PUDNEY & RUSSELL, PRINTERS,
NO. 79 JOHN-STREET.
The Clergy are requested to read this Pastoral Letter to their Congregations on Sunday, the 27th instant, the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity, or on some other convenient Sunday, as early as may be.
New-York, September 15, 1857.
It has become my duty to address you on a subject which is deemed to be one of very great importance to the prosperity of the Church and to the interests of Religion. The necessity of making a more just and adequate provision for the support of the Parochial Clergy--the duty which devolves upon the People of taking more earnest thought for the temporal welfare of those Ministers of Christ and Stewards of the mysteries of God, who have been separated from all secular pursuits, from all worldly employments, and required to consecrate their lives exclusively to prayer, to study, and to the cure of souls--this [3/4] is the topic on which I am about to speak to you very seriously; and in doing so I am moved not less by my own sense of duty, by my long settled convictions, than by the almost unanimous request of the Clergy and Laity of the Diocese, made to me after careful inquiry and deliberation by their representatives assembled in Convention.
The original resolution, which first brought the subject of Clerical support immediately before the Convention of the Diocese in 1853, was introduced and advocated by a Layman; of Laymen, too, exclusively, was composed the Committee of the Convention which, for two years, had the subject under consideration, which employed so much pains in collecting information from every part of the Diocese, and which at length presented a Report full of startling facts, and proposing resolutions earnestly recommending a more just and adequate provision for the support of the Clergy. And finally the Convention of the Diocese which accepted that Report, and adopted several of its resolutions,--among [4/5] others the resolution requesting me to address to you this Pastoral Letter--was, as you know, composed in large proportion of Laymen, and on their part the resolutions were passed, so far as I know, without a dissenting voice. Thus the whole movement in regard to more adequate provision for the support of the Clergy originated with the Laity, and has been carried on by the influence and agency of the Laity, showing that they, to say the least, are not less interested in the subject than the Clergy.
This is a great encouragement, and to recognize and acknowledge it is a pleasing duty. Indeed, it would be doing great injustice to many most liberal minded and devoted Laymen, not to take notice of the zeal manifested by them in various parts of the Diocese, as well in securing an ample provision for the support of the Clergy, as in sustaining every other worthy object in the Church of God. I am quite aware that this Pastoral is likely to be read in many congregations in which every reasonable [5/6] provision for the temporal support and comfort of the Pastor has already been made--and made with the utmost promptitude and cheerfulness for years.
But even in such congregations a considerate review of the subject of clerical support in its general aspects and bearings, may not be without its use. It may lead the Laity to take more serious thought on the general subject, and to feel more interest in labouring to disseminate just views in regard to it, not only through their own congregation, but through the Church at large. What we need is a healthy public opinion everywhere, and a steady enlightened Christian zeal, which will impel the wealthy and the strong, not only to make due provision for themselves, but also, to assist habitually in making provision for others at a distance who are few and weak. If then, in my endeavor to reach all, I address many, who are already faithfully doing their whole duty in the matter in question; if I bring forward arguments and urge considerations already familiar to every mind which has seriously considered [6/7] the subject, the nature of the duty which I have to discharge will be received as a sufficient justification.
My brethren, if the people demand, as they unquestionably have a right to demand, and as they never fail to demand, that their spiritual pastor abstain from all secular occupations as things incompatible with his sacred calling--as tending to impair his influence, to interfere with his appropriate duties, and to lower the heavenly tone of his mind--if they require him to look to them for the means of temporal support and comfort rather than to the labor of his own hands; then, surely, he, for his part, may reasonably expect, that, while for them he devotes himself, soul, body, and spirit, with all their faculties and powers, to God and to His service, he may reasonably expect, I say, that the people will not fail to make that provision for his temporal necessities which their claims and the obligations resting upon him have denied him the opportunity of making for himself.
