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ADVOCATE FOR THE RESTORATION OF THE ORDER
IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND,
AND REPLACING THE CHEST FOR THE POOR IN ALL CHURCHES.
In placing the first number of this periodical before the public, the Editor feels it unnecessary to extend his introductory remarks to any considerable length.
The title given to this work sufficiently indicates the objects which he seeks to accomplish; and any observation on the necessity of their obtainment, would be trenching on the province of those papers in this publication which are especially devoted to their advocacy.
The Editor would, however, here remark, that as the objects sought to be obtained through the instrumentality of this periodical are those which would greatly benefit the poor as well as the church at large, so the condition of the poor is a subject which for many years has engaged his most serious attention, and occupied much of his time.
In the years 1838 and 1839, he published six letters, pleading the cause of the deserving poor, which, with other pamphlets, he bound up in one volume under the title of “The Church the Guardian of the Poor.” In 1841, he erected an almshouse establishment for aged and infirm poor at Shirley, near Southampton. From the year 1843 to 1846 he was unable from severe indisposition to proceed any further in his plans for improving the character and condition of the poor. In July, 1846, the Editor recommenced his exertions by publishing a sermon on Almsgiving, preached at the Priory Church, Christchurch, Hants; and in October of the same year he preached a sermon at the parish Church of St. Mary's, Southampton, on the Order of Deacon and the Chest for the Poor. At the commencement of the present year, he announced in the Ecclesiastical Gazette, this periodical for publication, deeming it the best method of bringing the important subjects it
advocates duly before the public. · The Editor will conclude these brief introductory remarks with the assurance, that as no effort on his part shall be wanting to render this periodical deserving attention and support, so he will feel much indebted to those who will kindly aid him in the prosecution of the important work he has commenced, humbly depending on the divine blessing for its successful accomplishment.
As every scribe who is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old, so will the Editor aim to enrich his work from the valuable writings of divines, both ancient and modern. He will prefer at all times to convey his sentiments in the language of others rather than his own, thus making it as it were the voice of the Church, by which the dead as well as the living may yet speak, and give their united testimony to the character of the office of Deacon, and the duties connected with it.
[This Prospectus has been very extensively circulated amongst the dignitaries of the
Church and Clergy generally. The publication was announced to appear on the first of every month, but difficulties have arisen which have obliged the Editor, for the present, to determine on publishing it quarterly.]
Previous to committing the above work to the press, the Editor earnestly invites his brethren in the ministry, and the members of the Church, to assist him in carrying out the important objects which he seeks to obtain. They are of a two-fold nature. First, to direct the attention of the Church to the restoration of the order of Deacon, as being, perhaps, the best means to realize such an increase of Clergy as would enable the Church to provide for the pastoral superintendence of the people. The present position of the Church may be very much attributed to the want of Clergy proportionately to the population, and it is a want which experience has proved can never be met under the existing system of conferring orders. This arises from the obsoleteness into which the Diaconate has fallen, by its heing only used as a transitory step to the Presbyterate -a course which necessarily tends to diminish the clergy. For as the Diaconate is thus only nominally in existence, the qualifications for the office are now on an equality with those demanded for the Presbyterate, and consequently excludes those individuals who are only possessed of requirements for the Diaconate. One object, then, of the proposed work, will be to effect the revival of the order of Deacon, and thus open a sphere of usefulness to those who, being anxious to promote God's glory, can now only do so either through the unauthorized instrumentality of lay agency, or by swelling the ranks of dissent. The Editor would here remark, that many of the Clergy are desirous to restore the Diaconate, and the Church affords every facility for the restoration of Deacons, as the 34th Canon does not require a University degree for Deacon's orders, but an educational course, now within the reach of all her members. The Diaconate has lately been revived in the American Episcopal Church, by receiving candidates on minor qualifications to those demanded for the Presbyterate, and if restored in ours, the means for
supporting the order could be found, either by superseding laymen as clerks, and introducing Deacons in their room (which the late Act permitting Curates to hold the office of Clerk would greatly pronote), or by the Curates' Society and Pastoral Aid Society engaging, in future, only Deacons as assistants to the Clergy.
