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Title: Episcopal Fidelity
Author: Bayley, Emilius
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcribed from the [1877] Hatchards edition by David Price, email

                           Episcopal Fidelity.

                                 A SERMON
                      PREACHED IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY,
             _St. James’s Day_, _Wednesday_, _July_ 25, 1877,

                        LORD BISHOP OF ROCHESTER.

                                * * * * *

                                  BY THE
                   REV. SIR EMILIUS BAYLEY, BART. B.D.
                     VICAR OF ST. JOHN’S, PADDINGTON.

                                * * * * *

                         _PUBLISHED BY REQUEST_.

                                * * * * *

                      LONDON: HATCHARDS, PICCADILLY

                          _Price One Shilling_.

                                * * * * *


                             ANTHONY WILSON,

                        LORD BISHOP OF ROCHESTER,

                               This Sermon


                        AFFECTIONATELY INSCRIBED.

                                * * * * *

    ‘Our Reformers seem to have designed to leave a certain latitude on
    points which they regarded as not of fundamental importance; and if
    we would approve ourselves genuine disciples of those illustrious
    men, we must not seek to narrow the basis on which they reared their
    noble edifice, nor to exclude any whom they intended to admit.  As
    however there are some differences which do not, so there are others
    also which do, imply the existence of principles adverse to the
    spirit of our Church, and the prevalence of these ought doubtless to
    be guarded against.’—ARCHBISHOP WHATELY, _On the Use and Abuse of
    Party-Feeling in Religion_. pp. 245, 246.

    ‘We are not to hold a society together by renouncing the objects of
    it; nor to part with our faith and our hope, as a means of attaining
    charity; but rather seek to combine the three; and by earnest zeal,
    without violence or bigotry,—by firmness, accompanied with
    moderation, discretion, and temper,—by conciliating adversaries
    without sacrificing the truth,—and by hearty yet mild co-operation
    with friends, to obtain the advantages of party-feeling, yet avoid
    its evils; and promote peace, without falling into
    indifference.’—_Ibid._ pp. 29, 30.


    ‘Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for
    in doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear
    thee.’—1 _Tim._ iv. 16.

OUR thoughts turn naturally to-day to the subject of the Christian
ministry; and especially to that high office in it to which our brother
in Christ is about to be admitted.

Scripture perhaps contains no exact model of the Episcopal office as it
now exists.  It is not identical with the Apostolate. {5}  Neither again
can it be satisfactorily proved to be precisely identical with the office
held by Timothy at Ephesus, and by Titus at Crete.  St. Paul’s language
implies that the position which they held was temporary; they formed, as
it were, the link between the Apostle whose superintendence was
occasional, and the bishop whose rule was permanent.

We must rather seek some central idea if we would grasp the highest aim
of the Episcopate: and we find that idea not in the outward framework of
the Church, but in the truth which it enshrines: not in Apostolic order,
however valuable, but in Apostolic doctrine: not in a succession of form,
but in a succession of faith, ‘_the_ faith once for all delivered to the
saints.’ (Jude, 3.)

And this leads us to the text: in which the Apostle touches upon the
_official_ life, the _personal_ life, the _consecrated_ life of one who
was called upon to discharge for a while Episcopal functions: ‘Take heed
unto the doctrine:’ ‘Take heed unto thyself:’ ‘Continue in them:’
enforcing his exhortation by the _promise_, ‘for in doing this, thou
shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee.’

                                * * * * *

THE OFFICIAL LIFE.  ‘Take heed unto the doctrine.’

As believers in the Divine origin of Christianity, we assume that there
was revealed to the Apostles a body of religious truth, definite,
complete, unchangeable.

In the pastoral Epistles this distinctive body of truth is frequently
referred to, as ‘the pattern of sound words’ (2 Tim. i. 13), ‘the sound
(healthful) doctrine’ (1 Tim. i. 10; 2 Tim. iv. 3; Tit ii. 1), ‘the
doctrine which is according to godliness’ (1 Tim. vi. 3), ‘the gospel of
the glory of the blessed God’ (1 Tim. i. 11), ‘the good deposit’ (1 Tim.
vi. 20; 2 Tim. i. 14); ἡ πίστις, τὸ χήρυγμα, according to the gloss of
Chrysostom; Catholicæ fidei talentum.