 Nor is this a question of mere equity or expediency. It is matter of divine appointment--It is a part of the law of God, under the Christian Dispensation, as it had been before under the Mosaic. As the adorable Head of the Church has imposed upon His ministers the solemn duty of preaching the Gospel--of being instant in season and out of season in watching for souls--requiring them to give themselves wholly to their sacred function, so has He, by the same authority, and with equal emphasis, imposed upon the people thus provided for in spiritual things, the corresponding obligation to make provision for their ministers with the same earnest care in temporal things.
Our blessed Lord, in the first sending forth of His apostles and other ministers, began by throwing them wholly upon the support of those to whom they were commissioned to preach saying to His messengers, that "the laborer is worthy of his hire,"--and that, too, at a time when the people, so looked to for temporal support, had not yet received the [8/9] Gospel! Much more then was this temporal support to be expected from a Christian people: And so the Apostle St. Paul says: "If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great matter if we shall reap your worldly things?"
And, again, referring not only to the Divine ordinance making provision for the priests and levites under the Mosaic Dispensation, which excluded them from all participation in landed possessions, leaving them entirely dependent upon the offerings of the people, but also to a corresponding arrangement well known to exist among all pagan religions: "Do ye not know," says he, "that they who minister about holy things, live of the sacrifice; and they who wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord also ordained that they who preach the gospel should live of the gospel."
Equally emphatic is the holy Apostle in his instruction and direction to the Galatians: "Let him that is taught in the Word minister unto him that teacheth, in all good things. Be not [9/10] deceived, God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." Here we not only have the great law that our reaping is to depend upon our sowing,--that if we would hereafter reap life everlasting we must here in this world sow to the Spirit; but we are plainly taught that one way of sowing to the Spirit is to minister in all good things unto him by whom we are taught in the Word,--thus establishing a clear connection between our use of temporal things in the support of the Christian ministry according to our ability, and our admission to the full enjoyment of spiritual blessings. It is one striking exemplification of the meaning of our blessed Lord, when He said so very solemnly: "if ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who shall commit unto you the true riches?" As if he had said, "Be faithful in the use of the inferior gifts of God, or else think not to be enriched [10/11] with those which are higher, which are imperishable!"
We often speak of our system for the support of the ministrations of religion as the "voluntary system" in contradistinction to the systems prevailing in other countries, where the same object is provided for by legal enactment. But the contributions of a Christian people to the support of the ministry are voluntary, in no other sense than that they are not made subject to be regulated and enforced by human law. In a moral sense, in the eye of the Divine Law, they are voluntary only as our acceptance or refusal of the privileges of the Gospel is voluntary, i.e., left to our free will and choice as moral agents. We may refuse or neglect them if we will--but then we do so to our own great loss. We may choose--we must choose--but when we embrace the way of our choice, we embrace it with all its consequences.
It may be well questioned whether the common way of speaking of our system of clerical support as "a voluntary system," correct as it is [11/12] in one view, has not tended to weaken insensibly in many minds the feeling of that imperative obligation which rests upon every Christian people to contribute to the support of the ministry according to their ability, no less than upon every Christian Pastor to preach the Gospel to the people. And hence, perhaps, it is, that while there are noble examples, on all sides, of considerate regard for the comfort and welfare of Christ's Ambassadors--while there are multitudes of warm-hearted Christian people, who are ever ready with their sympathy and with their offerings, ministering unto them who minister for Christ--doubling their own spiritual blessings by the loving zeal with which they sustain and encourage their spiritual pastors, we nevertheless have to acknowledge that the average tone of feeling and standard of duty in the Church at large is far below the requirements of the Gospel, as well as far below the necessities of the case.
