A WILL recently proved contains provision for the payment of a guinea apiece to the clergymen of two churches at Loughton, for the preaching of two sermons “on the morrow of All Saints’ Day or the Sunday next following”, provided that in each the clergyman shall first read the old Bidding Prayer. The endowment of sermons has gradually dropped out of fashion, and there have been few instances within recent years. It was a form of charity which the Puritans affected, since by founding lectureships in parish churches they could annoy the incumbents, and a smaller sum than would be necessary for the endowment of a lectureship would at least provide an annual sermon on a favourite theme. Many old endowments of the sort are still enjoyed by incumbents, though the enjoyment may be of a qualified kind. In one parish known to us the vicar receives a small sum annually for two sermons on Gunpowder Plot and the defeat of the Armada. It is permissible to suggest that after fulfilling the conditions of the benefaction for a number of years the vicar may find some difficulty in investing his themes with any freshness. But the endowment of a sermon to be preached on “the morrow of All Saints’” is a different matter. The natural theme for sermons on that day is the state of the faithful departed and our relation of piety towards them, and if an endowment should have the effect of directing attention to the sermon the benefaction will have been fully justified.
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