The second object which the proposed work will advocate, will be the Replacing the Chest for the Poor in all Churches, as ordered by the injunctions of Edward the Sixth and Elizabeth, and further enforced by the 84th Canon. The Editor believes that the laws of reason, humanity, and Scripture, demand that there should exist a different mode of treatment between the deserving and undeserving poor. The former should be provided for by the charity of the Church, the latter by the legal provision of the State. Previous to the Reformation, the needy were relieved by the alms of the Church, and though now plundered of a large portion of her property, it is evident that she is still anxious to provide for the poor, from the fact that she has made almsgiving an essential part of all her public services. The order of Deacon was expressly instituted to minister to the temporal wants of the poor, and the replacing the chest for the poor would afford the means to enable them to do 80. Nothing would more tend to reclaim the alienated affections of the poor to the Church, than our Deacons clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, and sheltering the homeless, from the alms and oblations of the Church. The poor would regard the Deacons of the Church as heralds of mercy, sent to relieve the wants of suffering humanity; “and when the ear heard them, it would bless them—and when the eye saw them, it would give witness to them.”
Such are the objects which the Editor seeks to accomplish, for the furtherance of which he now asks the mutual co-operation of both clergy and people. To all who aid him in restoring the order of Deacon, he would have them remember that they are, through the instrumentality of the Ministry, converting the sinner from the error of his way; and that the promise to those who save a soul from death is, that they shall hide a multitude of sins.” (James v. 20.)
To all who aid him in replacing the Chest for the Poor, he would remind them that they are performing an essential duty, in discharging which, “the blessing of those who are ready to perish will come upon them,” for they will cause the heart of the widow and orphan to sing for joy, in exercising a charity, which “shall cover the multitude of sins.” (1 Peter iv. 8.)
DEACONS; THEIR DIVINE INSTITUTION, DUTIES, AND
THEIR DIVINE INSTITUTION. “ Then the twelve called the multitude of disciples unto them and said, it is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Where. fore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business, but we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude : and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: whom they set before the apostles : and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. And the word of God increased, and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith."-Acts vi, 2—7.
THEIR DUTIES, " It appertaineth to the office of a Deacon, in the Church, where he shall be appointed to serve, to assist the priest in Divine service, and especially when he ministereth the holy communion, and to help him in the distribution thereof, and to read holy Scripture and homilies in the Church; and to instruct the youth in the Catechism ; in the absence of the Priest to baptize infants, and to preach, if he be admitted thereto by the Bishop. And furthermore, it is his office, where provision is so made, to search for the sick, poor, and impotent people of the parish, to intimate their estates, names, and places where they dwell unto the Curate, that by his exhortation they may be relieved with the alms of the parishioners or others.”—From the form of ordaining Deacons in the book of Common Prayer.
“Whilst these sentences are in reading, the Deacons shall receive the alms for the poor, and other devotions of the people, in a decent basin, to be provided by the parish for that purpose; and reverently bring it to the Priest, who shall humbly present and place it upon the holy table.”—From the order of the administration of the Lord's Supper, or the Holy Communion, in the book of Common Prayer.
Likewise must the Deacons be grave, not double tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre, holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also be first proved ; and let them use 'the office of a Deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the Deacons be the husband of one wife, ruling their children and their houses well. For they that have used the oflice of a Deacon well, purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.”—1 Tim. iii. 8-10.
“The Bishop, knowing either by himself or by sufficient testimony any person to be a man of virtuous conversation, and without crime; and after examination and trial, finding him learned in the Latin tongue, and sufficiently instructed in holy Scripture, may...... adınit him a Deacon.”—From the preface to the Ordination Service.
“None should be made Minister, unless he first bring to the Bishop of the diocese, from men known to the Bishop to be of sound religion, a testimonial both of his honest life and of his professing the doctrine expressed in the said (39) Articles : nor unless he be able to answer and render to the ordinary an account of the faith and in Latin according to the said Articles, or have special gift or ability to be a preacher: nor shall he be admitted to the order of Deacon, unless he shall subscribe to the said Articles.”—From an Act passed 13 Eliz. cap. 12, entitled “ An Act for the Ministers of the Church to be of sound religion.”
“No Bishop shall henceforth admit any person into sacred orders... except at the least he be able to yield an account of his faith in Latin according to the Articles of religion approved in the synod of Bishops and Clergy, 1562, and to confirm the same by sufficient testimonies out of the holy Scriptures :