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"Persons so engaged in large parishes, those now officiating in cur churches as parish-clerks, and parochial school-masters, are all employed in the work of the Church in that particular sphere which properly belongs to the diaconale; and there can be no question, that by affording a scope for the exercise of ministerial gifts and graces to persons whose means and previous education do not enable them to qualify themselves for the ministry according to the present standard of literary attninment, many able and efficient instruments, for the promotion of the kingdom of Christ would be retained in the Church, who are now driven to swell the ranks of dissent. Who can doubt for a moment, that there are hundreds of devoted hearts thronghout the land, who would be thankful to be allowed to labour in the Lord's vineyarı, though in the humblest station, and who, albeit unable to pass an examination for a B. A. degree, would yet do more for the salvation of souls, and the spiritual efficiency of the Church, than the numerous younger sons who run through a college education with a view to take orders, because they wish to belong to a gentlemanly profession, and they know that their elder brother has a family living to give away, or sufficient political influence to help them to a turn of the patronage of the Lord Chancellor.
“The objections raised against such a revival of the order of deacons, As a permanent and inferior order of the ministry, are chiefly two. One is, that it will be impossible to procure funds for their maintenance. But it is not fair to draw inferences, from the scantiness of pecuniary support at a time when every active effort in the service of the Church meets with obstruction and disconragement, as to the liberality which her members shall evince, when they shall see new life infused into her system, and a way opened for making her in reality what she is in theory. The other objection, that the admission of an inferior class of men to the ministry would have the effect of detracting from the gentlemanly character of the profession,' is answered by simply stating what it amounts to. It is contended, that souls unnumbered are to be left to perish for lack of knowledge, and the gifts of the Holy Ghost, bestowed upon the Church by Christ for the work of the ministry, are to be withheld from men willing to go forth as zealous labourers, in order to—what? to keep those who, as Christ's servants, and servants of His Church, are to be lowly in heart, a step or two higher in the scale of worldly distinction!”
From “The Supremacy Question ;" or, “Justice to the Church of England," an Appeal, &c. for the necessary work of Church Reform. By G. E. BIBER, L. L. D. Published by F. & J. RIVINGTON, 1847.
ON THE LITERARY QUALIFICATIONS FOR THE OFFICE
The requirement for the first Deacons were, that they should be "men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom; (Acts vi. 8) that is, men of integrity, seriously minded and judicious-intelligent
Christian men, who might be able assistants to the higher orders of the ministry, especially for that very important part of the ininistry in Christ's Church, the care of the poor.
Whilst amongst the learned Greeks, Romans, and Jews of the carly days of Christianity, the Apostles were regarded as “ unlearned and ignorant men-(Acts iv. 13), yet to them was granted the gift of tcngues, and the power of working miracles, so that they were heard "to speak with other tongues, as the spirit gave them utterance." (Acts ii. 4.) And when there arose certain of the synagogic of the Libertines, and (yronians, and Alexandrians, aid of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing wich Stephen, they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spakc"— (Acts vi. 9, 10.) And the notable miracles done by the Apostles were manifest to all then that dwelt at Jerusalem. Sich facts could not be denied-(Acts iv. 16.) llence it will be generally allowed that the literary qualitications of the Apostles and their associates, in the early Christian church, for the eff cent discharge of the duties of the ministry, were of an high order, although they were miraculously conferred, instead of being acquired by the ordinary incans of years of preparatory study. But unless in the present day, persons can satis actorily prove that they harr, in a similar manner with the Apostles, been miraculously prepared for the work of the ministry, it does appear necessary, that sufficient evidence should be given to competent judges, of the possession of sufficient literary attainments duly to qualify the candidate for Deacon's orders, for discharging in an efficient manner the very important duties of the sacred office.
The cxtent of the literary attainments or qualifications for the office of Deacon, it will best become us, in the present position of the question, to leave untouched, that the Right Reverend the Bishops and the heads of our Universities, who have hitherto so wisely maintained the literary character of the clergy, may so direct the studies of t'e candidates for Deacon's Orders, that with God's blessing, and intluenced by the Holy Ghost, they may become able helpers of the Bishops and Priests, to whom is committed the dispensation of the Gospel and the ministry of reconciliation.
ON TIIE SYNAGOGUE OF THE LIBERTINES, AND CYREXIANS,
AND ALEXANDRIASS, &c. Acts vi. 3.
