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Directions of Bishops Turner and Patrick to their Clergy.


1686.] "But further, let me prevail with you, that publickly by your preaching at this time, and professedly with regard to the approaching Visitation, you would shew the people they are obliged in conscience now to make their just open complaint, instead of odious reflections behind our backs; and that you would make your parish understand what our Blessed SAVIOUR intended when He expressly commanded, Tell it to the Church, that none may be deterred by any unworthy censures, as if they were base informers, from doing that Christian office.

That as well in your sermons as in your private conferences with your parishioners, you labour to make them deeply apprehensive of the great and heavy load which the just censures of the Church do lay upon grievous offenders in any kind; and particularly upon such officers of her own as deliberately forswear themselves; and that they may have no reason to bear malice to such as do but their duties in making presentments: you are seriously and vehemently to represent a well-deserved excommunication's sad effects of their souls and consciences; and besides those spiritual, to put them in mind of the temporal ill effects that, in case of extremity, may follow on their fortunes and liberties, at least on their ease and quiet and good name. Besides, what the laws against perjury may do, if pressed against such men as make no conscience of giving in a known notorious lie, with an omnia bene under their own hands, just after having laid them on the holy Bible.

And I should be glad, if there be time at our meeting, to consult with you, and make some proposals to you, how more particularly to form our methods of inflicting the spiritual censures within this diocese so leisurely, orderly, and openly, that nobody may pretend to be surprised; and it shall belong of his own obstinacy, if any one see himself in that deplorable state, that he is to be as a heathen to other Christians.

In order to the restoring of this [excommunication] and several other parts of our lost discipline, I am resolved to revive (if God bless me) that ancient and useful custom of my reverend predecessors the Bishops of Ely, immediately before the great rebellion,

(a custom according to an excellent ancient Canon of the British Church), to have Synodical meetings of the Clergy once a year at least.......

Being extreme loath to find many faults, and wishing all might be rectified by yourselves without me, if in any places there be not constant catechising on all Sundays in the afternoon, (for to have it only in Lent-time, as in many places, will never sufficiently answer the ends of it,) I do with all imaginable earnestness call upon those that fail in this main point, to consider (besides the necessity of the thing) the new obligation upon them from his Majesty's late royal and gracious letters for the reinforcing of catechising, an exercise upon which I must alway lay so much stress, as to exact it indispensably, where I have to do.

And by catechising is meant and intended (as plainly appears from his Majesty's said royal letters, as well as from our Canons and Rubricks), not only your examining the children and teaching them the words of the Catechism, but instructing them and others of riper years (who yet may need instruction and receive no small advantage) by your explaining it publickly, so as in a short time, all, if they be not to blame, may understand their common Christianity.

But there is one thing more which I do exceedingly long to see introduced and would fain obtain; that which the rubrick in the true intent of it still exacts of you, to have Morning and Evening Prayer every day of the week in your church, if you live upon your cure or keep a curate upon it, and not extreme far from the church. And if by any means in the world you can prevail with at least a few of your parishioners, which sure cannot be wanting in most parishes, where there are either some devout gentry and persons of quality, or at least some piously disposed people; and to all such I could almost kneel most earnestly, begging of them, as they love GOD, and their own and other Christian souls, that they will do their parts towards the promoting so good a work, perhaps the best and the most publick good they can ever do in the places where they live and where there are either poor widows, who may well afford to be at prayers for those whose pensioners they are, or where there are children taught by a schoolmaster or mistress, there it is very hard if some little daily congregation might not be found, would but the minister attempt and labour it with as much appli

cation and zeal as the thing itself mightily deserves. Nay, better the minister with or without his parish clerk, and with but some of his own family, that he may say, When two or three are gathered together in Thy name,' than not to begin this worthy design of prayers twice a-day in your churches: but where that cannot be for the distance of your houses, there to have them without fail in your private families.

But on holyday eves and holydays, on all Litany days, and all the fasts of the Church; in the time of Advent and Lent, Ember weeks and Rogation days, I live in good hopes and great expectation, you will by degrees gain such ground upon them, that you will bring so many to church as shall make up a numerous congregation.......

