[from Memoirs of Bishop Hildesley]
From the ARCHBISHOP of York.
Bishopthorpe, August 14, 1762.
My good lord,
When I had the honour of seeing your lordship here, I was much surprised, in our discourse upon the state of religion in the Isle of Mann, to find that the general practice was, for the ministers in the publick service of the church to translate the Scriptures and the Liturgy offhandnd, out of English, into the language of the island. The numberless inconveniences, both to the minister and more particularly the danger of injury to the tenor of the sacred writings, and of our excellent Liturgy; by such vague translations, rnust be very obvious and disagreeable to your lordship, whose constant care and earnest zeal for the cause of religion in. your diocese is well known. It will be very worthy of your lordship to recommend, and let me add my recommendation, to some of the more experienced clergymen of the island, to frame a plain translation of the Liturgy, which should be used uniformly throughout the diocese. It were to be wished too, that such parts of the Scriptures as are the most necassary, should be carefully translated by some able clergymen of the island ; and that such translations be also uniformly used. I understand that, at present, the Gospel of St. Matthew is the only part of Scripture extant in the language of the island, and even that out of print. I hope you will now soon be able to have the four Gospels and the Acts translated, and printed ; and so go on through the whole, by degrees. These translations should receive your lordships approbation, before they are used publickly.
To print these requires more expence than can be expected from the inhabitants ; but your lordships christian endeavours to procure a fund for this purpose, will, I hope, meet with the success they deserve. Books may be given, for the publick use of the parishes, and sold to individuals, at a low price, to be fixed by your lordship.
Some small religious tracts, translated and disperfed among the lower ranks of people, would be usful ; and you have made a good beginning to that purpose.
With regard to the language to be used in the Publick church, it must differ, according to such circumstances of the parishes We have one, plain, general, apostolical rule to guide us : " let all thiigs be done to edifying, decently, and in order :" and therefore, for the souls health of the flocks committed to their charge, the ministers ought to use the language of the island, or English, in proportion to the number of their flocks that understand the one, or the other ; and the mode of ascertaining the service in the most reasonable manner, according to this proportion, must be left to the determination of the bishop, upon the representation of each minister.
This is the spirit of the law in Queen Elizabeths time, relative to the service in Wales ; and it is now observed there, according to the different circumstances of the ditferent parishes. Indeed, no edification can there be, in a ministers performing his duty in an unknown tongue ; nor are there any means surer, than the use of our established Liturgy, if well understood, to create and cherish in us a sound, spiritual, and rational devotion. The people have a right to this ; and, to every effort of sincere -affiçin for the salvation of souls, which is the true spirit of all that industry and application, which is required in a minister of the Gospel of Christ.
To keep up a just sense of the christian religion in our hearts, and to fix in our minds a rational knowledge of it, is the fundamental principle of our reformation from popery : and for that purpose, I trust, there is a due attention given to education, under school-masters properly licensed. I hope the incessant workings of the papists have not introduced any of their schools amongst your people. This attempt is severely punishable by law, and would be of the utmost ill consequence, both in a religious and civil light ; which ought to be confidered seriously by parents, who are often too fond of putting their children under the tuition of foreigners. -
The good character which your lordship gives of your clergy flatters our hopes : and the good inclinations of the people make it much to he wished, that every means were taken to cultivate the plain knowledge and plain virtue of the lower sort ; and to keep up their habits of religion, which is the most effectual means of maintaining their principles of religion.
It were also to be wished that the churches of the island were sufficiently repaired, and enlarged, and kept clean and decent. Whatever failing there may be in these refpects, it is, probably above the power of the inhabitants to amend, as it requires expence. If your Iordship shall think of any method, by a brief, or otherwise, to fulfil this good purpose, I will certainly do my utmost to co-operate with your lordship in this, and in every other of your pious intentions, for the sake of our holy religion, and the salvation of the souls committed to your charges Allow me to , be a fellowlabourer ; always ready to give my most hearty recommendation, encouragement, and assistance.
Remember my affectionate compliments to the clergy of your diocese. In all your and their truly christtian labours, my sincere wishes and prayers for your good success will attend you ; always recommending you to the favour and protection of the Almighty.
Let me hear from you ; and believe me to be, with the truest regard and esteem, my good lord,
your affectionate brother, and very humble servant, R. EBOR.