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any person approves not of religion and its ministers, he is at perfect liberty in this free country, to decline paying them
serve them both! I intend, answered the priest, to officiate in one of them by a deputy.-Will your deputy be damned for you too? cried the saint, Believe me, you may serve your cure by proxy, but you must be damned in person. This expression so affected Mr. KELSEY, a pious and worthy clergyman then present, that he immediately resigned the rectory of Bemerton in Berkshire, in worth 200 pounds a year, which he held then with one of greater value. See Bp. BURNET's Life, by T. BURNET, Esq.
We have observed, that all the bulk of church-preferment, in this country, is engrossed by about one thousand clergymen, out of the eighteen thousand. I do not pretend to be accurate in this statement; but I should suppose it is not far from the truth. Whereas, the emoluments of the Establishment are capable of providing for 10,000 persons in a comfortable way, by abolishing pluralities, without disturbing the present order of things. Let every Bishop retire within his diocese, and dwell among his clergy, as a father in his family. Let every Cler ergyman reside upon his living, superintending his people, as a shepherd his flock. And let no man be promoted to the first Livings in the kingdom, merely because he is related to, or connected with some great personage; but let the most active, useful, and laborious ministers, especially when the infirmities of age come on, be accounted worthy of double honour, by being rewarded for their extraordinary services with the best Livings the country affords.
All this, I too well know, is visionary. It is a plausible theory, but never will be reduced to practice. If it should please GoD, however, to put an end to the present unhappy war, and favour us once more with a settled state of things, I think it might be well for the great body of the poor Rectors, Vicars, and Curates of the country, to petition Government to take their distressed circumstances into consideration. If it had no other. effect, it would call the attention of the public to the horrible monopolies of preferments which prevail among the Bishops and higher Orders of the clergy. I would recommend that Committees should be formed in every district through England and Wales, to correspond with a grand and superintending Committee in London. Let them investigate the business of church-preferments thoroughly, and drag to broad daylight all the great offenders in this pretended spiritual commerce. See a book called the Miseries and Great Hardships of the Inferior Clergy, for some useful information.
Out of the 18,000 Clergymen belonging to the Establishment of this country, there are several hundreds of zealous and lively men (and the number is much upon the increase) who, properly speaking, are the only true members of the Church of England, They believe, and preach, and live her doctrines. These conscientious men, however, are, as we have already observed, almost universally dubbed Methodists, in a way of contempt, by the majority both of Bishops and Clergy. This is shameful treatment, but so it is. Those "downy doctors, that recumbent
them any attention. He may think and act according to his own pleasure. Why then should any man desire to see
"virtues preach," who will swear any thing, and subscribe any thing,
"When nations are to perish in their sins,
"The priestly brotherhood, devout, sincere,
As a body of men, the established Clergy of this country are by no means deficient in talents, or in learning of any description. So far is this from being the case, that it is probable there never existed a body of men of the same number, who possessed equal natural and acquired qualifications; but, we are deficient in humility, in self-denial, in piety, and in zeal for the honour of GOD and the salvation of souls. We want a more serious attention to the grand peculiarities of the Gospel: we are deficient in various of those qualifications which are requisite to make us successful in winning souls to CHRIST. To our shame be it spoken, with half our literary attainments, we suffer the Methodists, and several of the Dissenters, to out-do us exceedingly in real and positive usefulness to mankind. We let the cause of CHRIST suffer and lose ground in our hands. A large part of our Order is inattentive both to religious and literary pursuits. They are mere men of the world. Another part is so occupied with literary and philosophical studies, that they have neither time nor inclination to attend to the peculiar employment of ministers of the Gospel. There is a third class of our Clergy, which is highly respecta. ble, but whose ministerial labours are so cool and languid, and whose public discourses are so merely moral and so whelly unevangelical, that mankind are made neither much wiser nor better by their feeble exer. tions. In the primitive ages the divine heralds carried the sound of the
his native land involved in a destruction so complete? Be assured, whenever it comes, it well be promiscuous. generation then living will be, in every temporal sense at least, totally ruined: and no man shall be able to extricate himself from the general calamity. In that case, and, indeed, in every other possible case, the Gospel of CHRIST affords the only sure refuge. It is calculated for both worlds. The LORD GOD is a sun and shield; the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will be withhold from them that walk uprightly. Those that live in the entire spirit, and under the full influence of this Divine Religion, have, even now, large enjoyment of its comforts*.
