Page images
[ocr errors]

these, there are in all about 300 in orders belonging to the different Cathedrals, and about 800 Lay-officers, such as singing men, organists, &c. who are all paid from the Cathedral emoluments; so that there are about 1700 persons attached to the several Cathedrals, who divideamong them the 140,000 pounds a year, making upon an average near 83 pounds a year a piece *.

The whole income of the Kirk of Scotland was, in 1755, about 68,500 pounds a year. This was divided among 9+4 Ministers, and on an average made 72 pounds a piece per annum.

Upon a general view of these matters, when it is considered, that all the Bishoprics, Prebendaries, Deaneries, Headships of Colleges, and best Church-Livings, are occupied by a smaller number, in all probability, than an eighteenth part of these Clergy, what a deplorablesituation must a large share of the remaining seventeen thousand Ministers be in, especially under the present advanced price of most of the common necessaries of life ? And then, it is curious enough, that these Church-Dignitaries, who are in possession of several thousands a year per man, have made laws, directly contrary to the practice of St. Paul, that the inferior Clergy, who are destitute of all the elegancies, and many of the comforts of life, shall not be permitted to follow any other Calling, whereby to improve their condition, and get bread for their families ! Would there be any thing inconsistent with the character of a Minister of the Gospel of Christ, if the poor Rectors, Vicars, and Curates of the country, should make a common cause, and associate together in one body against their unfeeling oppressors f? Could there be any im

propriety * See an Essay on the Revenues of the Church of England.

+ Every man is an Oppressor who holds that which ought to be in the hands of another.-It does not appear to me, that we can justly blame any man 'for being a Deist, while the great body of us, the Bishops and Clergy, conduct ourselves in the manner we usually do. The spirit of our Hierarchy seems, in various respects, in direct cpposition to the spirit of the Gospel. A conscientious Dest, if such can be found, who wor. ships God in spirit and in truth, is infinitely preferable to a proud, Haughty, pompous Bishop, or dignified Clergyman, who trades in livingi


propriety in their conduct, if they should peaceably and respectfully address the King', who is temporal Head of the Church, or the Legislature of the land, to take their circumstances into serious consideration ? One man-not a doit better than his brethren-shall enjoy 20,00 poundsayear--another15,000-another i0,000 --another 5000-another 3000-another 2000--and another 1000. One shall heap Living upon Living, Preferment upon Prefermentto a vast amount--merely because he hasgot access—too often by mean compliances—to some great man-while his more worthy brother is almost in


and souls; and will be with a damnation far less severe. Bishops and Clergymen of this description, profess what they will, are Infidels at bottom. They believe nothing of the spirit of Christianiiy. Religion is their trade, and gain with them is godliness. They live in the spirit of the ancient Scribes and Pharisees, and they may expect to share in the fate of the Scribes and Pharisees.-Compare Is. lvi. 9-12.

Let the clerical reader turn to the Conclusion of Bishop BURNET'S History of his own Times, and he will find the negligent Bishops of the land very justly and smartly reprehended for their improper conduct.

Mr. OSTERVALD, in his excellent Treatise concerning the Causes of the present Corruption of Christians, attributes that corruption chiefly to the Clergy. His words are these :-" The cause of the corruption of Chrisa tians is chiefly to be found in *he Clergy. I do not mean to speak here of all Churchmen indifferently. We must do right to some, who distinguish themselves by their talents, their zeal, and the holiness of their lives. Bnt the number of these is not considerable enough to stop the course of those disorders which are occasioned in the Church by the vast multitudes of remiss and corrupt pastors. These pull down what the others endeavour to build up." Fart ii. Cause S.

The instances of extreme blame which attaches to the higher orders of the English clergy, are very namerous. A certain gentleman, not an hundred iniles from my own neighsourhood, whom I could naine, is possessed of about a thousand a year private fortune. He is a married man, but without children. He has one living in Cheshire, of the value of more than 400 pounds a year: another in Essex, and another elsewhere, the three together making a thousand a year, more or less. He is, moreover, Chaplain to a Company, and private Tutor in a Nobleman's family. But what is most culpable, is, he resides upon none of his livings, and very seldom comes near them, though a lusty', healthful man. that Church be faultless, which permiis such horrible abuses ? The Pin shops themselves, however, being generally guilty of holding a variery of preferiments, and of most inexcusable non-residence, are disposed ia comive at every thing of the kind among the superior Clergy who 14 under their inspection.


[ocr errors]

want of bread for his children.' The late Dr. Law, Bis shop of Carlisle, if my memory does not fail me, was possessed, at the time of his decease, of ten or more different Preferments. He was Bishop-- Head of a CollegePrebend-Rector— Librarian, &c. &c. &c. and all this bestowed upon him-not because he was a more holy, useful, and laborious man, than ordinary; though a man of merit and talents; but because he wriggled himself into favour with certain great persons, who liad influence with men in power. Instances of this kind are not uncommon. They are, however, unjust, impolitical, unchristian. No wise Legislature ought to permit such abuses, Religion out of the question. They are inconsistent with every thing that is decent and proper, while so many valuable, learned, laborious, humble, modest men, are: pining in want. I know well, that reflections of this nature are calculated to disoblige those who are interested; but, regardless of consequences, without the least dislike to any man living, or the smallest vicw to anyone individual, or a wish to have any thing better for myself, and actuated only with a love to truth, andthe advancement of our common Christianity, I, for one, protest in the faceof the sunaguinst all such abuses. And I, moreover, solemnly avow, that the spirit of the present times is such, that unless these and similar disorders are rectified by the wisdom of the Legislature, the wholeecclesiastical fabric in this country will, ere long, be as completely overturned, as that in France has been *. Nothing can prevent it, but a speedy and thorough reformation. If the Bishops of the land, as first in dignity, would be first in this grand work: If they would make a merit of necessity, and, like Bishop Wilson, resign voluntarily, what they cannot long possess in safety: If they would make an offer to their King and Country of withdrawing from the Upper

House ;

* The church of France, before the Revolution, consisted of 18 archbishops, 118 bishops, 306,264 clergy, regular and secular, who together enjoyed a revenue of about five millions sterling. The kingdom was divided into 34,498 parishes, besides 4,64+ annexed parishes ; in all 39,142 parishes.