For although it has been expressly ordained by the Lord--by Him who loved us and gave [12/13] Himself for us--who redeemed us with His precious blood--who made Himself poor that we might be rich--"that they who preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel"--yet we see faithful men struggling with extremest poverty--sometimes lacking the comforts of life--sometimes giving a part of their precious time and strength to inferior employments, pressed by necessity to obtain by such expedients the means of subsistence, and sometimes retiring from important fields of labor because no adequate provision can be made for their support. We see in many quarters discouragements superadded to the Christian ministry, which do not of necessity belong to it--discouragements arising from the irregular, uncertain, and insufficient living on which the anxious laborer is left to depend; and that not because there is not sufficient wealth in the Church to provide abundantly for every reasonable claim of the ministry, but because the general mind of the Church has not been properly aroused to consider what is due to the ministry at a time when the difficulties of living are greatly increased, and above all, because no [13/14] adequate general system has been devised for transferring a portion of the superabundance which exists at the centre of the Church to the needy extremities. Of course, an absolute equality of support for all the clergy is what no one would think of endeavoring to bring about. If such a thing were not utterly impossible, it would be highly inexpedient. But surely it is most desirable that a portion of the superfluous means of an opulent parish should be employed in duly sustaining the ministrations of the Church in a parish which is poor. There are many neighborhoods in which it is highly important that the labors of a clergyman should be sustained, but which, with the utmost exertion, are able to provide only a small part of the means necessary for his decent support.
If it be the duty of the strong to support the weak, and if many Parishes are annually sending out hundreds and thousands, to be appropriated to objects foreign to themselves, what reason can be given, why they should not make a conscience of employing systematically a considerable portion of those offerings, [14/15] through some general fund of the Diocese, for the purpose of increasing the small livings of the Clergy in the feebler congregations? Why should not this be done, not in small, occasional contributions, in answer to special appeals, public or private, but on a liberal scale, as a fixed, recognized system, and as an essential part of the duty devolving upon Christian people everywhere to uphold the Christian Ministry, not only in their own congregation, but also, according to their ability, in their Diocese and in the Church at large?
It is true this is already done in a partial way and to a very limited extent through the Missionary organization of the Diocese, and through some other similar channels. But the amount thus distributed by the stronger Parishes through the feebler ones of the Diocese, is greatly inadequate to meet the necessities of the case. On the one hand the sums so collected and disbursed are very far from corresponding to the wealth of the Church, while on the other hand they are very far from being sufficient, when divided among the smaller livings [15/16] of the Diocese, to raise them up to the point of a reasonable support.
And what needs to be particularly remarked, is, that with all the good works for which many of the opulent members of the Church are so much distinguished, there is, as yet, no adequate feeling prevalent among our wealthy congregations, no adequate feeling among the Clergy and Laity of the Church at large, as to the imperative duty of making regular provision for the increase of the smaller livings of the Diocese by the systematic distribution of, a larger portion of the surplus offerings of the richer congregations among the poorer. The people hear of a contribution to be made to the "Missions of the Diocese." They think of it as something extraordinary--as something proper enough to be occasionally done in a very moderate way, but yet as something which scarcely lies within the range of their ordinary duties. It appears to them almost in the light of an appeal to special and peculiar liberality; whereas to be sending out from the plethoric, overcharged heart of the Diocese, a portion of [16/17] its superflux for the relief of the needy extremities,--to be dispensing something more than crumbs from the table of luxury, I mean from the abundance of the rich congregations, to assist in providing bare necessaries for the hard-tasked and ill-provided laborers at work elsewhere in the Vineyard:--this is a mere ordinary duty. And without due attention to this duty, in a regular systematic way, the religious life of the Parish becomes narrow and selfish, and no adequate provision can be made for the welfare of the Ministry in the Diocese at large. I say, therefore, emphatically, that this duty on the part of the wealthier congregations, and of wealthy individuals everywhere, to make regular offerings for the increase of the insufficient livings in the feebler parts of the Diocese, is one which ought to occupy a larger space, and to be more firmly fixed, in the general mind of the Church, and so to become a more prominent feature in every large Parochial system.
Having first made ample provision for the comfortable support of its own spiritual pastor, [17/18] let the congregation next remember that one of the very strongest claims which can come to them from abroad--a claim which ought to take precedence of most of the numerous appeals made to them--is the claim of the ill-supported ministers of their own Diocese to some measure of relief and comfort from their superabundance. And let the rector and the people take their measures and make provision accordingly. Let them do it in the best way they can--for the present, through the missionary fund of the Diocese, instituted for that express purpose and let them be prepared to concur in any measures which the wisdom of the Diocese may devise for accomplishing the object more effectually.
