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importance of supplementing the work of the parochial clergyman by the special preacher. There can be no doubt that those who can preach are worried to death by applications from all parts of the country. I am no great preacher myself, but the number of noes I am obliged to give is alarming; for I could not do anything else, if I accepted all the invitations to preach that I receive. The more you try to reach all classes, the more you find out that you want this kind of help. There is the pastoral as well as the preaching gift; and it is most important if we can, under the authorisation of the Bishop, to get men who can preach to help and supplement the pastor's work. There are a great many of our clergy who have the advantage of being trained to special preaching, and they preach all the better for it ; therefore if there is provided a distinct body of men, who could take a parish for a week or so at a time, and let these preachers go somewhere else, much good may be done in the way of exchanging, and by giving the power to the parochial clergy to get away from their parishes for a week or so. That would, I think, also go far to meet the objection one hears occasionally of a clergyman who is said to have stopped too long in his parish, and that his people are looking for the time when he will have a successor. I am most delighted that all schools of thought are agreed on the point, but we do not wish to rush forward too fast. If the Bishops will take it in hand--the movement may be made a most important and yet safe one. I do trust that the speeches made to-night will lay the foundation of a system that will help forward the Church to do what she can to reach, if possible, all classes of the people in this country.
We seem to have, I think, a warrant for such a class of men as is suggested, in Holy Scripture ; for St Paul, of whose baptism such great things are said, so that he could not possibly regard that sacrament as a secondary matter, nevertheless exercised specially the office of herald, and was sent to preach the gospel, not to baptize. What we want also is a supplementary body of preachers and evangelists—the latter may be in minor orders, with a limited authority to deal with a certain range of subjects. I think one part of those in holy orders might be employed to supplement the parochial work of the other part; and considerable advantage might be derived if we appointed men to the diaconate at twenty-one instead of twenty-three years of age, for then they would have more training. What we want is more theological training, and training in the art of teaching. The regular ministry does not seem to satisfy the demands on the Church, without some supplementary aid, and the employment of special preachers will be most helpful.
FRIDAY MORNING, 8th OCTOBER.
The Right Rev. the PRESIDENT took the Chair at a quarter-past
PERSONAL HOLINESS AS INFLUENCING CONDUCT IN
The Right Rev. the PRESIDENT.
By an almost invariable rule, in the performances of the “Messiah" the audience mark their reverence by standing during the Hallelujah Chorus. In the same spirit it has always been felt that reverence for this morning's subject will teach us to abstain from outward demonstrations. Our aim to-day is to draw nearer to God. The speakers desire most earnestly to humble themselves before Him. They must not have their minds disturbed by the praise of men. The grace of God, we trust, will work in the hidden man of the heart. May His still small voice speak to the conscience of us all. May His word be hidden in our hearts. May His Holy Spirit so bless the words spoken to-day, that they may move us to thoughts too deep for utterance, and approbation too heartfelt for applause.
EARL NELSON read the following paper :
It is easy to trace in the history of all nations a natural inward longing after a higher and a better life in the mind of man-bearing witness to the Scripture truth that God created man after His own likeness (Gen. i. 26). St Paul clearly bears witness to this “feeling after God” (Acts xvii. 27-29), and shows the way in which the minor revelations of God as the Creator and Dispenser of all earthly blessings have ever had a tendency to draw men unto Him (Acts xiv. 17; Rom. viii. 19-22).
In us, who have been made “members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven,” this natural longing after holiness, witnessed to, moreover, by the heathen in all their old philosophies and schemes of religion, should be greatly intensified and quickened. For to us God has vouchsafed a fuller revelation of Himself, not only as a loving, true, and holy God, but as the Perfect Truth—the Perfect Love—the Perfect Purity, from whence all truth, all love, and all purity must proceed, and to which Eternal Source all that is holy, and loving, and true, must return, even as the dew and rain return to the clouds again to continue their beneficent work of watering and fertilising the earth. And so in like manner with all the other attributes of God that have been revealed to us; for all honour, and wisdom, and power, and beauty, and order, and peace, have their source and origin in Him, the Perfection of All.
