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subject to the civil government under which he lives, let his religious views of things be what they may, he seems to have a just claim to the enjoyment of every office, privilege, and emolument of that government. And till this is in fact the case, I apprehend, there never can be a settled state of things. There will be an eternal enmity between the governing and the governed; an everlasting struggle for superiority. But when every member of society enjoys equal privileges with his fellow members, the bone of contention is removed, and there is nothing for which they should any longer be at enmity. Equal and impartial liberty, equal privileges and emoluments, are, or should be, the birth-right of every member of civil society; and would be the glory of any government to bestow upon all its serious, religious, and morally-acting citizens, without any regard to the sect or party to which they belong. Talents and integrity alone should be the sine qua nons to recommend any man to the notice of people in power. This, it should seem, would make us a united and happy people.
As we have been speaking on the subject of the Patronage of Livings, it may be worth while still farther to observe, that the Bishop of enjoys very considerable privileges of this nature, which have on a late occasion been shamefully abused. Not less than 130 presentations belong to him! A certain episcopal Gentleman of that diocese, knowing the extensive emoluments he was likely to be possessed of in this way, brought his son up to the church; and, when he came of proper age, bestowed first one living upon him and then another, as they became vacant, to a very considerable amount, which this son enjoys at this day. He is now one of our dignified Clergymen, and in possession of a very unreasonable number of valuable preferments, to most of which he pays extremely little personal attention. He takes care, however, to secure the fleece, the devil may take the flock. John x. 1-18.
Another Son of AARON, in a neighbouring district, which might be named, possesses preferments in the church, by the procurement of his episcopal father, to the amount of 2000 pounds a year. He has for a long season
scason been extremely attentive to his tithes; but hardly ever man paid less attention to the salvation of the souls of his people, and the sacred duties of his office. Seldom, indeed, does he appear among the former, less frequently still does he attend the proper duties of the latter. Fifty or sixty pounds a year he reluctantly pays to a journeyman Parson, to supply his own lack of service; but, like master, like man; they are a miserable couple together; the one is penurious, the other dissolute. What must the condition of the flock be, under the care of two such wretched shepherds?
I will mention a third curious instance of clerical sagacity. A certain Rectory not fifty, miles from this place, is said to be of the value of near 2000 pounds a year. A kind young lady, whose friends have sufficient interest with the patron, falls in love with a wicked, sweating, dashing officer in the army, and marries him. That a comfortable maintenance may be secured for the happy pair, it is agreed, that the gentleman shall change the colour of his clothes, apply himself to the attainment of a smattering of Latin and Greek, and admit himself a member of one of our famous Universities. There he actually now is, qualifying himself to take possession of the bouncing Benefice. The incumbent being dead, a pliable parson is put in for a time as a locum tenens. And when the quondam officer has obtained his proper credentials, this worthy Levite must resign all his fat pigs in favour of this son of Mars. The white washed officer will then come forward, and declare in the face of GoD and man, with a lie in his mouth, that "he trusts he is "moved by the HOLY GHOST to preach the Gospel.'
If these were solitary instances of improper proccedings in church matters, it would not be worth while to notice them in this manner. But, alas! they are only specimens of what is by no means uncommon, where valuable livings are concerned. O were the business of private Patronage and Presentation thoroughly investigated, and laid before the public, the picture would be highly disgusting to every serious mind, and call for reformation with a tone not easy to be resisted.
It is remarkable, that the ecclesiastical and civil parts of our constitution are, in some respects, in opposition one to the other: for the former, in the book of Homilies, especially, holds forth the doctrine of passive obedience and non-resistance, while the latter is founded, by the compact at the Revolution, on the reciprocal rights of King and People. In this respect, therefore, as well as in several others, a reformation is highly desirable. Every Clergyman particularly should see and feel this, who is obliged to subscribe, ex animo, that all and every thing contained in the book of Common Prayer, &c. is agreeable to the Sacred Writings.
I add a second circumstance, which seems an hardship to the enlightened and conscientious part of the Clergy. When we baptize children, we thank GOD "that it hath "pleased him to regenerate them with the HOLY SPIRIT, "to receive them for his own children by adoption, and "to incorporate them into his holy church." When the same children are presented to the Bishop for confirmation, he also addresses the DIVINE BEING as having "vouchsafed to regenerate them by. water and the "HOLY GHOST, and as having given unto them the forgiveness of all their sins;" while many of them are as vile young rogues as ever existed. Then, when we come to bury them, we dare do no other than send them all to heaven, though many of those we commit to the carth have been as wicked in life as men well can be on this side hell. This surely is a great hardship. Yet we have no remedy. We must do it, or forfeit our roast beef and plumb-pudding.
