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THE LORD BISHOP OF ROCHESTER
CLERGY OF HIS DIOCESE.
I CAN scarce think it worth my while, or yours, my good brethren, that I should now spend much time in any long general exhortation to your diligent and conscientious performing the duties incumbent on you, as you are “the min“ isters of God, duly called according to the will of our “ Lord Christ, and the order of this excellent church of “ England.”
Did I find there were here any absolute need to use many words towards the exciting your care in the several administrations of your holy calling ; yet, I am persuaded, I myself might well spare my own labour, and your patience, on this subject; since all that kind of wholesome advice has been already so very sufficiently and so much better given you, in arguments deduced out of the holy scriptures, and most fitly applied to this purpose, by the venerable compilers of our public liturgy, in the forms appointed for the ordering of deacons and priests.
There, you know, this work has been so wisely and so fully, long ago, done to a bishop's hands; there all the parts of your weighty office are so judiciously laid before you ; the high dignity and great importance of it, towards the salvation of mankind, is so substantially urged; the blessed fruits and everlasting rewards of well-attending it, and the extreme dangers of neglecting it, are so justly amplified; the necessity of adorning your doctrine by an innocent, virtuous, and pious life of your own, towards the rendering it efficacious on the lives of others, is so pathetically enforced; that, I am confident, the very best charge a bishop could give to his clergy, were to recommend seriously to all their memories, as I now do most affectionately to yours, those very same questions and answers, those very same promises and vows, as you ought to esteem them, wherewith every one of you did most solemnly charge his conscience, at the time of your admission into holy orders.
I profess I cannot, nor, I believe, can the wit of man, invent any more proper method of instruction to men in your circumstances, from a man in mine, than to exhort you all to a continual recollection of, and meditation upon, those many and great obligations you then seemed voluntarily and cheerfully to lay on yourselves.
Whence there could not but ensue, by God's blessing, a firm resolution in your minds to endeavour the performance of them, and a holy perseverance in those endeavours, and in conclusion, the happy effects of all on yourselves, and the flocks committed to you: that by thus meditating on these things, and giving yourselves wholly to them, your profiting may appear to all ; and that by taking heed to yourselves, and your doctrines, and continuing in them, you may both save yourselves, and those that hear you.
Wherefore seeing that, which else had been a bishop's proper business in such meetings as this, I hope, is, or may be so easily shortened for me by you yourselves, by your having recourse to a rule so well known, and so ob vious to you, in a book, which ought scarce ever to be out of
your hands; I shall the rather, at this time, purposely omit the prescribing you many admonitions, touching the matter and substance of the duties of your sacred function. Instead of them, I shall only offer you some few familiar considerations, which may serve as so many friendly and brotherly advices, concerning, chiefly, the manner and way of performing some of the principal offices of your ministry.
And, I trust in God, that if these advices shall be as carefully examined, and, if you find them useful, as industriously observed by you, as they are honestly intended by me, they may, in some sort, enable you to do laudably, and with commendation, the same things, which, I hope, you already do, without just exception.
Only, in this place, let me premise once for all, that whatever instructions I shall now give you, I intend them not only as directions to you, but especially to myself. As indeed, in all matters, that come under deliberation, he