And here I beg to call attention to a conspicuous fact which often meets us when we inquire into the operations of particular parishes. We find not a few parishes in which large sums of money are constantly contributed to distant objects, all very proper in themselves if other things have not been left undone (such [18/19] as foreign missions--missions in our Western States--endowments of colleges, seminaries, &c.), while at the very time the salary of the rector is paid tardily and irregularly, and is often insufficient for his comfortable support! To the advocacy of these foreign objects the clergyman devotes himself with a generous zeal, unrestrained by the sense of his own needs and his own claims. For himself he will not speak, at least in public, and so his necessities, which ought ever to be the first to be remembered and provided for by his people, are in danger of being lost sight of, or of being too little considered, while the sympathies of his congregation are kept ever awake toward exterior objects by his fervent voice. Surely, my beloved brethren, just in proportion as the pastor is in a position to be restrained by delicacy from reminding you of your duty in regard to clerical support--just in proportion as you see him unwearied in labor, uncomplaining and cheerful in the midst of manifold trials--should you be more careful to inquire often among yourselves whether you have done and are doing [19/20] all that you promised to do, all that you ought to do, to secure his temporal comfort, and so to sustain and encourage him in his work.
I say, "inquire often among yourselves"--because such things need unwearied vigilance. The salary which was punctually paid in one part of the year, may be very tardily paid in another part of the year and it is surprising how much irregularity and deficiency there may be in the financial affairs of a parish without the great body of the congregation being at all aware of it. Besides, the expenses of living are greatly changed within the last few years, and are constantly changing. In many places the salary, which, a few years ago, would have afforded a comfortable living to the clergyman, is now altogether insufficient. Every article of subsistence which his table requires has doubled its value but his income, in very many cases, has not been raised in the same proportion. New facilities for communicating with the great central mart of the Union have made the expense of living in the interior almost [20/21] as great in many respects as it is in the city. Nor has this change been confined to the rural districts. It has been severely felt in all the villages and cities of the Diocese. Many classes have been enriched in the growing prosperity of the country,--but the clergyman, if his salary remains unchanged, has been impoverished, and made to suffer just in proportion as the cup of others has been filled to overflowing.
It was this consideration, mainly, which moved the Convention of the Diocese to agitate the subject of clerical support. It seemed absolutely necessary to call attention to the changes which had been taking place, and which, in many quarters, appeared to be entirely overlooked.
My brethren, a time of great temporal prosperity and excitement, such as we have seen, and are now seeing in this country, is no time to weaken the strength and efficiency of the Church of God, as we must do if we weaken the strength and efficiency of the clergy by [21/22] starving them, and so diminish their numbers, and drive them to secular pursuits for a part of their support.
What is to be the future of this rapidly expanding world in which we live--now so characterized by feverish activity, by change, by strange developments in the way of physical growth and advancement? Consider the increase of luxury and extravagance. Consider the general state of morality, as indicated by what takes place in the walks of business, in private life, and in the halls of legislation. Examine the records of crime and violence, if you dare to trust yourselves in such a study! Look at the daily life of our great cities, as reported to you through the public press. Consider with yourselves by what scenes, visible and invisible, your sons and your daughters are to be surrounded as they grow up, and what, twenty-five years hence, is likely to be the moral atmosphere which your children and grandchildren will be breathing!
I have no motive for wishing to exaggerate the prevalent corruption of morals, or for seeking [22/23] to darken unnecessarily the prospect of the future. But, if you will take the advice of one who has been a somewhat attentive observer of the tendencies of the country for the last ten years, you will do almost anything else in the world sooner than allow the ministry of the Church of God to be crippled or discouraged at such a time as this, through your apathy and neglect. We need men of steadfast principle, of heroic courage, of thorough education--men who will stand up in the face of power, and in all the places of concourse, and reason of righteousness, temperance, and a judgment to come--men who will make themselves the friends of the young, surrounding them with safeguards; who will penetrate into the haunts of misery and, vice, and rescue the perishing; who will gather the children of neglect in their arms, and, in schools formed for the purpose, "train them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." We need such men, not merely in a few powerful congregations in cities, but scattered through every part of the cities, and through all the country. Leave this country, [23/24] with its present tendencies, without an adequate supply of competent and faithful pastors, and you will soon have a people prepared and made ready for destruction.
