Richard Seymour.

The use of the offertory : a letter to the Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of Worcester, humbly suggesting a mode of giving greater efficiency to the Worcester Diocesan Church-Building Society, and to othe online

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Online LibraryRichard SeymourThe use of the offertory : a letter to the Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of Worcester, humbly suggesting a mode of giving greater efficiency to the Worcester Diocesan Church-Building Society, and to othe → online text (page 2 of 2)
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the Church Building Society exceeded the total amount of
all the smaller subscriptions entered in the last Report — which
smaller subscriptions do, I imagine, represent the middle and
lower classes — I do feel very sanguine, that the fund which
would thus be contributed for building, and (what is not
less important) for endowing new churches and chapels, would
very largely exceed any thing which we have yet seen in this
diocese, while there might also be supplied, from the same
source, contributions to our Diocesan Board of Education,
as well as for missionary purposes.

For, my Lord, the very use of the Offertory sentences, as a
part of divine service, would, I believe, tend to recal us to a
right mode of thinking respecting the great Christian duty of
giving alms, whether for the poor in this world's goods, or
for those who are destitute of that bread of life, which the
Church of Christ, as His appointed means, can alone impart
to them. And is there no need of such a recal ? If Love be
the fulfilling of our blessed Master's law ; and if it be a part
of Christian love to care for the eternal as well as temporal

' There might, perhaps, occasionally arise some difference of opinion as to
the right mode of distributing the sums thus collected, but this difficulty would
be easily surmounted, wherever it arose, by the aid of your Lordshii)'s


interests of others, then there cannot be a duty more plainly
incumbent on every Christian person, than this of helping to
build churches for those who are too poor to provide them
for themselves. And yet, my Lord, if we are to judge from
its practical effect, this duty is only recognized in a most
limited degree. It would not, I believe, be difficult to find
parishes, even with large populations, in which the only
subscriber to the Church Building Society is the Clergyman
of the parish, and he by no means the richest inhabitant, or
the best able to subscribe. In some such parishes it would,
I believe, be found, that there is no association for missionary
purposes, no means by which the people may contribute to
any of the great Christian works in which the Church is
engaged. And in these very parishes, it would, I believe, be
found, that even the annual Queen's letter is received reluct-
antly, and followed by the most scanty offerings. Now why,
my Lord, is this? Is it that the Clergy of these parishes have
no desire to see their parishioners co-operate in good works ?
I am far from supposing this to be the cause ; I am confident
that it is otherwise. Or is it that the inhabitants of those
parishes are less open to the blessed power of their religion,
the true and essential test of which is, victory over self, and
love towards others ? No : but simply, as I believe, because
there is wanting the means by which the Clergy may regu-
larly appeal to their flocks, and by which every Christian
worshipper may have the opportunity of exercising, as a part
of Christian worship, his thankfulness towards God, and his
love towards his brethren. That opportunity would, my
Lord, be supplied by the regular use of the Offertory. And
might we not fairly indulge the hope that, with its use, there
would revive better feelings? that people would gradually
learn, not the duty only, but also the blessedness, of partaking,
according to their ability, in every good work ? Might we
not hope that men would come to see and believe that in the
order of God's law, they benefit themselves far more by


giving, than by keeping back, of their substance ? That the
promise is *, " Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with
the first-fruits of all thine increase ; so shall thy barns be
filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new
wine :" that " There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth ;
and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, and it
tendeth to poverty :" and that the Lord Jesus hath said,
" It is more blessed to give than to receive ;" the fulness of
which blessing, and the loss to those who seek it not, will, as
our blessed Saviour has in many places declared, be abun-
dantly realised at His second coming. I am persuaded, my
Lord, that the use of the Offertory is more likely to be blessed
by God Almighty to the revival of a practical faith in these
truths, than any other means to which we can resort. I
imagine it to be the only means by which " all classes of the
community" can possibly be brought to take their share in
those good works for which the help of all is so greatly

The amount of success in restoring this practice would no
doubt be at first more or less encouraging, according to the
extent to which the duty of alms-giving has been already
taught and practised in different parishes. In some it would
be but the carrying out in a new and (as it appears to me) a
better form, principles long and faithfully acted upon. In
others it would be received as a strange thing, and would
need much patient and oft-repeated explanation. But pro-
vided that such explanation was affectionately and per-
severingly afforded, and information occasionally given re-
specting the several works to which the offerings were
devoted, either by the Clergyman himself, or by printed
statements periodically supplied to him, and circulated by
him in his parish ; provided, too, that all proper publicity
was given to the mode in which the sums collected were
disposed of, — the churchwardens being associated with the

* Prov. iii. 10, 1 1 .
B 2


Clergyman in his care of this sacred fund^ as ordered by the
Rubric, — and I cannot suppose it possible^ that the Offer-
tory would, after a little while, be in any parish other than
the channel by which the people w ould willingly make their
grateful offerings for those pious and charitable works to
which they are exhorted by their Pastor, under the sanction
of their Bishop.

