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Surely these are considerations which might well be expected to ensure the minister of the gospel the good will and affection of his flock, and to give that effect to his ministry which can alone result from their cordial cooperation in his labours for their welfare. Happy is the minister, even in the temporal reward which the satisfaction of keeping together bis people " in the unity of the Spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life,” will always furnish ; but how much happier in the prospect of that heavenly reward, when he shall be enabled to address his Redeemer and his Judge in his own words: “Lord, of those committed to my care have I lost none"-none, at least, who have not shut their ears to instruction, and hardened their hearts against reproof! These “will die in their iniquity; but the watchman has delivered his soul.” Let us both, then, minister and people, frequently and seriously meditate upon the condition in which we shall stand to each other at that dreadful day of final retribution. God grant that we may meet together in confidence and joy; in the happy confidence that the gospel has been preached, on the one hand, with fidelity, and received, on the other, with effect! How soon we may be called upon to give the account which will be required of us, none of us can tell. This night, for ought we know, our souls may be required of us; and if so, do the resolutions formed in our hearts of fulfilling the mutual obligations which are bound upon us return us an answer of peace? Resolutions, in that case, they could only be ; but in the hope that the Almighty Author of life and death will yet spare us a little before we go hence and be no more seen,” let us humbly pray for his grace, to enable us to carry those resolutions into effect; so that finally, by his mercy, we may receive that blessing which his well-beloved Son will pronounce on all that love and fear him: “Come, ye blessed children of my Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world."
Before I conclude, I would address a few words to you with reference to the manner in which you are likely to be engaged during the present week. Far, very far, am I from a wish to put a curb upon innocent festivities, or to check that gratification which arises from the social intercourse between friends and neighbours. Had there been any sin in quiet mirth and sober conviviality, our Lord would scarcely have sanctioned by his presence, as he did on several occasions, a meeting of festive entertainment. His first miracle was performed at a marriage-feast, in Cana of Galilee, where “the conscious water saw its God, and blushed.” Sociality, however, must not be an excuse for intemperance, drunkenness, and excess. In all his intercourse with the world, whether of duty or of pleasure, the Christian must be a Christian still; and he will steadily abstain from every thing which will probably lead him into sin. Thus do ye, during the feast which we are about to celebrate ; a feast which was doubtless instituted to commemorate the dedication of the holy temple in which we are now assembled.* May the example of those saints and martyrs, from whose holy fellowship it derives its name, incite us to continue stedfast in the faith and communion of the Church militant here on earth, that so we may be fitted to join for ever with the Church triumphant in heaven!
W. T. The church of Wigston is dedicated to All Saints; and the village wake, or feast, as it is called, is held during the week which follows All Saints' Day.
REMARKS ON THE PREFACE TO THE LAST VOLUME OF THE
REGARDING the Christian Observer as the organ of a party, and probably the test of its prosperity or decline, against whose peculiarities we have often had to record our conscientious disapproval, we can feel no sympathy, though we certainly should express no exultation, at the confession of decay which it has just put forth. Whether the attempt be politic, as it certainly is not dignified, to regain by entreaty the popularity which it could not preserve by ability, is not our concern ; and the preface just published to the last volume would have remained unnoticed, if it had confined its plea to a declaration of services, and complaints of neglect. But we are bound to condemn as dishonourable the attempt to raise itself at the expense of others; and to repel, with as much indignation as feebleness may provoke, a slander upon ourselves. “ The CHRISTIAN REMEMBRANcer,” it says, “ is a work so unscriptural in its doctrines, that no friend of the Church can lament that it has slipped out of sight," Not many words are required to meet this assertion. The CHRISTIAN REMEMBRANCER does not identify the peculiarities of a party with the essential truths of religion : but it declares, as we most firmly believe, the doctrines of the Church of England, which we as firmly believe to be the doctrines of the Bible. An extending circulation affords the most satisfactory assurance that our friends thus appreciate it. We may be allowed to add, that if it were possible that we also should experience a withdrawal of public confidence, at least we will fall with decency. Through evil as through good report we shall continue to maintain the truth ; and should we fail to command success by a fearless and consistent conduct, we shall not seek it by a different course. We trust that we shall retain too much self-respect to stoop to the whine of the mendicant, and too much principle to resort to the calumnies of the detractor.
