« EelmineJätka »
among their Clergy-converse with them freely, and treat them as brethren: if they would go about doing
at the rate of 3,368 pounds per annum a man, besides all their other preferments. Some of them are known to be very worthy characters; but others like the one just mentioned, are extremely to blame, though surely not' in the same degree. While such are the Shepherds, no wonder
if the Sheep go astray. Ought we to be surprised if Catholics, Dissenters, : and Methodists, succeed in making converts ? if Infidelity abound and
run like wild-fire among the people ? if they complain, wish to overturn such a system of corruption, and rise in rebellion for the purpose ? Nothing but true religion, or a sense of the impolicy of the measure,
can restrain them. I do affirm again and again, that the slothful and i temporising Bishops and Clergy of Enrope, are the main authors of the i present miseries of Europe, and we may justly and infallibly expect,
Divine PROVIDENCE will 'ere long kick us off our perches, as has been the case in other countries, and give our offices and emoluments to those who are more worthy of them. Nothing can save us, unless we turn over a new leaf, and become alive to the interests- not of the Church as a secular institution--but to the interests of
disinterest. ed, evangelical religion. What might not the 18,000 Clergymen in this
country do, were we all but zealously concerned for the honour of the Lord Jesus, and the salvation of the people committed to our care ! The face of things, in every moral point of view at least, would be cxtremely different.--What an horrible hell shall we Parsons have when we leave our present beds of down? How will the devils exult over myriads of full-fed Bishops, Doctors, and dignified Dons, who have rioted upon the spoils of the Church, and neglected or abused their holy charge?"
I add further, that among other causes of complaint in our sisterkingdom, many of the bishoprics are filled up by the Viceroy from ci among the English clergy, and the best livings are possessed by English.
Hence a very frequent non-residence. · Every impartial person must consider this as a real grievance. The Irish clergy, indeed, are, taking them with some few honourable exceptions, in a state truly dea plorable, and the great mass of the laity not less so, considered in every religious point of view. What wonder, if the people left to perish by their ministers for lack of knowledge, should rise up and cut the throats of those ministers ? This is a just re-action of Providence. We talk of the wild Irish, and speak of them as being little raised above a state of savage nature. Let it be considered who is to blame for all this. The Bishops and Clergy, I vow. But the fault is greatly in the ecclesiastical part of the constitutions of the two countries, which will permit the clerical order of men to receive the emoluments of the church, without performing the business for which we are paid. No man can surely say that a reform here would do us any harm! But if a reform in church. matters is never to be brought about till the Bishops and Clergy them. selves embark in it, there is much reason to fear, the event is at no
good, in all condescension and humility, through the'r several districts, preaching the Word of life in an evangelical strain, among the people, after the example of the great SHEPHERD and Bishop of souls, and his APOSTLÈS: If they would renounce their pomp and splendor, and set their faces in good earnest against all monopolies of livings; against non-residents; against all immoral
, disorderly, and irreligious Clergymen : If they would be the zealous and avowed friends and patrons of laborious pastors in particular, and of good men of every description in general: Then would the Church of England soon become, more than ever, the glory of all churches, and the Bishops of that church would be the glory of all Bishops.
It is, however, not to be doubted, that men, possessed of the loaves and fishes, will laugh at all this as visionary and enthusiastic.
“ I know the warning song is sung in vain,
“ That few will hear, and fewer heed the strain.” Be it so I have only to reply--Look at the Bishops and Clergy of France !—They now think themselves hardly treated. But, as a body, they had been excessively to blame; and their present sufferings are proportionate to their former culpability.
Happy will it be for us if their negligence and misfortunes make us wise and cautious! The fate of the Jewish clergy of
old, little distanee. I must, however, do my own order the justice to observe, that, in former periods, whatever reformations in religion have been brought forward, some of the Clergy have been the most active and ef. fective instruments. God send us again a few more WICKLIFFS, CRANMERS, LATIMERS, RIDLEYS, Hookers, and GILPINS 0 deliver us from the remaining 'dregs of Popish superstition which cleave to us, that the throne of our excellent King may days of heaven, and the British churches. the glory and envy of the whole world!
permanent as the
“ Triumphant here may Jesus reign,
old, and of the French, Dutch, Flemish, Italian, and Swiss Clergy of our own times, comes, like a peal of thunder preaching Reform; real, and effectual, and speedy REFORM, to the Clergy of every country.
You see then, MY COUNTRYMEN, that I, for one, give up all these abuses as indefensible. Every man of common sense and observation, whose eyes are not blinded by prejudice, and whose mind is not closed by sin-. ful habit and self-interest, must see that they are wrong. But, be it remembered, that whatever means DIVINE PROVIDENCE may use to correct them-for corrected in due time they must be—the Gospel of Christ is not to be blamed for them. It gives them no countenance; it, predicts their rise, their continuance, their downfal:and it denounces nothing less than the most extreme condemnation against all those who pervert the Divine Ordinances to secular and self-interested
purposes. It is neither Emperors, nor Kings, nor Popes, nor Archbishops, nor Bishops, nor Clergymen of any
inferior description, that shall escape the just sentence of the universal JUDGE. He will make no distinction. He knows no difference between man and man, but what moral and religious qualifications make. Whatsoever a person soweth, that shall he also reap. Mighty sinners shall be mightily punished. Eminently good and useful men shall be eminently rewarded.
