صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

Christ; that he is to be with them unto the end of the world; that the Lord knoweth them that are his : and let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

7. We must pray for sincere and unaffected love to one another; without this we shall fall to nothing.6

The extraordinary influence and consummate judgment of Mr. Walker, enabled him to work this machinery of discipline, without perceptible or injurious friction. He communicated to it the unction of a warm and devoted spirit, and regulated its movements with a skilful hand, having himself first superintended the adaptation of its various parts. The success was so complete, that his good friend, Mr. Adam, urged him to strict watchfulness over his own heart, lest he should be puffed up by what God had done by him. He received this admonition with becoming meekness, and begged him to continue his "seasonable and acceptable," counsel, observing, "it is a very dangerous thing to be particular any way; and when we are grown up to a becoming disregard of the reproaches of the world, it is but too easy a step to become vain of them. Perhaps it is more dangerous still to be in the direction of a number of serious persons, and yet worse again to hear of the commendations which injudicious zeal will be throwing in our way. I have

6 I received this interesting paper through the kindness of the Rev. Mr. Wildbore, of Falmouth. Like many of Mr. Walker's valuable documents, it is drawn up with much more attention to matter than to style.

indeed much need to watch over my spirit, perhaps more than a high degree of preferment would have called upon me to do."

While this work was going on in his own parish, Mr. Walker endeavoured to stimulate the exertions of his brethren around him, and in several instances with success. He conceived and carried into effect the design of a union, among the pious clergy in his neighbourhood, for the purpose of mutual edification, encouragement, and advice, as to pastoral duties. It was called the "Parson's Club," and the original number of members was seven, afterwards increased to eleven, who met for the first time on March 18, 1755. They generally assembled once a month at each other's houses, and their whole design was to "consult upon the business of their calling," which, the excellent founder of the society informs us, was "done all along with so much freedom, love, and unanimity," that he was "even astonished at the remembrance of it." With that propriety which always marked his conduct, he sought and received the sanction of his diocesan before they assembled, at least as "far as the words do not forbid you may be interpreted to go." They came together at the house appointed at ten, and separated at six, dining at two, with a stipulation that the fare provided should on no account exceed a couple of plain dishes of meat. The host was director for the day, and conducted the discussion of the subject proposed, preventing interruption, or the introduction of any new question, till the one under consideration had been fully settled. To guard against a superficial or hasty treatment of the

principal topic before them, each member was required to bring his view of it drawn up in writing, in such a form as he considered would be most useful to his brethren. Thus with the advantage of the master spirit of Mr. Walker at their head, the society became a source of real benefit to its members. A great outcry was, however, raised against it, on the alleged ground of methodistical bias; a charge most unfounded, as every one of its members was sincerely attached to the doctrines and discipline of the church of England. Mr. Walker recommended to his associates a string of searching queries, as to devotedness, zeal, self-denial, design in joining their brethren, dependence on divine help, and conscientious inquiry into the motive of every ministerial action. These were drawn up with his usual ability and knowledge of the heart, and were thankfully received, as also a form of prayer compiled chiefly from the Liturgy and Jenks's devotions. Many fluctuations took place in this happy union, occasioned by deaths, removals to distant places, and in two instances by a fear of the violent opposition they had to encounter; still upon the whole it conferred upon the clergy who belonged to the club, and their parishes, a lasting advantage.

In order that any meeting of this kind may be permanently useful, it is necessary that the spirit of it should be well kept up; but from want of regulations like those of Mr. Walker, and due preparation upon subjects discussed, clerical clubs are apt to degenerate into a lamentable barrenness. As early as the year 1699, such conferences were recommended by Archbishop Jennison, in a circular addressed to the bishops

of his province; and perhaps the best rules ever drawn up for their management, are those of Fletcher of Madeley. Frequent as they are in these days, there yet remains the want of a sufficient stimulus. When strangers meet together, at first they are influenced by fear of superior attainments in their brethren, and prepare what they have to say; but as soon as they have sounded each other's depth, they are apt to become careless, and it not unfrequently happens that both director and members are equally undecided as to a plan of discussion. Unless some mode be discovered by which the interest in these meetings may be kept alive, they will confer little real good on individuals coming together, or the church at large. If also the clergy composing them, do not attend prepared to communicate knowledge which is the result of reading, meditation, and prayer, their conversation will naturally decline into such a thinness of matter, that the time so passed would be more profitably spent at home, than in associations where there is no likelihood of reaping the harvest of research and well grounded experience.







THE town of Truro, from the year 1754 to 1760, presented a delightful example of the happy effects produced on a Christian community, by our church's discipline and doctrines wisely enforced and spiritually expounded. Among other instruments of good, so ably called into action in that place, was the long neglected habit of catechising. This custom, valuable at all times, and particularly so in days of extreme ignorance, had fallen into almost universal disuse, "by which," Mr. Walker observes, more than by any other thing, the kingdom of darkness and sin was established in England." The young people of Truro were divided into three classes, of the following ages: under twelve-between twelve and fifteen-between fifteen and twenty, who were instructed at stated periods in private, and then catechised in the church, an hour after sermon," before an audience sometimes amounting to five hundred people, who were "for the most part much impressed." When they had done, Mr. Walker took a single point, which he

« السابقةمتابعة »