Bishop of Barbados and the Leeward Islands.
PRINTED AT THE ROYAL CHURCH GAZETTE OFFICE.
My Reverend Brethren!
IN the Charges which have been delivered in the Cathedral of the Diocese, and wherever a sufficient number of Clergy could be assembled to allow of their delivery, I have fully entered on the more essential portions of Ministerial duty. These Charges, with other addresses of a Pastoral or Ecclesiastical character, have been successively placed in your hands, and are now before the Public.
It is a subject of sincere gratification to me, that I have been at length enabled to assemble, in sufficient numbers, in their metropolitan Church, the Clergy of the Church of England in British Guiana. May the Spirit of the Most High be on our meeting! and may all our consultations, through his sanctifying and assisting grace, be directed and prospered to the advancement of God's glory, and the good of the souls committed to our charge!
Referring you, then, on more general matters, to former Charges, I proceed to direct your attention to those points which are more immediately connected with this portion of the Diocese.
 I. The essential characteristic of the Christian Ministry is unity of purpose; and the essence of Episcopacy is unity of action, towards the accomplishment of that purpose. The purpose itself is the salvation of souls through the preaching of the Word, and the administration of the Sacraments of grace. For the attainment of this saving and most blessed purpose, certain great and acknowledged principles have been, from the earliest period, gathered out of the Scriptures. On these the Church of the living God was built up--a "pillar" to point out the truth, and an unshaken basement and "ground" whereon that truth might immoveably rest.--Within this Church--of which the Lord Jesus Christ is at once the head and chief cornerstone--are included multitudes of different nations, languages, and kindreds. Distinguished by their national appellations, they yet constitute true branches or portions of the same one undivided Catholic or Universal Church of Christ, so long as they "hold the head, from which all the body, by joints and bands having nourishment ministered and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God." Each branch, or national portion of this Church, has power over its own rites and ceremonies; provided that nothing be ordained therein that is contrary to God's Word written, or unreasonable and savouring of superstition. By the rules of each branch, the respective Ministers of that branch are bound to regulate their Ministerial conduct. [4/5] In the English branch of Christ's Church, every Minister at his Ordination is required to declare his persuasion of the sufficiency of Holy Scripture; to pledge himself to the faithful Ministration, after a prescribed manner, of the Doctrine and Sacraments, and the Discipline of Christ; to be ready, with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange Doctrines, contrary to God's Word; and to submit himself, obediently and gladly, to the godly judgment of those unto whom the charge and government over him is committed; ever endeavouring, by God's grace, to make both himself and his family, through the exercise of every private and public duty, "wholesome examples and patterns of the flock of Christ."
In yet further pursuance of the great object of external unity, his very Ministerial dress is defined; his mode of administering the public services laid down; the words which he shall reverently offer up to the Throne of Grace put, as of olden time, into his mouth. In the Congregation he is God's Minister, yet ministering according to an appointed form; known of all, and in which the Congregation bear their part, responding and assenting. "All things" according to the Apostolical rule, "are done decently and in order,"--in the same order, for conscience-sake, even in matters of lesser moment.--"God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all Churches of the Saints." "If any man seem to be contentious, we have no such [5/6] custom, neither the Churches of God;"--and "so ordain I in all the Churches."--Even in the less prescribed duties of the Pastoral office, where variety of operation may often be required, there ought never to be a discrepancy of feeling between Ministers of the same Church. If Religion seem to be advanced thereby in one parish, there are yet more who are taking advantage of these differences to villify Religion in the general. Coldness and indolence in the discharge of the Christian Ministry are highly culpable; but zeal, which is too exclusive and isolated in its operation, and in working out its own laudable purpose, overlooks even the irregularity of its tract,--such zeal, whilst it must ever command our respect and even affection, can never be contemplated without regret and apprehension. Where great objects are attempted, who would not prefer the action of a combined force to the single prowess of the most daring warrior--or who, when enlisted in the attempt, would not be content to submit to a discipline whereby power is concentrated, and brought to bear with increased efficiency? There is both humility and wisdom, my Brethren, in this course, and it has the Apostolical sanction: I beseech you, Brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there he no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."
