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offer'd by the Bishop, for the Graces of the Holy Spirit. And alfo they need not doubt of God's Bleffing upon their keeping Unity with the Church, and their dutiful Obedience to the good Laws of it. Eph. 6. 1, 2, 3.
The Honour due to Confirmation from those that Adminifter it. The great Neceffity and Benefit of Yearly Perfonal Vifitations, as in the Primitive Church. What is to be done to Diffenters.
OD grant that the Honour due from them may be duly confider'd; That thofe Stewards whom their Lord hath made rulers over his houshold, to give them their portion of meat in due feafon, may fo do, as faithful and wife. Stewards: And that they may fo rule the Lord's Houfnold, as that all, through his Grace, may be ready in due time to receive their, Great Portion: That the means whereby it is difpens'd and receiv'd, may be fo Reverently and Orderly done, as becomes the Dignity of God's Holy Ordinance, and the Divine Majesty of his Holy Spirit, whofe Grace is in a Bounteous measure communicated thereby, if Rightly done.
For thefe Bleffed Ends, the late King George of Happy Memory, gave Direction to the Convocation to Confider of Rules for the Better Inftructing and Preparing young perfons for Confirmation, and for the more Orderly performance of that Office. To that Venerable Affembly it does belong to confi der of these things. But, as for this Confideration, the single Members of it must tell each of them his opinion: So a Prefbyter that is not one of them, may with humble Submiffion do the fame.
This therefore, with all humble Submiffion, is here freely done by one that has the greatest and most affectionate Reverence to the Episcopal Order.
For those Bleffed Ends, may it be confider'd, whether the way of Vifiting by the Bishops of the Primitive Apoftolick Church, is not furely the best.
The Council of Toledo, in the year 633, ch. 35. fays, Epif copum per cun&tas Diœcefes Parochiafque fuas, per fingulos annos
ire opportet, A Bishop ought to go through all his Dioceses and Parishes every year.
By fo doing he may fee, or by fome means find what is now purpofely conceal'd from him, even under the cloak of an Oath. And fhould he be fo put off in what so much concerns the Glory of God, and the Salvation of great Flocks of Souls! He may fee how both his Clergy, and the reft of the people committed to his Charge, do their Duty, particularly in Catechizing, and Preparation for Confirmation. He may have fufficient opportunity, which now he cannot have, to Examinethofe that are brought to him, and to inform himself how they live according to the Catechifm. He may alfo do that which now feems impracticable, that is, take effectual Care for due Decency and Order. By these means, inftead of very few coming to God's Ordinance as they ought, all that can be done, may be done for its being Rightly receiv'd by all.
Other great Advantages there are of this Perfonal Vifiting every Parish. They that through fickness or other weakness cannot travel, will not lofe the opportunity. And by Yearly Vifiting, and where need requires, Oftner, all will have this great Means of their Souls food in due Seafon, as Chrift requires. What can be more unkind, than for a Spiritual Father to let any one of his dutiful Children ftay long without it, any longer than abfolute Neceffity requires? They fhould neither Die nor Live without it. And if they are Dutiful chìldren, they will chearfully go a journey to attend upon him at his place of refidence.
Another great Benefit there is of frequent Personal Vifiting, little thought of. They who by fickness are confin'd to their beds or houses, may have the fure means of receiving the Holy Ghoft the Comforter, in their greatest Need of him. But this was fo thought of in the Ancient Church, that when in danger of death a Bifhop was too far off, St. Jerom and many others would have his abfence supply'd by an inferiour Minifter as in the like Neceffity they would have Baptism adminiftred by a lay man *. Jefus Chrift went not only to the Synagogues, but to private houfes: and fo did his holy Apo
He went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their Synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. Matth. 9. 35. He did fo, altho' he was fo far from having those conveniences for travelling which his Succeffors on earth now
* See Part 2, ch. 5,
have, that he went on foot. When he fent forth his Difciples, be fent them before his face into every city and place whi ther be bimfelf would come. Luke 10. 1. And what can be more for the Honour of his Stewards, who have no need of his wearifome way of travel, (John 4. 6) than to follow the bleffed Example of our Great Lord? He never stood upon punctilioes. To fhew how far he was from that, he wafh'd his Difciples feet, and that in such a manner, as if he were their real Servant. May any of his Servants then think any thing too much to do for the Souls that are his Members! When he has faid, I have given you an example that ye should do as I have done. Verily verily I fay unto you, The fervant is not greater than his Lord, neither be that is fent, greater than be that fent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. John 13. 15, 16, 17.
Here is worthy to be confider'd what Bishop Beveridge fays in his Preface to his Expofition of the Catechism. After having given good advice for the neceffary Duty of Catechizing, and for enforcing all to do their parts, he adds these words: Nothing would then be wanting to compleat the Work, but that every Bishop go through his whole Diocefe, as the Law requires, at least once in every three years, to fee how it hath been done, and to Confirm those who have been thereby fitted and prepared for it. Without which all will come to nothing. For unless a Bifbop doth his Duty, or in cafe of Neceffity procure it to be done by another, both his Clergy and the people will be apt to neglect theirs; and the fault will in great measure lie at bis door. Which therefore cannot be fuppofed of any, who are fenfible of the frict Account they must give at the laft Day of all their actions, and especially of this, wherein the Glory of God, the Good of the Church, the Salvation of the Souls committed to their Care, and by confequence their own, is so highly concerned.
