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are a few catechists, or lay readers, who, in the absence of the clergyman, read some parts of the liturgy, and afterwards a discourse or sermon, such as the clergyman approves, or, perhaps, directs. These poor men are a very interesting description of persons. They are selected by the bishop, and act under his authority; the intelligence and piety of some of them are very eminent, and their services highly useful; though, being of the humblest rank of life, they have no other education than such as is generally given to the peasantry in Scotland. Their office is one which has been frequently adopted and authorized by the church, upon occasions and in places where they could be properly employed. In the primitive church, their business was to instruct the catechumens in the principles of the Christian religion. The catechists received their authority from the bishop, but were not allowed to teach publicly in the church, but in private auditories set apart for that purpose. In the Protestant episcopal church in America, layreaders and catechists are employed in the absence of the clergy, particularly among the Indians, and in those parts which border upon them, to perform some of the services of religion, and to lead the people in their devotions. In Scotland they are chiefly useful in officiating among the highlanders in their native Gaelic tongue. The English liturgy has been within these few years translated
into Gaelic *, and, together with a few tracts upon the list of the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, is distributed among the Episcopalians in the Highlands, through the bounty of that society, which Mr. Bowdler was very instrumental in procuring; upon which occasion he entered into a little detail respecting the catechists, which excited much interest in those who heard him, and procured for them some little pecuniary assist
It is well known that upon the settling of episcopacy in Scotland, in the reign of Charles I.
, a liturgy was framed, which, with some few variations, was taken from that which was in use in England. The chief difference was in the Communion office, in which the Scotch bishops preferred the forms used in the first liturgy of Edward VI., and in some ancient liturgies, as being fuller and more express, particularly in respect of the oblation of the elements and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, and thereby more conformable to the practice of the primitive church. This variation has been generally preferred among the Episcopalians in Scotland, and the use of it is still allowed, where the clergy and their congregations
* The Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge some years ago undertook a Gaelic translation of the Scripture, in which it received considerable assistance from the Society in London; and some copies have been lately given for the use of the poor Episcopalians in the Highlands.
desire it. This matter, together with several others, was finally arranged at a full meeting of the bishops, deans, and delegates from the several dioceses in 1811, when a code of canons was agreed to for the regulating of the internal affairs of the church.
Such is the present state of the episcopal church in Scotland;- a sound and pure part of the catholic church of Christ, instructive in its history, and highly interesting in its present circumstances; when, without the aid which the state affords to that form which it takes under its protection, without courting the eyes of men by the glare of gorgeous ceremonies, or flattering their prejudices by the absence of all the beauty of holiness, it exhibits a pure and holy service, such as may be acceptable to God and edifying to its members. Its clergy, having in seasons of deep depression and distress steadily persevered in the practice of their high and sacred duties, frequently plexed but not in despair, cast down but not destroyed ;” exciting by their patience and meek submission the sympathy and respect even of those who were hostile to their principles, — still continue, now that they are relieved from the pressure of penal enactments, to exhibit the true spirit of the Gospel, and (let it be added) of a protestant episcopal church, in an earnest zeal for their little flocks, in a firm adherence to their own principles, and a mild conciliatory disposition towards those
who differ from them. * They have still to struggle against the evils of poverty, and often of neglect; having little other subsistence than charitable donations from their congregation, and some
* The principles of conduct pursued by the episcopalians are thus inculcated in an adınirable visitation sermon, preached by the Rev. C. Fyvie, at Inverness, in June 1823. “We prefer, in opposition, indeed, to a large majority of our countrymen, but decidedly we prefer the episcopal form of church polity. And we do this not on light grounds, or from early prepossessions, but because it is, in our estimation, of apostolic origin, and, therefore, of divine institution. To this form, which was once established by law in our native land, and is still in the other two branches of the British empire, we steadily and conscientiously adhere, with no feelings, however, of illiberality or uncharitableness towards those who differ from us, much less of envy or reproach towards the members of the esta. blished church. With that church we never had any connection, we never separated from her, because we never belonged to her; and, therefore, in our views regarding her, we can be actuated by no sectarian spirit. We respect, and would be the foremost to support her as an establishment in times of public danger ;- her numerous and enlightened members we hold in that just estimation which is their due; and we readily acknowledge her claims upon our gratitude, for rearing and fostering a sober and religious people. But while we entertain these sentiments of respect and friendship for the establishment, we sincerely believe that our church, in constitution, worship, and doctrine, approaches nearer to the purity of the primitive times ; and we deem it essential that all who profess to join in her communion should distinctly understand her principles, and the reason of their attachment to them. Otherwise, situ. ated as we are, in the midst of a much larger denomination of Christians, we should soon cease to exist as a religious community; clergy and laity would, by degrees, become ignorant of our peculiar tenets, and, in consequence, indifferent to our distinctive principles; and thus the church would soon be absorbed in those religious communities with which she is sur.
times scarcely more than will supply the necessaries of life. But the labours which are sometimes overlooked upon earth are recorded on high, and their reward is from Him who knows their “ works and and tribulation, and poverty; and they are rich” in Him. Meanwhile, let not the church of England in the day of prosperity forget her poorer sister ; particularly, let her not forget the “works, and charity, and service, and faith, and patience," which have been there exhibited; for they will be an useful pattern if her own enemies prevail, and
rounded, agreeably to that universal law of nature by which smaller bodies gravitate towards larger ones. Firmly attached, then, my brethren, to your church, in her constitution, forms, and doctrines, from a sincere conviction of their excellence and importance, you will not, I am sure, rest satisfied that you have faithfully discharged your duty, unless your hearers are thoroughly instructed in them, and unless you openly avow and firmly maintain these distinguishing principles of their religion whenever you can do it with propriety and advantage. And in pursuing this course, I am equally sure, that you will not be led of necessity to make any direct attack upon the sentiments of other religious denominations. We are the enemies of no church or party, however different from our own. Such a practice, you well know, is sanctioned by no principle of your church, and, I trust, is rarely to be met with among her clergy; for although our preference to one system be exclusive, and our reason for that preference far from frivolous, yet we must recollect that under that system, and by the terms of that preference, we are bound to exercise all the charities of the Gospel."
The reader will be gratified by the perusal of another extract from this discourse : “ He who is not possessed of a considerable share of Christian humility and self-denial, as well as disinterestedness and zeal, can engage in no employment,