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I do not only intend, that you should never own or patronize any, as your curates, who really are not so, that, under that colour, by false titles, they may slip into holy orders. But I speak of such instances where you really have need of, and the law allows you to have, curates. In such cases, it is my earnest entreaty, that you would not only keep all the legal times of your own residence and hospitality; and not only afford your curates a liberal maintenance in your absence; liberal, I mean, not only for their own livelihood, but for their continuing some kind of hospitality too, to the poor at least: but that you, you especially, who are of greater age and experience, would watch over your curates as your fellow-labourers, your friends, your probationers; for whose improvement in divine learning, godly conversation, and abilities of teaching, you or I must be answerable to the great Shepherd of our souls.
But it is high time to dismiss you. I beseech Almighty God to assist and prosper all your labours, to his glory, and your own comfort in the great day of account. Towards the obtaining which blessed ends, you can never think of any better, or indeed of any other means, than by living up, in your private conversation, to the religion you profess, and teach others; and in your public office, by defending and supporting the church established by law in this kingdom.
A religion, and a church, that well deserves all this at your hands; being in its faith most primitive, in its orders most apostolical; in its discipline most moderate; in its charity most diffusive; in its devotions most spiritual as to the substance, most decent as to the circumstances. In few words, in its interests it is inviolably united with the laws and rights, with the well-being, I had almost said with the being, of the English nation and government: in its principles, it is irreconcileable with the interests of popery, and the only impregnable defence against its return into this land: which, it is much to be lamented, that the dissenters will not see, and are therefore dissenters, since it is evident, the papists themselves have always seen it but too well.
What then remains? but that as Christians, as Englishmen, as churchmen, we should all make it our principal, our only great concern, and pray to God the father of mercies, that all others of our character throughout the nation would make it theirs; to represent to the world the true excellencies of such a religion, and such a church, by our
268 The Bp. of Rochester's Discourse to his Clergy, 1695.
doctrine and example, with industry and vigilance, with steadfastness and courage, in meekness of wisdom, and with zeal according to knowledge.
And if we shall all, in this manner, devote ourselves to this work, we may then be assured, that the same promise which our Lord Christ, in some of his last words on earth, made to his whole church, will be eminently made good to this, the purest part of it in these latter ages of Christianity, that he himself will be alway with it, even to the end of the world. Amen.
CANDIDATES OF HOLY ORDERS;
GREAT IMPORTANCE AND PRINCIPAL DUTIES
BY THE RIGHT REVEREND FATHER IN GOD
GEORGE BULL, D. D.
LATE LORD BISHOP OF ST. DAVID'S.
GREAT DIFFICULTY AND DANGER
JAMES iii. 1.
My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
THE text may at first sight appear to some to stand at a very wide distance from the present occasion. But I hope, by that time I have spent a little pains in explaining it, I shall set the text and occasion at a perfect agreement.
The words therefore are by interpreters diversely expounded. Among the rest, two interpretations there are, which stand as the fairest candidates for our reception.
1. Some understand the masters here in my text to be proud, malicious censors and judges of other men's actions, and so expound the text as a prohibition of rash and uncharitable judgment, and make it parallel to that of our Saviour, Judge not, that ye be not judgeda. Be not rash and hasty in censuring or judging the actions of others, or speaking evil of them, considering that by so doing you will but procure a greater judgment of God upon yourselves. The chief, if not the only argument for this interpretation, is the context of the apostle's discourse, which in the following verses is wholly spent against the vices of the tongue. But,
2. Others there are, who interpret the masters in the text to be pastors or teachers in the church of God; and
a Matth. vii. 1.