« EelmineJätka »
whom are both great and good men, and independent of such considerations, I hope ever to reverence them for their office sake-do vouchsafe once in a way, as an
extreme happiness ; a sinful creature, and incapable of atoning for his own transgressions.
I have said above, that among the Bishops of the Church of England may be found a considerable number of characters the most respect: ble for every moral, literary, and religious attainment. I add too, agrin, that several of the Bishops and Clergy of the Irish church have been also highly respectable, as well as many of the inferior orders of our own Clergy. So likewise have been many of the Bisbops and Clergy of the French church. Usher, the Irish Archbishop, for instance, was not only a pious man, but even a walking library in point of learning. The present Archbishop Newcombe is a character of the most respectable literary kind. Bishop WARBURTON, no mean judge, used to say of Bishop TAYLOR, “he had no conception of a greater genius upon earth than was that holy man.”_Where too was there ever a more ad. mirable character than the author of TeleMACHUS? or more learned men than CALMET, Du PIN, MONTFAUCON, and others among the French clergy? Our own Cores, though but a private clergyman, and young in years at the time of his decease, is said by Bishop WATSON to have been second to none but Newton in sublimity of philosophic genius. But as the learning, piety, genius, and amiableness of manners of Fenelon and his brethren, could not excuse and make tolerable the corruptions of the church of France, so neither can the learning, ge. nius," and piety of the Bishops and Clergy of England and Ireland excuse and make justifiable the more tolerable corruptions of the churches of these two countries. We must either simplify and evangelize our eccle. siastical constitutions, or they must fall." I speak this, not from any personal pique or disappointment, not from a love of novelty and change, but upon the authority of the Prophetic Scriptures-with a view to the near completion of the 1260 mystical years--and from a solemn and awful contemplation of the revolutions which are so rapidly taking plaee all through Europe. England may, and, I trust, will be protected by Divine PROVIDENCE for a time; the iniquity of the Amorites may not yet be full; but the Great Nation, as they vain-gloriously call themselves, must ultimately succeed in their designs, unless a radical reforma. tion should engage the LORD on our side, and prevent our national ruin.
Great tenderness, however, ought to be exercised towards our Governours both in Church and State, upon this delicate subject ; because, whenever a King succeeds to the throne of these lands, he swears to maintain the Church in its present state ; because all important changes are attended with serious danger to the very existence of society-witness the revolution in France--and because Judge Blackstone in his Come mentaries delivers it as his opinion, that no alteration can take place, cither in the Constitution or Liturx y of the Church of England, consistent. ly with the Act of Union.--Introduction, sect. 4. But if this is the case, thc Act of Union was unwisely managed. What
estreme favour, to indulge the people of their diocese, where they happen to spend a little time, they usually affect so much pomp and dignity in their manner, and their discourses are so dry and unevangelical; so stiff
, so cool, so essaical, so critical, so ethical, so heathenlike, that the poor of the flock can receive little or no benefit and edification.
These learned Gentlemen are so horribly afraid of approaching too near the Methodists*, both in their doctrines and manner of preaching, that their sermons are most commonly cast inore in the mould of SENECA or EPICTETUS, than in that of St. Paul; and delivered with all the apathy of an ancient philosopher.
" How oft, when Paul has serv'd us with a text,
** Has Epictetus, PLATO, Tully preach'd !" Hence these learned Prelates are found to do but little good. Such preaching never was of much use to the Christian church. Christ crucified alone is the power of God unto salvation. Now and then, indeed, in the course of three, four, five, six, or sometimes even ten or twelve years, these Shepherds of Christ's flock parade through the country, paying their respects to the Great, and holding Confirmations, but where is the spirit of a PETER and a PAUL to be discovered ? or, to come nearer to what might be expected, where is the spirit of
right has any one generation to legislate for all future generations ? and especially to tie up their hands from making changes and improvements adapted to the taste of the revolving ages? Upon this principle Christianity itself, and even the present constitution of England, is an improper innovation on the wisdom of former ages.
It is evident from the opposition of the present Bishop of Rochester to the abolition of Holidnys, that we may not expect from the Bench of Bishops the smallest concessions towards a reformation in the ecclesiastical part of our Constitution. To me, however, what we usually call Holi. days appear in the light of very serious evils to the community. Let a man conscientiously observe the LORD's day, and I will excuse him every other holiday in the calendar.
* Methodist is a term of reproach which has been made use of for many years, in this country, to stigmatize all the most serious, zealous, and lively professors of religion. It is not confined to any one sect for
a BURNET *, a LEIGHTON t, a BEVERIDGE, a HALL; a KEN, a BEDELL, a REYNOLDS, or a Wilson to be seen? Our Confirmations, and I may add, even our Or
party; but is common, more or less, to all who are peculiarly animated in the concerns of religion. In the Church of England, as by law established, all those Ministers and people are called Methodists, who believe, and preach, and contend for the doctrines of the thirty-nine Articles of religion. And Arians, Socinians, Arminians, and Formalists of every description, who continue to attend public worship in the Esta. blishment, are considered by the undiscerning world as her only true members. In short, all who embrace, with a lively and zealous faith, the doctrines of the said thirty-nine Articles, among all the denominations of Christians, are by way of ignominy denominated Methodists. To be zealous, in the most important of all concerns, is to be held as a proverb of reproach! You may be a zealous philosopher, a zealous politician, or a zealous sciolist of almost every description, and you
shall meet with
approbation and praise : but if you discover any considerable degree of warmth and zeal for the grand peculiarities of the Gospel, and vital, practical, experimental religion, then the devil and all his industrious servants will stigmatize you with every name which they consider as opprobrious and disgraceful. Indeed Methodist is, in the eighteenth century, what Puritan was in the seventeenth. After the Restoration, people, to shew their aversion to the Puritans, turned every appearance of religion into ridicule, and, from the extreme of hypocrisy, flew at once to that of profligacy; so now abundance of people are so alarmed at the idea of being thought Methodists, that they absolutely give up the peculiar doctrines of the Gospel, and become as lukewarm, and indifferent to all religion, as though it was no part of their concern. And yet these Wiseacres, in the true spirit of the ancient Scribes and Pharisees, keep roaring out, Church and King! the Church! the Church! the Temple of the Lord! the Temple of the LORD are we !
