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KING ON THE ORDER AND OFFICE OF DEACONS,
"Next to the Presbyters were the Deacons, concerning whose office and order I shall say very little, since there is no great controversy about it; and had it not been to have rendered this discourse complete and entire, I should in silence have passed it over.
“Briefly, therefore, their original institution, as in Acts vi, 2, was to serve tables, which includes these two things a looking after the poor, and an at, tendance at the Lord's table. As for the care of the poor, Origen tells us that • the Deacons dispensed to them the Church's money, being employed under the Bishop to inspect and relieve all the indigent within their diocese,' As for their attendance at the Lord's table, their office with respect to that con, sisted in preparing the bread and wine, in cleaning the sacramental cups, and other such like necessary things, whence they are called by Ignatius · Deacons of meats and củps,' assisting also (in some places at least) the Bishops or Presbyters in the celebration of the Eucharist, delivering the elements to the communicants. They also preached, and in the absence of the Bishops and Presbyters baptized. In a word, according to the signification of their namne, they were, as Ignatius calls them, the Church's servants,' set apart to serve God, and attend on their business, being constituted as Eusebius terms it for the service of the public.'"-Froin “An Inquiry into the Constitution, Discipline, &c. &c. of the Primitive Church by an Impartial Hand,” generally attributed to Lord Chancellor King.
PROPOSALS FOR THE RESTORATION OF THE DIACONATE,
FROM A CHARGE DELIVERED AT THE ORDINARY VISITATION OF TIIE ARCH,
DEACON OF SURREY, NOVEMBER, 1814, BY SAMUEL WILBER FORCE, M.A, NOW LORD BISHOP OF OXFORD,
“ The second act to which I referred, aims, also, in its most important clauses, at promoting an increase in the number of parochial clergymen. Its object is to regulate the offices of lecturers and parish clerks."
"The Act allows the appointment of persons in the holy orders of Deacons, or Priests, to the office of Parish Clerks,' entitling them to receive all profits and emoluments belonging to the office, and making them liable in respect of their holding it to the performance of all such spiritual and eccle. siastical duties within the district, or parish, as the incumbent, with the sanction of the Bishop, may require; subjecting them, also, to removal on the same grounds as stipendiary curates.
- Wherever, therefore, the services of a Deacon can be secured by the Parish Clerk's salary, whether derived from fees or otherwise, at the next avoidance of that post, the service of another clergyman may, under this Act, be obtained for populous and ill-endowed parishes, without making any fresh deduction from the often scanty means of the incumbent,”
“What above all we need, is, to bring indeed to bear upon our people the power of Christ's everlasting Gospel. And for this end, we must have
within our body the instruments of more vigorous and united action, and we must gather into our communion more widely the spiritual life of this nation. These things we cannot effect by the other remedies above suggested, so neither by the mere multiplication of our churches. When we have built them, are they always filled ? Is our difficulty then over? Or do we not, rather than churches, want labourers, men of unsparing self-devotion, through whom we may act with energy upon the mass of ignorance and vice around us? Do we not need true missions to our heathen at home? No one, I think, can have read the Reports of the City Mission, or the Metropolitan Visiting Societies, without being brought to this conclusion. No one can have looked for himself into the state of our towns without feeling this necessity. The sense of this pressing and aggraved evil has led our own Bishop, and the Bishop of London, to give their united sanction to a new scheme of lay visit. ing, which has been already carried into active operation, in some parishes within the borough of Southwark. To the importance and usefulness of this assistance, those amongst us will bear the strongest testimony, who know, by experience, its practical working in their own thickly-populated districts. Still, useful and important as it is, this can be esteemed only as a temporary substitute for some more complete action of the Church herself in this direction, through her own proper instruments. Possibly, our great need here might, in some measure, be supplied by a large increase of the number of Deacons, drawn also from other ranks of society, as well as from those which now almost exclusively supply them; who, not having passed through the discipline of our universities, should not, therefore, be altogether excluded from the priesthood, but should be admitted to it, according to the rule of the apostle, when, by faithful service for a term of years in the office of a Deacon, they shall have purchased to themselves a good degree and great boldness in the faith which is in Jesus Christ.'