It was an object of my earliest solicitude to place in this Colony a resident Ecclesiastic, [6/7] relieved from the burthen of parochial duty, yet actively employed in visiting, from time to time, the several parishes; promoting every where, as far as circumstances might permit, the same system of temporal and spiritual improvement; and reporting directly to myself on the progress--or deficiencies existing--in this remoter portion of the Diocese. For a time the Colony experienced the benefit of this superintendence, and liberally contributed towards its maintenance. That after a short space this more direct and local superintendence was unavoidably withdrawn, and has never since been restored, is to me a subject of most painful regret. In the absence of a resident unbeneficed Ecclesiastical Commissary, the only remedy which I can now devise, is the Ecclesiastical division of Demerara and Essequebo into two separate Rural Deaneries, annexed, with the Rural Deanery of Berbice, to the Archdeaconry of Barbados; and, as the number of the Clergy shall increase, the selection in each Deanery of one Clergyman, who may command the respect and attachment of his Brethren, and form a bond of union and never-failing source, under God, of kind and judicious counsel.
II. Next to unity of action, I know nothing more important, or more calculated to keep up the reality and outward appearance of this unity in the eyes of the Laity, than the Minister's strict, and, if I may use such an expression, liturgical residence within his cure. A Minister is not only bound to reside personally and locally within his parish, but he has no right to extend his ser [7/8] services into the parish of another Clergyman without his permission, or without the direction of the Ecclesiastical Ordinary, or under circumstances of such peculiar urgency as the Ordinary has either permitted or might justly be expected to approve. He cannot, without such manifest license, unless in cases of necessity, administer the Sacraments out of his own parish; for how is he officially assured, that the parties unto whom they are administered, are qualified for their reception? He can neither bury nor solemnize Marriages out of his own parish, without previous intimation given, or consent had of the Incumbent into whose parish he is thus officially entering. Such is the law of the case. How then, you will ask, under the peculiar circumstances of this Colony, in which numerous members of our own Church are comprehended with their people within parishes allotted to the Kirk of Scotland,--how, under such circumstances, is the spirit of the law to be observed, whilst the letter must at times be unavoidably infringed? The members of the English Church, wherever opportunity offers, will be naturally desirous to have their children and their people baptized into the Faith by Ministers duly ordained, as they conscientiously believe, according to the will of the Lord Jesus Christ, in uninterrupted succession from the Apostles. They will prefer, and very reasonably, to have their Marriages solemnized, and their children and people instructed, and their dead interred, and every office, if possible, of public devotion, performed in conformity with their own ancient [8/9] Liturgical forms; they are familiar with these forms: they are associated in their minds with the recollection of their earliest years; they have received the approval of their more matured judgment; they connect them with the Christian Church in its first and purest ages. How, then, whilst residing within a parish legally constituted, yet attached to another persuasion, are the members of one Church to obtain, without culpable irregularity, the Ministrations of their own Clergy? I would offer, in the spirit of amicable arrangement, the following course for the adoption of all parties:--
1st. That in cases where there is no Chapel of the Church of England within the parish, the members of our Church be considered as fully justified in taking their children for Baptism to the Church of the nearest English parish, and having therein their Marriages canonically solemnized, and Registrations duly made. This is analagous, indeed, to the law and usage of the Mother-country, which expressly provides, in the case of the Solemnization of Marriages, that "all parishes, where there shall be no parish Church or Chapel belonging thereto, or none wherein Divine Service shall be usually solemnized every Sunday, and all extra-parochial places whatever, having no public Chapel wherein Banns may be lawfully published, shall be deemed arid taken to belong to any parish or chapelry next adjoining."
2dly. That where the children of English parents, or the children or adults on English estates, are in too weak and precarious a state to be [9/10] carried, or to go, for Baptism, into another parish, there the English Clergyman may have free right to enter the Scotch parish, simply notifying the occasion to the Scotch Minister, and administer the Sacrament according to the form for the "Ministration of Baptism for children in private houses."