Of this body of truth, Divine in its origin, and invested with Divine
authority, two things may be predicated; first, that it is unchanged and
unchangeable; secondly, that it is embodied in the Articles and
Formularies of the Church of England.

It may be allowed that in all ages change has been the law of human
affairs.  But it is a mistake to associate this law of change with the
central truths of Christianity; and for this reason, that Christianity is
founded upon facts, upon events that have actually taken place; and if
these facts are incapable of change, then are the doctrines which are
founded upon them incapable of change also.  Men may seek to sweep away
the objective reality of Christianity; but, failing as they do in this,
then inasmuch as the facts upon which Christianity reposes have been
already wrought, and cannot be undone, the Gospel which we preach
partakes of the immutability of those facts, and is alike unchangeable.

Equally certain is it, that the great Christian truths which were held in
apostolic and primitive days, are identical with those which are embodied
in the teaching of the Church of England.

True indeed we are liable to attack.  We are met on the one side by the
champions of scientific scepticism, and on the other, by the adherents of
modern Rome; the one seeking to destroy the historical basis of our
faith, the other to press upon us conclusions for which we find no
warrant in God’s written word.

It would seem, however, that as the science of attack developes itself,
the science of defence receives from unexpected quarters fresh accessions
of strength.

If modern research tends to show that some portions of the outworks of
Christianity are less strong than had been supposed, it proves with
rigorous precision that the fortress itself is impregnable.  Every ruin
that is uncovered, every site that is identified, every inscription that
is deciphered, confirms the historical veracity of the sacred writers.
The Bible is made an object of ridicule, and the very stones cry out in
condemnation; the statements of inspiration are denied, and witness after
witness rises up to prove them; the voices of eager sceptics proclaim the
overthrow of revelation, and there come to us from across those Eastern
plains such voices from the buried past as prove their boast to be vain.

Nor is it only when arguing with the sceptic that we claim the testimony
of modern research; we call the same witness to our aid when dealing with
the errors of Rome and her imitators.

The most important of recent discoveries in the domain of early Christian
literature is that made by the Greek Bishop Briennios in the library of
the Holy Sepulchre in Constantinople.

The lost fragment of the Epistle of Clement is thus recovered, and with
the aid of a recently discovered version of the name Epistle, learned men
can now restore almost in its entirety the most venerable of uninspired
Christian writings. {9}

Read that Epistle, and you find that it teaches plainly the doctrines of
the Trinity, the Atonement, Justification by faith, and other distinctive
doctrines of our Church.  It is important for what it teaches; but it is
almost equally important for what it does not teach.  Silence is
sometimes more eloquent than words; and certainly the fact that the
Epistle of Clement is absolutely silent upon the prominent doctrines of
modern Rome proves that those doctrines were unknown at the close of the
first century.  Is it possible that the doctrines of papal infallibility,
transubstantiation, the sacrifice of the mass, the worship of the Virgin,
and the like, could have existed in the days of Clement, and yet have
been passed over by him in absolute silence?  Whilst as regards those
questions which agitate our own Church, the teaching of the epistle upon
sacrifice, its freedom from sacerdotalism, the absence in it of all
reference to priestly mediation and the confessional, strongly confirms
the Protestant view of Christian faith and practice.

A sacred deposit of Christian truth existed then in the days of the

Timothy is solemnly charged to ‘preach’ it (2 Tim. iv. 1, 2); to ‘keep’
it (2 Tim. i. 14); to ‘hold it fast’ (v. 13); to guard it jealously
against those who would tamper with its integrity, or substitute in its
place the inventions of men. (1 Tim. i. 3; vi. 20.)  Nor is he only to
watch over it himself, he is to commit the teaching of it to trusty
guardians: ‘The things which thou hast heard of me . . . the same commit
thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.’ (2 Tim.
ii. 2.)