“Those Synagogues were the schools to which the Jews of thosc pations sent their youth to be educated in the Jewish learning. Now those who were tutors and professors in these Synagogues, seeing the Gospel grow, and the rulers conniving at the growth of it, and fearing what would be the consequence to the Jewish religion, which they were jealous for,
being confident of the goodness of their cause, and their own sufficiency to manage it, would undertake to run down Christianity ly force of argilment. It was a fair and rational way of dealing with it, and what religion is always ready to admit : “ l'roduce your cause, saith the lord, bring forth your strong reasons.” Isaiah xli 21.
“But why did they dispute with Stephen? And why not with the Apostles themselves? (1.) Some think, because they despised the Apostles as unlearned and ignorant men, whom they thought it below them 10 engage with ; but Stephen was bred a scholar, and they thought it to their honour to meddle with their match. (2.) Others think, it was because they stood in awe of the Apostles, and could not be so free and familiar with them, as they could be with Stephen, who was in an inferior office. (3.) Perhaps, they having given a public challenge, Stephen was chosen and appointed by the disciples to be their champion, for it was not meet that the npostles should leave the preaching of the woril of Go:l, to engage in controversy. Stephen, who was only a Deacon in the Church, and a very sharp young man, and of bright parts, and better qualified to deal with wrangling disputants than the apostles themselves, is appointed 10 this service. Some liistu.rians say, that Stephen had been bred up at the feet of Gamaliel, and that Saul and the rest set upon him as a deserter, and with a particular fury made him their mark. (1.) It is probable that they dispered with Stephen, because he was zealous to argue with them, and convince them : and this was the service which God had called hini to."- From Matihew Henry's Exposition on Aclo vi. 9.
MOVEMENT IN THE DIOCESE OF NORWICH TOWARDS THE
RESTORATION OF THE ORDER OF DEACON.
A correspondent from this Diocese forwarded some printed documents extensively circulated, and from which the following extract is taken :"I fear that, from long habit in our Church of England, our people have been too much in the custom of looking on the Order of Clergy as one, in place of regarding them distinctively as three. Our Bishops are seen by comparatively few, and Deacons are so mixed up with the Priests, as not to be distinguished by the mass of uneducated worshippers. We have therefore, practically exhibited the teachers in the Church as one Order to the people, in place of testifying to the wisdom of God, whose revelation has explained to us that they should be three. This latter surely should have been our duty as a portion of His Church.”
My Correspondent a ids: "l'he American Church has recognised the want of a more extensive and efficient Diaconate, anit taken same steps to supply it. The Bishop of Exeter has made a move towards the saine end. Why is he soli:ary? The bishop of Norwich, in a recent debate in the House of Lords, expressed himselt favorable to the design. The Bishop of Oxford, when Arch. deacon of Surrey, advocated the same cause, Thousands upon thousands, whom an efficient Diaconate might train in faith and piety, are perishing for lack of knowledge in our wealthy cities and populous towns.
"Surely the subject calls for devout and serious consideration from the Heads of our National Church !"
THE LONDON CITY MISSION MAGAZINE ON THE ORDER
OF DEACON IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
From the London City Mission Magazine, for April, 1847.
“We do not purpose to advert further to those parts of Mr. Kingscote's zealous letter which have reference to an inferior class of clergy. On this it would not be exactly our province to write. There are undoubtedly difficulties connected with it, as well as advantages; and we are not quite sure that these difficulties would not be found to be even greater, so far as a disturbance of the existing order of things is concerned, than the extensive employment of lay agency. We are inclined to think that this would be the case ; although any additional spiritual agency, of whatever order, for our neglected population is what we could not but rejoice in.*
*“The object of the Memorial to the Archbishop was to obtain his sanction to an increased number of inferior clergy, and to a recognised Order of lay agents. But we have met of late with several excellent and devoted clergymen, from whom we certainly little anticipated such an idea, who have contended that all individuals filling such an office as that of our missionaries ought to be ordained. We considered such an idea as most erroneous and dangerous, and one which if acted on cannot but impede the progress of the Gospel.