Now God has been thus revealed to us (1) in His Holy Word ; (2) by the teaching and example of our blessed Lord Himself ; (3) by the example of the blessed Virgin and all the saints who have gone before us, or who are now living in our midst, and who all in their degree, shining by the borrowed light of His glory, point the way to Him; a true Jacob's ladder reaching up from earth to heaven in various degrees of access, leading us on in the way of holiness into a more perfect likeness of our God. In the work of this cloud of witnesses we are permitted to have a share ; for the nearer we approach to the perfect image of God, the greater will be our influence for good to all around us; and more especially so in our family relationships. For the love of the father or the mother or the child are but offshoots of the Eternal love, and each one in their several relationships, if they only seek through His appointed means to draw near to Him, will be permitted to draw from the eternal Source of all love and truth and purity some rays of warmth and light wherewith to reflect His goodness upon all among whom they dwell, and thus to do their part to further His kingdom.
As we have been able to show a natural universal desire, more or less strongly developed, for a return to that perfection in which we were first created, so may we claim the same universal witness to the importance of the institution of family life, in all its love and purity and truth, as the foundation of all the greatness of a nation. I will take only one example. In the best and purest days of Rome, marriage was very highly esteemed. The wife presided over the whole household, educated the children, watched over and preserved the honour of the house, and as materfamilias she shared the honour and respect shown to her husband. And even where concubinage was permitted, the ties and purity of family life were preserved by the honour given to the acknowledged wife, and by the chasteness of her character. But when luxury came over the nations, the marriage tie became invariably weakened, and as a certain consequence the whole social fabric was undermined and the nation tottered to its fall. Even Horace bears witness that the first outpouring of corruption in the Roman Empire began from this source.
“Fecunda culpæ sæcula nuptias
Primum inquinavere et genus et domos
Hor. Od. Lib. III. sec. 6, line 17. I need hardly refer to the Mosaic law to show that the preservation and purity of family life was the one basis upon which the young nation was to be built up as a living witness to the truth of the One Jehovah as He had revealed Himself unto them.
So much is the importance of family life witnessed to in the history of all nations, that I venture to assert that, not only in the intimate relations of family life is the battle for the truth more crucial and earnest than in the individual heart or in the world at large, but that the maintenance of the institution of family life in its purity is of the greatest importance as a bulwark against the infidel attacks by which we are menaced on every side.
How much more should this purity of family life be secured and maintained among those who call themselves Christians, typifying as it does the union between Christ and His Church, and the perfection and completeness of the whole body of Christ, after the model of the highest and purest family relationships. And yet so completely, as in the times of Rome's decadence, are voluptuousness and ease and idleness eating their way into the hearts of our people, that it would be a sham to write upon the influence of a religious life within the family, without first bearing witness to the fearful inroads which infidelity has already made in this great outwork of Christianity. For years the upper classes had kept very much to themselves the accursed privilege of divorce and remarriage, till the time came when this pernicious luxury must be allowed to all. We are reaping in consequence an abundant harvest of corruption.
The luxuriousness of the age makes all living expensive. Money, and not love, becomes with many, even among the principals, the first consideration when contemplating marriage. Divorce is looked upon as a possible contingency ; a convenient adultery with the man they could not afford to marry is too often winked at on all sides. The constraints and mild discipline of married life, with its accompanying duties and blessings, are too often cast to the winds. Children are voted a nuisance, as interfering with the free enjoyment of luxury and pleasure ; and in this manner, in our very midst, the purity of the family is destroyed. Our social fabric is being gradually but surely undermined, and with it the keystone upon which the real greatness and civilisation of the nations is based.