" Many benefits might flow from such a plan, which has been adopted, to a certain measure, in a neighbouring diocese. For thus might the office of the Deacon be restored amongst us to its proper character. The numbers of the clergy might be multiplied, by the addition to their ranks of zealous and devoted men, who now are wholly lost to us, being either thrust back in unto the world, or drawn into separation."
A VISITATION SERMON; * THE FULLER RESTORATION OF THE DIACONATE, A MEANS OF
STRENGTHENING THE CHURCH.”
Perpetual Curate of Great Yarmouth.
the Clergy attending the Visitation.
"It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, 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.”-Acts ri. 2-4.
"Judging from the text, which records the institution of the order, it would appear to have been the primary intention of the Apostles that the Deacons were to be ministering servants to the order, or rather orders, over then, it was the accident of their office to preach and baptize, but of its essence to serve. Stephen and Philip were indeed highly honoured in the loftier duties entrusted to them ; but we have no reason to doubt (I might rather say every reason to believe) that they were, equally with the other five, active in the dis. charge of their inferior duties as well
“And this idea of the Diaconate is most fully borne out by the Scriptural Service for the Ordering of Deacons in our National Church. But if we look for the reality of that order, we shall be painfully disappointed-while in theory we have recognized the true position of the Deacon, we have in practice almost obliterated the office. The Diaconate has been made a mere brief apprenticeship to the Priesthood, in place of being maintained as a living and distinct order-an order, the functions of which were intended to give energy and system to the great bulk of the Church, and sustain instrumentally her organic life and corporate existence.
“To this practical neglect I believe it to be mainly attributable that the evil (may I not say the sin ?) of separation exists so widely in this country. The power and truthfulness of the Church- not as a mere system, but as a real existence-has never been brought home to the great body of the people (es. pecially in our commercial and manufacturing districts) and hence, looking on the Church merely as an establishment, they have thought it no evil, but rather a praiseworthy deed, to heap to themselves teachers, who should shew them, and those around them, the path of life!
“And can we wonder at this ?-nay more, can we blame them for this? Acknowledging, as some at least among us do, that voluntary separation from a true and living branch of the vine-which is the Church-of Christ, is sinful - can we call that a voluntary separation which has been all but forced upon then by our own coldness and indifference? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?' was a question asked of old, and if the delegated authorities of the Witness and Keeper of Holy Writ have been true to their high deposit, must not they at least share the sin whereof others may have subsequently become the partakers.
"My reverend brethren, it is my deep and solemn conviction, that had the reviving spirit of religion-at different periods, but especially in the last century-been met in an honest and faithful spirit by the authorities of the Church herself, much of the wavering and doubtful mindedness and separation that now exists, would have been unknown: and even now, extensive as this has become, I believe a true and loving spirit, zealous, honest, and discreet, inay do much to convert enemies into friends, opponency into co-operation.
“ Among the leading instrumentalities calculated to bring about this result, I believe the restoration of the Diaconate to its original intention to stand in the front rank. We want men like the early Deacons, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom'-the 'wisdom from above'-to labour among our masses from house to house, teaching everywhere that men should repent and turn unto the Lord Jesus Christ-We want men who shall multiply the ministrations of the Gospel, and carry the realities of the Church to the houses of the whole as well as the sick-We want men in sufficient numbers to visit every house, in every parish, with the offer of the Gospel-with sufficient zeal to do what is entrusted to them--with sufficient piety and love to leave an odour of sanctity wherever they tread-with sufficient humility to abide in the vocation wherewith they are called,
“But we do not want for this, men who are qualified for the higher orders of the ministry--we do not want men who are so far removed from, as to have no sympathy with, the middling and lower classes, we do not want men who expect a license to preach with their order to serve,-we do not want men who think they are entitled to the Priesthood, because they have passed the initiatory threshold of the Diaconate!”