“As an intimation has been recently given that one or two of the bishops have some intention of receiving as candidates for ordination those who have been a certain period engaged as lay agents in the kindred societies with our own in connexion wiih the Church of England, if they have approved themselves during that time to those with whom they have been connected, we venture to remark, that for many years the Committee of the London City Mission found the working of such a system so almost entirely destructive of the performance of that important work which ihey seek to accomplish, that they at length came to the unanimous conclusion to regard as inadmissible into the number of their missionaries candidates for the ministry, and have ever since refused to entertain their applications, however suitable the individuals might be. The Com. mittee came to this conclusion as the result of their experience in a considerable number of missionaries of this order in the earlier years of the Society. The employment may be, and doubtless is, desirable to the candidates as an introduction to the engagements of the ministry; but the Committee found that the heart was not in their work-that the time was occupied (as far as it could be) in preparing for examinations and in studies very remotely connected with missionary employment- that the discipline of such can. didales was more difficult than that of others—ihat ordinarily they were far less useful in their districts and that their speedy removal was both an inconvenience to the Society and a decided obstacle to the good which might otherwise have been accomplished. That class of work which has been perhaps of all others most neglected, and which therefore seems to claim the most especial attention at the present time-we mean the carrying the Gospel to the abodes of the poor-appears to us to be far too important to be delegated to individuals who shall make a mere stepping stone of it. Nothing appears to us moro likely, humanly speaking, to paralize its success than to select for an attention to it indi. vidu ls who professedly have some ulterior object speedily in view, rather than individu. als who con amore profess to devote and consecrate their existence to its solemn duties.
“We may further add on this subject, that many of our missionaries, notwithstand. ing their professions on admission, have afterwards, we should almost say, been tempted to leave us and enter the ministry, both in the Church of England and among the Dis. senters, injudicious friends having in most cases urged them to do so; but that in most of these cases, the missionaries have afterwards themselves seen that they took a false step. Missionaries have been taken from an occupation in which they were eminently useful in the conversion of the souls of men, and of just that class of men for whose souls no one else was caring, and who were the farthest removed from God, and they have been
“But as a new class of clergy of a lower rank is not favoured generally among the Bishops of the Church of England, and as by no one Bishop, that we are aware of has it yet been actually created, the practical question—and that with which we have to do at present-is, a consideration of such agency as does exist and may be obtained.
“It is an indisputable fact, that a growing feeling exists in the Church of England, and even among the clergy, in favor of lay teachers.
The Church Pastoral-Aid Society, which makes grants for ordained or unordained assistants, according to the wish of the clergyman who applies for help, never had so large a proportion of its agents unordained as at this time, and this although the Scripture-Readers' Association, which employs only uoordained agency, was thought by many persons at the time of its formation to be likely, almost entirely, to take the lay part of the operations of the Church Pastoral-Aid Society out of its hands. The number of the lay agents of the Church Pastoral-Aid Society was in fact very small, until the Scripture-Readers' Association was formed, in 1814. It had then 236 clerical and only 32 lay agents. Before this time the feeling against lay agency was so strengthening, that the number of its lay agents decreased almost year by year. In 1813 they were 31, but in the three preceding years they were 37, 39, and 34 ; and in the first of these years (1810) they had only increased during the year 8, although the number of clergymen had increased 97. But in 1815 the lay agents had increased from 32 to 41, although the general increase in the agency of the Society was very trivial. At the last Annual Meeting (1846) the 41 lay agents had increassd to 48, although the clerical agents had actually decreased. And since - May last the lay agents have increased from 48 to 75! From the date of the establishment of the Scripture-Readers' Association in 1814, the clergymen of the Church Pastoral-Aid Society have increased abont one-sixth, but of lay agents the number has one-third more than doubled itself. The increase of lay agents as compared with that of clergymen is, therefore, that of about eight to one, although a new Society has been established which has employed lay agents alone, on the application of clergymen. If this increase of lay agents had been on the application of lay menbers of the Church of England, it would have been important as an index of the public mind; but as the voice of the clergy themselves, it is far more important as a fact. We believe it is felt by many excellent clergymen, that a highly educated and refined agency is not precisely the best adapted to the character of the work to be attended to in our large, poor, and neglected parishes, and that practically it scarcely tells At ALL upon the adults of the working classes of society."
The above Extract is inserted to show the sentiments of Dissenters and some few Churchmen. placed in other stations for which it has soon been found they were comparatively quite unsuited, and in which their usefulness has been incomparably less. Almost in every single instance has this been the case, where ordination has been conferred on leaving the Mission, and without any intermediate training or instruction.
“We believe, to anything approaching to a general ordination of lay agents, the Dissenting Churches in general would decidedly object, as in the highest degree inexpedient for the credit of the ministry and the ultimate welfare of the flock. Is the Church of England to be less careful in her standard of requirement ?"