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“it hath pleased him to deliver this our brother

out of the miseries of this sinful world,”---and prays,

“ that when we shall depart this life, we may rest in him (Christ) as our hope is, this

our brother doth.” What now must the attending crowd think of all this? If they think at all, it must be either,

First. That what the priest hath said is true, and may be depended on as the word of God, whose ambassador he is supposed to be; and if so—my neighbour, notwithstanding the debauchery in which he lived, is now in a safe state-there is no such need of virtue to prepare a man for the future world, as preachers, yea, as our priest himself is wont to tell us.-Remission may be had in this world, and salvation in the other, without breaking off my sins.-- If I can but in my last moments confess them to the priest, he is authorized by the Holy Trinity, to grant me full forgivenesss.-I shall have peace therefore, though I go on to add drunkenness to thirst ; and however vicious my life be, may have hope in my death that I shall “ rest in Christ,” as the priest declares, he hopes “ this our brother doth.” Thus must a man reason, if he believes what the priest says. But,

Secondly. If these pretensions and expressions be examined but by common sense, they appear to be all a solemn farce, a shocking and gross delusion; a dangerous encouragement to careless and immoral living ; subversive of holiness, righteousness, temperance, &c. i. e. of the kingdom of Christ on earth; and calculated to advance

the power of priests, and to stupify and enslave the consciences of men.--It is a public declara

tion of the priest, that he hopes for that which, in many cases, it is impossible he should hope for.

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Vic. I have attended patiently your long discourse; not that I greatly needed its conviction ; for I believe there are few amongst our wise and thinking clergy, whose sentiments on these points much differ from yours. But what shall we do? the law prescribes, and we must obey. Both the cases you mention, have often given me great uneasiness, especially the latter, the office of burial. Two of our great archbishops, Sancroft and Tillotson, freely declared against it; the former acknowledged he never took any cure of souls upon him, through his dissatisfaction with that office. And as though the rubrick was not enough to pin us down to its constant and invariable use in every other case, besides those it excepts, the canon comes after, and absolutely requires, * “That “ no minister shall refuse to bury any corpse that “ is brought to the church or church-yard in such

manner and form as is prescribed in the book “ of Common Prayer;" i. e. any one but those who die unbaptised, excommunicated, or have laid violent hands on themselves. “ And if he “ shall refuse it, except the party deceased were “ denounced excommunicated majori ercommunicatione, he shall be suspended by the bishop “ of the diocese from his ministry for three months. So that if a man were shot dead in an attempt to rob or murder his neighbour, or to break into his house, or in ravishing his wife, yet when brought to be buried, we must “thank God that he hath “ taken to himself, &c” and “ profess our hope " that he rests in Christ."

Gent. Truly, Sir, your case is extremely hard, -I think your consciences deserve relief, much more than the insolvent debtors; and as I have the honour to be a member of the house of Com

• Can. 68.

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mons, I would to my utmost promote a bill for that purpose. It is a reproach to the honour, and manifestly tends to corrupt the morals of our nation, and to banish all faith and integrity from amongst us, to force our clergy to subscribe articles they do not believe, and to address the divine Majesty in forms they do not approve, but inwardly condemn. It cannot but grate upon a generous and brave mind to be thus shackled and pinned down.--Much more must it gall the spirit of a well instructed christian, who is the Lord's freed man; one whom Christ hath set free from all human authority in matters of religion; and hath commanded to call no man master but himself:—Why do you not petition to the parliament for relief?

Vic. To be free, Sir,-there is so much bigotry and superstition amongst the clergy themselves, and so afraid are they, that if a single pin of the ecclesiastic frame be pulled out, the whole hierar. chy will be demolished, that no petition of this kind can be ever expected from them. No; but as the king and parliament of England are the only proper fathers and governors of our church, to them alone it belongs to consider and redress these matters of complaint.

Gent. I shall heartily encourage an attempt of this kind, being fully convinced that the circumstances of our church greatly require it. A spirit of freedom and enquiry is gone forth into the present age. Nothing but what has reason or scripture to support it, will now pass for sacred : yea, every ceremony and claim in matters of religion, which is not thus supported, will pass for farce and solemn mockery with men of virtue and sense : and as it is only amongst such that true religion can flourish, nothing can more concera

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us than to approve our established doctrines and forms of worship to them. Let me tell you an occurrence not quite foreign to the present subject. I was lately in a full room of gentlemen of good sense, when the following article was read aloud from the common newspaper.—“ The Right “ Reverend Father-in-God the Lord Bishop of

-, yesterday set out for a remote parish of “ his diocese, to consecrate a piece of ground for “ the enlargement of its church yard, the antient “limits being too narror conveniently to receive “ their dead."- It would have grieved a good .churchman to see the unbelieving smile it raised over all the room.—And cannot their lordships make holy water, says one, as well as holy ground? Methinks there should be nought in one element which makes it more difficult or unapt for consecration, than another. Heaven, no doubt, bas empowered them for both alike; and one would imagine it as much for one soul's health, to have the body when living bedewed often with boly water, as when dead to lie perishing in holy earth.

In former ages, replied another, when mystery and superstition reigned in awful silence, such a solemn farce might have been acted without much offence. Deluded people might flock to see the wonderful transformation of unholy into boly ground, and reverence the man that made it; but in the present age of light, such a monkish device cannot lift up its head without drawing upon itself abundant ridicule : the most ignorant of the common people can hardly treat it with decency, and forbear laughing out.— I wish our bishops would be very sparing in such parts of their sacred function ; lest whilst they consecrate church-yards, they unconsecrate themselves: if they dignify these holy plats, it is with the spoils of their own cha

racters; and however sacred they make the ground, they make themselves extremely mean.

A third gentleman observed, to what mischievous an i mad purposes this false notion of holi. ness has been applied by crafty priests. Tithes are holy: no government therefore, without great sin, can touch them, or alienate the least tittle of them. It is sacrilege, it is abomination for layimpropriators to finger this sacred treasure; and sooner or later these robbers of holy church may expect vengeance upon them. The church's walls are holy; it is the temple and house of God. Palestine is an holy land; that such sacred ground therefore should not be polluted by Saracens and Turks, the holy fathers of the church, in the space of four years, sent over 600,000 of their dear children to wrest it from them, who all died sacrifices upon it, and afresh consecrated it with their blood! Yea, above two millions of christian lives, from first to last, fell in this enthusiastical and mad attempt. That compleatest system of villany that ever oppressed the earth, calls itself, and by many ages and kingdoms has been reverently acknowledged as, the holy catholic church. Yea, that liveliest image of hell itself, the court of inquisition, its officers, tribunal, &c. are all holy; even its very jails are consecrated places, they are santa casa, holy prisons. Whither will not the superstition and wantonness of priests hurry them, if not curbed by lay-discretion? It looks as if the infernal powers were sporting themselves with human sottishness, and trying to what depths of stupidity they could sink them. We laugh at the Egyptians for worshiping leeks and garlick, and holding cats and oxen in religious veneration : but will not after-ages more justly laugh at us, for consecrating stones and tiinber,

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