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CALLED, as I have unexpectedly been, from the care of a retired country parish, to the most arduous office in the Christian ministry, I cannot, for the first time, meet the assembled clergy of this diocese, without deep anxiety, lest, through the manifold deficiencies under which I labour, any mischief may arise to the portion of Christ's flock committed to my charge. But, whatever be the deficiencies of the man, I must not shrink from the duties of the Bishop; and, among the very first of these duties, it holds a high place, that I should premonish and exhort you, my fellow-labourers, to cultivate the spirit of your ministry, and to show forth that spirit, in the faithful discharge of the pastoral care. It is my hope, that, both at
this time, and in all our future intercourse, I may be enabled to speak with meekness and brotherly love: and it is my earnest desire, not merely that you should receive with candour and docility the advice which I am bound to offer, but that you, in your turn, should assist me with that friendly counsel, which your experience must, in many instances, qualify you to give.
This mutual interchange of thoughts between a bishop and his clergy, desirable always and every where, is, at the present time, and in this district, peculiarly important and indispensable. The dangers menacing the Church and Christianity at large, the difficulties besetting the clerical order throughout the south of Ireland, and not least in this extensive diocese, great and alarming as they long have been, are become too notorious, to demand any special notice of them on this occasion. You know, you feel, and you deplore them. And, I am confident, you will agree with
agree with me, that these difficulties and dangers afford a strong additional reason, why we should “speak often one to another,” in the language of advice, encouragement, and admonition. The unexampled union of our adversaries (united probably but in this one thing) calls for unanimity and concert among ourselves; unanimity and concert, not for any party objects, nor in a controversial spirit, but for the moral and spiritual improvement of ourselves, with a further view to the moral and spiritual improvement of those intrusted to our care: that, through the Divine blessing on our joint endeavours, we may grow stronger in the principles of our common faith, richer in the consolations of religious hope, and more abundant in the fruits of Christian charity. Be this, then, our union, this our confederation, that we will provoke and encourage one another to encounter opposition, by the only legitimate weapons of our professional warfare; by devotedness to our sacred calling, and by diligence, each in his appointed sphere. Opportunities are not, and never can be, wanting. The present is an occasion, when all may meet and converse with all. In your respective neighbourhoods again, individual clergymen may, without any formal premeditated plan, enjoy the frequent benefit of mutual advice and counsel. And, to guard against the possibility of disappointment to those of the clergy, who, at any time, may wish for conference with me, I have set apart the Wednesday in every week to receive them; and will provide, that, during any absence of mine, they shall be regularly met on that day, at the Palace, by the VicarGeneral of the diocese. From strict adherence to this arrangement, I anticipate much convenience to the clergy; much advantage, in the regular dispatch of all diocesan business; and much economy, to yourselves, my Reverend Brethren, as well as to me, in the precious article of time. For, I trust that both parties can and will employ themselves more advantageously, than in ceremonious calls, and unproductive interviews.
On the nature of our appropriate employments, I shall confine myself to a few plain and simple observations. But, in the first place, and as the foundation of all that is to follow, I must remind myself, and remind you, that we are, above all things, to cultivate the spirit of the Christian priesthood. What this spirit is, no clergyman can be at a loss to determine, who bears in mind (as all clergymen ought to do) the solemn and awakening language of our ordination services. The questions there proposed, the answers there returned, the petitions there preferred, the exhortations there delivered, the passages of Scripture there selected, all bear testimony, that the spirit of the Christian priesthood, is a spirit of prayer, a spirit of devotedness to God, à spirit of deadness to the world, a spirit of zeal for the salvation of immortal souls. And, when we remember (and what true Christian pastor ever can forget?) the engagements, , which, at our dedication to the ministry, we voluntarily formed, our hearts must surely burn within us, that we may approve ourselves faithful servants of the Best of Masters. On this topic, then, I will no further enlarge, than by reconimending, as I do most earnestly, to your periodical study, the offices for the ordering of deacons and priests (1); a study, from which the most aged and experienced minister has much to learn; and by which the most youthful may soon grow wiser than his teachers. .
Where the spirit of our ministry is properly imbibed, exhortation will be little needful to diligence in the first great division of professional employment; that is, 'in reading of the Holy Scriptures, and in such studies as help to the knowledge of the same.' The clergyman whose heart is in his calling, will, indeed, be habitually mindful, what a solemn vow, promise, and profession he has made, to be diligent in these things, and, for them, 'to forsake the study of the world and the flesh. But his promise, if we may so speak, will be absorbed in the performance of it. He will be studious of God's Word, because,