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moved by nothing more than a desire to obtain a good living, and, perhaps, even deny that there is any HOLY GHOST--to our reading one species of doctrines in the desk, and preaching directly opposite in the pulpit?
Abundance of persons, moreover, object to several things in the 39 Årticles of Religion---to several things in the book of Homilies---and, above all, to the imposition of subscription to any human creeds and explications of doctrines whatever*. No man, or set of men upon earth, as it seems to them, has a right to demand any such thing of a fellow Christian.
Sir P-R P-R has in his gift a Rectory of the value of 2000 pounds a year. The Rev. G. W. agrees to give him five thousand pounds in hand, and five hundred a year for ten years.
In this manner are daily bartered the souls of men, like sheep in a market!—Is it probable that such a state of things should be maintained for many ages or years longer? Surely the Legislature of the country ought to take these abuses into consideration, and endeavour to remove them. If there is a God who judgeth the earth, he cannot look upon such abominations with indifference. Abuses of a similar kind have brought destruction upon other countries, and shall England alone be permitted thus to play the devil, and no notice taken of us by the moral GOVERNOUR of the world? Such things are indefensible, and make one blush for the church, in which it is possible they should take place.
The valuable perferments in our Church, are almost universally obtained by money or by interest; merit having little or nothing to do in the business. There are, however, several exceptions to this general rule, under the government of his present Majesty. But, my indignation constrains me to add, that MAURICE, the present worthy author of Indian Antiquities, &c. &c.-O shame to a venal age!—is left to starve upon a distant and laborious curacy of fifty pounds a year, See his own account in the History of Hindostan, vol. i. p. 119, 120, quarto.
"Ye bards of Britain, break the useless lyre,
"And rend, disdainful, your detested lays; "Who now shall dare to letter'd fame aspire, "Devotes to penury his hapless days.'
See MAURICE's fine elegiac Poem on the death of Sir WM. JONES. * It may be further observed, that subscription to the 39 Articles hath kept many a good man out of the church, but not many bad ones.
"The requiring subscription to the thirty-nine articles," Bishop BURNET says, is a great imposition."
I remember an Anecdote concerning the famous WILLIAM WHISTON and Lord Chancellor KING, which is not foreign to our purpose. WHISTON being one day in discourse with the Chancellor, who was brought up a Dissenter at Exeter, but had conformed, a debate arose about signing artilces, which men do not believe, for the sake of preferment. This the
Can any thing in the whole absurd system of Poperybe more improper, than to make every young man, without exception, subscribe, when he becomes a member of either of our English universities, he believes from his soul, er animo, that every thing contained in the Articles, Homilies, Common Prayer, and offices of Ordination, is agreeable to the Word of GOD? when in all ordinary cases, he has never seriouslyand attentively read either one or another of them? How is it likely, that a boy, raw from school, should be competent to such a task? And if he is to subscribe upon the faith of others, on the same principle he may subscribe to the Mass-book, the Koran, or any other book whatever.
After a careful examination, I, for my own part, am constrained to object, pede et manu, to several things in the 141 Canons, and consider the requirement, on oath, of canonical obedience to the Bishop of the diocese where we officiate, as one of the most detestable instances of antichristianimposition that ever was exercised over a body of Clergy. And yet, after we have gotten our education, ata considerable expence, possibly at the expence of our whole fortune, we must take this abhorred oath, or renounce the profession to which we have been trained, after our fortune with which we should have begun business, is gone, and the proper time of life expired. These things ought not so to be.--Let it be observed, however, that this is not the fault of the Bishops, but ofthe Constitution. It is one of the
Chancellor openly justified, "because," said he, "we must not lose our usefulness for scruples." WHISTON, who was quite of an opposite opinion, asked his Lordship, "If in his court they allowed of such prevarication? He answered, "We do not." "Then," said WHISTON, " Suppose GoD "ALMIGHTY should be as just in the next world as my Lord Chancellor ❝is in this, where are we then?"
The 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 27th, 28th, 29th, 38th, 58th, 72d, 139th, 140th, and 141st Canons, are most of them peculiarly objectionable. Prior to experience, it would appear highly incredible, that conscientious and liberal minded Clergymen should be able to swear such kind of obedience. The good LORD pardon his servants, for we surely consider not what we do!
Let any man seriously read, and soberly consider these several Canons, and then judge of their tendency. They contain the very worst part of popery, that is, a spirit of infallibility. They proceed, at least, upon the infallibility of our own church, while we disavow that infalli bility, and condemn the pretension in the church of Rome.
the existing laws of the Establishment, and cannot be dispensed with as things now stand; and the Bishops are as much bound to administer the oath, as we are to take it.
