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as messengers, watchmen, and stewards, those several characters opened to a large field of discourse. Neither can it be supposed upon so fair an occasion, but that the man of God, while addressing his clergy, availed himself of the opportunity of addressing also the people. And while he recommended himself and his diocese to the prayers of the faithful, he invited no less their affection and good-will to the persons and ministry of their pastors. He might have said, and no doubt he did say, that as the office of a minister is great and arduous, it would tend to lighten those labours, when the people of his charge carried him, in the arms of faith and prayer, before the Lord for a blessing, both upon his person and his services. And it must have been a moment of the most animating nature to have been present at such a visitation, and to have seen and heard the bishop call upon the full assembly of the people, in the language of the apostles of old, "Brethren, pray for us!"

If, from the house of God, we follow the bishop and his clergy to the house of refreshment, no doubt we shall find a corresponding gracefulness in every department of conduct. The necessary demands of the body, when properly qualified, so far from interrupting the higher claims of the soul, are found very blessedly to minister to enjoyment. "Every creature of God is good, saith an apostle, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving." And how blessed and savoury may the conversation be, if while men partake of the bounties of God's providence, their souls are feasted with the higher manifestations of God's grace? But could it be supposed possible, for the sons of the prophets to make a carnival of those seasons; and when the public service of the church at a visitation was over, the private conversation at the inn, manifested a total departure from the things of God; what an awful idea would such a scene awaken in the mind?

Every circumstance connected with the history of

the church in the century we are contemplating, carries with it the strongest conviction, that the conversation at the house of refreshment for the body, became an echo to the discourses and solemn services ministered in the house of prayer to the soul; and that both had a direct tendency to one and the same end, namely, the divine glory. Indeed, the homely plain fare used upon those occasions, which was just enough to answer the common wants of nature, and no more, had this advantage also, that no interruption could well arise therefrom to take off from the higher concerns of grace. And the personal conversation which was hereby afforded to the diocesan and his clergy, to enquire in a more immediate manner into each circumstance as might arise; gave opportunity to discover the progress of godliness both among the clergy and the people; and such as could not be so well attended to, in the public services of the church.

The reader may raise to his ideas (and perhaps, if he recollects as he doth it, the age of the church to which this history refers, he will not be wide of the mark), some of those several interesting topics of conversation, which may be supposed to have filled, in the hours of social intercourse with the bishop and his clergy. Subjects of the most interesting nature, could not but be always in the view of the whole table. And no doubt, from the common circumstances of human life in the instability of it, scarce a visitation returned, but the vacant place made by death, in the instance of one or more, who at the preceding season formed part of the company, but now for ever gone, gave occasion for solemn thought, and for raising suitable reflections of improvement to all the survivors.

And as this period of the church, from the recent departure of popery, and the arising around of various classes in profession, made it necessary for the champions of liberty to be on the look out, while feeding the

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church within, to defend no less the truth without; we may reasonably conclude that among the edifying conversation of the table, the bishop was not wanting in instructing his brethren how to meet the errors of the day with all godly zeal tempered with meekness. It was a famous maxim of Luther, ruat cœlum potius quam una mica veritatis pereat.' 'Let heaven (said he) rush, rather than one crumb of truth should perish.' But it is a blessed property of grace, while the servant of God contends earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints, that this is done in the spirit of meekness and godly fear. I admire the mild and gentle reply of Augustine to an angry disputant, who would admit nothing but the ipse dixit to his own dogma; 'nec ego te (said the saint), nec tu me; sed ambo audiemus Christum.' 'I will neither hear thee, nor thou me, but let us both hear Christ.'

It were needless to enlarge. All circumstances connected with those seasons of visitation, could not but bear a beautiful coincidence of order, with this era of the church. Both the bishops and clergy being under the influence of grace, must have carried with them a corresponding influence in all their characters and offices. Their meetings, in public services, and private conferences, savoured of godliness; all tended to the use of edifying, that it might minister grace unto the hearers. And however singular such a view might appear, in times not so distinguished, there can be no doubt but that the close of every visitation ended in prayer, as servants of the Lord whose charge upon them was considered so weighty; and whose meeting might be no more, before called upon to give in the account of their stewardship at the judgment seat of Christ.



However imperfectly we have been enabled to execute a faithful representation of the bishop of the sixteenth century in his visitations, for want of more records of those times; yet, under the present view of the servant of the Lord, in disposing of the subordinate departments of the household committed to his charge; we are happily better prepared, by a simple statement of the facts. There could be no doubt, indeed, but that every one of those stewards of God, lived and acted under the conviction that the very idea of the patronage he possessed, was committed into his hands, solely for the promotion of the divine glory; and that he dared not, as he hoped to be found faithful to his trust, to allow private interest, or private friendship, to supersede the solemn responsibility in taking care of the church of God. To have given a single appointment to any but what in his conscience seemed the most promising to minister to the good of souls; would have been an outrage in those days, which no bishop, even had he been so disposed, would have presumed to have done.

We cannot have a more lively proof in point, than what the history of those days hath preserved to us from a charge of this kind exhibited against a bishop, in the province of Canterbury, and which the unjustly accused man refuted in the most modest and able manner. The charge, as appears, brought against him was, for that he had shewn partiality in providing for his own relations in preference to others of greater merit. And however singular such a charge may seem to the taste of the present age; this was evidently then

considered as a crime of no venial kind.

The bishop's answer is remarkable, and was in these words :—

'I made not my father-in-law minister; he being admitted ten years before I was a bishop. He is not of my diocese, nor had his benefice of me. I have heard he hath been of better credit than this accuser speaketh. And that he hath been an harbourer of godly men in their trouble; and is, at this day, a grave, honest, and godly old man. God will one day give sentence upon all impenitent slanderers."*

And it should seem that the impeachment of this bishop not only went to charge him with enriching his family, at the expence of keeping back godly men more deserving, but that he was slandered also for negligence in his function. Hence we find the good man in the same answer to the crimes laid against him, making his modest retort in these words :

'I was in the late days of trouble, (meaning the reign of Mary) an exile in Germany. And since my return, I have been a preacher admitted and exercised therein these twenty-three years. I read the divinity lecture, in Exeter, twice weekly for four years, and preached twice every sabbath. I only, with one other, remained on my diocese in the great plague, preaching publicly, and comforting privately, such as were infected with it. This last summer, living at my commendam in

It is very blessed to observe, that in all ages, the same mark and standard of character is uniformly distinguishing the faithful servants of the Lord. What Paul said in his days holds good in all days; "as deceivers, and yet true, as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things," 2 Cor. vi. 8-10. This bishop fell into reproach and disesteem for his faithfulness. Had he lorded it over his clergy, and preferred the providing for his own natural relations and friends after the flesh, to the cause of Christ and his spiritual church, it is likely that none of these charges would have been brought against him. Oh! how blessed are those words of Christ! "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you," John xv. 18, 19.

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