If, then, the Christian bishop possesses a glorious heritage of Divine
truth, a privilege indeed which he shares with the humblest believer, he
assumes also a special responsibility.  As ‘the steward of God,’ he is
pledged in the fullest sense of the term to ‘give heed unto the

The principle thus set forth is a plain one; but the application of the
principle in these modern times is attended with no common difficulties.
Perhaps we may find some clue to their solution if we draw a distinction
between a bishop’s own personal beliefs and acts, and the beliefs and
acts of others; between the toleration which he extends to others, and
the toleration which he metes out to himself.

Certainly in three of the chief functions of the episcopal office, in
_teaching_, in _ordaining_, in _promoting_, the bishop may adhere, nay,
he must adhere with the utmost rigour to what he believes to be the truth
of God.

In his charges, in his sermons, in all his public and private utterances,
he will speak with faithfulness and courage: he will give no needless
offence; he will respect the conscientious opinions of those who differ
from him; he will fully recognise the somewhat elastic boundaries of our
national Church; but as far as he himself is concerned, he will keep back
nothing that is profitable.

Never surely was it of greater importance that our bishops should speak
out plainly and boldly, than it is at this moment.  The public mind is
anxious.  The air is charged with the subtle electricity of rumour.  Of
rumour, do I say?  Nay, do not unhealthy _facts_ stare us in the face?
Facts which tell of the active forces of infidelity on the one hand, and
on the other, of the existence within our own borders of a strong
anti-Protestant spirit, and an evident sympathy with the doctrines and
practices of Rome.

Brethren, this country is a Protestant country, and it means to remain
so.  The Church of England is a Protestant church, and we of this
generation, God willing, mean her to remain so.  We respect the opinions
of others; but we are not ashamed of our own; we would do violence to no
man’s faith, but we protest against the action of those who, holding
positions of authority within our reformed church, are seeking to
undermine the citadel, if not to hand it over to the enemy at the gate.

There is need of vigilance, wisdom, fidelity, courage in our spiritual
rulers: but they lead a willing people.  Never, I believe, were the laity
of our Church more ready to hearken to the clear, incisive proclamation
of distinctive truth: never more willing to welcome the doctrine of a
free, full present salvation: never more anxious to stand by their
bishops, if their bishops stand by the pure truth of God.

But the bishop ordains as well as teaches.

The limits of the Church of England are confessedly wide:—it is well that
they should be so.  Even her limits, perhaps, are narrower than those of
the apostolic church; the spirit of exclusion has prevailed over that of
comprehension.  Still she is at this moment, to her discredit some would
hold, to her honour many believe, the most comprehensive church in
Christendom.  Limits however do exist.  It may be difficult precisely to
define them.  Yet surely the denial of the fundamental verities of our
creeds, or the persistent teaching of the peculiar doctrines of Rome are
not consistent with honest English churchmanship; and if those who
exercise their ministry in the Church of England are found in either of
these extremes, the question will be asked, how did they gain entrance to
that ministry?  No doubt opinions may change, and often do change after
ordination; but it should surely be the aim of him who ‘gives heed unto
the doctrine,’ to detect the latent seeds of evil, as well as to note
them when they reach maturity.  And thus to guard the avenue to the
ministerial office with a firm though tolerant hand.

But once more, the modern bishop is the dispenser of patronage; and
directly and indirectly he influences a large number of appointments in
his diocese.

Now if, as a trustee of public property, he thinks last, not first, of
private ends and personal interests; if, as a bishop of the whole
diocese, not of any section of it, he ignores mere party claims and seeks
out the best men from all schools of thought, he will yet surely give
prominence to these three qualifications: first, that a man by holy
living gives evidence of a truly converted heart; secondly, that his
teaching faithfully reflects the leading truths of the Gospel, as
received by our reformed Church; and lastly, that he has proved by hard
work that be will not spare himself in his ministry.

In the discharge of these important functions the faithful bishop will
‘give heed unto the doctrine.’

