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Angels, who behold the face of our Father who is in heaven, obtain more enlarged views of the manifold wisdom of God by the displays which the redemption of sinners has occasioned. Ephesians iii. 10. This subject they willingly contemplate with profound meditation, and no doubt obtain also an increase of happiness from their enlarged views of the divine glory manifested in the mystery of redeeming love. i Peter i. 12.
With what astonishment, then, should the believer in Christ reflect on the means required and employed to deliver him from the curse of the law, and to bring him into a state of favour with God. What gratitude should possess his inmost soul for these benefits ; and how ardently should he desire to glorify the Saviour of the world by the most steady and active obedience.
MEANS OF PROMOTING
AMONG the methods which have been devised by those who are friends to the Ecclesiastical Establishment in this kingdom, for increasing the congregations in our churches, there is one which has not received all the attention that it deserves ; though it is the most ancient and obvious of all the methods proposed. I mean that of interesting the laity in the erection of churches and chapels.
Those who prefer the dissenting mode of worship, usually find little difficulty in procuring a convenient place of meeting, wher
ever a congregation can be obtained; while the friends of the Establishment are surrounded with difficulties in their attempts to increase the number of churches, how deficient soever the existing number may be to accommodate the people.
In order to procure a dissenting place of worship, nothing more is necessary than the union of a few opulent persons, who are of ability to purchase a small plot of ground, and erect a convenient building. Even the numerous, though small, contributions of the poor class are often sufficient for this purpose.
If the laity are desirous of retaining in their own hands the presentation to the church which they are proposing to erect, an Act of Parliament becomes necessary, which cannot be obtained without a considerable expense, besides the consent of the diocesan, the patron, and incumbent of the parish church.
Why the consent of any of these parties should be required to the erection of a new church, provided no injury is thereby done to any of them, I have yet to learn.
The plan, which it is the design of this paper to propose, is as follows: that an Act of Parliament should be passed for the purpose of enabling any individual, or body of men, who shall severally or conjointly build and endow a new church, to hold the perpetual presentation thereof, after it has been consecrated by the Bishop. That in such churches the minister shall be restrained to the service of the common prayers, together with sermons, and the administration of the Lord's Supper ; or if any advantage should accrue to the public from the permission of funerals, the accustomed fees should be paid to the ancient church or chapel, as if no such new church existed.
To such a plan as this, I can conceive no reasonable objection. Such new church would be under the jurisdiction of the Bishop in the same manner as any other church. The patronage of the parish church would not be injured, because nothing would be taken from the patron. The incumbent of the parish church, or perpetual curacy, would suffer no diminution of his temporalities, since these would remain the same as before.
No clergyman could be minister of the new church without having been twice submitted to the examination of the Bishop, and having twice received his approbation; as the minister must have taken priest's orders.
This method of promoting the interests of the Establishment can afford no injury, nor give any offence, to other societies of Chris
tians. It leaves to them the full enjoyment of all the privileges which they have by law, and therefore obviates all just cause of complaint.
The antiquity of the method which I have proposed, will appear from the following short history of the Christian Church, which I have extracted from a work entitled “ Pluralities indefensible.”
“ Austin, attended with several inferior clergy, came into England, to preach the gospel, in the time of the Saxon Heptarchy.”
“ Ethelbert, King of Kent, gave to him ample possessions for the maintenance of himself and his clergy. A church was built for him at Canterbury, in which he might fix his chair; and houses appointed wherein himself and clergy might dwell in common.” page 10.
“ In this manner cathedral churches were founded and endowed by other Saxon Kings, for the general good of the several dioceses, that is, of their several kingdoms. For in the first foundation of bishopricks among the Saxons, the dioceses had the same limits with the kingdoms, and so they continue at this day, as many of them as have not yet been subdivided.