OBSERVATIONS ON BAPTISM.
MR. EDITOR, --In your November Number, a correspondent, who signed himself G. C., made, what appeared to me, some very admirable and useful observations on the very low and inadequate views which are too generally entertained amongst the members of the Church of England on the subject of the Sacrament of Baptism. Not only does he seem to have pointed out some of the real causes of this unfavourable state of things, but what makes his communication even more valuable and important is, that he has suggested certain excellent plans for remedying the evil. At the close, however, of his remarks, he casts something like a doubt on the general practicability of putting
some of his proposed reforms in execution. I am, consequently, induced to trouble you with a few statements, with a view of showing that some of his plans, and those I imagine not the least essential of them, have been carried into effect; and I do so in the hope that others may, perhaps, be encouraged to adopt a similar course with that which has been thus found successful.
The plans proposed, as I understand them, are,
“ 1. The total cessation of private baptism, excepting in real cases of danger from illness, &c.
“ 2. The celebration of public baptism in the church service in the presence of the congregation, either in all cases, or, at least, at some stated seasons,
“ 3. To avoid all disrespect being paid to the baptismal water, as much as in the case of the elements in the other sacrament.
“ 4. To allow none but members of our own communion to have their children baptized at our fonts.
“ 5. To allow no sponsors to stand but such as know and feel their responsibility,
“ Lastly. To preach occasionally on the subject of baptism in a plain and familiar manner, and without any tendency to a controversial spirit.”
I shall proceed, then, to make a few remarks on each of these points.
1. With reference to the practice of private baptism: when I first took charge of my present parishes, (about eight years since) I found myself called upon to administer this sacrament at persons' houses very much as a matter of course, even when no sufficient reason could be given. I determined, if possible, to put a stop to the practice ; and I recollect on one occasion, very much displeasing a party, by not complying with such a request. But at length, proceeding quietly, but steadily, I prevailed; so that I believe no application of the kind has been ever made for a long period. The course I adopted was this. On the request being preferred, I opened a book of Common Prayer, and read to the applicants the exact words of the Rubric on the subject, “ without great cause and necessity," or, "need shall compel;" and then put it to them, whether, after having heard those words, they could ask me privately to baptize the child on the ground of such necessity. This course, I found, at once settled the question.
2. With regard to the administration of public baptism in the face of the congregation, which I at the same time undertook to bring about, I met with great difficulty, and encountered much opposition; and principally, because the sponsors were generally most averse to coming forward in the course of the public service of the Church to perform their part of the office. But I did not give the matter up. Some I found very willing to comply, but others resisted or employed evasions. However, I pursued my course. I took occasion to lay before my parishioners from the pulpit and in private conversation, the plain terms of the Rubric, (* either immediately after the second lesson," &c.) which I found had great weight. At length, on the child of a principal farmer of one of my two adjoining parishes, being to be baptized, I prevailed that the administration of the sacrament should be in the proper part of the public church service. I also, at a somewhat subsequent period, stood myself as godfather to a child, and then, of course, the holy rite, performed by a brother Clergyman, was in public. By these means I have been enabled to change the practice of the parish, and to establish that which your correspondent justly considers so desirable. And if I may judge from the great apparent interest taken in the office by the congregation, whenever the rite is administered, the change has not been without good effect. I may add also, by way of additional encouragement, that I know a brother Clergyman who has been equally successful with myself on this point. ' It is very true, that both of these instances are derived from small parishes, the population being in my case under 400, in the other under 600. But surely, even if nothing else were done, a considerable gain would have been effected, if such arrangements could be introduced into all parishes, though only of such small dimensions. But the thing need not stop there. I know even a very large and populous town-parish, in which the Clergyman was accustomed to administer the sacrament publicly once a month. At all events, I question much whether there is any valid reason why baptisms should not take place occasionally at stated periods in all parishes, and generally, after the second lesson, in parishes where there is no afternoon sermon,* as at the time of week-day services, where such are retained.
