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King James the First receiving the SPECULUM REGIUM, or Royal Mirror of the Parishes
of England.-(See Presace.)
The title of this work requires a word of explanation. James the First, than whom no English Sovereign fulfilled the part of an earthly Head of the Church more assiduously (we cannot always say wisely,) was desirous of having the religious state of the nation placed before him, and required the Clergy to furnish him with a statistical view of their respective parishes. It was to exhibit the number of attendants upon public worship, and of communicants at the Lord's table, and other particulars. The entire collection, was denominated “ Speculum Regium,” or a Royal Mirror. Few things, of an ecclesiastical nature, could have more laudably occupied the attention of that “Divine among Kings."
It was this royal enquiry which suggested to that excellent prelate, the late Bishop of Chester, (now Archbishop of Canterbury,) the propriety of requiring every candidate for Holy Orders, to produce a “ Speculum Regium of the parish or district in which he had served the year of his Deaconship. This document was to exhibit the names of the householders, the number in each family, the proportion of attendants at the public services of the Church and the Lord's Supper, &c. These returns were not designed so much to inform the Bishop of the existing state of religion in any particular parish or district, as to ensure the candidate's personal acquaintance with his flock, and afford a pledge of his future pastoral diligence.