by these outward badges. Many a young clergyman, who might have preached Christ and spread the life of His Church throughout a parish around him, has marred all his usefulness and raised a host of enemies by the straightness of his collar or the length of his skirt. And what think you in the hour of death, and what in the day of judgment, will be the issues of such a loss? I would, my brethren, press most earnestly upon you the great Christian duty of quietness in such matters as these. "Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand."

And this same principle applies with even greater force to our vestments in the sanctuary, and to the adoption in our services of rites which, however they may be justified by the letter of long-sleeping laws, are strange and novel in the eyes of our people. I have no hesitation in saying to you that it is better in these matters to acquiesce for a while in a long-established custom of deficiency than to stir our people up to suspicion and hostility by the impetuous restoration of a better use. More harm has, I believe, been done amongst us by such attempts to restore bits of a ritual to which our people are unaccustomed, than by any other single error. Our people argue--and do they argue altogether amiss?--that these changes either mean something or nothing: if something, what, they ask, is it that they mean, and whither are they leading us? if nothing, do they not imply either puerility, unquietness, or folly in him who can for nothing disturb our minds, or even alarm our prejudices? Depend upon it, my brethren, that if we are to keep this promise of our Ordinal, we must as to these matters--so trifling in themselves, so momentous as indications of a [248/249] drifting current--inwardly and outwardly manifest ourselves to be men of quietness and peace.

And if this is so, we must, as to the yet deeper quality of love, have learned ourselves to embody what we would fain reproduce in others. The spirit of love must have leavened and moulded our spirits. We must have learned from Him, who only can teach them to us, its full reality, its constraining power, and its unwearying tenderness. Love in our own hearts will flavour all our teaching with its own blessed presence. We shall teach, and our people, through God's help, will imbibe, truth in a truly loving spirit. They will not be so ready to wrangle about the great doctrines of the Gospel as to live on them. They will not so much be keen to detect an error, as quick-sighted to apprehend a truth. Here, too, depend upon it, the pastor will to a great degree be reproduced in his flock. Love will generate love. The battle therefore here, as elsewhere, must be won in secret, and upon our knees. When we have been loosed beneath the cross of our Lord of the burden of our own sins; when we have looked, indeed, for ourselves into that calm, divine face of unutterable love; when we have heard His voice of healing pity speak to our wounded hearts; when His pierced hand has been laid on us; when we have, as accepted penitents, poured forth our souls before Him,--then shall we have learned, as we never otherwise can learn, how to go forth day by day amongst our people, reproducing amongst them His work upon ourselves, whilst we "maintain quietness, peace, and love amongst all Christian people, and specially amongst them that are committed to our charge."

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