« EelmineJätka »
Let not the reader suppose that I have any prejudice against a
a Bishop, or a Clergyman, as such. There are some whose learning, piety, diligence, zeal, and talents I prodigiously admire; and I myself an of the clerical order by the most conscientious choice; but I cannot prevail upon myself to call things by wrong names, and to give flattering titles where it is plain they are not deserved. Gravely and seriously speaking then, I do conceive, that the number of clerical characters, who will be received with approbation by the SHEPHERD and B!shop of souls, in the great day of final retribution, will be small, comparatively speaking, extremely small.
see the state of it:--- if one were ad:nitted to view hell thus, and beholding it thoroughly, the devil should say : On yonder side are punished ura. preaching prelates; I think a man should see as far as a kenning, and perceive nothing but unpreaching prelates ; he might look as far as Calais, I warrant you.".--Sermon 8. vol. i. p. 155. Lond. 1791.
I will mention another anecdote to the same purpose.--“ A learned Friar in Italy, famous for his learning and preaching, was commanded to preach before the Pope at a year of Jubilee : and to be the better fur. nished, he repaired thither a good while before to Rome, to see the fashion of the Conclave, to accommodate his sermon the better. When the day came he was to preach, having ended his prayer, he, looking a long time about, at last cried with a loud voice three times ---St. Peter WAS A Fool !---Sr. PETER WAS A FOOL!---St. Peter WAS A FOOL!...Which words ended, he came out of the pulpit. Being afterwards convented be. fore the Pope, and asked why he so carried himself? He answered, Surely, Holy Father, if a priest may go to heaven abounding in wcalth, honour and preferment, and live at ease, never or seldom to preach, then surely ST. PETER WAS A Fool, who took such a hard way in travelling, in fasting, in preaching, to go thither.”
Whiston's lemoirs of his own Life, p. 362. Most of our English Bishops are, at this day, in a very strong sense, anpreaching Prelates. The Bishop of London, however, and some few more, are exceptions to this general rule. If the present times, and the awful predicament in which every Clergyman now stands, will not rouse us to a sense of danger, and a greater degree of zeal and diligence in our calling, we shall richly deserve our approaching, impending, inevitable face, unless prevented by a speedy and effectual return to evangelical prin. ciples and practices. The Gospel is either true or it is false. If it is false, let us cast off the mask, and appear in our true colours. If it is true, let us conduct ourselves as though we believed it to be so, and leave no stone unturned, no means untried, to promote its spread and influence among the world in general, and among the people committed to our care in parti. cular.
I am sure appearances at present are against us. And I conceive all this is strongly implied in our SAVIOU R's very solemn discourse to the Bishops and Clergy among the
Jews in the twenty third of St. Matthew, just before he left our world. In short:
The Clergy of every country in Christendom have been, at the same time, the bane and the bulwark of religion; the bane, by their pride, misconduct, superstition, negligence, and spiritual domination; and the bulwark, by their piety, excellent learning, and admirable defences of the doctrines of religion, or the outworks of Christianity.
The fact is, the Popish clergy have preached and written so much in defence of the triple tyrant, and the superstitions of their religion, that scepticism and infidelity almost universally prevail among thinking men of that denomination. The more eagerly the Clergy contend, the more mischief they do to their cause ; for really the things for which they contend are not defensible.
We of the English establislıment, too, have so long boasted of the excellence of our church ; congratulated ourselves so frequently upon our happy condition; paid ourselves so many fine compliments upon tlie unparalleled purity of our hierarchy; that a stranger would be led to conclude, to be sure we must be the holiest, happiest, and most flourishing church upon the face of the earth: Whereas, when you go into our most stately and magnificent cathedrals and other sacred edifices, you find them almost empty and forsaken. At best all is deadness and luke-warmness both with priest and people* In various instances, there is little more appearance of
Bishop BURNET says, I have lamented, during my whole life, that I saw so little true zeal among our Clergy. I saw much of it in the Clergy of the Church of Rome, though it is both ill directed and ill conducted. I saw much zeal likewise throughout the foreign churches. The Dissenters have a great deal among them: but I must own, that the main body of our Clergy has always appeared dead and lifeless to me; and, instead of animating one another, they seem rather to lay one another asleep.". Conclusion of the History of his own Times. Let any discerning man take a candid, yet impartial survey of the
devotion than in a Jez's synagogue. Go where you will through the kingdom, one or the other of these is very generally the case, except where the officiating Clergyman is strictly moral in his conduct, serious, earnest and lively in his manner, and evangelical in his doctrines. Where this, however, happens to be so, the stigma of Methodism is almost universally affixed to his character, and his name is had for a proverb of reproach, in proportion to his zeal and usefulness, by the sceptics and infidels all around, in which they are frequently joined by the rich, the fashionable, and the gay, with the Bishop and Clergy at their head. How many such,
«. For their bellies sake, “ Creep, and intrude, and climb into the fold? “Of other care they little reck’ning make, " Than how to scramble at the shearer's feast, “ And shove away the worthy bidden guest; « Blind mouths ! that scarce themselves know how to hold “A sheep-hook, or have learn’d aught else the least “ That to the faithful herdman's art belongs ! “ What recks it them ? what need they? They are sped ; “ And when they list, their lean and flashy songs “Grate on their scrannal pipes of wretched straw. “The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed, " But swoll'n with wind, and the rank mist they draw, “Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread ; " Besides what the grim wolf with privy paw “ Daily devours a pace; and nothing said, " But that two-handed engine at the door, “ Stands ready to smite once, and smite no more." These words of Milton are certainly severe, but yet
Clergy, for a circuit of sixty miles round his own neighbourhood, and then let him say, whether the matter is mended since the time in which this good Bishop wrote these words. Let him attend the dissenting ordi. xations, and clerical meetings ; the methodist conferences, and district meetings ; let him next proceed to our church confirmations, ordinations, and visitations ; and then let him say, on which side is to be found the greatest appearance
of evangelical religion. Be it as it may with others, it is well known that our Confirmations are frequently a burlesque, our Ordinations disorderly, and our Visitations riotous and intemperates These are melancholy facts. The Parson and his Wardens must have a good soaking together once a year at least. I observe, too, that for'a circuit of many miles round our two English
not more so than the occasion deserves. If they were applicable in his day, it is to be feared they are not Jess so in the present.
