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of the church-rate, though made by yourselves, must be brought;, with exclusion of those instances where the action has been commenced by you during your continuance in office, and with exception of any peculiar case proper for relief in a court of equity.
At the end of the year, or within a month after, at the latest, it is your duty to give to the minister and the parishioners a just account of such monies as you shall have received or expended ; and to deliver up the balance of money, and the other things in your possession by virtue of your office, so as that they may be placed in the hands of the next churchwardens, your successors; and as a security and indemnity to you in the performance of so important a duty as that entrusted to you, if an action be brought against you for any act done by you officially, you may plead the general issue, and give the special matter in evidence; and, if a verdict be found for you, or the plaintiff be nonsuit, or discontinue, you are entitled to double costs.
This act, however, I should inform you, has been held to apply only to what you shall do by virtue of your office in temporal matters, and not to those parts of your duty upon whicb I shall have next to observe. The function of guardian of the morals of a parish, is eminent and dignified; but in its exercise it requires much discretion, steady temper, and disinterested attention. And in this, and in every part of your duty, I recommend to you to apply for advice and assistance to your minister; and so to execute your office, as to give weight and respect to his influence and precepts.
When vice dares to come forth from its hiding place, and to offer its undisguised form to general view, it is fitting-it is due to public decency,--that those who are entrusted with authority of the law, should preserve their fellow-subjects from so hateful and noxious an example. “The law has therefore vested in your hands the power, and has imposed upon you the duty, of presenting to the bishop, or his delegatés, the 'naines of those whose vicious conduct may produce a bad effect on the lives of others. In the execution, however, of this duty, I entreat you not to permit any partial or interested motives to deter you from the conscientious discharge of your duty: but at the same time, I recommend you not to suffer yourselves to be misled by common report;
or to proceed in a matter of so much moment, without satisfactory evidence to support your presentments; so that offenders, being presented, do not escape punishment for want of proof. And, before you adopt so decisive a measure, } trust that you will not only ascertain the culpability of the party, but, also that you will satisfy yourself whether, by private admonition, by asking the assistance of your minister, or by some other mitigated mode, the offender may not be brought to a sense of his error, and be restored to the paths of virtue, without being exposed to public shame, or condemned to Public punishment. It is no immaterial part of your duty to watch over , the public-houses of your parish; and to see that, while they offer accommodation to the community, they do not prejudice the morals and welfare of the poor, or of any other class of life. Upon unlicensed persons keeping an ale-house, or hawking spirituous liquors, you are officially enjoined to levy penalties; and it is likewise your duty to see that those who have licences exercise them fitly, and that they do not keep their houses open at improper hours (particularly during the time of divine service), or permit improper persons to assemble there, or to behave in a manner injurious to public morals. To conclude, I have only to remind you, that you have this day sworn “truly and faithfully to execute the office of churchwarden within your parish; and, according to the best of your skill and knowledge, to present such things and persons, as to your knowledge are presentable by the laws ecclesiastical of this country.” You will therefore consider that not only every presentment you make, but every act of your office, is sanctioned by the sacred oath which you have taken, as much as if it had been repeated in every single instance. Itis my anxious hope, and earnest wish, that the faithful and conscientious discharge of your duty may be a never-failing source of satisfaction to you here, and of happiness hereafter.
Fix curan. Mae Jan 1806, a [The
Á PRAYER FOR THE USE OF A CLERGYMAN.
(The following truly excellent composition, which comprehends in a fervent devotional address, the leading points on ministerial duty, is taken from the appendix to a translation of Massillon's CHARGES; just published by the Rev. T. St. John, LL. B.] VOD, and Father of mercy, who hatest nothing that
thou hast made, who seest. all our miseries, and knowest all our infirmities, I prostrate myself at thy throne, beseeching thee to hear my prayer, and to receive the petitions which I now offer unto thee. I present myself in humble adoration before thee, ardently desirous of knowing thy will, and earnestly supplicating the assistance of thy powerful grace, that I may be enar bled to fulfil it. To this end, correct and subdue in me all inordinate desires and unholy attachments; impress thy law on my soul, that it may both establish my principles and influence my behaviour; that both the thoughts of my heart, and tenor of my life, may be such as “ become a minister of the Gospel of Christ.” Let no avocations withdraw me from entering daily into myself, that I my become more and inore acquainted with my own heart; that its approbation may be my greatest comfort, and its reproaches my greatest dread. Engrave upon my mind the character which thou expectest me to sustain in society: the good which my example will produce, if it be irreproachable and amiable; the evil, if worthless or suspected. Guard me, therefore, against levity of behaviour; against sudden passion, and violent transports; against bewitching pleasures, contemptible meanness, detestable avarice, and unlawful gain. Let no deviation from piety be encouraged by my demeanour; but may my private life most efficaciously enforce my public preaching. May no soul sanction its indiscretions or extenuate its vices, by pleading the licence of my unworthiness.
