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Note :- Containing some passages from the writings of bishop Wilson, in which he speaks of Church-government and of the office of a bishop.
“ The duties of a bishop, by the laws of God, and the church are:
“To instruct the people committed to his charge out of the Holy Scriptures, and to teach or maintain no doctrine but what may be proved from thence. Sunday. (This little sketch of episcopal duties is probably thus marked out as furnishing to him daily matter for reflection and self-examination.]
“ To exercise himself in these Holy Scriptures; to call upon God for the true understanding of the same. Monday.
“ To use all faithful diligence in driving away all doctrines contrary to God's word, and to encourage others to do so. Tuesday.
“ To deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live a sober, righteous, and godly life, so as to be an example unto others. Wed. nesday.
“ To maintain and set forward, as much as may be, quietness, love, and peace, among all men; and to correct and punish the unruly, criminous, and disobedient, as far as God's word and the laws of the land do require and will warrant. Thursday.
“ To be faithful in ordaining, sending, or laying hands upon others. Friday.
66 To be gentle and merciful for Christ's sake, to poor and needy people, and to all strangers destitute of help. Saturday.” Sacra Privata.
“ If ever church discipline were necessary, it is certainly so now, when not only evil practices (which have ever, God knows, been too rife), but evil books and evil notions (not heard of before in this place), are become very common.” Charge, June 1720.
" However church discipline may be weakened and despised in England, by reason of the schisms and heresies which abound there, yet here, God be praised, it is not so; we have power and authority both from God and the laws, to rebuke gainsayers; and, while we are unanimous and faithful in the discharge of our duty, we may hope that our people will not be corrupted with novel opinions. Now the most effectual way to prevent this will be, for all of us, that are appointed to watch over the flock of Christ, to employ our thoughts, our zeal, and our time, in promoting of true piety; in labouring to make men good ; and in converting sinners from the error of their
ways, that we may preserve the power as well as the form of godli.
Charge, 1720. “We knew very well the sin and danger of a rash excommunication.”—Then after stating that he, with the presbyters of his diocese, being called together, “ according to primitive usage,” had patiently heard the whole case of the archdeacon, and weighed well the nature and value of the evidence, he proceeds ; "it was then, and not till then, you know, that we proceeded to the last sentence, after the most solemn appeal to God, and invocation of his holy name and aid. So that it must be very rash and great uncharitableness in any body to judge of our proceedings by hearsay; as if we had forgotten the apostle's rule, which yet at that very time we had before us, To do nothing by partiality." Charge, 1720.
“Prudence is very necessary in dangerous times ; it being no small fault to give occasion to the raising of storms against the church and her ministers, for want of having a due regard to the times and to the passions of carnal men.” Sacra Privata.
“ Every Christian, when he is baptized, is admitted into the church upon a most solemn promise to live as a Christian ought to do; if he does not do so, those very ministers who admitted him are bound to exhort, to rebuke, and to censure him: and if these methods will not do, to excommunicate him; that is to cut him off from the body of Christ and from God's favour and meroy. Not that he may be lost for ever, but that he may see his sad condition, and repent and be saved.” Form of Excommunication.
“ Let us take care that we use this authority, as the apostle directs, for edification and not for destruction." ib.
“ It is a part of that ministry wbich we have received by the imposition of hands, and which we most humbly pray God to enable us to exercise to his glory, to the putting a stop to the growing vices of the age, and to the edification of the church of Christ, which he hath purchased with his blood. Amen." ib.
“ If God be satisfied with a pastor, it is of little importance whether he please or displease men.” Sacra Privata.
“ They whose duty it is to punish offenders should take great care not to be influenced by pride, hypocrisy, passion, false zeal or malice; but to punish with reluctancy and compassion, as having a sense of their own misery and weakness, which perhaps render them more guilty in the sight of God.” Sacra Privata.
“ Excommunication is only for the contumacious ; not to insult but to cure." ib.
“ The public good is the sole end of church discipline. The interest of the governors of the church is no way concerned in it, but only the advantage of their flock. That sinners may be converted ; that contagion may be hindered from spreading ; that every one may be kept to his duty, and in obedience to the laws of God; that judgments may be averted from the public : and that God in all things may be glorified; that differences among neighbours may be made up, and charity improved." ib.
HIS DOMESTIC CHARACTER.
“ The parson is very exact in the governing of his house, making it a copy and model for his parish. Herbert.
“ Grant, O Lord, that my care and conduct in the church of God, may appear in the order and piety of my own family. O Heavenly Lord and Master, bless us, and take us under thy gracious protection ; and make us an household fearing God, and examples to others of order, diligence, faithfulness, and piety.” Bishop Wilson.
A few months after his appointment to the see of Man, bishop Wilson returned to England for the purpose of being married to Mary the daughter of Thomas Patten, Esq., a gentleman who traced his descent by a direct line from a brother of the devout bishop William of Wainfleet, the munificent founder of Magdalen College, at Oxford, and whose family had long resided at Warrington, a town not very far from the parish of Winwick, in which bishop Wilson had passed so many years of his ministry. Before taking so important a step he did not fail to implore the guidance and blessing of God, which he felt to be essential to his happiness in every condition of life. “Make her,” he prayed, “whom Thou wilt make my wife a meet help for me, that we may live together to thy honour and glory in this world, and be made partakers of everlasting glory in the world to come.” Another composed for their daily use was also found amongst his papers, and it is here subjoined because it shows the spirit and temper in which they wished to live together.
Another prayer 66 T. “M.)
To be said every morning together, Wilson.
before we stir abroad. “O God, by whose favour and providence we are made one flesh, look mercifully upon us from heaven, and bless us, and make us instrumental to the eternal welfare of each other.
“ Give us grace that we may faithfully perform our marriage vows, that we may live in perfect love and peace together, in a conscientious obedience to thy laws, and in a comfortable prospect of happiness all our days. Grant, if it be thy gracious will, that we may live to see our children christianly and virtuously brought up; or if in thy wisdom thou shalt order it otherwise, be pleased in mercy to provide for their everlasting happiness. In the mean time, give us grace that we may teach them, and our household, the fear of God, and be examples to them of piety and true religion.
Continue to us such a share of the good things of this world as to Thee seems most meet for us ; and whatever our condition shall be, enable us to be content and thankful. Vouchsafe us a share in the happiness of the next life: and thy blessed will be done for what shall happen to us in this.
“ Hear us, O God, for Jesus Christ his sake, the Son of thy love. Amen, Amen."
Mrs. Wilson proved to be a most worthy and suitable companion for this excellent man, being, according to his own description, endued with great modesty and meekness of spirit, remarkable for the discharge of her duty to her parents, and for her love to her relations ; he praises God for her great love to him and his friends, for her fidelity to her marriage vows, for her tender affection to her children, for her performance of all the offices of a kind and pious mother, for her peculiar care of her