3. On the subject of the avoiding all appearance of disrespect towards the appointed element, the water of baptism, I have only to add, that on inquiry, I found that in one of my churches, the water is always poured out of the basin, when the holy rite is completed, into the large font in which the basin stands during the service, and is carried off by a cavity at the bottom, evidently prepared for the purpose. In the other church, I have directed that a similar course should be adopted for the future.
4. As the next point, the baptism of the children of our own communion only, seems likely to come shortly under the consideration of the legislature, when a general registry bill may be proposed, I shall only say, that I trust that the decision which shall be there made on the subject, may prove as much for the general benefit of the community at large, as for the comfort and convenience of individual Clergymen of our Church. But I would have our rulers ponder well and deeply on the matter before they come to that decision.
5. The refusal of unfit persons as sponsors opens a question of extreme difficulty. However desirable such an arrangement might be, it is, I fear, unattainable, at least at present. It is, I believe, already by no means an easy task in many places for parents to procure sponsors at all ; and we are assured, that in some parts, vast numbers of children remain unbaptized from the want of sponsors. For myself, I never permit the clerk" to stand as godfather, unless he be, indeed, asked to do so as a friend of the family whose child is to be baptized, which is, in fact, in no way of course liable to objection, as he does not then stand as clerk ; and I always insist on his procuring some one to officiate on that occasion for him as clerk. I felt it the more necessary to be strict on this point, because I found an opinion existed with some, that if they did not provide a godfather, the clerk must stand as sponsor.
• Where can we find a better practical discourse than the Baptismal Service, when rightly understood ?
To bring every sponsor to the test of fitness is, I fear, not practicable ; and I doubt whether such a resolution would have any good effect under the present low and inadequate views of baptism which prevail. The better plan, I imagine, will be, to endeavour by such means as have been mentioned above, and such as I shall presently further refer to, to raise the standard of opinion on the whole subject. If all serious Christians regarded baptism in its true light, there would be little lack of good and fit sponsors, and consequently as little need of bad ones.
6. The last plan recommended by your correspondent, is the practice of plain and simple preaching from time to time, in favour of right views of baptism. I own I am inclined to think that some injury has been done to the cause by preaching against too high views of baptism; but, at the same time, I rather believe that the present state of things has arisen more from the subject being left almost entirely out of sight. For my own part, I do not even recollect having heard, before I entered the ministry, a sermon which distinctly undertook to show the right value of this holy sacrament, or what benefit our blessed Lord really meant we should derive from it; whilst those which I have read respecting it, have too generally been of a controversial character, and, in many respects, little suited to convey instruction in an acceptable manner. A good practical explanatory course of sermons on baptism, conveyed in plain, simple, and affectionate language, would be a great acquisition at the present moment, when, I believe, attention amongst persons of all views in the Church is beginning to be more generally awakened to its importance. If some Clergyman, who is well acquainted with the prevailing errors, and at the same time master of such language ' as may be understanded of the people,” were to publish such a work, he would, I think, be doing a great service to the Church. It would be well, also, if some tracts, containing addresses to parents, sponsors, &c., were placed on the lists of the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, and widely distributed, written in the style I have ventured to describe and recommend. I think it but just to mention here, that something of this kind has been undertaken by Mr. Budd, in his “ Letters on Infant Baptism," and his “Helps to the Nursery." There may be faults in these publications, and points with which we may not, perhaps, be prepared to agree ; but this I must say, that it would be well for us if we all were animated by the same spirit of faith, hope, and charity, which seems generally to pervade the works in question; and at all events, it must be allowed, that the great majority of the practical reforms suggested with reference to the administration of baptism, are such as we must most warmly approve. I hope I shall not be considered presumptuous if I venture to recommend the work to the serious perusal of such of my clerical brethren as may not be already acquainted with it. I fear I have carried my observations already to a wearying length ; but yet I must make one suggestion more : it is one which I am inclined to think is of no less importance than any which have been before considered. It is, that in the public catechising of the children in the time of divine service, a practice, I trust, gaining ground, I would have them particularly questioned and instructed on the subject of the first sacrament. It will not only do them good, but all who hear it. I have for some time adopted this