« PreviousContinue »
pable of seeing, that oppression, of every kind and degree, for conscience sake, always produces an effect directly contrary to the wishes and intentions of the oppressor ?
The villages in England alone, besides cities and market towns, are about 30,000. All these call upon us for every exertion to evangelize them, and to save the peoples souls alive.-A branch off from the Methodists has likewise spread far and wide, under the direction of the late Mr. ALEXANDER KILHAM. At present they have about seventeen circuits, twenty preachers, and upwards of 5,000 persons in society, and are increasing considerably each year. Shall we then, we, the eighteen thousand Clergymen of the Establishment, wbo are under such superior obligations, many of whom are paid by the State, at the rate of some hundreds, and others at the rate of some tbousands a year; shall we be all asleep, sit still, and pursue no peculiarly vigorous measures, each one in our own sphere, or various of us in concert, till destruction come upon us to the uttermost*?
Is not the time nearly arrived for the subverşion of the bations? And can any thing under heaven prevent our sharing in the common fate of Christendom, but a speedy and effectual return to evangelical principles and practices ? Is not our sister kingdom already deluged with blood? And is not the alarm of war in our own borders! Does not the murderous sword draw nearer and nearer every year? And shall we Clergymen, who above all men in the kingdom are devoted to the most assured destruction, be indifferent to circumstances? Let the very laudable conduct of the several zealous bodies of Christians in this mation, before mentioned, not excite our rage and envy, but rather let it provoke the great body of us, the established Clergy, to jealousy and emulation. li ever there was a time when it kas necessary to awake out of sleep, and be alive to the interests of the Gospel, surely it is now. If our most reverend and right severend the Archbishops and Bishops are indisposed towards a nieliorated state of the ecclesiastical part of the constitution,
It is related of the Rev. JOHN CARLYON, LL. B. in the Gentleman's Mag. for Oct. 1798, that when his health would not pern it him to reside upon the yaluable Living of Bradwell in Esser, he resolutely gave
and would not serve it by a Curate, thougly entreated by the Bishop so to do. There was not, however, in this case that close trial of conscientious integrity, which we have knowo in scme others; because Mr. CARLYON was a person of considera able private foriune.
let thein at least lay aside their affectation of pomp and show, come ainong their clergy and people, and set us an example of a warm and judicious zeal * in preaching---not merely a refined morality--but the great and glorious truths of the everlasting Gospel t, in such a way as we can all understand and feel. . This would have a strong tendency to animate and encourage the pious part of the Clergy in their ministerial labours for the good of mankind, and to discountenance and overawe the licentious and profane, those dreadful pests of every neighbourhood, which has the misfortune to be cursed with their exa ampleť. Such a reformation as this, is within the power of every Bishop upon the bench, whose age and health will admit of exertion; and no one need wait for the concurrence of his brethren. As matters, however, are now managed, a large proportion both of our Bishops and Clergy are, in a very considerable degree, a useless burden upon the public. We not only do little or no good, but we do a great deal of barm. While we continue dead to the interests of religion ; subscribe what we do not believe; read what we do not approve; and set the pulpit
* See Bishop Gibson on the Evil and Danger of Lukewarmness in Religion.
† Consult the Charge of Bishop HORSLEY in 1790, on the Truths of the Gospel.
For the various efforts which have long been making, and are at this moment still making, for the destruction of all the churches and governments in Christendom, see those two very curious and interesting works, ROBINSON's Proofs of a Conspiracy against all the Religions and Governments of Europe, and BARRUEL's Memoirs of Jacobinism.
Bishop NEWTON, in his three admirable volumes on the Prephecies, which were first published about fifty years ago, hath spoken in terms nearly as strong as any of the foregoing, conceruing the danger which the country is in because of national iniquities. See vol. 2. p. 239.
Bishop HORNE also hath expressed his fears to the same purport, at the 162 page of his Sixteen Sermons; to which two able writers, I beg leave to recommend the reader.
Bishop BURNET speaks on this subject with great concern, i
say it with great regret,” says he, “ I have observed the Clergy in all places through which I have travelled, Papists, Lutherans, Calvinists, and Dissenters; but of them all, our Clergy are the most remiss in their labours in private, and the least severe in their lives. ---Unless a better spirit possess the Clergy, arguments, and what is more, laws and authority, will not prove strong enough to preserve the church;"--Own Times, vol. iv. p. 411, 430.