House *; resigning all their secular honours, and commence genuine ministers of the Gospel : Or, should this be too much to expect; if they would renounce their several pluralities t, and quietly retire into their respec


* This, I believe, is an abuse unknown in any other protestant church in Europe, and would never have been submitted to in the purest ages of Christianity. Would to God our Governours in Church and State could see it right to—but what shall I say? Why should I desire changes, every thing but impossible?- It is because I wish as well as any man in England to my King and Country, that I desire every thing to be removed that may provoke the Divine displeasure against us, as a nation and people, and bring on the total dissolution of the political frame of things. The wishes of an obscure clergyman, however, will be less in the scale, than the small dust upon the balance, when weighed agairist the vast body of archbishops, bishops, deans, prebends, canons, archdeacons, rectors, vicari, curates, lecturers, commissaries, chancellors, practors, surrogates, &c. &c. with which our church abounds. We Clergy men should do well fres quently to study the 34th chapter of Ezekiel. It might do us much good. The following address of Cowper is also worth our attention :

“ Ye Clergy, while your orbit is your place,
“ Lights of the world, and stars of human race,
« But if eccentric ye forsake your sphere,
« Prodigious, ominous, and viewed with fear,
« The comet's baneful influence is a dream,
Yours real and pernicious in th' extreme.".

" Oh laugh, or mourn with me, the rueful jest,
6. A cassock'd huntsman, and a fiddling priest;
“ He from Italian songsters takes his cue,
“ Set Paul to music, he shall quote him too.
“ He takes the field ; the Master of the pack
“ Cries, Well done, Saint ! and claps him on the back
" Is this the path of sanctity? Is this
“ To stand a way-mark in the road to bliss ?
“ Himself a wand'rer from the narrow way,
“ His silly sheep, what wonder if they stray?"

« The sacred function, in your hands is made,
Sad sacrilege ! no function but a trade.”

Progress of Error, + It is no uncommon thing for the Bishops of our Church to hold much preferments as are utterly incompatible with each other. The late Dr. Hinchcliere was at the same time Bishop of Peterborough, and Master of Trinity College in Cambridge. As Bishop, he ought, by every law of honour, and conscience, and the gospel, to ban ve been resident in

tive dioceses, never appearing in the great Council of the nation, but when absolutely wanted: If they would come

among his diocese among his clergy and people : As Master of Trinity, his presence could not, in general, be dispensed with.

We have had others, who have enjoyed, at the same time, several incompatible preferments--a Bishopric-a Headship of a Collegea Prebendary--a Rectory-and other emoluments : As Bishop, a man ought to be in his diocese; as Head of a college, he must be resident; as Prebend, certain duties are due ; as Rector of a parish, his absence cannot be dispensed with. And, I might add, as a Lord of Parliament, his presence is frequently and justly required. What account their Lord. ships can give, cither to God or man, for such of these preferments as are absolutely incompatible one with another, it behoves them well to consider. Such examples have a deadly effect upon the interests of re. ligion. Were they to preach like St. Paul, who would regard them, when they see they do not believe their own professions ? No rank, no talents, no learning, no good sense, no respectability can excuse such a conduct. We are continually hearing of the rapid spread of Infidelity. The Bishops of London and Durham, in their late excellent Charges, are loud in their complaints. But what appears surprising to me, is, that they and others should speak so strongly of the overthrow of Christianity in France. By their leave, and with all due submission, it is not Chris. tianity which has experienced a subversion there : It is the doctrine of Antichrist; and its subversion will ultimately prove one of the greatest blessings God could bestow upon the nations. But who is to blame for the spread of Infidelity? The Bishops and Clergy of the land, more than any other people in it. We, as a body of men, are almost solely and exclusively colpable. Our negligence, lukewarmness, worldly-minded. ness, and immorality will ruin the country. And when the judgements of God coine upon the land, they will fall peculiarly heavy upon the heads of our order of men.

One word upon the situation of the unhappy Irish. We cry out against them for their rebellious conduct: and to be sure they are ex. tremely to blame in many respects. Is there-not, however, a cause, an apparent cause, at least, for their dissatisfaction: The grievances of the Protestant part of the people are many and considerable. The present Lord BRISTOL, for instance, Bishop of Derry, whose bishopric is said to be 15,000 pounds a year, is now rambling over Europe, and, it is said, has not set foot in his diocese for several years ; some have reported, for twenty-four.

This is a specimen of the treatment which Churchmen meet with. Can we wonder, if they, as well as the Catholics and Dissenters, should murmur? Ireland would, at this moment, in all probability have been lost to England, had not the mad and bloody zeal of the Catbolics, those hellish wretches, united the Protestants in their own defence, for the protection of their lives and properties.

There are twenty-two of these Bishops, who preside over the establish. ed church in Ireland, at the expence of 74,000 pounds a year ; that is,


« EelmineJätka »