I will only add, that I am, my Lord,

With the sincerest respect.

Your Lordship's obedient servant,


Kinwarton Rectory,
Dec. 5, 1842.

* " Considering tlie great amount of wealth in this country, and, I must add,
the charitable and liberal disposition of a large portion of our congregations, I
cannot think there would be any difficulty in inti'oducing the practice, with so
holy and religious an object in view. Where the contribution was voluntary,
and was urged and recommended on religious motives, it would surely be diffi-
cult to imagme on what grounds Christian congregations could object to it. It
may be said, that the amoimt would be insignificant, and that many persons
would not contribute to this fund. It is possible that some little time might be
requisite to instruct our congregations in their duties in reference to the sub-
ject ; but it is one which is so deeply connected with rehgious considerations,
that if the clergy were obliged to bring it continually before the consciences of
their hearers, it is morally impossible that there could be any failure. In fact,
several clergy in various parts of the country have, without the least difficulty,
restored the practice of collections in church. One clergj-man mentioned to me
lately, tliat the collections in his church (which are applied to the erection of a
new church) average more than four pounds each Simday." — The Rev. W.
Palmer, pp. 18, 19.

To the same efifect Mr. Markland observes :

" If this plan be regarded as visionary — that it is not worth the experiment,
because (as it may be assumed) it could not answer — that, if put uito practice,
its success would be partial, and the contributions trifling — the author would
answer in the words of our revered Metropolitan*, ' the practice of giviug will
create habits of boimty.' Communicants always increase by a more fi-equent
administration of the Eucharist, and the universal duty of Christian charity, on
its true foimdation, (by too many scarcely understood, and very little practised,
as a ftabit,) would undoubtedly, by the adoption of this weekly custom, be both
taught and encouraged." — P. 149.

* Charge of His Grace the Archbishop, 1840.


P.S. To the remarks which I have thus ventured to
address to your Lordship, I have the satisfaction of being
able to add the opinion of the learned Chancellor of the
diocese of Worcester, respecting the lawfulness of the prac-
tice recommended in my Letter.

Case submitted to Dr. Phillimore, D.C.L., and Chancellor of the
Diocese of Worcester, for his opinion.

A. B. the rector of C. informs his parishioners that he
purposes henceforth to collect " the alms for the poor, and the
other devotions of the people," not only on the days when the
Holy Communion is administered, but also on every Sunday,
in the manner enjoined by the Rubric in the Prayer Book.
He further explains to them that the offerings thus collected
will be disbursed, partly (say one half) within the parish,
amongst the poor, and partly (i. e. the other half) without the
parish, in assisting to build churches for the poor, and to
propagate the Gospel, &c. This proceeding on the part of
the rector is sanctioned by the Bishop.

Is there any thing illegal in the practice thus entered on ?
Is it in the power of a churchwarden, or wardens, or of any
parishioner, to hinder such a disbursement of money thus
collected, the purpose to which it will be devoted having
been previously made known, and its disbursement in this
way sanctioned by the Bishop ?

The Rubrics, to which attention is particularly called,

1. The two immediately preceding the Offertory sen-

2. That which follows them.

3. The last of the Rubrics which follow the Post-Com-
munion Service.

The question involved in this case is, to me, at least;, a


question primce impressionis, and therefore I have taken
rather more time to consider it, than I should otherwise have

As the Book of Common Prayer was appended to the Act
of Uniformity, it follows that the provisions contained in the
Rubrics, which form a component part of the Book of Com-
mon Prayer, have the force and validity of statute law : I am
therefore of opinion that the solution of the question pro-
pounded is to be sought for in the Rubrics alone.

The Rubrics authorise the collection of "alms for the poor,
and other devotions of the people," during the reading of the
Offertory, whether the Oifertory be followed or not by the

Further, after the termination of Divine Service, the
Rubric enjoins, that " the money given at the Offertory shall
be disposed of to such pious and charitable uses as the
minister and churchwardens shall think fit."

Thus, the collection may consist of " the other devotions
of the people," as contradistinguished from " the alms for
the poor."

Again, there is no limitation of the money collected at the
Offertory to parochial purposes. The only direction given
is, that it shall be applied to " pious and charitable uses."