But besides a bishop’s own personal beliefs and actions, he has to deal
as a ruler in the Church with the beliefs and actions of others.  And
here, no doubt, his path is often an anxious one.  As long as his clergy
keep within the limits of law, of law interpreted not with the rigour of
a criminal court but in the tolerant spirit of Christian charity, his
duties in this department will be light.  But if the law through
negligence or through self-will be distinctly broken, the bishop is
surely bound, so far as the law arms him with power, to vindicate its

Perhaps indeed it is well in the interests of truth that the
controversies which have been vexing our Church have somewhat shifted
their ground; and that the question now is not so much concerning the
colour of a vestment, or the precise position of the clergyman, as of the
sacredness of family life, and the free access of the penitent to his

The public mind of this country is slow to recognise the importance of
abstract doctrine, and is somewhat scornfully indifferent to the
extravagancies of mediæval ritual.  But when the working of a system is
shown in practices which introduce the priest into the place of the
Saviour—aye, and which threaten the very foundations of morality—public
opinion raises its indignant protest, and demands that the evil shall be
cast forth from our Church.  Let all forbearance be shown to the honest
perplexities of thought; but let not a church, which is Protestant to the
core, ally herself with the enemies of the Reformation, or cherish within
her bosom practices which are Scripturally indefensible, and morally

I venture, however, to think, that in cases which touch no _moral_
ground, the wisdom of a sound expediency, as well as the spirit of the
Gospel, suggest the anxious employment of every weapon of persuasion, of
every influence which love can devise, before recourse be had to the
harsh and repellent forms of law.  Truth must ever be the great weapon of
persuasion.  Strife is an element alien to the Gospel.  ‘The servant of
the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men . . . in meekness
instructing those that oppose themselves.’ (2 Tim. ii. 24, 25.)

                                * * * * *

I pass on from the official to—

THE PERSONAL LIFE of the bishop.

Very close is the connexion between the two lives.

‘Holding faith and a good conscience, which some having thrust away made
shipwreck concerning the faith.’ (1 Tim. i. 19.)

‘Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.’ (1 Tim. iii. 9.)

‘Take heed unto thyself.’

It is a condensed enforcement of the counsels of verse 12, ‘Be thou an
example of the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in faith, in

It is needless to dwell upon the truth that a holy life is the best
recommendation of holy doctrine, and that what gives force to the
utterances of the Christian minister is the hidden fire of the spiritual
life which burns within.  And if this be true of the humblest of God’s
servants, it is pre-eminently true of those who occupy high stations in
the Church.  If in one sense a bishop’s life is a protected life, a life
guarded and shielded from many forms of temptation, it probably has its
special and peculiar trials; and it only becomes a safe life, when it is
lived as in the very presence of God.

And this brings us to the last of the three counsels of the text.

                                * * * * *


‘Continue in them.’

The words sound like an echo of those in the preceding verse: ‘Meditate
upon these things; give thyself wholly to them’ (ver. 15).  They are the
‘things’ of the official and personal life, the ministry of the word, and
the cultivation of the life within.  ‘In them continue;’ in them be
wholly occupied and absorbed.

‘The longer I live,’ writes a layman, who did good service in his day,
‘the more I am certain that the great difference between men, between the
feeble and the powerful, the great and the insignificant, is energy,
invincible determination of purpose once fixed, and then death or
victory.’  (Sir T. Fowell Buxton.)

And here I would claim for the clergy some consideration at the hands of
others—some time for thought, for study, for meditation, for prayer.

When the Apostles declared with an emphasis, which after a lapse of
eighteen centuries preserves all its freshness, ‘We will give ourselves
continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word’ (Acts, vi 4),
they revealed to us the secret of their success.

But how hard is it to follow their steps.  Living as we do in the midst
of an advanced civilisation, surrounded by a network of activities which
touches us on every side, it is difficult to resist the pressure of
secular duties, and to vindicate the spiritual claims of the office which
we hold.  But whilst it is easy to protest against the secularisation of
the Christian ministry, it is not so easy to point out the remedy.  Each
one must work out a deliverance for himself.  Each one must map out his
own life, and pursue his purpose stedfastly to the end.