As a minister of thy holy word, grant me an uniform and regular diligence, which may neither be overcome
by indolence, nor enfeebled by relaxations. Let no indulgence in amusements, however innocent, nor attachment to studies, however enticing, seduce me from an invariable application to the several duties of my calling; but may every pursuit, which is not an immediate part of it, be regulated by prudence, and restrained by seVerity, lest my mind should be alienated from the dis-, charge of ecclesiastical functions, and divested from the âttainment of evangelical holiness; lest I should forget that I am in thy Holy Church, “a guide to the blind, and a light to them that are in darkness;" and lest, after having preached to others, and warned them against the baits of temptation, and the allurements of sin, I myself should be treacherously overcome by the one, and everlastingly ruined by the other. Grant me to be a watchful Shepherd, preserving, by prudent advice and salutary counsels, the flock within the fold, which I have undertaken to instruct in faith, and deliver from danger. Impress me with such a sense of the station which I an appointed to fill, that I may devote all the powers of my mind, and all the faculties of my soul, to a faithful discharge of it: let me never forget, that, whether it is obscure or exalted, I am equally an ambassador of the King of Kings, and a servant of the Lord of Lords. Thus honoured, thus distinguished, may no temptations of interest or allurements of pleasure, damp the vigorous exertion and unwearied diligence, inherent in the commission of thy ministers, to bring the souls of whom thou hast appointed me the spiritual overseer, to “a know; ledge of the truth ;” to an acquaintance with their moral condition ; to a firm trust in thy goodness and an uni- . form obedience to thy will. May every discourse which I deliver, be calculated, by thy divine blessing, to awaken the thoughtless, and alarm the impenitent, or to establish the righteous in the ways of godliness, and gomfort those thatmourn. When I “preach thy Laws, and take thy Covenant in my mouth,” let me not be satisfied with the persuasion, that the discourse, which Qught to excite, in every one who hears it, an ardent desire of salvation, is ingenious in its composition, solid ***, arguments, or elegant in its style; rather, O God, *Y*, Penetrate the hearts, and supply the wants of * “very many in the open valley, who are very dry;” old may thy Spirit, in the delivery of it, “say unto then, O ye ry bones hear the word of the Lord, behold * G 2 - - I will
I will cause breath to enter into you; and may they stand, upon their feet, an exceeding great army: put thy Spirit into them, and they shall live :" awaken them, and all men, from the deadly torpor of insensibility; animate then with a lively sense, and a deep conviction of their deplorable condition; and if it seem good unto thee, leave them no rest in their souls, until they see the danger, and anticipate tlie punishment, of their horrible ingratitude and daring rebellion. “ Open their eyes that they sleep not in death. Pour upon them the spirit of grace and of supplication.” May the temples in which we assemble to worship thee, exhibit congregations of men, not collected by the power of habit, but actuated with reverence and godly fear: and that they may not presume to present themselves before thee with unseemly levity, and with unprepared minds; "approaching thee with their lips, whilst their hearts are far from thee;” do thou inscribe on their souls this awful sentiment," wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God!" may the parents, by the influence of example, infuse into their offspring a principle of devotion; May “they infuse the same into their children, and their children into another generation." When we “ thus call upon thy name, we know that thou wilt hear us; thou wilt graciously say, it is my people; and we, in humble thankfulness shall say, the Lord is our God." Let thine heritage, the Church, • which thou hast purchased with thy blood,' be no longer defiled by the lamentable ignorance and abominable stupidity, which contemptuously refuse to hear the calls of truth, and impiously set at nought the exhortations of Piety.
But whatever shall be the effect of thy Holy Word in my mouth; whether I am encouraged to meditation, study, and labour, by the increase of morals, and the prevalence of Religion; or humbled and depressed by ig'norance of thy Laws, and contempt of thy Word, let me not be discontented and impatient, but wait thy good time, when it shall please thee to give the increase. May judgment direct, and zeal stimulate me to try every method, and adopt every expedient, to convert sinners unto thee. And, oh! if it be thy blessed will, let me not Jabour in vain. May the hearts of all those over whom thou hast appointed me to watch, be induced 10 “receive the word with meckness,” to apply it with Adelity; and