From the best consideration, then, that I have been able
to apply to the facts detailed in the case, I am led to the
clear conclusion, that the incumbent of C. may, with the
concurrence of the churchwardens, apply the money col-
lected at the Offertory in the manner he proposes, and that
there is nothing illegal in the practice which he is desirous
of introducing into his parish.

As to the second point, it is undoubtedly competent to
the churchwardens to object to such an appropriation of the
money collected at the Offertory, as the rector contemplates ;
and if such objection be persisted in by both or either of the
churchwai'dens, the question at issue must be referred to the
ordinary, i. e. to the Bishop, whom the law has constituted


sole arbiter, if any disagreement should arise between the
minister and churchwardens, as to the mode in which the
money thus collected should be distributed.


Doctors' Commons, Jan. T, 1843.

The following opinion was given, though not formally, by
another learned civilian to a friend, who submitted to him
the same case :

" Of course there is nothing to hinder the clergy and
churchwardens together from disposing of the Oifertory col-
lection to any pious and charitable uses, which are not
contrary to the rules of the Church, and therefore they may
jointly apply the fund to the Society for the Propagation of
the Gospel, the building of churches for the poor, the main-
tenance of poor clergy, &c., as well as to the sick and poor of
the parish."

The following extracts from a Pastoral Letter of the Bishop
of New Jersey, (for which I am indebted to the Christian
Remembrancer,) will, I feel assured, be deemed a valuable
addition to the above. After recommending to his clergy
that, instead of monthly, or at rarer intervals, as had been
the previous practice, the offerings of the church be
MADE EVERY Lord's Day, in Connexion with the Offertory,
as appointed in the Communion Service, the Bishop pro-
ceeds thus : —

" 1. This was the primitive mode.

" II. This is the simplest and most dix-ect address that can be made to the

" III. This is the Church's proper action, in her due organization, under the
direction of her ministers, on the call of her Divine Head.

" This plan combines many advantages.

" 1. Its frequency is an advantage. The contribution can never be forgotten.

" 2. Its constancy is an advantage. The sujjply from it will be perpetual and
sure. There is nothing to be trusted like a habit.



" 3. Its simplicity is an advantage. Ft is intelligible by every one, and will
commend itself even to little children.

" 4. Its moderation is an advantage. Returning frequently, it, of course, calls,
at each time, for comparatively little. Thus it meets the convenience of all.
' If thou hast much, give plenteously ; if thou hast httle, do thy diligence gladly
to give of that little.'

, " 5. Its inexpemiveness is an advantage. It will cost nothing for agencies, and
be encumbered with no officers.

" 6. Its sobriety is an advantage. It makes no exciting appeals ; and creates
no heat, to be followed by a more than corresponding coldness. It is the oozing
of the water from the rock that fills the springs. It is the gentle dropping of
the dew that clothes the vales with verdure.

" What are its disadvantages ?

" 1. It is disagre.eahle to be asked so often to contribute. — As if the Lord's
Prayer did not ask every day for ' daily bread !'

" 2. It is disagreeable to make the collection so frequently. — As if it were not
better to be ' a door-keeper in the house of the Lord, than to dwell in the tents
of the ungodly.'

" 3. It is disagreeable to connect the giving of money with the worship of
the sanctuary. — As if there were any stn-er test of a lieart given up to God !
As if the sanctuary itself could be built or sustamed without money ! As if the
offerings, by God's own appointment, were not formerly brought to his own holy
temple ! As if the silver and tlie gold were not all his !

" 4. It is disagreeable to be detamed so long. — As if five minutes occupied in
hearing sentences from holy Scripture and in prayer were to be esteemed a
hardship for a soul that looks to an eternity of worship !

" Brethren, dearly beloved in the Lord, I have but little more to say. I need
say but little more. My office compels me to acquaint myself with the destitu-
tion of the Saviour's ' sheep that are scattered abroad in the midst of this
naughty world.' 1 have only you to look to for the means by which they may
be gathered to this fold, ' and saved through Christ for ever.' If I seem impor-
tunate to any of you, it is that you may secure that precious privilege, of w liich
He hath said, ' It is more blessed to give than to receive.' You will pardon
me this WTons;."


GiLBF.RT & UiviNCToN, Printers, St. Jolm's Square, Loiiiion.




Online LibraryRichard SeymourThe use of the offertory : a letter to the Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of Worcester, humbly suggesting a mode of giving greater efficiency to the Worcester Diocesan Church-Building Society, and to othe → online text (page 2 of 2)