To this head let it further be added, that discerning men, observing the conduct, character, and precepts of the Saviour of the world, and comparing them with the conduct and manners of our Church-Dignitaries, cannot help seeing a very striking contrast. His kingdom was not to be of this world: but the conduct of our Bishops, is, in a great measure, secular. His meat and drink was to do the will of him that sent him. He literally went about doing good. He preached every where, and to all descriptions of men. A genuine patriot, he was never weary of contributing to the happiness of his country. He was frequently in the temple, but never in the palace, unless when dragged thither by force.' Our learned
Prelates*, however, are so occupied in the great Councilof the nation, in dancing attendance at Court, in guarding their secular emolunyents from waste, in visiting the pobility and gentry of the land, and in other worldly engagements of various descriptions; that they have but little time left, either for reading the Scriptures, for private retirement, or for preaching the Gospel to the poor of the flock, in their respective districtst. To hear a Bi
* Among the Bishops of the Church of England may be found a consi. derable number of characters the most respectable for every moral, lite. rary, and religious attainment; and the country is under the utmost obligation to them for their exertions at different periods of our history. But were any individuals among them ever so desirous, they have it not in their power to rectify abuses, and reform what they may conceive to be amiss. The system is too compact and well digested. Their hands are tied behind them. The prejudices of some, the interests of others, the supineness of not a few, and the fears of disturbing the lorg esta. blished order of things, in most, form an insuperable barrier against every reform; insomuch that nothing, it is to be feared, can accomplish any considerable change for the better, but a convulsion. If, indeed, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the whole bench of Bishops, had dis. cernment, and humility, and public spirit, and self.denial enough, to come forward of their own accord, and with one consent desire an ame. liorated state of things, there might be some hope. But, that six and twenty interested men should be brought to concur in a business of this sort, seems next to an impossibility. The sacrifice is too great! Hu. man nature is too frail to make it.
+ Bisbops ought assuredly to reside in their dioceses among their Clergy, preaching in season and out of season ; countenancing and en. couraging the good; reproving, exhorting, warning, punishing the unworthy and immoral part of their Clergy. The contrary to this, however, is very frequently the case. If a man happens to have got a little more zeal than ordinary, and labours more diligently to do good than the generality of his brethren, immediately they are all in arms against him. And nothing is more common, than for his ec. clesiastical superiours to frown upon him, to stigmatise him as a Metho. dist, and to oppose his interests in every way they can contrive. Whereas, a Clergyman may be a man of pleasure and dissipation, gay, foolish, silly, trifling; he may spend his time in the diversions of the field; drink, swear, and live as foolishly as the most foolish of his flock, and yet no harm shall happen. · He is no Methodist, and, therefore, every favour shall be shewn him he can desire. Methodism is like the sin against the Holy Ghost; it is neither to be forgiven in this world, Hor in the world to come!
shop preach, is a sort of phenomenon in the country. And, if any of that truly respectable body of men-some of
Be it, however, observed, that the increase of Dissenters, and the alarming spread of Methodism, are both entirely owing to the luke. warmness, or negligence, or disorderly conduct, or bigotry, or persecuting spirit of the Clergy in the Establishment. And there is no way under heaven of preventing the most mischievous consequences, but by adopting new measures, reforming what is amiss, and out-preaching, out.labouring, and out-living all our opposers. The pride of office has injured us extremely. The disdain frequently expressed by us against the several Sectarists has been highly impolitical, and sometimes un. christian. Has not every man living the same right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience that we have ? To his own master each one must give an account. He chat worships Goch most spiritually, and obeys him most universally, believing in the name of his only-begotting Son, is the best man, and most acceptable to the Divine Being, whether he be found in a Church, in a Quaker's meeting-house, in a Dissenting place of worship of any other description, or upon the top of a mountain. How long shall we be carried away by weak and superstitious distinctions? In every nation, and among all denominations of men, he that feareth God and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. And if God will accept, why should not man? The Saviour of the world himself hath given us an infallible definition of a Gospel-church: Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Let any man con. sult Locke on Toleration, and he can have no doubt on his mind con. cerning the liberality of the genuine Gospel of our blessed Saviour. It has been the custom of the Established Clergy of all countries, for many ages, to arrogate to themselves a kind of infallibility. Nay, I might add, there is scarcely a Parson among us all, whether Churchman, Methodist, Quaker, or Dissenter of any other description, that has not got a church, a chapel, or a meeting-house in his belly. We are all Popes in our own way; at least, every denomination has its imperious and over-bearing dictators. Let no man, however, think the worse of the New Testament-religion because of the different hobby-horses which we Parsons think proper to ride. Our Order has had its day ? and a pretty long day it has been! The Pope has ridden the Bishops, the Bishops have ridden the Priests, and the Priests have ridden the people. The tables, however, are now turning, though late; and we Parsons must be contented to be ridden by the People. But if the People, in their zeal for freedom, should proceed to cast off the Divine yoke_and there is some danger -If they should insolently reject the authority of Jesus CHRIST, our only Lord and Master, and Saviour, he will visit their offences with a rod, and their sin with scourges. He has a right to our services. We are not our own, but are bought with a price, and no man shall refuse him subjection, and prosper. Every thinking person must feel that he is a dependent creature, and insufficient for his own