"I, Bernard Leslie, do from my heart abhor, detest, and abjure, as impious and heretical, that damnable doctrine and position, that princes, excommunicated or deprived by the pope, or any authority of the see of Rome, may be deposed or murdered by their subjects, or any other whatsoever. And I do declare,

that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state, or potentate, hath, or ought to have, any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence, or authority, ecclesiastical or civil, within the realm, so help me God."

I was quite ready to declare most conscientiously, that "I unfeignedly believed all the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testament; that I would diligently read the same unto the people assembled in the Church; that I would apply all my diligence to fashion my life according to the doctrine of Christ; and that I would reverently obey the ordinary and other chief ministers of the Church, and them to whom the charge and government over me was committed, following with a glad mind all their godly admonitions."

The only questions which caused me to hesitate were the following:-"Do you trust that you are inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon you this office and ministration? . . . . Do you think that you are truly called according to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the order of this realm, to the ministry of the Church?" I consulted commentators and writers on the subject, and talked with able and esteemed friends. The office of deacon, I argued,

See the "Form and Manner of making of Deacons," in the Prayer-book.

is a good work, and I feel a desire to undertake it, and a conscientious intention to do my duty in it; and such a desire, if it be, as I trust it is, genuine, is from the Holy Ghost, from whom come all good desires ; and it is my wish to enter the ministry according to the order established in this realm, which, to the best of my knowledge and belief, is according to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Deeply as I have often since regretted that my heart was not more alive to the vast importance of the responsibility which I was undertaking, and to the necessity of far more solemn preparation, by earnest prayer, and fasting, and meditation, before entering upon so solemn a work, yet my conscience has never reproached me with any mental tampering with regard to the inward call. I gave the subject a full and fair consideration; I consulted with friends well able to advise; and came to the conclusion, that a sincere desire to undertake the sacred office, and a conscientious determination to do my duty in it, were the inward motions of the Holy Ghost.

These deliberations were not postponed to the eve of my ordination, but were made at the time of my change of plan. And the short interval which elapsed between the time of my forming the resolution to present myself as a candidate, and my actual admission to the holy order of deacon, was spent in very diligent preparation for my examination. By the advice of an excellent friend, I applied myself principally to the study of the Holy Scriptures, and the offices and liturgy of the Church. The New Testament I read thoroughly in the original language; the

Old Testament in the authorized translation. I used great diligence to compare and verify the articles and formularies of the Church by Scripture authority. This was certainly the best course which, with my limited time, I could have adopted. A competent knowledge of the sacred text, and a diligent comparison with Scripture of the whole Prayer-book, from one end to the other, was perhaps a good deal more knowledge than many possess when they begin their sacred function. Of the works of the fathers, or of the reformers, or of modern writers, I was profoundly ignorant. All I knew of controversial divinity was from the sermons of and the late and a few other esteemed preachers, whom I had heard in the university pulpit; so that it may be conceived my views were sufficiently vague. One circumstance, in some respects advantageous, attended my deficiency in this respect, namely, that I entered upon the ministry the partisan of no school. I was what my father was,- -a sincere member of the Church of England; which I was thoroughly persuaded was the most perfect Church ever established. Her formularies I believed faultless, with some few exceptions of very small importance. Our "religious" king I thought rather an unfortunate expression; the prayer for delivery from "sudden death," I interpreted to mean a hope that we might not die unprepared. But such objections as these I looked upon as of small importance-mere spots on the sun's disc. Of the general excellence of the Established Church, and all things appertaining to her, of the corruption of Rome, and the unreasonableness of dissent, I enter

tained not the slightest doubt; nor have subsequent years, though greatly enlarging my views and modifying my sentiments, at all weakened my impression of the excellence of the Anglican Church. What was then a traditionary feeling has now become, upon mature investigation, a firm and rational belief.

Though we have reason to bless and praise God for having placed our lot in a Church the doctrines and practices of which become the more approved to our reason and love the more we are acquainted with them, and are imbued with their excellence, yet surely it must be admitted that more opportunities should be afforded to candidates for ordination to acquire a thorough knowledge of her principles. For it is lamentable and notorious, that many attached members of the Church regard her not as she ought to be, and in her acknowledged formularies really is, but as they now see her. They do not take her character from her actual documents and offices, but from the corrupt practices which have grown up within the last century. And even one who, like myself, sets himself in earnest to study her principles, is led to think the manifold deviations from them to be necessary concessions to the spirit of the times. The only way of correcting these errors seems to be, the foundation of theological seminaries, where young clergy may be trained up in the knowledge and exact practice of the Church as she is in truth, and not merely ostensibly. It will perhaps be answered that, with many theological students, the time required for this lengthened course of study could not be afforded. These are things, however, which belong to the heads of the Church to arrange according to their wisdom.


Wild Fancy, peace! thou must not me beguile
With thy false smile;

I know thy flatteries and thy cheating ways.
Be silent, Praise !

Blind guide with siren voice, and blinding all
That hear thy call.



THE first scene of my labors was the pleasant country village of Somerton. The rector had been obliged, from ill health, to give up his duties, and remove to the south of England. The chief inducement with me to accept the curacy of Somerton was the comparative easiness of the duties. Not that I intended to shrink from labor, or considered my profession as one which authorized indolence; but I really thought, and do so still, that a young, inexperienced curate does better to undertake, in the first instance, such duties as may most easily be performed. For a mere beginner to thrust himself forward in a conspicuous place, or plunge into the duties of a populous town, unless it be under the guidance of an experienced incumbent, is often productive of much evil both to himself and his parishioners. I do not think, therefore, that I was blameable in selecting a

« VorigeDoorgaan »