Moreover, there are not a few persons again, who object to some things in the Baptismal office---in the office of Confirmation---in the office for the Sick---in the Communion office---in the Ordination office---in the Burial office--in the Common Prayer--in the Litany--in Athanasius's Creed--in the Calendar--in our Cathedral worship-in our Spritual courts--in the management of our Briefs
* Many persons have an objection to contribute any thing to Briefs, because they suppose a principal part of the money collected goes into the hands of improper persons. The usual charges attending them, with the collections thereupon, will be best understood from the instance given in BURN'S Ecclesiastical Law.
For the parish church of Ravenstondale, in the county of Westmorland.
£. s. d.
Lodging the certificate
Portage to and from the stampers
13 12 6
283 16 3
The expence of a brief for St. Mary's Church, in Colchester, is stated in the Gentleman's Mag. for Feb. 1788, at 5461. 19s. 10d.
Thus we see, that according to the more moderate of these cases, if ten Briefs are issued in the course of a year, there would be collected upon them the sum of 61461. 7s. 6d. of which 33081. 5s. is expended in clearing 28381. 2s. 6d, for the ten charitable purposes.
in the Test and Corporation Acts*-in our Tithe laws.
There are some again, who earnestly deplore our total want of discipline, and our incomplete toleration-that our Church holds out other terms of communion than the Scripture hath enjoined and that she is a mighty encourager of ambition among the superior orders of the Clergy, by the several ranks, degrees, honours. and emoluments which prevail among us.-They are firmly per
But if we take the more extended of these cases, the expence of collecting ten Briefs would be 5469l. 18s. 4d. which is within 6761. 9s. 2d. of the whole money in the former case collected!
There is a deduction of a similar kind from public money in St. MiCHAEL'S Chapel in this town. Fifty pounds a year are ordered by royal grant to be paid out of the Exchequer to the Mayor of the Corporation for the time being, for the use of the Minister, without fee or reward. Instead of fifty, however, he never receives more than three and thirty. Seventeen pounds are deducted for fees of office. So much for "without fee or reward!" Charitable donations, of every kind, should be reduced as little as possible by those through whose hands they must necessarily pass. An undue deduction is a sort of sacrilege, and must be accounted for as such before the JUDGE SUPREME.
The number of Church and Chapel Wardens in England and Wales must be considerably above 20,000. Every one of these takes a solemn oath when he enters upon his office. And who will undertake to prove that nine in ten of these church officers are not perjured? Certain it is, that the cath is of such a nature, it is next to an impossibility to keep it inviolate. Very few of those gentlemen ever attempt to fulfil their en gagements. They make no efforts to avoid the grievous sin of perjury. "Hast thou by statute, shov'd from its design,
"The SAVIOUR's feast, his own blest bread and wine,
And though a Bishop toil to cleanse the stain,
This celebrated Bishop used to say, "Our liturgical forms ought to be "revised and amended, only for our own sakes, though there were no "Dissenters in the land."
+ See the article Tithe in BURN's Ecclesiastical Law; whence it appears Tithes were not paid in England till the eighth century, and were then given to the Clergy by an act of tyrannical power and usurpation, by two of our Popish and superstitious kings; and, in one of the instances, as a commutation for murder.
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in o suaded, the people of every age and country have an inalienable right to choose their own ministers; and that no king, no ruler, no bishop, no lord, no gentleman, no raton- man, or body of men upon earth, has any just claim whatever, to dictate, who shall administer to them in es the concerns of their salvation; or to say-You shall order think this, believe that, worship here, or abstain from ars.worshipping there. e firms
For much more than a thousand years, the Christian world was a stranger to religious liberty. Even Toleration was unknown till about a century ago. The Clergy, especially, have usually been unfriendly to religious liberty. And when the Act of Toleration was obtained in King WILLIAM's time, great numbers of them were much order against it.-It appears to me, however, that both the name and thing are inconsistent with the very nature of the Gospel of CHRIST. For, have not I as much right forto controul you in your religious concerns, as you have ould to controul me? To talk of tolerating, implies an authority over me. Yet, who but CHRIST has any such authority? He is a tyrant, a very pope, who pretends to and any such thing.-These matters will be better understood by and by. The whole Christian worldlay in darkness, upon this subject, we have observed, for many ages. Dr. OWEN was the first I am acquainted with, who wrote in favour of it, in the year 1648. MILTON folof plowed him about the year 1658, in his Treatise of the Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes. And the immortal LOCKE followed them both with his golden Treatise on Toleration, in 1689. 39. But notwithstanding these, and many other works which have since been written on the same subject, much still remains to be done in this country. LOCKE's book has not yet been generally read and understood. Though we have had the honour of being among the first of the nations, which obtained a large portion of civil and religious freedom, others are now taking the lead of us, on the rights of conscience. And it does not appear to many, that we ever can be a thoroughly united and happy people, till every good subject enjoys equal civil privileges, without any regard to religious sects and opinions. If a man is a peaceable, industrious, moral, and religious person, and an obedient
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