3dly. That the same right of entering be extended to him, in cases of the sickness or death of any member of the English Church, for the purpose of administering the Lord's Supper, or of solemnly interring the dead, according to our accustomed rites.
4thly. In cases where a Chapel of the Church of England has been erected within a Scotch parish, for the greater accommodation of the members of our Church resident within the same, that, in such Chapel, and by the Minister thereof, all offices of our Church be duly performed to all who shall apply for the same; with this proviso, in case of present Incumbencies, that all legal and customary fees be regularly entered, and scrupulously accounted for to the Incumbent.
It may be proper to add, under this second head, that I have no power to grant a license ot absence, until adequate provision be made for the performance of parochial duties during the period of such absence; nor without such license granted and received can any Incumbent be lawfully absent from his charge. To our Ministerial office is attached the cure of souls; and it is my duty to take care that those souls be never left without the regular ordinances of Grace. [10/11] Whenever absence, therefore, be required,--whether for the restoration of the health of yourselves or your families, or for any other sufficient reason, to be notified in the petition for leave of absence,--and the spiritual wants of your respective parishes be duly provided for by a resident Curate,--there it will be both my duty and pleasure to grant, to every applicant in such cases, the fullest leave, allowing a clear period of six months from the time of embarkation, exclusive of the passage to and from the mother country.
III. The third point to which, at the present moment, I would direct, under God, in an especial manner, all the energies of your minds and bodies, is the religious and suitable Education of that vast majority of your people, the apprenticed labourers. I mean not to disparage what, through the Divine Blessing on your labors, you may have already effected, The crowded state of your Churches is, of itself, a satisfactory proof that a religious feeling has been awakened amongst this class. It must be yours to direct that feeling, by the communication of sound knowledge, into the way of righteousness and peace.
Your first object will be to communicate earnestly with the Proprietors, or acting Representatives, of the several estates within your parishes, for the purpose of erecting, on suitable sites, and at convenient distances, such number of central School-houses as the wants of your people shall require. The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel offer out of their own funds, aided by [11/12] the Parliamentary Grant, to provide, if required, five-sixths of the expence of such erection. The Schools established in these, will be in connection with this Society--conducted strictly on its principles--and subject only, on the part of His Majesty's Government, to the inspection of an Officer, whose duty is expressly defined as "not intended to interfere with the religious instruction given in the Schools, but only to ascertain that they really conduce to the moral and religious education and improvement of the negro population, and thus answer the ends for which the public money has been advanced."
You will have to look out for competent Teachers to take charge of the children or adults who shall be collected in these Schools. Speaking generally, you must form your own Teachers. Occasionally, you may meet with a person already qualified, not only to communicate the mere elementary parts of instruction, but to teach writing and arithmetic, and impart much useful knowledge of a yet more general character. Occasionally, Teachers may be obtained from the Mother-country, through the Christian solicitude of individual Proprietors, or the judicious selection and liberal maintenance afforded, wholly or in part, by public Societies. Generally, I fear, you must be contented, for the present at least, with Teachers of inferior qualifications; but, if they be persons of piety, whether men or women, they will still effect much good. They will be competent to instruct both the young and old, in reading; and when [12/13] once these can read the Scriptures, and follow the Services of the Church, you will yourselves have abundant opportunities, on the Sabbath, and during the intercourse of the week, for adding to their stock both of spiritual and secular knowledge.