If you mean to have an able body of clergy, you must look well to the question of their support. I know, indeed, that, in all times, self-devoted men, more or less numerous, will be found to preach the Gospel in spite of every discouragement. Nevertheless, it remains true, that no law in the natural world is more certain in its operation than that law which determines the character of the ministry in any branch of the Church of God, according to the means provided for its education and support. How happens it, that, with our growing population and increasing wealth, we are seriously threatened with a comparative decrease in the number of our candidates for the sacred ministry?
See how secular pursuits bid high for youthful followers. The great West boasts her fortunes made in a day. Everywhere the country holds out alluring prospects of gain, and so [24/25] threatens to draw all the young and ardent into the vortex of worldly business! True it is, that it is no part of the Church's duty to attempt to enter into competition with the world by the offer of high temporal rewards. She cannot, if she would; and she ought not, if she could. But yet, at such a time as this, to aggravate the evils and dangers arising from worldly temptations, by withholding a just and necessary provision for the Christian Ministry,--what is it but a criminal neglect, a sordid policy, as ruinous as it is selfish?
It has indeed been said, that the insufficient support of the clergy can have no effect in diminishing the number of faithful ministers of Christ, and that a young man, who hesitates about embracing the sacred office from fear of poverty, is not truly called, and is not fit for that high and holy service. Were all this true, still no right-minded layman would think it a good reason for being indifferent to the temporal necessities of the man of God, who is appointed to minister to him in spiritual things. No Christian layman would think it a good [25/26] reason why the clergy, as a class, should be denied the support to which they are entitled by the Law of God--and so be subjected through his neglect, and that of others like him, to hardships which do not necessarily belong to their office.
But the idea, to which I have referred, that insufficient support can have no effect in diminishing the number of faithful men entering the sacred ministry, is far from being correct. It originates in a misconception. It is not, as supposed, at the last moment, when the young man has completed his preparatory education, and comes with mature mind and enlarged religious views to consider the question of embracing the sacred ministry--it is not then that he is met by the influences which prove most potent to turn him aside into secular pursuits. It is at an earlier period, that, without his knowledge, parents and friends, seeing, as they think, that his life as a clergyman would involve too much of hardship, silently surround him with influences, often without being conscious of it themselves, which not only prevent [26/27] him from turning his thoughts toward the sacred ministry, but early involve him in engagements to enter into the business of the world. He has not refused the sacred profession, for he has hardly been allowed an opportunity to think of it. Youthful minds of superior tone and firmness will sometimes form a high resolve, and break through all those influences. But in very many cases such unseen influences will be effectual; and the temptation of parents and friends to employ them will be great in proportion to their view of the probable hardships of the ministerial life, and of the injustice to which it is exposed. No doubt such parents and friends fall into a great error. They judge unwisely of life--unwisely for the youth who is the object of their solicitude. They mistake the nature of the things in which true well-being consists. They forget, or they have never learned, that that sacred profession, which is highest in moral dignity among all the employments of earth, is at the same time, with all its trials, most abundant in precious, unfailing consolations, [27/28] and best fitted to advance the individual toward the supreme object of human desire. Nevertheless the views which are so erroneous are views which will always very extensively prevail among parents,--and they will oppose obstacles to the increase of the ministry just in proportion to the degree in which the ministry is generally left without adequate support.