I must also insist, and enjoin you to insist from this time forward, upon that rubrick for bringing children to publick baptism in your church; which, as it will keep up the solemnity and secure the decent performance of the thing, so the Office itself being excellent will very much edify the people. And in case of the child's sickness or extraordinary weakness, though you yield to christen it at home with the Office for Private Baptism, yet you are by no means to do it with godfathers and godmothers, except in the church: but when it gathers strength, then you are strictly to require that it be brought to church, and its baptism published there according to our rubricks and Offices; which if parents refuse to observe, you are to refuse entering their children's names into the church register, and to see such parents proceeded against in the spiritual court.

I do also recommend it to your effectual care and pains to procure the due execution of that wise and useful rubrick (however disused), that so many as intend to be partakers of the Holy Communion shall signify their name to the curate, at least some time the day before; through the inobservance of which rule, some excommunicated persons, or that richly deserve to be so, and some that have cut themselves off from the Church, may surprise you, and be admitted. And as I hope you will never fail on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, in the afternoon, before the Communion day, to have prayers in your church, so methinks I ought not in charity to doubt, but all such as intend to be communicants will at least at some of those times (if they cannot at all of them) be present at the prayers, and then and there may they give in their names most

conveniently in the church, where, to their inexpressible advantage, they may be discoursed separately without shaming any grown persons who still may need some instruction, or exposing any one that requires either counsel or comfort; in either of which cases the Church of England invites and enjoins their coming to the minister of their own parish, or some other godly minister, for ghostly advice.......

......I will ordain none but such as shall, a full month before the day of ordination, bring or send to me, or my register, notice in writing of their desire to enter into holy Orders, together with a certificate of their age, and such testimonials of their conversation as aforesaid, to the end that I may inquire into all particulars, and also give publick notice and monitions to all persons to except against such as they may perhaps know not to be worthy, as is expressly required in the Canon 1564. Moreover I shall ordain none but such as shall repair to the place of ordination, at latest upon Thursday in Ember week; to the end that there may be time for the strict and careful examination of every person, not only by myself and my chaplains, but also by the dean and archdeacon, who are by the Canon required to assist; as also that the persons to be ordained may be present in the cathedral, and observe the solemn fast, and join in the solemn prayers which are at that time to be put up to GOD in their behalf."-Pastoral Letter of the Lord Bishop of Ely [Turner] preparatory to his Visitation.


1692.] "The very first thing in the Book of Common Prayer deserves to be seriously considered; where you are enjoined to say daily the Morning and Evening Prayer, either privately or openly, &c. It is possible, I am sure, to observe one part of this injunction if you cannot observe the other. That is, if you cannot procure a congregation to meet daily in the church; yet you may, and therefore ought, to read the Service of the Church in your own families, either privately or openly, not being hindered by sickness or some other urgent cause, which cannot happen every day....... Particularly press them [the churchwardens] earnestly, and assist them to present to me all those who profess to live in the communion of our Church, and are of age, and yet neglect to receive the Holy Communion; at least three times in the year, as by law they are bound to do. For such people not only wrong their own soul, as the wise

man speaks, but bring a great scandal upon our Church and religion. For what other Christians are there in the world, who suffer their members to live without any solemn regard to their blessed LORD and MASTER who died for them, as all those do, who never commemorate His wonderful love by receiving the Holy Sacrament of His Body and Blood. For the LORD's sake let this gross neglect be amended.

And let me prevail with you to put in practice the first rubrick before the Communion Office; which directs all those who intend to partake of the Holy Communion, to signify their names to the curate at least some time the day before: that he may both know what quantity of bread and wine is necessary to be provided for the communicants; and also discourse with those young persons who may need instruction, and admonish those who are notorious and open evil livers, or have any way injured their neighbours (as the next rubrick directs), to abstain from the LORD's Table, till they have openly declared their sincere purpose of amendment, and made satisfaction for the wrong they have done.......

It is so great a sin and shame to let those buildings which our pious ancestors erected for the service of GOD and for our commodious habitation run to decay, that I must desire you likewise to inform me truly, whether both the church and chancel of your parish, and also all your houses and outhouses, be in good repair. It makes my heart ache, I assure you, to think that any of us should so far degenerate from our worthy progenitors, as not to uphold those fabricks in a good condition, which they raised from the ground with great cost and charges. Let us all endeavour to redeem ourselves from this infamy.”—Pastoral Letter of the Lord Bishop of Ely.

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