This extract is inserted with the hope that this very valuable sermon may have such an extensive circulation as it so justly claims. The publishers are Smith and Elder, Cornhill, London,
FROM THE LIFE AND CORRESPONDENCE OF DR. ARNOLD. Late Head Master of Rugby School and Regius Professor of Modern History
in the University of Oxford. " It seems to me that a great point might be gained by urging the restoration of the order of Deacons, which has been long, quoad the reality, dead. In large towns many worthy men might be found able and willing to undertake the office out of pure love, if it were understood to be not necessarily a step to the Presbyterial order, nor at all incompatible with lay callings. You would get an immense gain by a great extension of the Church, - by a softening down that pestilent distinction between clergy and laity, which is so closely linked with the priestcraft system,--and by the actual benefits, temporal and spiritual, which such an additional number of ministers would ensure to the whole Christian congregation. The Canon law, I think, makes a very wide distinction between the Deacon and the Presbyter; the Deacon according to it is half a layman; and could return at any time to a lay condition altogether; and I suppose no one is so mad as to maintain that a minister abstaining from all secular callings is a matter of necessity, seeing that St. Paul carried on his trade of tentmaker, even when he was an apostle Of course the Ordination Service might remain just as it is; for in fact Do alteration in the law is needed ;-it is only an alteration in certain customs which have Long prevailed, but which have really no authority. It would be worth while, I think, to consult the Canon law and our own Ecclesiastical law, so far as we have any, with regard to the order of Deacons.”
FROM A LETTER TO THE EDITOR OF THE MORNING POST,
SIGNED « Laicus ANGLICANUS," Which appeared in that Paper of the 12th of Jauuary last. " In a pamphlet published a short time ago on · The Wants of the Church,' being a letter to his Grace the Primate, by H. Kingscote, Esq., it was suggested that, in addition to a considerable increase of the number of the clergy, lay Scripture Readers should be appointed under the sanction of the Bishop of the diocese, whose duties should be to read the Holy Scriptures from house to house in the parish where they should be called to serve. Now, Sir, this employment of Scripture Readers in populous parishes has been adopted in the dioceses of London and Winchester ever since 1844, with the sanction of the respective Bishops ; about fifty men are employed in some of the most populous parishes for the purpose above stated, and there cannot be the slightest doubt but that the labours of these devoted men have been attended with great success; many
a child whose mistaken parent had supposed that registration was the same as baptism, has been brought to the sacred font, and there received the washing of regeneration ; many a hardened sinner has been met by the rebukes of the Word of God, convinced of hir evil doings, and brought with humility, penitence, and prayer to the House of God; and many sick and dying persons have received the ministrations of the Church, their cases being brought under the notice of the clergyman by the Scripture Reader. But, Sir, I have had an opportunity of observing that the usefulness of these men is much injured by the want of a sufficient identity with the Church to which they belong; they are strictly prohibited from saying or doing anything in the least degree ministerial, and the consequence is, that the people, finding the reader not recognized by the Church, are wanting in that respect for his office which they should entertain. In the primitive Church, the lector was allowed, in addition to his duty, to read the lessons in the Church, to purify women, and to bury the dead; besides which it was intimated that if he performed his office to the satisfaction of the Bishop, he should be advanced to the ministry of the Church (somewhat of the same description of persons were appointed at the Reformation), but the Scripture Readers of London and Winchester are not only prohibited from exercising any ministerial function, but not the slightest prospect is held out to them of advancement, though many of them have given up promising situations of business to devote themselves to the work, and the necessary consequence of this state of things is, that some of the most clever among them have either joined the ranks of dissent, or have gone back to the world, and the Scripture Readers' Association' find much difficulty in providing competent persons to undertake the work. What, then, should be done? Shall the men be allowed to practise certain ministerial offices by mere sufferance, or shall they be at once appointed to the office of Deacons in the Church ? The latter at once appears to be the most proper course for the present distress; let the Scripture Readers and lay assistants in connection with the Church of England, in all parts of the country, be at once advanced to the order of Deacons, with the distinct understanding, that if, after a certain number of years, they shall have duly qualified themselves by literary attainment, and pious devotion to their work, they shall be further advanced to the holy order of Priesthood, and then when means of a pecuniary nature shall be provided, let the number of Deacons be increased to meet the wants of the population of our country.”
REVIVAL OF THE DIACONATE IN THE AMERICAN
Ar the last convention of the American Episcopal Church, in 1845, the Diaconate was restored by passing a canon appointing Deacons to discharge those minor ministerial duties which their office was instituted to fulfil. The American Church - had, previous to the above period, engaged Scripture Readers to perform the inferior ministerial functions, but finding the practice not answerable to the wants of the Church,