But what I mean to infer from this view of the matter here, is, that if the doctrines of baptismal regeneration and final perseverance are true, every member of the church of England is as sure of heaven when he dies, as if he were already there. I leave those whom it may concern to draw the natural inference. How is this consistent with the 17th Article of Religion?
There is another circumstance in our public offices, which seems to me to affect the credit of our church, and the comfort of its ministers. The morning service formerly consisted of three parts, which were used at three different times of the forenoon. These are now thrown into
into one, and all used at one and the same time. Supposing each service taken singly to be ever so unexceptionable, the conjunction of them renders the whole full of repetition. By this absurd union, the LORD's prayer is always repeated five times every Sunday morning, and on sacrament days, if there happen to be a baptism and a churching, it is repeated no less than eight times, in the space of about two hours. Use may reconcile us to any thing, how absurd soever it be-witness the popish ceremonies--but let us suppose, that any of the Sectarists of the country should, in their public devotions, be guilty of the same tautology, what should we think and say of them? Should we not conclude they were mad?
By the same absurd conjunction of the three ancient services into one, we are obliged by the la vs of our church to pray for the King, no less than five times every LORD'S day morning; and on communion days even six. If I were a Bishop, or a rich Pluralist, or a fat Rector, my eyes, for any thing I know, might be so far blinded with gold dust, that I should not see these imperfections of our public service; but, as it is, I do see them, and feel them, and groan under them every Sabbath day of my life.. They may love such things that will, I confess I do not,
Some of the objections, which are usually made to several parts of our ecclesiastical code of doctrines and laws, it will be granted, by every candid person, are of no great consequence in themselves; but as they respectively constitute a part of the general system, and are connected with other things of a more serious. and objectionable nature; and as we are compelled to swear obedience to all the Canons, and subscribe,. ex animo, to all and every thing contained in the Common Prayer, &c. as being agreeable to the Holy Scriptures; the least deviations from those Scriptures become great and weighty. And though there can be no solid objection to the doctrines and ceremonies of the Establishment in general, yet, seeing there are some things which are certainly reprehensible, and those too of no very indifferent nature, the imposition of them in a manner so solemn is an extremely great hardship, and not to be justified upon any principle of expedience whatever.
There is not a Bishop in England who does not con tinually transgress one or more of the 141 Canons; and I am persuaded also, there is not an episcopal character in the nation, who can lay his hand upon his heart, and appeal to heaven, that he believes all and every thing he subscribes. Why then not strive to repeal what is faulty? Why not ease the labouring consciences of those Clergymen who are upright in the land?
These, and some other matters, which might be brought forward more at large, seem, to many very well-informed and respectable persons, truly objectionable, and strong indications that we are not so far removed from the old meretricious lady of Babylon as we would willingly have the world to believe*. Among the several Protestant establishments, we must, they fear, be at least considered as the eldest daughter of that first-born of wickednesst.
That I am not singular in supposing there are several things wrong in the Church-Establishment of this country, is evident from the words of Bishop WATSON in his reply to Mr. GIBBON: "There are, says this able advocate for regenerated Christianity, 66 many worthless doctrines, many superstitious observances, which the fraud or folly of mankind have every where annexed to Christianity, especially in the Church of Rome, as essential parts of it: if you take these sorry appendages to Christianity for Christianity itself, as preached by CHRIST, and by the Apostles,-you quite mistake its nature ."
Many of our Bishops and Clergy will complain in this manner in private, and some few in public, that various
* See the doctrines of the Church of Rome pretty much at large in the 17th Section of SIMPSON's Key to the Prophecies. The cruelty of that church is horrible. JOSEPH MEDE reckons ap 1,200,000 of the Vallences and Albigences put to death in 30 years! The same intolerant and persecuting spirit prevailed in our church also for many years after the Reformation, and is not yet perfectly done away
* See The Prisoner's Defence against the Rev. GEORGE MARKHAM : a well written pamphlet. Brother George cuts but a poor figure in the hands of these Quakers. That Man of Sin---the Son of Perdition---that Wicked. 2 Thes. ii. 3. 8.
Apology for Christianity, Let. 6.