and reading desk at loggerheads one with the other: while our doctrines are unevangelical; our spirit lukewarm ; our minds secular and worldly; our studies merely literary or philosophical; and our conduct immoral; far better would it be that the nation were without us, and all onr preferments sequestered to the purposes of the State, as they respectively become vacant, and the people left to provide at their own expence for ministers, as it is among all denominations of Dissenters. In this case, mipisters in general would both be better provided for, the people would be better served, the Government would gradually obtain considerable sums of inoney to aid them in their efforts to save the country, and all the dumb dogs, the useless and immoral part of the Clergy, would be sent a packing, one to his farm, and another to his merchandize*. Can any rational man say, that this would be a misfortune to the nation? At least, were I in the Prime Minister's place, and wanted to raise money for the salvation of the kingdom,, as it is well known he must do, I should certainly turn my attention to the property of the Church. What need is there that a Bishop should enjoy public money to the amount of- from two to twenty thousand pounds a year and for what? Where is the necessity too that a private Clergyman should hold a living or livings to the amount of one, two, or three thousand pounds a year? I protest my sagacity cannot discern either the necessity or propriety of these things f. If I might be permitted to speak from my owu feelings, I can truly
* Dr. South very justly somewhere says, if ny niemory fail me not, that “many a man has run his head against a pulpit, who would have cut an excellent figure at a plough tail.”
+ The ingenious MONTESQUIEU tells us, that “the prosperity of religion is different from that of civil government. A celebrated aụthor says, that religion may be well in an atflicted state, because affliction is the true state of a Christian. To which we may add, that the humiliation and dispersion of the Church, the destructior of her temples, and the persecution of her martyrs, are the distinguishing times of her glory. On the contrary, when she appears triumphant in the eye of the world, she is generally sinking in ad. versity." De la Grand et la Decad des Romains.
Agreeably to this, Bishop NEWTON, in his learned Dissertations on the Prophecies, speaking of CONSTANTINE's open profession of Christianity, says, “ Though it added much to the temporal prosperity, yet it contributed little to the spiritual graces and virtues of Christians. It enlarged their revenues, and increased their endowments; but proved the fatal means of corrupting the doctrine, and relaxing the discipline of the Church."-Vol. II. p. 10+.
say I never took more pains in the ministry, than when I had only sixty pounds a year. Since I have been married and had a family, my income from the church has never amounted to a hundred and twenty pounds a year. Notwithstanding this, I have been, thank God, not only content, but happy. I have laboured hard, studied hard, and, probably, have been as useful, and well satisfied with my condition as the fattest rector ju all the diocese of Chester. If any person, in the mean time, had bestowed upon me a living of five hundred or a thousand pounds a year ; to be sure I should have been under great obligation to such persons, but I very much question whether I should have been made either a more happy man, or a more useful minister of the Gospel *. It is much more likely I should have been very seriously injured, should have composed myself to rest, and cried with the rich fool, Soul, thon hast much goods laid up for many yeurs ; take thine euse, eat, drink, and be merry. The Clergy with large preferments are, generally speaking, the drones of society. They neither write any thing to good purpose, nor do they take any serious pains in their vocation of preaching the Gospel. If they do write, it is usually something foreign to their profession; and if they do sometimes hold forth from the pulpit, it is in such a way as is calculated to do neither much good nor much harm. Not being truly in earnest for their own salvation, they have but little zeal for the salvation of otherst. A reduction of some of our church-livings, an
* This brings to my recollection a story of one of the Popes of Rome, who, seeing a large sum of money lying upon his table, said to one of the Cardinals, “ The Church can no longer say, Silver and gold have I none."-"No," answered the other, “nor can the Church any longer say, Take up thy bed and walk.”
+ I add here the account which Dr. HARTLEY, one of the wisest and best of men, a serious meinber of our church, gives of the state of the Clergy, in the year 1749.
" I choose to speak,” says lie, " to what falls under the observation of all serious attentive persons in the kingdom. The supe. rior Clergy are, in general, ambitious and cager in the pursuit of riches; flatterers of the great, and subservient to party interest; negligent of their own particular charges, and also of the inferior Clergy, and their immediate charges. The inferior Clergy imitate their superiors, and, in general, take little more care of their parishes than barely what is necessary to avoid the censure of the law. Aud the Clergy, of all ranks, are, in general, either ignorant, or if they do apply, it is rather to profane learning, to philosophical or palitical matters, than to the study of the Scriptures, of the oriental
increase of others, with a prohibition of pluralities, where they are above a certain value, would have some good effect; but, in my opinion, a still better thing for the real interests of religion would be, to grant the use of our churches to the peo. ple in the several districts of the country, to sequester all the emoluments to the uses of the State, after the death of the pre: sent incumbents, and to leave the people to provide and pay their own ministers. This would make us look about us. But can any man suppose, that the Gospel of Christ itself would be a sufferer by such a measure? languages, of the Fathers, and ecclesiastical authors, and of the writings of devout men in different ages of the church. I say this is in general the case; that is, far the greater part of the Clergy, of all ranks in this kingdom, are of this kind.”
Observations on Man, Vol. II, p. 450. Notwithstanding what I have observed above, and what is here advanced by this learned man, we have had, in the present age, a few noble exceptions to the general rule.