THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY. BY THE RIGHT REV. DR. FRASER, BISHOP OF MANCHESTER. Preached in St.

Margaret 1 s Church, ¦ Westminster, Sunday Morning, yune 28.

Eph. iv. 12. "For the work of the ministry."

And it is because of the help which it renders to this work of the ministry that I have undertaken to plead the cause, which I shall do later on rather more fully, of the Church Pastoral Aid Society, which was established fifty years ago, and is keeping its jubilee this year.

You probably all remember, more or less accurately, the grand yet simple passage of which the words which I have chosen for my text form a part ; and yet, perhaps, it may be as well that I should read them over rapidly to you. The apostle is speaking of the ascension of Christ, and the gifts which, from His throne at the Father's right hand, He sent down to endow His visible earthly Church withal. "He gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ ; that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie

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in wait to deceive ; but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ ; from whom the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."

Every one must feel the grandeur of the passage, and every one must also

The Work of the Ministry. 39

recognize that the grandeur consists in its perfect and unique simplicity. Men imbubed with the desire of reviving the mediaeval, rather than the primitive, idea will ask, "Where is the priest?" — the power of the keys, the great organization that is to step in between the soul and Christ, and, if not renew, at least represent the great sacrifice which He offered once for all for the sins of the world, of which we may be reminded, but which can never he renewed, or represented. Some of you, I dare say, as I did two years ago, have gazed upon the great picture of a foreign artist which represents the last dread scene on Calvary, when all was finished; or some of you may have been to Ammergau, in the year of the exhibition of the Passion Play, and have come back with your own impressions from it ; but in either of these productions, those that have seen them have told me (for I have not myself seen that at Ammergau) the results were not those of art — or, at least, of art visible — but of the greatest

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and most exquisite simplicity. Still, can, or could, these great works of art represent the great mystery of the Cross ? Exquisite as works of art, what are they, what could they be, as real, transforming, spiritual powers ? At any rate, whether you desiderate it or not, whether you regretfully wish — in vain, however — that it had been there, the sacerdotal idea of the Church, with whatever it assumes as its material, visible emblems, is here, as elsewhere in St. Paul, conspicuous by its absence. The Bishop of Durham tells us in his learned and well-known essay on the Christian ministry, that the sacerdotal idea in its mediaeval conception is not to be found in any portion of the New Testament Scriptures, and does not appear in any form of mature development till the age of Cyprian — that is, the middle of the third century. Paul's conception of the work of the ministry of the Christian Church, and his own exemplification of that work in his personal life, was based on other ideas. To him the Church was the great witness of a living creed based on historic facts, with all their immense, world-wide consequences — capable of converting the hearts, directing the conscience, governing the lives of men. To him the prophet, and not the priest, was its mightiest human instrument, and next to the prophets — those rare and gifted men, themselves pervaded with the idea of the fire that made the words they uttered burn, and which carried conviction to men's souls — came that humbler, but perhaps more human, and I was almost going to say more useful power, the evangelist, the pastor and teacher, the assiduous minister, tied, perchance, within narrower

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40 The Work of the Ministry.

limits, but carrying this gospel of strength and comfort to the souls of men, knowing and known of them.

And of all these titles that of pastor touches my own heart most deeply. So, apparently, and not without reason — as he could not but remember his Master's last and great command to him — did it touch the heart of Simon Peter. Strange that he should be chosen to be the founder of the great Sacerdotal Church of Rome, for these are his words : "The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed. Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly ; not for filthy lucre, but ofa ready mind — neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away." So, again, under this image was the] Christ Himself wont to set forth His own relations to His Church. He was the " good " — or, as the Greek word more properly means, the "fair" — the "beautiful Shepherd " — the Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep, who searches even for the one strayed one until He find him.