That great and peculiar exertions will now be required of the Clergy of this Colony--even beyond the demand of any former period--there can be no question; but it is gratifying and most encouraging for me to feel, that there never was a period when the Laity were more disposed to co-operate heartily and liberally with the Clergy. The necessity of education is felt. The security of property is identified with the intellectual and religious advancement of the people. The failure, whether justly or not, will be laid at your doors; but I will not speak of failure, where, I am assured, there will be zeal; and with zeal, guided by knowledge, and animated by faith, how can we doubt the accompaniment of the Divine blessing? Yet I will not conceal that there are circumstances, which have come to my knowledge, since I entered the Colony, which have excited in my mind--I will not say fears, but--a more especial solicitude, for the result of your labors. The abolition of the slave trade had one salutary and immediate effect on the moral and religious condition of the people. It closed the door against that torrent of African superstition and barbarity which, up to that period, was continually pouring its tainted and bitter waters into every Colony. In vain was the Negro born within a Christian land; in [13/14] vain was he educated in the Christian faith; in vain was he even assimilated to Christian manners;--the arrival of every fresh ship from the coasts of Africa was certain to bring some relative, or friend, or yet more influential individual invested with a superstitious character; and, in a moment, every early heathen association was revived, every better feeling checked, every Christian habit laid aside, and the Negro, among his newly-imported brethren, relapsed into all his former vicious and superstitious propensities. At a moment, then, when the Negroes of this Colony have made some advances, and are advancing daily, in Christian feeling, knowledge, and practice,--I cannot but regard with the deepest anxiety, the official annunciation, that thousands of Africans, fresh from their native wilds, or detained only in a Spanish settlement, whilst certain forms of civil condemnation have been gone through, are on their way to this Colony, to be distributed, with a view of increasing the laboring strength of the Colony, amongst its several Estates. It is not for me to pronounce on the expediency of this measure; but I should have failed in my duty, if I had not taken this public occasion to place the Ministers of Religion on their guard; that their people, now admitted with their children into the Christian covenant, may previously be admonished, both of the temptations to which their own faith and morals will be exploded, and of the peculiar responsibility which will rest upon them, as Christians, to resist themselves what is wrong, and to win over their [14/15] heathen brethren to the doctrines and precepts of the Gospel of Christ. I have marked in the Official Notice, with feelings of peculiar satisfaction, the solicitude evinced by the Lieutenant Governor for the religious instruction of these newly-imported laborers. I need not add, that it will be your bounden duty to offer to the Proprietors of your Parish, on whose Estates such laborers shall be introduced, your express and unremitted attentions. Your own convictions of Ministerial obligation; the urgency of the danger to your respective flocks, lest they should be seduced from the Truth, and contaminated in their morals; and, let me add yet further, a sense of gratitude to this Colony for the liberal provision which has been publicly made for your services;--these considerations will not, I am assured, be without their weight, in stimulating your Ministerial diligence, and general fidelity.
I have to request that half-yearly Returns--to the first of January and the first of July of every year--of the state of the several Schools established within your parish or district, and under your superintendence, and the number of children receiving education in each, be forwarded by the earliest opportunity after those dates to the Registrar of the Diocese, bearing on the cover the endorsement of "School Returns," with a view of enabling my Chaplain to prepare a general Diocesan Report of the progress of education; .n the several Colonies, according to the principles of our own pure and Apostolical branch of Christ's Church. Where Rural Deans are appointed, the [15/16] Clergy within each Deanery will have the goodness to forward, on the days specified, their respective Returns to the Rural Dean, who will transmit them under one cover to the Registrar. Let me add also, whilst on the important subject of education, that--if there could be an understanding generally acted upon by the parents and the Proprietors, that, after a certain period of attendance at the School, and progress therein made, the child, when capable of work, should on alternate days, or on a certain portion of the weekdays, be occupied in some light agricultural employment, and carefully brought on the Sabbath to the Minister for his public instructions--the child would lose but little of what is essential to him in the way of learning; the estates would be better served; the parents would receive some emolument, in the way of hire, from the labor of their children; and the important habit of agricultural industry would be early formed, and carried onward into manhood.
IV. I have observed with much regret that in the town and in the parishes adjacent, the practice of Sunday-marketing still prevails. It will be your duty here, or wherever, or in whatever shape, it shall be found occurring--judiciously but firmly--to remonstrate against this breach of a Divine Law, and to use every endeavour, both in your private and public instructions, to discourage on Christian grounds--and thus prevent, if possible--a practice so irreligious and demoralizing.
