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mysteries of Godi, and dispensers of the means of salvation in his church. The church is Christ's household or family; and it is your office to administer their spiritual food to them, even the sincere milk of the word, that so they may grow in grace, and in the knowledge of God their Saviour.
Now these metaphors of a shepherd, a watchman, and a steward, express in a most significant and lively manner the nature of that trust which is committed to every one who has taken upon him the holy character; and shew that he is responsible for the souls of his parishioners.
And as every trust must one time or other be accounted for, this leads me to the other motive, proper to excite you to a zealous and diligent discharge of your office; namely, that you will most certainly be called to a strict account for the same.
ime. This is strongly urged by St. Paul, in the place before mentioned, as an argument both to ministers and people to discharge their duties reciprocally; Obey then that rule over you, for they watch for your souls, as those who must give account.
And what account will a lukewarm, slothful, and negligent minister give at that day, if his unhappy parishioners should turn evidences against him, and, in excuse for their own faults, plead, that they miscarried through his neglect ? will he plead his obedience to the canons and rubrics, and that he performed every service which the letter of the law required? Let me assure you, my reverend brethren, that this plea will not be admitted before the great Judge, and that the Father and Lover of souls requires much more at
Canons and rubrics are useful instruments for keeping
external discipline, order, and decency in an established church; and it is small merit in a clergyman to obey these, because he will be exposed to ecclesiastical censures for his neglect. But if he contents himself with this legal observance, and goes no further, he will be found wanting when he comes to be weighed in the balance. His heart and soul must be set upon his work; he must give up the best of his time and pains to it, labouring in season and out of season k, performing many things as a volunteer, which laws do not and cannot prescribe; or he will never stand the inquisition of the great day, but be ranked in the number of unprofitable servants. This day of reckon
il Cor. iv. I.
k 2 Tim. iv. 2.
ing must come; it is what you preach to others, and it is what you should seriously consider yourselves, lest, after preaching to them, you yourselves should be castaways!
But as dreadful as this day will prove to slothful and merely canonical pastors, it will be no less joyful and happy to those who have been zealous and diligent in saving the souls committed to their charge. With what pleasure will every such minister appear at the head of his happy flock before the great Shepherd, and in his own words say, Those thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost! The light of his doctrine, and the living light of his example, did not shine in vain, even with respect to himself, before his people; for they that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars for ever and ever m.
If any further motive were necessary, though one would think it should not, you may turn to the Office of Ordination, and refresh your memories with the solemn promises you made at your admission to the order of priests; and I would earnestly advise every clergyman to read over that Office once at least in every year, because stale promises are too apt to be forgotten.
Having thus, my reverend brethren, delivered my thoughts to you, though very imperfectly, upon some of the chief branches of your sacred function, I hope you will receive them favourably, and that they will not be quite unprofitable; and especially to such of you as have not long been admitted to the cure of souls.
I shall by God's assistance endeavour to cooperate with you for promoting the great ends of your ministry; I shall rejoice to live in harmony and a good understanding with you; I shall be happy in your esteem and affection, and in giving you the best proofs of mine. If any of
you should need admonition, you will remember that it is my duty to give it, and yours to take it in good part: and I hope always to give it in the spirit of meekness, and with a due regard to the dignity of your character. I shall be apt to take good impressions of you, and slow to believe things unworthy of you; and would hope that this disposition of charity and benevolence will be mutual. I shall cheerfully assist you, as far as I am capable, with my advice, and with my prayers in your behalf; and I hope I shall not want the benefit of your advice as there shall be occasion; and especially of your prayers, that God will enable me by his grace to discharge faithfully the great
Il Cor. ix. 27.
m Daniel xii. 3.
trust committed to me, for the promotion of his glory and the edification of this diocese: that so, when the great Shepherd shall require an account of the flocks committed to our charge, you and I may be able to give it up with cheerfulness, and enter into the joy of our Lord.
I shall conclude with those awful words of God to the prophet Ezekiel in his 33d chapter. O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die ; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity, but thou hast delivered thy soul.
INSTRUCTIONS TO THE CLERGY,
IN THE DISCHARGE OF THEIR
BY THE RIGHT REVEREND
THOMAS WILSON, D. D.
LORD BISHOP OF SODOR AND MAN.