Our leading journal, writing of the increase of the episcopate, observes
that the ‘danger will be that bishops should allow themselves to be
absorbed in the mere business and bustle of their work, and should
neglect the more solid and silent part of their duties.  The bishop must
find time for constant intercourse with his books, for thought, and for
mature preaching.  He must make himself everywhere felt; but he must also
reserve himself, and should be at least as conspicuous for judgment as
for learning, and for moderation as for activity.’ (_Times_, June 13,
1877.) {17}

It is well that the public should recognise the sacredness, the
spirituality of the episcopal office.  No man, however able, can think,
and study, and pray, if he is to live in a state of ceaseless location.
Laity and clergy alike should remember that their bishops must have time
for preparation, if their public utterances are to be worthy of the
occasion; that nothing is so subtle as the processes of thought; nothing
so laborious as the creative work of composition; and that one needless
interruption may bring about a mental chaos, and throw into hopeless
disorder the delicate machinery of the mind.

                                * * * * *

Note, lastly, THE ANIMATING PROMISE by which the threefold exhortation is

‘For in doing this thou shalt save both thyself and them that hear thee.’

‘Thou salt save thyself.’  A selfish motive some will argue.  Nay, not
more selfish than it is to exist.  It is selfish to pursue our own
advantage at the expense of others.  It is _not_ selfish to wish our own
highest goal:—the wish is bound up in our existence.

And again, the Christian’s wish is not for himself alone; it is not
lonely, solitary affection.  He longs for immortality for himself; he
longs for it also on behalf of and in company with others.  ‘It is not a
selfish instinct,’ writes one of our deepest Christian thinkers, ‘it is
not a neutral one, it is a moral and a generous one, . . .  Christianity
knows nothing of a hope of immortality for the individual alone, but only
of a glorious hope for the individual . . . in the eternal society of the
Church triumphant.  (Mozley’s _University Sermons_, p. 71.)

Such, then, is the promise held out to the faithful minister.  He ensures
his own salvation; he helps forward the salvation of others.  He aims at
nothing short of this; and he knows that his ‘labour is not in vain in
the Lord.’ (1 Cor. xv. 58.)

To the work thus briefly sketched our brother in Christ is now to be sent

This much would I only add, that having wrought side by side with him in
this great London for years now not a few, I can testify from no
superficial knowledge, as with no common warmth of affection, to what I
cannot but feel to be his special fitness for the work which lies before

If experience gathered in the past is any pledge for the future; if work
well done during years of patient toil is any assurance that work shall
be well done in years which may yet remain; if thoughtful, careful
preaching of the word of life, and the successful administration of the
largest metropolitan parishes is any warrant for expecting the
continuation of such ministry in a wider field of labour; then will no
common hopes gather round this now Episcopate.  Nor has there been
wanting that highest of all training, the training of personal
affliction.  If we are taught to-day in the martyrdom of St. James, that
the law of self-surrender is the law of ministerial success; if the
voiceless tomb of the one Apostle and the silent dungeon of the other
were the forerunners of the Church’s most rapid growth, when ‘the word of
God grew and multiplied’ (Acts, xii. 24); the ministry of one, who has
been taught in the same school, will issue, we may humbly hope, in a like

Our Church claims to have inherited Apostolic doctrine, an Apostolic
framework, and a history which dates from the Apostolic age.  The
ninety-eighth occupant of the See of Rochester can boast of a long and
distinguished spiritual ancestry.  Founded in 604, some ten years after
the landing of Augustine, the See is, with the single exception of that
of Canterbury, the most ancient in the kingdom; and has numbered amongst
its Bishops such eminent men as Paulinus the apostle of Northumberland;
Gundulph, the greatest of Norman architects; Cardinal Fisher, beheaded by
Henry VIII.: Ridley, the martyr; Turner, the non-juror; Atterbury, the
high-churchman; and Samuel Horsley, the mathematician, the orator, and
the divine.  The See of Rochester carries with it therefore, the prestige
of a venerable antiquity; but its interest to-day lies not so much in the
records of the past, as in the living wants of the present.