V. I know only of one other point on which local circumstances require animadversion. I do [16/17] not wish my Clergy to become ascetic in their habits: I would have them mix in the world, that they may instruct and sanctify it. But there are scenes on which a Clergyman should never appear; there are practices in which he, of all men, should never indulge. Though the Sacraments lose nothing of their efficacy through the unworthiness of the Minister, yet that Ministry is justly blamed which has ceased to be an "example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." "Them that thus sin," saith the Apostle in his Epistle to Timothy, "rebuke before all, that others also may fear."
In the exercise of this branch of Ecclesiastical discipline, it is of the utmost importance, that the Laity of every Parish--and even the Clergy themselves, as a body--should be assisting to the Bishop of their Church. It is their bounden duty, as Christians, formally to present a Clergyman, who has become notorious in the community for any open and habitual immoral conduct. Silence in such cases were criminal. Indiscretion in a Minister may in its consequences endanger, I admit, the security of secular property, and should most strictly and conscientiously be guarded against: liturgical alterations, as in the Burial Service, may wound the feelings of the living mourner, and are unauthorized: but immorality is an offence against the honor of Almighty God, and should never be suffered to pass unpresented.
On the more general matter of doctrine, adhere, I beseech you, to the Articles of your [17/18] Church in their true, usual, and literal meaning. Whatever private opinions you may entertain on some more curious and less denned points, let these never be made the substance of your public preaching. We can preach nothing as necessary to salvation, which is not contained in Holy Scripture; and, as Ministers of the Church of England, we may never interpret Scripture contrary to the sense of her authorized Articles. As all our Ministerial proceedings should be regular and strictly according to her discipline, so in all our public instructions we should teach neither more nor less, than what she, out of the Scriptures, has previously taught in her Articles.
Can I, in conclusion, my Reverend Brethren, too strongly press upon you the utmost zeal in the discharge of your respective Ministries? Can I too forcibly inculcate the necessity of the continual reading of Holy Scripture, and of " such studies as help to the knowledge of the same"? Can I too often remind you of the separatedness of the Ministerial character--of the personal sanctity which should accompany it--of the affectionate respect which it should inspire--and of that varied usefulness which, under all circumstances, and amongst every rank and condition of life, it is so fitted to be the ever-present and willing and effective instrument? You have much in your own hands; you are an increasing body, and every eye is upon you. There is every [18/19] disposition to encourage and support a pious, well-informed, and, to use an old phrase, a painful Ministry. You are the natural and acknowledged guardians of the Religion and morals of the people. How essential, then, that you should exemplify that in your own conduct, which it is your duty to watch over and impress upon your brethren. The civil change, which is taking place in these Colonies, demands increasing vigilance and exertion. The Proprietors will readily confide in you; the laborer will love and respect you; and, in proportion as you exert yourselves, as a body, in purity, in zeal, in discretion, in unity of action as well as purpose, division will be less known, error will be less rife, true Religion will increase, and the knowledge imparted will be more sober, scriptural, permanent, and beneficial. "Who is sufficient for these things?" God, by whom we have been ordained to the Ministry of His dear Son, Whose we are, and Whom we serve, will never forsake His Ministers, who desire to please Him. May His Spirit be indeed with us! May He give us favor in the sight of men! May He facilitate and prosper our Ministry! May the Colony at large, even in things temporal, reap the benefit of our Ministerial faithfulness; and may the individual members of your respective flocks be brought onward by your labours more and more, in the way of Salvation, through faith, which is in Christ Jesus!
[In 1807 there were only two Ministers of Religion in the three Colonies of Demerary, Essequebo, and Berbice--the Chaplain of the Forces in Georgetown, and a Minister of the Dutch Reformed Church at New Amsterdam. At the conclusion of 1823 there were three Clergymen of the Church of England--one in Essequebo, one in Georgetown, and the third at New Amsterdam. In the present year (1836) there are fourteen Clergymen of the Church of England; and in every Parish either a Church has been built or in course of erection, or a Logie or other place fined up at the Colonial or private expense, for the purpose of Divine Worship; and residences provided, or house rent paid, for the several Incumbents of Parishes, to whom is secured also from the Colony a liberal annual stipend.]