He fays, at least once in every three years. fons aforefaid, he might very well have faid, alfo Oftner where Need requires.
But for the Rea-
He fays alfo, Unless a Bishop doth his Duty, or in cafe of Neceffity procure it to be done by another. For why fhould not this be done in a whole Diocefs, as well as in any Parish?
For whatever a Bishop through any juft Neceflity cannot do, why may not one of his Cathedral be Confecrated for a Suffra gan; or more, if the largenefs of the Diocefe require it; and undertake fo Bleffed a Work for the Revenues they already have; and therefore be Confecrated and admitted without fees? As it would certainly be moft for the Good and Honour of S 4 the
the Church, to have all the Minifters of Chrift whatsoever, both Ordained and Placed in their feveral Stations, as freely as they were by Chrift and his Apoftles.
And I cannot but pray, and I hope many will pray with me, That in all his Majefty's Dominions, and in all places of the world, where any of the Church of England dwell, there may be of the Epifcopal Order, those that shall be Difintangled, Refident, and Ready, as often as Need requires, to Confirm in due feafon; (that fo far as is poffible, none Prepared for it may die without it) and to do whatsoever elfe is needful to be done by them.
Where maintenance fuitable to their Dignity cannot be had, they may be, as well as they can, as they were in the days of the Apostles; until their Flocks can be made fenfible of the Command of Christ, To render unto God the things that are God's; and how their doing to is for the great Good, both of their Souls, (Gal. 6. 6 to 10) and also of their bodies. Prov. 3. 9, 10. Mal. 3. 8 to 13.
Sufficient has been now faid, for the Perfonal and Yearly Vifitations of the Most Reverend, and Right Reverend Fathers. And God Grant that all may acknowledge the Truth. And may thofe Fathers duly confider the Benefit to the Church of fuch Visitations; and withal what Reason there is for performing them with the Refolution of St. Paul, in the regions of Achaia. 2 Cor. 11. 9, 10.
May they also confider what Reason there is,
1, For their not giving fhort Warning, nor a few days Warning of the Day, nor, if it may be less than a full Month? that there may be Time enough for a Deliberate doing all that is to be done by the Minifter; that none through bufinefs or abfence may lose the opportunity; and that all may be duly prepar'd.
2, For their Admitting. none to Confirmation, without a Satisfactory Account from their Minifter, 1, Not only of their faying the Catechifm, but of their Understanding it, and Living according to it: 2, Of their having performed, and frequently performing the Work of Repentance; and their Believing that God, for Chrift's fake, will grant to them the Promises of Baptism, and of Confirmation: 3, Of their Understanding, and duly confidering the Vow, and the Prayers of Confirmation; that they may Devoutly make their Vow, and join in the Prayers.
3, For the Bifhop himself to Examine carefully fome of them; and to do this before the beginning of the Service; And also before the beginning of the Service to hear the com
plaint of any who think their Minifter refuses to present them without fufficient cause.
4, For the ftrict obferving the Orders appointed by the Church, for every one to have a convenient Witness, for their being Placed in Order, and for every one to Answer audibly to the Demand of the Bishop, and that in Order one after another; and the Bishop, or one appointed by him, to see the Answer fo made.
5, If there be a great number, to divide them into companies, and the Bishop to make the Demand feverally to each company, Reverently brought before him by their Minifter, and by him again brought to their places: and when he lays his hand upon them, for the Minifters to bring them again before him, and to their places, without fuffering or enduring any to thrust themselves. Or if it be thought beft to have the feveral companies brought but once before him; then together with the Demand to repeat the Refponfes and the first Prayer.
6, For taking care that all be prefent within Hearing the whole time; or Repeating the whole Office for those who cannot be within hearing: and if they be too many for his Strength, Dividing them for another part of the day, or rather for another Morning.
7, For taking effectual Care with the help of the Churchwardens, that the whole Congregation be in their proper Places, with quiet and decent Behaviour.
Whatever is the cuftom, too much Care cannot be taken, nor may any Care be thought a trouble, for the Right and Reverend Adminiftration, and Receiving of this Holy Ordinance: That therein. due Honour may be paid to God, and to his Holy Spirit That we may fhew our felves duly Thankful for the Ineftimable Grace that is offer'd to us; And that it may be Obtain'd, and Fully obtain'd by eve
Herein, both the utmoft Care, and the utmost Vigour are little enough to gain any advantage over a Fatal Cuftom. And a Minifter that truly does his Duty, has the greatest need of all the Affiftance that can be given him.
Surely all that is here faid of the Honour due to this Blessed Ordinance from the Reverend Fathers of the Church, is for their Honour, for their High and Everlasting Honour, Infinitely above any worldly honour whatsoever. And nothing would more fecure their Dignity against the attempts of all their Enemies.