As a body, we are of all men in England the most inexcusable. "The great mass of the people are going headlong to the devil in their sins; the nation, because of its transgressions, is absolutely verging towards destruction; and yet a vast majority of the 18,000 Parsons are insensible, both of the temporal and eternal danger, to which we, and our people, and our country is exposed. If this censure seen intemperate
any man prove that it is not just. I sincerely wish it were wholly undeserved. I know some good men, useful, laborious, and honourable men, among the Clergy; inen, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose; but I know also there is a very considerable number, who are, what shall I say?-Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelan; lest the sons of Infidelity rejoice ; lest the disciples of Thomas PAINE triumpir--they are exactly like the Parson described by the Prophet, a little before the destruction of Jerusalem: His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant; they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dog's, which can nerer have enough; and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain from his quarter. Come ye, șay they, I will jetch wine,andwewill fill ourselocs with strong drink; and tc-morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.
I have no pleasure, I say again, in exposing the nakedness of the established religion of my country, or in exciting against myself the indignation of my clerical brę
universities, a greater degreé of ignorance and stupidity prevails among the common people than in most other parts of the country. This is a strange circunstance, but easily accounted for from the improper conduct of abundance of the Clergy and Gentlemen of those two seminaries of learning
It holds equally true, that, all through the kingdom, wherever there is a Cethedral and a greater number of Parsons than ordinary, there is usually the least appearance of real religion among the peeple. The ge; neral 'luke-warmness of the Clergy is a curse to every neighbourhood where they abound! It is the same in Catholic countries, and must be so, in the nature of things, through every country, unless we live in the spirit of the Gospel.
thren; but the times are alarming; the great IIEAD of the church is evidently displeased with us; and there is now no mincing the matter any longer. We ought to examine the ground upon which we stand. If it is in any respect found untenable, 'we shall change our measures ; follow the determinations of HEAVEN ; and, by complying with its high behests, put ourselves under his g! ardian care.
If, without looking forward, or giving oi rselves any concern what is right or what is wrong, We are determined to defend, through thick and thin, whatever in former ages has received the sanction of law, and, in our own day, the force of custom, we must take the consequences. We shall, most assuredly, in due time, share in the general wreck of the nations. I have no more doubt of this, than I have of the authority of the Sacred Writings.
The animosity and uncharitableness, which have evermore prevailed among the different denominations of Christians, is another cause of the growing Infidelity of the present age. It is not said now, as in the days of old, “See how these Christians love one another;"_but"See how these Christians hate one another." Catholics damn Protestants, and Protestants revile Catholics*.
What a horrible curse has Popery been 10 Christendom in point of population ! France alone, we have s'en, before the Revolution, contained upwards of 366,000 secular and regular Clergy, besides an immense number of Nuns. This vast body of males and females were all enjoined, by the laws of the church, to continue in a state of celibacy. In the whole of Christendom there were no less than 225,444 monasteries about century ago. How much greater the number before the Reformation? Now, reckoning only twenty persons to one monastery, there must be, in these several sinks of sin and pollution.--see Gavin's Master Key to Popery -- upwards of 4,500,000 souls debarred from all the comforts of the married state, and living in direct opposition to the great law of nature... Increase and Multiply. Hasten the completion of the 1260 years, 0 God! which thou hast determined for the reign of the Man of Sin; and whatever it cost us, let us see his destruction with our own eyes ; so will we praise thy name, and shout, Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Babylon is fallen! is fallen! with concordant hearts and .voices !
When WILLIAM the Conqueror came over into England, he found about a third part of the lands in the possession of the Clergy:
Upwards of three thousand one hundred and eighty religious houses were suppressed by HENRY VIII. and his predecessors.