I spoke of prophets just now — of their rarity and of their gift — of men, not only of utterance, but of spiritual power, who, like David, can bow the hearts ofa multitude as the heart of one man, swaying them hither and thither with a charm, a strange, mysterious potency, which we feel, though

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we cannot describe, and which, perhaps, we try to imitate, though we fail miserably in the attempt. Such instruments of the Spirit must always be rare. We have them in England, for there is no limitation of the gift of the apostolic age ; but they could probably be counted on one's ten fingers. I am not thinking of prophets like Agabus, who seems to have had a limited power of prevision, who could foresee the famine that was coming on the land in the days of Claudius Caesar, and who, on another occasion, taking Paul's girdle, and imitating the old prophets by his symbolical action, bound himself and said, "Thus shall the Jews bind the man that owneth this girdle." And the result of that ill-timed prophecy, however true, was that Luke and his companions at Caesarea gathered round the apostle and pressed him not to go to Jerusalem ; and when he refused to be guided by their counsel at last they acquiesced in what they saw was a manifest providence, and, in spite of the prophet's warning — if it was a warning — they simply said, "The will of the Lord be done.''

The Work of the Ministry. 4 1

When I speak of prophecy am I thinking of eloquence — mere eloquence — whether of the pulpit or of the platform, such as probably was possessed by Apollos? Apollos was a man of speech and "mighty in the Scriptures"; and when he had been perfectly, or at least, more perfectly instructed in the way of the Lord, the Church of Ephesus sent him over to Corinth, and there he preached with great approval. But the results of that preaching

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were hardly satisfactory. If he was a prophet, perchance he did not prophesy according to the full proportion of the faith ; and so he seems to have become — at least, after a time — the head of what Paul calls the schism there. There was a party not content with the simple name that was given to the first Christians at Antioch. They began that miserable history of denominational Christianity, and called themselves, some by the name of Cephas, and some, forsooth, by the name of Paul, and others by the name of Apollos. I am not thinking of that eloquence which is not altogether uncommon, and which, perhaps, in the present condition of public tastes is overvalued, and leads men to look for the secret of spiritual power where it will never be found — in declamation which is not eloquence, and in sentiment which is not feeling. Of this, perhaps, in all the churches we have enough ; and men do not seem to discover what it lacks. I am not thinking of this. I am thinking of utterances such as in my old Oxford days I heard from time to time from John Henry Newman ; such as I conceive to have been (for I never heard him) the utterances of Frederick William Robertson ; such as would probably have been, if his calling had been to speak to his fellow-men of spiritual things, the utterances of him who has been called the great "Tribune of the people — " whose knowledge of the Bible and of those whom St. Paul calls the prophets of a nation, its best poets, has not only moulded his language, but has given him so deep an insight into the thoughts that sway the hearts of men. It was Coleridge, if I remember rightly, who said that he recognized the word of God when it found him. I am not sure that that is an adequate test of the inspiration of God's word. God's word does not always find men — at least, so it seems. But it is, perhaps, a test of the true prophet that he finds men —

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at any rate, men who are looking to be found. This was even a conviction of the godless Ahab when he met the great prophet Elijah, as he was going to take possession of that coveted vineyard of Jezreel. "Hast thou found me, O mine enemy ? " "Yea," saith the prophet; "I have found thee because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the Lord."

4 2 The Work of the Ministry.

Such men seem to be rare. There were schools of the prophets in Israel ; but I do not know that the great prophets of that wonderful nation — the Isaiahs and the Jeremiahs and the Ezekiels and the like — were products of the schools. You cannot turn out a prophet as by a machine, from a theological college. We all know the account that one of them — and he not the least gifted of the godly band — gives of himself. "I was no prophet," says Amos, " neither was I prophet's son ; but I was a herdman and a gatherer of sycamore fruit ; and the Lord took me, even as before he took David, as I followed the flock : and He said unto me : go prophesy unto my people Israel."' The spirit of the prophet, says Paul, is subject to the prophet, and capable, therefore of being misused ; but though it be capable of being misused, it is, remember, the gift of God.

But high and rare, precious and, indeed, inestimable, as these gifts are — quite justifying Paul in placing prophecy as the very crown of the endowments of the Spirit, I doubt whether a much lowlier gift — a gift, too,

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attainable by all who will only go the right way to seek it — is not the gift more necessary and more profitable for these times. There are the twelve or fifteen thousand pastors in their several parishes, so far, and so far only, as they are doing their work faithfully, of course — that are the strength of the Church of England in this critical day. It is not merely, as some have pleaded in their behalf, that they are educated men, centres of light in a district which, without them, might soon lapse into darkness, though this is something, but it is more — that they are men with hearts and sympathies and tender care for sorrow and for affliction ; that their lives are before their people's eyes, and these lives are mostly — would to God they were always and everywhere — simple, unselfish, unluxurious. And such lives are a healthy, invigorating element in the atmosphere which surrounds them — here an atmosphere of hideous reeking vice and foulness — there an atmosphere of fashionably frivolity and of vice, less foul, perhaps, but not less really hideous.

