Page images

Holland, and Switzerland, are going the same way. And it is highly probable all the other states in Europe will, in due time, follow the same steps. As things now are in this country, the religion of JESUS CHRIST, which was not only not to be of this world*, but in direct opposition to it †, is certainly in a great degree a temporal, worldly, civil institution. At least it is a strange mixture of things secular and religious. It is nearly as much so as it is in the Catholic countries.

As to the King or Queen of any country, as the case


*See John xviii. 36, 37, where CHRIST claims a kingdom. + Compare Mat. v. 3-12, where he asserts the nature of that king. dom, and the qualifications of his subjects.

One of our English Poets, who was even a bigot of the church, hath expressed himself on this subject in the manner following:

"Inventions added in a fatal hour,

"Human appendages of pomp and power,

"Whatever shines in outward grandeur great,
"I give it up-a creature of the State.
"Wide of the Church, as hell from heav'n is wide,
"The blaze of riches, and the glare of pride.
"The vain desire to be entitled Lord,

"The worldly kingdom, and the princely sword.
"But should the bold usurping spirit dare
"Still higher climb, and sit in Moses' chair,
"Pow'r o'er my faith and conscience to maintain,
"Shall I submit, and suffer it to reign?
"Call it the Church, and darkness put for light,
"Falsehood with truth confound, and wrong with right?
"No: I dispute the evil's haughty claim,
"The spirit of the world be still its name,
"Whatever call'd by man 'tis purely evil,
"'Tis Babel, Antichrist, and Pope and Devil."

It is a curious circumstance in the history of Religion, in the present day, that while light, and knowledge, and liberality of sentiment are rapidly diffusing themselves among mankind, a respectable clergyman should be found among us, who cuts off from salvation most of the foreign Protes tant churches, and the whole body of Dissenters of every description in this country, but by the uncovenanted mercies of GOD. This is a most serious and important consideration. Yet this hath been done by Mr. DAUBENY, in his Guide to the Church; and seemingly too with the full approbation of the Editor of the British Critic. bent upon Dissenters of all denominations to consider well what this It certainly is incumlearned gentleman has advanced, and either to refute the force of his ar guments, or conform to the established religion of the


country. RICHARD

is, being Head of the Church, and having the appointment of Bishops, and the nomination to church-livings, it is conceived by many to be utterly inconsistent with the very essence of the evangelical dispensation, and the unalienable rights of mankind. They will tell us, that neither his Majesty-WHOM GOD PRESERVE!-nor the Lord Chancellor, nor his Majesty's Ministers, have, or can have, any concern in the government of the Church, or the appointment of officers in it, or to it, directly or indirectly, according to the spirit of the Gospel, but only in their private capacities as individual members of the Church. No man upon earth, as it scems to them, is entitled to any such power. They scruple not to say, it is one of the very worst traits of Popery, and an infallible criterion of an anti-christian assuming. Mat. xx. 20-28, and xxiii. 1-12, are usually referred to upon this occasion.

As the law now stands in this country, the King is absolute Head of the Church, and the fountain of all ecclesiastical power; but, so far as the patronage of bencfices goes, this is more nominal than real; for, in truth, there are as many heads as there are patrons of livings. A drunken, swearing, libertine Lord Chancellor, who is living in open fornication or adultery, contrary to every law human and divine, if such chance to be his character, as sometimes is the case, has the appointment to a large number of livings: A corrupt, vile, unbelieving, immoral, wicked Minister of State, if such happens to be his character, has the homination to abundance of others. A Roman Catholic, or some of the most immoral of the Nobility or Gentry ofthe land, very frequently have the patronage of others. of others. In not a few instances Ladies have the presentation to church preferments. These are all virtually and substantially SO many Heads of the Church; while the King or Queen

L 3


RICHARD HILL, in his Apology for Brotherly Love, has given such an Answer to Mr. DAUBENY's Guide as that gentleman will not be easily able to refute. If the doctrine of the Guide is right, I do not see how we can be fairly justified in leaving the Church of Rome. The capital mistake of the whole seems to be, a substitution of the Church of England for the Church of CHRIST, exactly in the same manner as the Catholics substitute the Church of Rome for the Church of CHRIST.

is only nominally and partially so. This is surely a la mentable state of things. Can any man wonder at the spread of infidelity and irreligion? Can we justly expect other than the downfal of such a system of corrupt, worldly policy? It is well known how harsh and disagreeable these melancholy truths will sound in the ears of interested men, and men who swallow every thing as gospel, to which they have been long accustomed; but I affirm it with all possible seriousness, again and again, that, as I understand the Scriptures, a radical reform, and the removal of all these secular circumstances alone, can save us, for any length of time, from national distress. I refer our Bishops-and beg they will seriously consider the awful declaration-to Dan.ii. 95, 44, before mentioned. Is not the time for its ac complishment fast approaching, and near at hand?