It is against this increasing inroad of infidelity that all good Christians are asked to make a stand, and the interior of the fortress has become the battle-ground.
It is within the family that we shall find the opposing forces for Christ or Antichrist cleverly marshalled the one against the other. One of the first things which the family life does is to wean a man from his own selfishness; the love of a wife or child must have a tendency that way, even in the most unregenerate, and must for a time succeed. But when family duties are repudiated the old selfishness returns, and the selfishness of the family, as a family against all the world besides, too often becomes an aggravated form of the old individual selfishness, which the first and purest relationships of family life had a direct tendency to supplant.
Again, in a family as amongst themselves there can be very few shams. They know one another too intimately, but this very transparency which removes at once the artificial gloss of worldly life is not all for good, though it is an onward step towards truthfulness for those who desire to profit by it. With the worldling this knowledge, “ that there is no good to sham about it,” too often leads to the unrestrained indulgence of all evil passions, and they do their best to make their homes a very hell upon earth.
This transparency of the family life should make us, who would witness for Christ, more than ever circumspect in our daily life. It is but too true that a prophet “is without honour in his own house," and the slightest shortcomings, to which all in this world are more or less liable, are magnified fortyfold, and check sadly for a time the influence for good.
When, too, the whole family go about all smirks and smiles to hide the wretchedness within, and to deceive the world for their own aggrandisement, they do their best to counteract that truthfulness which family life rightly used would naturally help them to cultivate.
Then of course the members of a family from their near contact are subjected to special trials of temper, jealousy, envy, and the like. They have also special trials of sorrow or of joy, and as all these are rightly or wrongly borne, an advance is made towards good or evil in the character of each member of the family, to be again reflected for good or evil in the future life of the family itself.
These considerations exhibit family life as the true battlefield between Christ and Antichrist, a school of discipline to bring us nearer unto God, a fire of temptation by which the souls of individual members are purified and strengthened for their onward course. In a word, each family is in itself a branch of the Church militant, in which every member may be trained for his Master's service, and has a battle to carry on, advancing by the help of the very trials that surround him there, surely, if slowly, in the path of holiness ; and certain by so doing, if only as a faithful soldier of his Lord he is determined to persevere, to be a witness for good to all those amongst whom he dwells. As the head of each family, the master is the priest ruling over the church that is in his house. To rule his household well is to rule with mercy and judgment, neither too strictly or with too much laxity. It is always a difficult position to do well in, and requires much careful consideration and much earnest prayer.
There is little fear of too much strictness now. The worldly infidel spirit has made too great an inroad into the interior of family life among us to leave unsullied the dutiful obedience, under stricter discipline, for which a holy family was generally distinguished in times gone by.
I will not, however, allow that this is altogether a loss to the cause of holiness. There is nothing so hurtful as unreality—as a ruling by fear which militates against truthfulness—or a judging of others by one's self, and a consequent endeavour to force upon them a holiness of life that would be to them artificial, and to which perchance the head of the family had not himself attained till late in life.
A consistent Christian life on the part of master or mistress will do more than stereotyped rules and too strict a discipline. For if a man is aware of his own shortcomings, and of God's unapproachable perfections, he will have learnt somewhat of God's mercifulness, and will bear with others patiently as God is bearing with him; and the more he
perseveres in the way of holiness, the more will he gain true power in his family from the shining forth in his daily life of some of the perfections of his God.
But even in the case of a worldly father, given wholly to selfishness and sin, God is not left without a witness. There is no room for “despair" in the Christian vocabulary. For the very trials and temptations, by which we are surrounded, tend to build up in the family that very witness for God which without such trials would perchance never have been there at all, or would at least have shone there with a flickering, uncertain flame.
Thus we often find a mother's earnest prayers—a mother's patient suffering, from the depth of her great love for husband or children, that may be the cause of her trial-doing their silent work. How often, too, does a mother's sympathy and forbearance counteract the evils of a father's un