My Brethren of the Laity, there is another question which demands your serious consideration. If the adorable Head of the Church, in ordering the affairs of His Kingdom on Earth, hath assigned to you the duty and the privilege of providing for the temporal support of His Ministers, what shall be the measure of your offerings for those, who are called to be "Messengers, Watchmen, and Stewards of the Lord," "to teach and to premonish, to feed and provide for the Lord's family;" who are appointed "to seek for Christ's sheep that are dispersed abroad, and for His children who are in the midst of this naughty world, that they may be saved through Christ for ever?" Weighty is [28/29] their charge; anxious and arduous their service, even when most abundantly sustained in temporal things. What will you do for them? There seems to be an intimate connection between our faithful religious use of temporal things, according to our ability, and our profiting in spiritual things. In the elder Church the people of God were required to present, at the very least, a tenth of all their increase for His service. Ought not the Christian, in that respect, as in others, to exceed the measure of the Israelite? In the early days of the Christian Church, houses and lands were sold, and the prices brought and laid at the Apostles' feet for distribution. As time went on, the opulent and the noble were seen consecrating their entire estates to the founding of Hospitals; and then perhaps the widow, who had so devoted her wealth, was to be found in the wards among the sick, the delicacy in which she had been nurtured not shrinking from attendance upon the most loathsome forms of disease. The same spirit prevailed in offerings made for the uses of the Christian Ministry. Is our love [29/30] grown cold? Is it not to be feared that what passes for munificence with us would have seemed like penuriousness in the eyes of the primitive Christian? Would it be difficult to find those, who, year by year, spend more upon a single article of luxury, than upon all the uses of the Church of God? "He that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the spirit, shall of the spirit reap life everlasting." My Brethren, the time is short. If we live for temporal objects alone, all things perish in the using, and the day will quickly come, when we shall stand naked and shivering, and all unprovided, on the verge of a dreadful eternity.
I do most gratefully acknowledge, that the laity have been zealous co-workers in every good work in the Church of God. To you we have been indebted, and to you we must hereafter expect to be indebted, for the means of prosecuting our ministry among the poor, and among the spiritually destitute. Only let me entreat you to beware, lest, in your zeal to advance other objects, [30/31] your attention be too much diverted from proper efforts to have adequate provision made for your own minister, and for the clergy of the Diocese generally. In that holy Christian communion of which the Diocese consists, we are members one of another. If one member suffer, we all suffer. Nothing pertaining to the welfare of any brother in all our household can be foreign to our duties and sympathies. And nothing can be more certain than that, if the ministry, as a body, languish for lack of due support and encouragement, every other interest in the Church will languish with it
Among the clergy there is no want of self-devotion. To a greater extent than ought to be expected or allowed, many of them are living on their own private incomes. Those who have no such incomes suffer, if they do suffer, in silence, and spare no exertion in their work. Never was there a body of men less inclined to exaggerate their trials, or less inclined to indulge, in public or in private, in the language of complaint. If you could listen to their communications [31/32] with each other in their hours of retirement and relaxation, you would find that their burning words related, not to their supposed wrongs, but to generous aspirations after nobler efforts and more glorious achievements in the Church of God. This should increase their claim to your respect, and to your sympathy and support. That you may see what have been the deliberate convictions on this subject, of the whole body of the clergy and laity, as assembled in Convention, I lay before you the following resolutions, passed by them, with great unanimity, in 1855:
I. Resolved-That this Convention has learned with profound regret, that the scanty provision made for the clergy generally in the rural districts, and for a small number in the cities, is insufficient for their decent and comfortable support, thereby subjecting them and their families to anxiety, embarrassment and want, necessarily withdrawing them from the studies and duties pertaining to their sacred office, and compelling them to engage in literary, professional, or secular pursuits. That this Convention regards such a state of things as in the highest degree unjust to the Reverend Clergy, unworthy of the Laity, and as threatening fearful and permanent disaster to the Church, from its tendency to diminish the number of [32/33] future candidates for the ministry, and to impair the energies, influence, and usefulness of those already admitted to Holy Orders.