Gospel throughout all lands, from "the British isles to the banks of the "Ganges," in a very short space of time. But we have suffered Heathensim to return again into some countries, Mahometanism to over-run others, and Infidelity to diffuse itself among all orders of society. And it is not improbable, but in the course of a few more years, the Gospel of CHRIST, THROUGH OUR NEGLECT, LUKE-WARMNESS, AND SUPERSTITION, will be in a great degree banished from Christendom. We must either awake from our lethargic state, and return to evangelical principles and practices, or all is lost. Most of the higher ranks of society in this country both among the clergy and laiety, have forsaken the Gospel scheme of saving a ruined world; and it is exceedingly probable the supreme HEAD of the church will ere long remove our candlestick, lay aside the great body of us Parsons, as a useless set of men, and deprive us of those means of grace, which we have so long enjoyed to so little purpose. The neglect of the SON and SPIRIT of GOD is the master sin of Christendom.
I could wish the Reader would give himself the trouble to consider well what Mr. WILBERFORCE has written upon this subject, in his Practical View of the prevailing religious system of Professed Christians, in the higher and middle classes in this country, contrasted with real Christianity. If we had a number of such able and faithful labourers in the cause of Christianity among the laiety, much good might be expected to result from their endeavours. In my opinion, men of this description are peculiarly called upon in the present day, when Infidelity is making such rapid advances, and the Clergy are in such disgrace, to exert themselves in every possible way to stem the torrent of iniquity which is ready to bear down all before it.
See some useful thoughts on the necessity of new measures in the Dean of Middleham's Political and Moral Consequences of a religious education, and its reverse.
* Turnback, and consider well the cases of Lord RUSSEL, MORATA, CLAUDE, WALKER, HERVEY, LELAND, ROMAINE, BEDELL, and LEFCH MAN. Instead of this small number, we could have produced some hundreds
And whether we are cut off according to the common course of things, or hurried out of the world by the violence of wicked men, still we are fully persuaded it shall be well. They may destroy, but they cannot hurt us. They will only send us to our incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading inheritance a little before the time allotted by the course of nature.
You see then, MY FRIENDS AND COUNTRYMEN, it is our firm determination to adhere to the Bible, and the truths therein contained, at the risk of every thing that is held dear among men. We have counted the cost, and hesitate not a moment in saying, It is our glory and joy dearer to us than thousands of gold and silver.
of characters of a like happy kind, if it had been consistent with our design.
Bishop BURNET's declaration alone we will here transcribe, as he was a man of piety, and of large experience of men, and things, and because he delivers it as his last dying speech, and the sum of all his experience:
"True religion," says he, "is the perfection of human nature, and the joy and delight of every one that feels it active and strong within him.Of this I write with the more concern and emotion, because I have felt, this the true, and indeed the only joy which runs through a man's heart and life. It is that which has been for many years my greatest support. I rejoice daily in it. I feel from it the carnest of that supreme joy, which I pant and long for. I am sure there is nothing else can afford any true or complete happiness. I have, considering my sphere, seen a great deal of all that is most shining and tempting in this world. The pleasures of sense, I did soon nauseate. Intrigues of state, and the conduct of affairs, have something in them that is more specious; and I was for some years deeply immersed in these, but still with hopes of reforming the world, and of making mankind wiser and better. But I have found, That which is crooked cannot be made straight. I acquainted myself with knowledge and learning, and that in a great variety.-This yielded not happiness. I cultivated friendship. But this also I have found was vanity and vexation of spirit, though it be of the best and noblest sort. The sum is Vanity of vanities, all is vanity, besides fearing GoD, and keeping his commandments. See the Conclusion of the History of his own Times.
Sincerely pitying, therefore, and ardently praying for, the whole generation of those unhappy persons among our Countrymen, who have forsaken the only FOUNTAIN of living waters, and hewn out to themselves broken cisterns that can hold no water; with the great Lord BACON we declare, "There never was found in any age of the world, either philosophy, or sect, or religion, or law, or discipline, which did so highly exalt the public good as the Christian faith." With Sir THOMAS BROWN, " We assume the honourable stile of Christian, not because it is the religion of our country, but because, having, in our riper years and confirmed judgment, seen and ex amined all, we find ourselves obliged by the principles of grace, and the law of our own reason, to embrace no other name but this, being of the same belief our SAVIOUR taught, the Apostles disseminated, the Fathers authorized, and the Martyrs confirmed." With the noble Picus MIRANDULA, we rest in the Bible" as the only book wherein is found true eloquence and wisdom." With Dr. ROBINSON, the natural philosopher, we say, "The Scriptures of the Old and New Testament contain a system of human nature, the grandest, the most extensive and complete, that ever was divulged to mankind since the foundation of nature." With the excellent physician and philosopher Dr. GREW, we profess, that "The Bible contains the laws of GoD's kingdom in this lower world, and that religion is so far from being inconsistent with philosophy, that it is the highest point and perfection of it. With the no less excellent physician and philosopher Dr. DAVID HARTLEY, we say, that "No writers, from the invention of letters to the present times, are equal to the penmen of the books of the Old and New Testaments, in true excellence, utility, and dignity." With the very celebrated French poet BOILEAU, we say, "Every word and syllable of the Bible ought to be adored: it not