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if the founders of churches were obliged to build houses for the ministers, it was but equitable that the latter should keep them in repair; and the surest way to effect this was to oblige them to live in them.
The case of those considered who have no glebe houses. They are certainly appointed by the bishop to take care of their particular parishes, and are in this respect under the same obligation to residence that the clergy anciently were before the division of parishes; except that they are now fixed to one parish, and cannot be removed without their own consent. But this makes no difference in their obligation to residence, which must be as near to their flocks as conveniently can be ;-for though the want of a habitation may be a reason for refusing the living, it cannot be an excuse for neglect of the duty, which was undertaken at the same time.
The case of those whose houses are in a mean condition differs much from the above; for here the reason of the law, which requires strict residence, must be considered. The main thing aimed at by it, is the keeping the houses in good repair; and if at present there be many in a mean 'state, this arises chiefly from neglect of the law: this point enlarged on.
Consideration of the means which may be reasonably attempted towards retrieving this evil. Recommendation to incumbents to comply with the injunctions of Edw. VI. 1547. and of Eliz, 1559. to set aside a portion of their revenue yearly for repairs. If it be asked whether the ordinary can by law compel incumbents to submit to this, it is answered that he cannot; but he may say, if you like the house as it is
you live in it: and this condition, if accepted, will answer all purposes; though in many cases it would be a greater hardship han the other measure,
It is but too evident that many of the clergy have so poor a maintenance for themselves and families, that they have nothing to spare for this improvement : probably, however, the poorness
must of many livings is in a great measure owing to the want of a convenient habitation; which forces the incumbent to com. pound for what he can get of his chues.
All incumbents then being obliged to continual residence, the law has provided for some extraordinary cases ; but when it has not, they must be left to the general reason of the thing, and the judgment of the ordinary.
But supposing all circumstances to meet that may make it reasonable and proper for him to grant a dispensation, yet there are certain conditions which must be observed.
Every beneficed man licenced not to reside on his benefice, must have a curate : see canons of 1603; and such curate must have sufficient ability to discharge the duty, and sufficient maintenance to support him in it. In both these cases the ordinary is made the judge. Concluding observations on both, A CHARGE
DELIVERED TO THE CLERGY AT A VISITATION HELD FOR
THE DIOCESE OF LONDON, IN THE YEAR 1759.
MY REVEREND BRETHREN, The relation I bear to you makes it necessary for me on this occasion to remind you, (though of yourselves I trust not unmindful,) of the duty incumbent on you as ministers of the gospel of Christ.
To go through the several parts of the pastoral office would require more time than can be allowed for it at present: I shall therefore confine myself to such particulars as seem, in the present circumstances of things, to require our more immediate attention.
The duties of the pastoral office are to be learned from the general rules and directions of the gospel, and the nature of the office as there described ; and in the exercise of these duties we must govern ourselves by the particular laws and constitutions of this Christian church and kingdom, of which we are members. These are the lights by which we must walk : and I shall consider the duties which fall within the compass of my present design, as they flow from the nature of your office, and the precepts of the gospel, and as they are adjusted and inforced by the laws of this church and kingdom.
The first thing and the only one I shall now mention to you, is the obligation you are under to a constant attendance on your several cures : I mention it first, because it is the founda, tion of all other duties, and it would be absurd to speak of any other without presupposing this.
This duty arises by necessary consequence from the nature of the office which you have undertaken. The ministers of the
gospel are ambassadors of Christ, to exhort and pray
people in his stead to be reconciled to God :' they are "overseers of the flock,' and bound to · feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood : they are ministers and stewards of the mysteries of God,' and it is required of them that they be found faithful : they are watchmen for the souls of those committed to their care, and must give account to Him who is ready to judge the quick and dead.
Tell me now which of these duties can be discharged by one who absents himself from his cure? Can
deliver the message of Christ, as his ambassador, to persons to whom you have no access ? Can you oversee the flock, or feed the church, which you have forsaken? Can you dispense the mysteries of God to those whom you neither see nor speak to? Or can you watch for their souls, to whose persons, as well as to their spiritual wants, you are a stranger?
Attendance on the flock or people of Christ does so naturally follow from these descriptions of the pastoral office, that there could be no occasion to mention it as a distinct and particular duty. Were you to agree with a pilot to conduct a ship to the East Indies, it would be almost absurd to add, as a particular covenant, that he should reside in the ship during the voyage ; since without it he could not possibly fulfil the essential part of the contract, of conducting the ship to port. The case is the very same in your office : when you accept of a cure, you are as much bound to reside among the people committed to your care, as the pilot is to abide in the ship which he has undertaken to manage and conduct: for this reason the canonists generally hold that residence is jure divino naturali, meaning that it is a duty deducible from the divine law by a natural and necessary consequence.
This duty, with respect to the substance of it, has been invariably the same in all times of the church : the essential part is a personal attendance on the discharge of the pastoral office : so far there has been no change. But the circumstances of the duty have varied according to the different settlements and provisions made for the preachers of the gospel in different times. In early times the clergy lived with their bishop in the city of the diocese, and were sent, as occasion required, to instruct the people in the country, and to administer the sacraments to them; and then their residence, with respect to the locality of it, was of equal extent with the diocese.
Since the dividing of dioceses into parishes, and the appointing a particular curate to every particular parish, the bounds of this duty have been contracted; and residence has been considered, in the law of the church, as the curate's personal attendance on the duties of his office within the limits of the parish, where the cure of souls is committed to him by the bishop.
Under this restriction, the provincial constitutions of the church, and the laws of the realm, consider residence as a perpetual duty; and every non-resident rector, or vicar of a parish, is primâ facie criminal in the eye of both laws, till he shows a legal dispensation to justify or excuse himself.
These dispensations create the whole difficulty of this case, and therefore I shall consider them particularly.
That the obligation to residence may be dissolved in some cases, there is no doubt: all infirmities, either of body or of mind, which totally disable an incumbent from performing his duty, are cases of this kind; for as residence is of no value but for the sake of performing the duty, it is of no consequence to the church and religion where the man resides, who is under an utter incapacity of doing any part of the parochial duty. Cases of this kind speak for themselves. But there are dispensations introduced and admitted by law, and which are supposed to be founded in the general consideration of the good of the church. I wish these dispensations had not, many of them, outlived the reasons on which they were introduced. Wherever that liappens to be the case, it is a matter for every clergyman to consider whether he can, in good conscience, make use of a mere legal exemption to discharge himself of a duty to which he is bound by the strongest obligations ? But this judgment must be left to yourselves, and the bishop's authority in the case must be considered as bounded by the rules of law. I will inquire therefore,
I. In what cases dispensations are grantable, and by whom.