II. Resolved--That this Convention earnestly commend the fitness and the duty of a more just and generous provision for the clergy, to the immediate and careful consideration of the congregations of the Diocese, and suggest to the several vestries and congregations the importance of procuring a glebe and parsonage in every parish, where they do not now exist; of insuring the life of the rector, and thus providing for the support of those he may leave behind him; of increasing the salary where the wants of the pastor and the ability of the congregation render such increase practicable and proper; and of providing, in advance, for the quarterly payment of the salary of the Rector to the Treasurer of the Vestry.
III. Resolved--That the Provisional Bishop be respectfully requested, if he shall approve the action, to prepare a Pastoral Letter on this subject to the congregations of the Diocese, and address the same to the Rector or Minister in each parish, or to the Wardens, in case there be no Minister, that the Letter may be read on a certain Sunday to be named by the Bishop: and that the Clergyman, if there be one, or otherwise the Wardens, advise the Bishop forthwith of the proceedings had by the congregation in consideration of it.
In accordance with the suggestion at the close [34/35] of the last resolution, I have to request, that the Clergyman of the parish, if there be one, or otherwise the Wardens, advise me, as early as may be, of any proceedings had by the congregation in consideration of this Pastoral Letter.
My Brethren, the duty thus requested of me by the Convention of the Diocese, I have now endeavored to discharge. Many important views connected with the subject must be omitted. But before concluding this Pastoral Letter, already too long, I must beg to ask your serious attention to the following recommendations:
1. Consider the Christian ministry and the suffering poor as having the first claim upon your offerings.
2. Be inflexible in your determination to pay your pastor at least all that you have promised to pay, and to pay punctually at the beginning of every quarter.
3. Consider with yourselves, whether, over and above the appointed salary, there be not little private ways, in which individuals among you may contribute in friendly offerings to your [34/35] pastor's comfort, supplying many of his wants at little cost to yourselves, and affording that evidence of kindly interest, which is often the greatest consolation and encouragement that, in temporal things, an anxious minister can receive.
4. Make it a leading object of your parochial efforts to secure for yourselves--and to assist other parishes in securing--a parsonage, and if your district be a rural one, a small glebe. These will serve as a permanent endowment in part for your parish. They will greatly contribute to the comfort and support of the pastor, and they will often enable you to procure, or to retain, a faithful minister, when, without such advantages, you would be destitute. The importance of this object to the permanent welfare of a parish it is not easy to over-estimate.
5. If you rely mainly upon the income from pew rents for the means of sustaining the ministrations of the parish, do not allow the insufficiency of that income to prevent you from making such a provision for your pastor [35/36] as shall correspond to your ability and to his needs.
6. Cultivate a habit of laying by in store, at brief intervals, as God hath prospered you, for the uses of His Church, and especially for the support of His ministers. When blessings have been showered upon you, when you have been delivered from sickness, from danger, from threatened loss and sorrow, let a thank-offering, laid speedily on the altar, testify to your grateful sense of God's mercies, and to your zeal in His service.
7. There are opulent laymen in the Diocese, whose ability is by no means exhausted by their moderate contributions to the parish in which they reside, nor yet by their occasional offerings to the general objects of the Church. It would be quite within their ability, allowing for every other reasonable claim upon them, to endow some one parish, in part, by the erection of a substantial parsonage, with the addition, if the case allowed, of a small glebe. If this be not required in the parish where the layman worships, [36/37] let him seek out some other parish, where he was born, or married--where he has enjoyed or suffered something, or where he has some other reason for feeling an interest--and let him enjoy the happiness of conferring a great and permanent benefit--of leaving behind him a home for the man of God, which, long after he is gone from the earth, shall be reverenced as the abode of piety, as the centre of all holy influences--and not less as a monument of departed goodness. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven."
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon Earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven; where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal."
With these counsels and recommendations, my beloved Brethren, and with fervent prayer to God, that, in all our labours for the promotion of His Glory and the welfare of His Church, [37/38] we may have His guidance and blessing, I commend you to His holy keeping. May the blessing of Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be upon you, and remain with you forever!
Your affectionate friend and brother,
Provisional Bishop of the Diocese of New-York.