It would not be right, in such a connection, to name names, but names will rise to your lips, in North and South and East and West of this great metropolis, of men illustrating what I mean by the devotion, I may almost say the sacrifice, of their lives. And you will understand how much poorer the world would be without such lives. I will not deny that the spirit and passions of the world infect men called even with this holy calling, or, if not the men themselves, then, which is hardly less mischiev-

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The Work of the Ministry. 43

ous — their wives and daughters; and if the spectacle of a true man of God, to use Paul's favorite phrase, is noble and inspiring, the spectacle of a clergyman's home, when it is the abode of a self-seeking worldly spirit, is, of all spectacles, the saddest and most mischievous ; for such leaven spreads far-. If the pastor's tone is low that of his people can hardly be high. If Demas forsake his master through love of this present world, he will have only too many of those whom he has undertaken to teach following his example. If we, the clergy, are not witnessing for Christ, we shall be, in some form, subtle and perhaps unsuspected even by ourselves, witnessing to the power of the world, the flesh, or the devil. God deliver the Church of England from ecclesiastics of the type of the Abbe Dubois !

It is astonishing how the true pastoral character seems to win the heart of the people of England. I see it again and again in my own vast diocese — vast, not in area, but in population, with its 2,300,000 souls. It is marvellous to me, and yet most encouraging, to see how few of what the world calls "gifts " are needed to fill a church, and I may even say, to work wonders in the lives and conduct of a people. A preacher acquires the truest eloquence — in fact, without it I doubt whether any pulpit eloquence can be really true — a preacher acquires the truest eloquence by his daily contact with his flock. He then gets to know their feelings, their wants, their weaknesses, their sorrows, their trials, their temptations. You cannot get that from books ;'you must get it from contact with living

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souls. I do not think a real pastor could ever preach an uninteresting sermon. True, he may offend cultured tastes. The letter " H " may not have its full and fair treatment ; there may be some provincialism of utterance ; now and then the grammar may not be quite perfect ; and these defects are decided drawbacks. I do not recommend anybody to cultivate them ; but you shall not leave the church and your mental contact with that man without feeling that he has penetrated the true secrefof spiritual" power ; and some new and higher aspect of life shall stand before each as, like the Chief Shepherd whom he is humbly trying to follow, he knows his sheep and is known of them. They follow him because they know his voice, and not his voice only — though that is a strange index of character, and a really harsh repellant voice is seldom found in company with a gentle winning heart — they know, not only his voice, but they know his life. He is seen in their streets ; he is known in their homes ; he

44 The Work of the Ministry.

watches their children coming forth from their school, and gives them a nod or a kindly tap on the head. And these things tell much farther than some of you dainty folk think they possibly can tell ; and that is the power — the power of the true pastor — which I pray God to multiply a thousand-fold in the parishes of the Church of England.

Yes ; I thank God for that far-seeing wisdom which ordered the Church

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of England on the basis of parishes. I do not know whether you read a statement that was made the other day by the Bishop of Durham, in an admirable speech at a meeting of the Church Defense Institution. The passage struck me remarkably. He was speaking of the spiritual condition of the town of Sunderland, which, he said, was the largest town in his diocese. He spoke of some of its poorest parts, and said that in those parts which he had in his mind there had previously been five Nonconformist chapels ; but the wealth, or well-to-doism, rather than the wealth, had migrated from those poor parishes, and naturally the Congregational minister followed his congregation, for he had to live ; and the places where these chapels stood would have been left destitute but for the parochial system of the Church of England. Those five Nonconformist chapels, said the Bishop of Durham, are now five mission chapels of the Church of England. The Church must stay; the incumbent must stay; and, really, it is much more pleasant, to say the least of it, and to put it upon the lowest ground, when you are bound to stay in a place, to feel that you are doing something useful, than to be merely leading an idle, frivolous life ; and the pastor who is not consumed with the fiery energy of an evangelist will feel : ''Well, perhaps, after all, I shall make my own life more happy, and my own conscience more easy, if I try to do my duty among those people from whom I cannot escape, and among whom God's providence has placed me."

