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PREACHED IN RIPON MINSTER,
AT THE ORDINATION
THE LORD BISHOP OF RIPON,
ON SUNDAY, JULY 29th, 1838.
BY THE REV. CHARLES DODGSON, M. A.
EXAMINING CHAPLAIN TO THE BISHOP OF RIPON.
PRINTED BY J. HADDOCK, WARRINGTON.
it from N N Boling broke-kent
The following Discourse was written without any view to publication.
A desire however that it should be printed having been expressed by the
Clergy ordained on the occasion, as well as by the Lord Bishop, through
whom their request was conveyed, I have thought that I should best
consult their wishes, and at the same time my own feelings, by printing
it for private distribution. It is now presented to them with scarcely a
verbal alteration from the form, in which it was delivered from the pulpit.
1 E JUL 1969
1 Cor. xii. 1.
Concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have
Few subjects can be conceived to furnish to the Preacher materials so abundant, so various, and so interesting, as that which the Church has prescribed for the present solemn occasion. Like however all other subjects of the same sacred nature, its interest and importance will be very different in the eyes of different men. Each will view it through the medium of his own religious feelings and dispositions, and his estimate of the office of the Christian Minister will correspond with his estimate of Christianity itself. The mere formalist in Religion will confine his views of this sacred office to the narrow circle of its formal ministrations. A stranger to the spiritual influences of the Gospel, and averse to its moral restraints, he will consider nothing as required of its Ministers beyond a regular performance of official acts, and an outward decency of demeanour in the eyes of the world. The mere Theologian again will lay all the stress upon Theological learning, and make the attainments of the scholar the chief test of the merits of the Clergyman : while the mere enthusiast, impatient of the constraint
of outward forms, despising the adventitious aids of learning, and measuring Religion by the mental excitement which it produces, will regard a fervent and impetuous zeal as compensating for the want of that knowledge, which should direct it, and of that spirit of soberness and wisdom, which should chasten and controul it.
But it is not by such partial standards as these that the office of the Christian Minister is to be weighed and valued. It is an office which bears no resemblance or proportion to any other within the whole range of human pursuits. Separated from, and far transcending, “ the world and the things of the world,” in its objects, its occupations, its influences, and its responsibilities, it places those who enter upon it in a new relation to God, to mankind, and to themselves : to God, as workers together with him in the advancement of his kingdom upon earth ; as accredited ambassadors of his will; as appointed ministers and stewards of his mysteries : ' to mankind, as shepherds set over them in the Lord, to watch for their souls, to feed them with the bread of life, to lead them forth beside the waters of comfort : as holding a commission from their great master Christ to speak, to rebuke, to exhort with all authority: to themselves, as having no longer power over themselves; as having sealed an irrevocable bond of self-resignation; as having for ever renounced selfish interests, pursuits, advantages, and pleasures ; as having vowed a vow unto the Lord to spend all and to be spent in the single work of winning souls to Christ.
Let it not be thought that, in thus magnifying our office, we seek to magnify ourselves. On a serious and reflecting mind such considerations as these must produce a precisely opposite effect. Every word which exalts the office must in the same proportion humble the individual who holds or seeks to hold it. The greatness of the work set before him must serve only to remind him of his own littleness, his imperfections, and infirmities; and must lead him to enquire, in the spirit of self-abasement, “ who is sufficient for these things ?”
The Church of England, in all her declarations respecting the ministerial office, has marked her deep sense of its solemn importance, and of the transcendent character of those qualifications, which are required for a right discharge of its duties : and such occasions as the present are especially fitted, as they are especially appointed, for a serious consideration of these points, not only by those who have already entered, or are about to enter, upon that office, but by the people at large, each of whom may be said to be individually interested in the nature and character of those qualifications, those pledges and securities, which the Church requires on her own behalf of all those, to whom she commits the spiritual guidance of her children.
That those, who are thus deeply concerned in spiritual things, ought to be distinguished by the possession of spiritual gifts of the highest order, is a conclusion which no one probably, who seriously weighs the question, would be inclined to dispute. Such, we know, was