I have spoken above of the patronage of churchlivings. Some of my readers may be in a great degree strangers to the state of it. I have taken some pains to inform myself upon the subject, and I find that it stands nearly in the following proportious. I speak generally, but yet accurately enough for the purposes of common information. It is well known then, that the churchlivings of England and Wales make together, speaking in round numbers, about ten thousand. Of these, near a thousand are in the gift of the King. It is customary, however, for the Lord Chancellor to present to all the livings under the value of twenty pounds in the King's Book, and for the Ministers of State to present to all the rest. Those under twenty pounds are about 780, and those above, near 180. Upwards of 1600 pieces of church preferment, of different sizes and descriptions, are in the gift of the 26 Bishops; more than 600 ̊ in the presentation of the two Universities; about 1000 in the gift of the several Cathedrals, and other clerical institutions: about 5,700 livings are in the nomination of the Nobility andGentryofthe land, men, women and children: and 50 or 60 there may be of a description different from any of the above, and nearer to the propriety of things. These are all so many Heads of the Church, in a very strong sense of the words, the King or Queen of the country

being a kind of Arch-head*. Moreover, the Bishops of the Establishment are, contrary to all ancient usage, chosen by the civil power, the Clergy and People over whom they are to preside, not having the least negative upon their election. When they are chosen too, they take their seats in the upper house of parliament, and act, in most respects, like unto the temporal Lords: I will not say that this may not be good human policy, supposing the kingdom of CHRIST to be a mere worldly sovereignty; but it appears to me utterly inconsistent with the spirituality of our SAVIOUR'S empire, and has had for many ages a most unhappy effect upon the interests of his religion in the world. Their emoluments are of such a nature, their worldly engagements so numerous, and the temptations to the pleasures, honours, and amusements of life so strong, that their minds become secularized, and they lose all lively relish for the peculiar duties of ministers of the Gospel; which they, therefore, very generally commit to the inferior orders of the Clergy. They are nearly as much officers of the crown as the Judges and Magistrates of the land. They are chosen by the civil power, they are virtually paid by the civil power, they are amenable to the civil power alone, the clergy and people not possessing the least controul. And then, as to the titles, by which they are designated, they appear to carry the most indisputable marks of the antichristian apostacy. IIIS GRACE, THE MOST REVEREND

L 4


Bishop JEWEL, in a Letter dated May 22, 1559, writes, "that the Queen (ELIZABETH) refused to be called Head of the Church;" and addr "that title could not be justly given to any mortal, it being due only to CHRIST; and that such titles had been so much abused by Antichrist, that they ought not to be any longer continued."

Bishop BURNET's Travels, Let. 1. p. 52.


Cardinal WOOLSEY, under HENRY VIII. was head of the English church, onc of the greatest tyrants over the consciences of men that ever existed. Blessed be Gop for the Reformation! and the present liberty we enjoy!

+ If the Gospel of CHRIST gave encouragement to such a state of things as this, much as I now admire it, I would reject all its pretensions, as a divine scheme, with indignation. I do not wonder the world abounds with Infidels and Infidelity! What pity, however, men will not distinguish be tween the use of the Gospel, and the abuse of it? between the Gospel itself, and the additions which have been made to it by interested men ?

FATHERINGOD, WILLIAM, BY DIVINE PROVIDENCE, LORD ARCH-BISHOP OF CANTERBURY!--THE RIGHT REVEREND FATHER IN GOD, JOHN, BY DIVINE PERMISSION, LORD BISHOP OF LONDON!--What is there in the titles of the Pope of Rome*, that is more magnificent than the sound of these words? How unlike is all this to the spirit of the Gospel, and the character and conduct of the lowly SAVIOUR of mankind? Mat. xi. 28--30; xxiii. 1---12. How much calculated are such high sounding titles to swell the pride of frail mortals? Popes, and Bishops, and Parsons, are made of like stuff with other men!

And then, what shall we say to the secular, and lukewarm condition of the generality of the Clergy of the land?---to the patronage of benefices before mentioned? ---to the common and abominable sale of livings?---to our simoniacal contracts?---our sinecures, pluralities, non-residences†?---to our declaring we are moved by the HOLY GHOST to preach the Gospel, when we are moved

*Mr. PAINE, speaking of the Reformation, says sensibly enough, "A multiplicity of national Popes grew out of the downfal of the Pope of Christendom,'--. And I add, Rome itself scarce ever had a more bloody, libidinous, and detestible head of the church, than was HENRY VIII. the self-created Pope of our own ecclesiastical constitution. Shew me a worse man among all that abhorred race, or a more consummate tyrant over the consciences of men.

+ The Curates of our church, in many cases, are as culpable with respect to non-residence, as the Bishops, and Rectors, and Vicars. In my own neighbourhood, and mostly in my own parish, we have upwards of twelve chapels, where there is no resident Clergyman. It is much the same in other parts of the kingdom.

The reader will find several of these defects of the Church of England touched upon by BURNET in the Conclusion of the History of his Own Times.--I add, My Lord S...H has got a Mistress of whom he has grown weary. On condition the Rev. A. B. will marry her, and make her an honest woman, he shall be Rector of such a living in the gift of his Lordship.

The living of C.-.H is in the gift of Mr. G...T; he has got a daughter; if the Rev. Č---H P---s will marry her, he shall be presented to the church.

Mr. G.-N has a son who is neither fit for law, physic, or the army. He has such a living in his patronage. This rip of a son shall be trained to the church, and be the incumbent of the family Rectory.

My Lord D.--N has got four sons; one shall enjoy the title and estate ; another shall go into the army, and be made a general; another shall go to sea, and become an admiral; the fourth shall be trained for the church, and be promoted to a bishopric.

« EelmineJätka »