I know the tendency to supplant the parochial principle by the congre gational. I lament it as one of the worst signs of an age which, in spiritual things, has " itching ears " ; but they tell me that the churches

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of London are almost always full, and that the people often love fables rather than truth, and fashionableness better than life.

I am asking you to-day to help the Church of England to do her pastoral work more fully and more adequately by enabling one, and that the •oldest of her two great missionary societies — which this year is keeping its jubilee — to send forth many more laborers into this huge vineyard, such

The Work of the Ministry. 4?

vast regions of which are still so imperfectly cultivated. I stand before you to-day, and, appealing to your liberality, I am simply endeavoring to pay a debt to my own diocese. This society sends — or did send last year — ^"6,380 into my diocese, that ^6,380 being rather more than a ninth of its whole income, by which means are maintained 66 curates and 21 lay agents. Its whole income of ^"55,000 is similarly employed over the length and breadth of the land. Its grants provide 743 agents (585 clerical and 158 lay), who labor in parishes containing, in the aggregate, about five million souls. It would fain hope in this jubilee year to raise a special fund of ^"50,000. I trust that God will so dispose the hearts of His people towards it that it may. The society's report for this year begins with a striking quotation from the letter of an incumbent of a poor parish. He says : " If only the rich Christians of our land knew how much a living, loving voice is needed in such parishes as mine there would be no

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want of funds to supply the men." Yes, men — or, unless you choose to use the word in the sense in which the word "he" is used in an Act of Parliament, I ought, perhaps, to say living agents, men and women — are at this moment the Church's greatest and most urgent need ; not merely men cognizant of ecclesiastical proprieties, whether of costume or of ritual, but men, as this clergyman says, with living, loving voices — voices not merely repeating formulae, however reverent or ancient — as though there were a spell in the very words, though the words are not intelligible to the mind, and awaken no echo in the heart of the masses of the people, at any rate, in this nineteenth century ; voices quick to respond to the great throbs of that heart, and to interpret their deep significance, their strange, unsatisfied, and often lofty yearning ; voices resonant with that undefinable sympathy which is the one bond between soul and soul — the sweet music of Christian love discernible in their very accent. Those voices need to be heard and felt, and to work their charm, not only in the dark, unhealthy courts and alleys, but in the resorts of wealth and fashion and social influence, too, if England is to retain her Christianity; for, brethren, have any of you seriously considered how little of Christianity remains in England ? I am not speaking of it as fashioning individual lives in which there is still much that is noble, unselfish, self-sacrificing, Christ-like, but as a pervading, governing, social power, characterizing and shaping the lives and thoughts of the age. Read what comes forth daily from a teeming Press. Read the contemporary literature that you find on every

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46 The Work of the Ministry.

drawing-room table and in every club-house library. Does this Press, does this literature proclaim the supremacy of Christian motive and Christian principle? or does it not rather indicate that both are merely respectable ancient traditions, which it is not convenient and, perhaps, not quite decent as yet openly to ridicule and put aside, but which no one dreams of regarding either as an incentive or as a restraint?

I am no prophet, nor the son of a prophet, as said of the old herdman of Tekoa, but methinks I see plainly enough ahead the perils that threaten society. I am not thinking of the fashionable portion to which many of you belong, but I am thinking of the whole social structure in which we live and move. I see plainly the perils ahead that threaten society from the dissolution of religion in England. People talk of the evils that spring up from the dissolution of monasteries ; but what are those evils compared with what would spring up from the dissolution of religion ? We do not put these things down by law, as they are foolishly trying to do in France ; but there is a force operating amongst us which is at once subtler and stronger than any statutory enactment. I mean that tendency of public opinion which is gradually ignoring the sanctions, and, before long, may even dare to repudiate the name of Christianity; and then shall the end come. I am not thinking of the end of the world. I do not foolishly and presumptuously antedate that great far-off event to which, no doubt, the whole creation moves ; but I am thinking of the end of a dissolute, demoralized, degenerate society. Dissolve religion, and then

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shall the end come !

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