* This excellent man was extremely laborious in his episcopal office. Every summer he made a tour, for six weeks or two months, through some district of his bishopric, daily preaching and confirming from church to church, se as in the compass of three years, besides his triennial visitation, to go through all the principal livings of his diocese."
See Biograph. Brit. art. BukNET, by Kippis, vol. 3. p. 29. + LEIGHTON was a most exemplary character, both in his private and public capacity. The life and writings of few men are more worthy of imitation and perusal. He laboured hard to bring about some reforma. tion in the state of things in his own day, and when he found all his ef. forts ineffectual, he quietly withdrew, resigned his preferment, and lived in private. What Burnet says of him can never be too often repeated, and too generally known—" He had the greatest elevation of soul, the largest compass of knowledge, the most mortified and heavenly disposi. tion, that I ever yet saw in mortal. He had the greatest parts, as well
dinations * for the sacred ministry, though good in themselves, appointed by the highest authority, and calculated to serve the interests of religion in no small degree, are dwindled into painful and disgusting ceremonies, as they are usually administered to serious and enlightened minds. Besides, is it to be supposed that the whole of a Bishop's business is to ordain ministers and hold confirmations, to spend their time in secular engagements, and to attend their place in the House of Lords? Is it
for as virtue, with the perfectest humility that I ever saw in man; and had a sublime strain in preaching, with so grave a gesture, and such a majesty both of thought, of language, and pronunciation, that I never once saw a wandering eye where he preached, and I have seen whole assemblies often melt in tears before him, and of whom I can say with great truth, that in a free and frequent conversation with him for above two and twenty years, I never knew him say an idle word, that had not a direct ten. dency to edification ; and I never once saw him in any
but that which I wish to be in, in the last moments of my
life.” Mr. Locke gives us a similar account of Dr. EDWARD Pococke. “ I can say of him what few men can say of any friend of theirs, nor I us of
any other of my acquaintance; that I don't remember I ever saw in “ him any one action, that I did, or could in my own mind blame, or " thought amiss in him."... Letter to Mr. Smith of Dartmouth.
• Bishop BURNET took large pains in preparing young people for Confirmation, and used every means in his power to encourage and excite candidates for Ordination to come with due qualifications.
He com. plains, however, in the most affecting terms, of the low state in which they usually appeared before him. See the Preface to his Pastoral Care; the third edition. The state of things is not much improved since that great Prelate's day. We have at this time, indeed, a very considerable number of men in the Establishment, of the utmost respectability both for learning, piety, and diligence in their calling; but, when we consider that the Clergy of this country, independent fof Scotland and Ireland, are supposed to make, as before noted, a body of 18,000 men, the number of truly mora!, religious, and diligent characters, is comparatively small. This is one main reason of the prodigious increase of Methodism; and for the same reason Infidelity is at this moment rụnning like wild-fire among the great body of the common people. There never was a time when there was a greater need of zeal, and humility, and condescension, and piety, and diligence, and attention to the grand peculiarities of the Gospel in our Bishops and Clergy, than in the present day. If we, as a great body of men paid by the State for the purpose, rouse not speedily from our supine condition, and come boldly and manfully forward-not in dery persecuting spirit, but in the spirit of our Divine MASTERshall neither have churches to preach in, nor people to preach to. Let the Bishops and Clergy of England look at their brethren in Francaise and arise-set out on a new plan or be for ever fallen!
for these purposes solely they are each of them paid by
es Good brother,
“ Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads."
of our worthy countrymen should be drawn aside into the paths of Infidelity, when it is considered what is the
general conduct of our spiritual Superiors, and how the above sacred ordinances are frequently administered ? Is it possible the Scriptures should be true, and our secular and lukewarm, our negligent and unpreaching Bishops be in favour with the DIVINE BEING? If they are in safety for a future state, surely religion must have changed its nature. Their episcopal conduct is the reverse of St. Paul's injunctions to TIMOTHY, and the Bishops of the churches of Asia ; to give themselves wholly to the work of the ministry, and to take heed to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made them overseers; to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. The LORD of the. invisible world hath said, and he who hath the keys of death and of hell hath said: Strive to enter into the strait gate, for many shall seek to enter in and shall not be able : Il'ide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go
in thereat : because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. If commands and declarations like these are true, then woe! woe! wee! to the Bishops of England! May we not say of them, with too general an application, but with some few honourable exceptions indeed, as good old bishop LATIMER said of his most reverend and right reverend brethren in his day ;-;“ There is a gap in Hell, as wide as from Calais to Dover, and it is all filled with unpreaching Prelates * !"
* LATIMER's words are i-am" (that a man might have the contemplation of hell, that the devil would allow a man to look into hell, to