Across the river which divides our city, lies a vast and dense
population, soon to form part of this ancient diocese.  Faithful men have
been labouring there for years.  The new Bishop goes forth amongst them,
to guide, to stimulate, to encourage, and to strengthen.

He will remember, as having enjoyed the liberty himself, that in the
words of one whose name is warmly cherished in this place, ‘the
independent and _quasi_ episcopal position of the rector is one of the
most blessed safeguards of the Church of England’ (_Kingsley’s Life_, ii.
80): but he will also remember that a wise and tolerant rule is quite
consistent with personal and official fidelity.

He will remember too, aye, he will never be ashamed of confessing those
great evangelical doctrines which have ever been the joy and strength of
his ministry.

It is the fashion with some to sneer at those doctrines, as belonging to
a byegone age, as the fossil remains of an era, when light was scanty and
intelligence rare.

Brethren, there were giants in those days.  Are we quite sure that there
are any giants now?

If it be indeed a mark of narrow-mindedness to aim in all our teaching at
the exaltation of the Saviour; if it be a mark of narrow-mindedness to
preach the universality of human corruption, the absolute perfection of
the redemptive work of Christ, and the regenerating power of the Holy
Ghost; then must we plead guilty to the charge.

But may not the caution addressed by Bishop Horsley to his clergy upon
the subject of Calvinism be applicable with slight change in these modern
days?  ‘Take care before you aim your shafts at’ Evangelical
Churchmanship, ‘that you know what it is, and what it is not . . . lest
when you mean only to fall foul of a human system, you should unwarily
attack something more sacred and of higher origin.’  (_Horsley’s
Charges_, p. 226.)

We think we find our doctrines in the formularies of the Church of
England; we think we find them in the writings of our Reformers; we think
we find them in the records of primitive antiquity; we think we find them
in the Word of God.  We lay no claim to infallibility, but we claim a
right to be true to our convictions.  We have tasted the old; we have
examined the new; and we say from the very bottom of our hearts, ‘The old
in better.’

It in on behalf of such a ministry that we ask your prayers.

In these difficult days, when questions of the most perplexing kind are
springing up on every side, and when the demands made upon a bishop’s
energies are of a most exhaustive character, the bravest might well
shrink from entering upon so great a charge.  But we serve a loving and
considerate Master.  The burden may indeed be heavy to bear, but He who
lays it upon His servant will assuredly give him strength to bear it; and
bear it we believe he will, untiring, unresting in his work, until the
dying echoes of this day’s service give place to the blessed, joyous
welcome.  ‘Well done, good and faithful servant, . . . enter thou into
the joy of thy Lord.’

By the same Author.

                Just published.  Sq. fcp. 8vo, sewed, 1s.

                        CHRISTIAN TREASURE-TROVE;

    Containing the Epistle of St. Clement of Rome to the Corinthians,

And the Recovery thereby of a Portion of a Christian Writing of the first
Century, which was missing in the only copy of Clement’s Epistle before
known to exist: with a Description of the Epistle itself, and of its
bearing upon Romish Error and Evangelical Truth.

                                * * * * *

                         COMMENTARY AND SERMONS.
                       Post 8vo. cloth, 7_s._ 6_d._

                                * * * * *

                           THE CHRISTIAN LIFE.
                            12mo. cloth, 3_s._

                                * * * * *

                               THE CHOICE.
                      FIVE LECTURES ON CONFIRMATION.
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                                * * * * *

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                                * * * * *

                         THE MEEKNESS OF WISDOM.

             _Published by Request_.  Crown 8vo. sewed, 6_d._

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *



{5}  Besides other points of difference, the Apostle held no _local_
office: he was essentially a Missionary, moving about from place to
place, founding and confirming new churches.

{9}  The most probably date of the Epistle of Clement is 96 A.D.

{17}  ‘The Bishop ought to depute as much as possible of mechanical and
secular work . . . he ought to restrict even his political and social
duties, so as to leave full scope for the spiritual.  Whatever grumbling
may be caused by his so doing he must husband his energies and his
influence.’—_Guardian_, June, 1877.

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Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.