Page images

-some of whom are both, great and good men, and, independent of such considerations, I hope ever to reverence rior orders of our own Clergy. So likewise have been many of the Bishops 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 late Archbishop Newcome was a character of the most respectable literary kind. Bishop WARBUR, TON, 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 admirable character than the author of TELEMACHUS? or learned men than, CALMET, Du Pin, MONTFAUCON, and others among the French clergy? Our own Cotes, 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 pone but Newton in sublimity of philosophiç genius. But as the learning, piety, genius, and amiable manners of Fenelon and his brethren, could not excuse and make tolerable the corruptions of the church of France; so neither can the learning, genius, 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 ecclesiastical 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 place through all 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 Greut Nation, as they vain-gloriously call themselves, must ultimately succeed in their designs, unless a radical reformation should engage the LORD on our side, and prevent our national ruim.

Great tenderness, however, ought to be exercised towards our Governors 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


existence of society--witness the revolutiou in France-and because Judge Blackstone, in his Commentaries, delivers it as his opinion, that no alteration can take place, either in the Constitution or Liturgy of the Church of England, consistently with the Act of Union.- Introduction, sect. 4. [^]

But if this be the case, the Act of Union was unwisely managed, What 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 Eng land, is an improper innovation on the wisdom of former ages.

It is evident from the opposition of the late Bishop of Rochesthem for their oftiće 'sake- do vouchsafe, önce in a way, as an extreme favour,' to indulge the people of their diocese,

ter to the abolition of Holidays, that we may not expect from the Bench of Bishops the smallest concession towards a reformation in the ecclesiastical part of our Constitution, To me, however, what we usually call Holidays 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 lioliday in the calendar.

[*] Though it was certainly stipulated at the time of the UNION that no alteration should ever afterwards take place in the doctrine, discipline, worship or government, of the Church of England; yet on two recent occasions the legislature, yielding perhaps to the force of the suggestion contaiced in our author's next note, las thought fit to break though this restriction, at the solicitations of the Bishops, and for the purpose of augmenting their powers. See a pamphlet on the recent extension of the powers of their Lordships the Bishops, published by LONGMAN and Co. But whatever might be the occasion, we may draw from the circumstance a most cheering conclusion, which, could it have had its' force on the excellent mind of our Author, would have dissipated much of the gloom, with which on tļis subject it was evidently oppressed, namely, that the Parlia. ment now no longer considers itself as bound down by the strict conditions of the UNION, but at liberty to make any alterations it may deem conducive to the advantage of the Church. From this begin. ning we may doubtless augur the most happy consequences, no less than a full' and thorough (tho' perhaps gradual) revision of the whole of our ecclesiastical constitution. The old and mouldering fabric will doubtless undergo a complete repair, the decayed or faulty materials taken' down, the good preserved and strengthened, the rubbish cast away. The revenues of the Clergy will be more equa ized, the powers of the Bishops 'moderated and defined, the liberties and rights of the inferior Clergy, as a necessary consequence, more regarded and better secured'; * our ecclesiastical courts, those semaining badges of our spiritual bondage, either totally abolished, or greatly reformell, their proceedings no longer enveloped iu the mystery of darkness, but regularly published like those of our other Courts; the canon law, or, at least, that sore and grievous burden to clerical consciences, the mystical oath of canonical obedience, entirely done away. The cases of collegiate and clerical subscriptions candidly reconsidered. In short, whatever may exist in our church niatters, incapable of abiding the test of reason and scripture, will doubtless (now the passage is free and open,) by our excellent government and present enlightened adninistration, be rectified.

As to the Coronation Oath, its purport appears to have heen -misconceived. According to the old construction of it, nothing could lrave amounted to a nore direct violation, than the 'acts of Parliament to which I have above alluded; but, according to the present construction, it does not appear to extend to any parliamentary proceedings; wliere the King acts only in compliance with the wish wliere they happen to spend a little time, they usually affect 80 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 heathen-like, that the poor of the fock can receive little or no benefit and edifica tion.

These learned Gentlemen are so horribly afraid of approaching too pear the Methodists*, both in their doctrines, and manner of preaching, that their sermons are most com monly cast more in the mould of SeneCA or Evictetus, than in that of St. Paul; and delivered with all the apathy of an ancient philosopher. , , of the nation, expressed by its two great representative bodies. And this is the view in which of late years it has been regarded. See a letter to a nobleman, by C. BUTLER, Esq.-EDITOR.

* Methodist is a term of reproach wbich 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 or party: but is common, more or less,

to all who liarly 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 tbirty-nine Articles of religion And Arians, Socinians, Arminians, and Formalists of every description, who' continue to attend public worship in the Establishment, are considered by the undiscerning world as her only true menibers. In short, all who embrace, with a lively and zealous faith, the doctrines of the said thirty-nine Articles, among all the denominations of Christianis, are by way of ignorniny 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, la zealous politician, or a zealous sciolist of alpiost 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, ex

perinental religion, theu 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 nineteenth century, what Puritan was in the seventeenth. After the Restoration, people, to shew their aversion to the Puritans, turned every appearance of religion into ridicuie, and from the extreme of hypocrisy, flew at once to that of profiigacy; so now abundance of people are so alarıned at the idea of being thought Methodists, that they absolutely give up the peculiar doctrives 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!

[ocr errors]

“ How oft, when Paul has serv'd us with a text,

Has EPICTETUS, PLATO, TOLLY 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 Hock 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 a Burnet*, a LEIGHTONH, a BEVERIDGE, a HALL, a KEN, a BEDELL, a REYNOLDS, or a WILSON, to be seen? Our Confirmations, and I may add, even our Ordinations I for

* This excellent man was extremely laborious in his episcopal office. Every sumnier he made a tour, for six weeks or two months, through some district of his bishopric, daily preaching and contirm. ing from church to church, so as in the conipass of three years, besides bis triennial visitation, to go through all the principal livings of his diocese." See Biograph. Brit. art. BURNET, by Kippis, vol. m. p. 29. it LEIGHTON was a most exemplary character, both in his private and public capacity. The life and writings of few men ar worthy of imitation and perusa). He laboured hard to bring about some reformation in the state of things in his own day, and when he found all, bis efforts ineffectual, be quietly withdrew, designed 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 disposition, that I ever yet saw in mortal. He had the greatest parts, as well as virtue, with the most perfect banility that I ever saw i man; and bad a sublime strain in preach ing, with so grave a gesture, and such a znajesty 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 bima;, and of whom I can say with great truth, that in a free and frequent,conversation with bim for above two and twenty years, I never knew him say an idle word, tbat bad not a direct ten dency to edification; and I never once saw him in any other temper but ihat which I wished to be in, in the last inoments of my

life.” Mr. Lucke gives us a similar account of Dr. EDWARD POCOCKE, • I can say of him what few men can say of any friend of theits, nor I of any other of my acquaintance; that I don't remenuber I ever saw in him any one action, that I did, or could, in my own mind blame, or thoughit amiss in him.---Letter to Mr. SMITH of Dartmouth.

* Bishop BURNET took large paius in preparing young people for

are more

[ocr errors]

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 niinisters:
and hold confirmations, to spend their time siu secular, en-
gagements, and to attend their place in the House of Lords
Is it for these purposes solely they are each of them paid by
the public from two to twenty thousand pounds a year: 1

• Good, my brother,
Do not, as some ungracious pastors do;
Shew me the steep and thorny way to heaven,
Whilst, like a careless libertine,

Himself the primrose path of Jalliance treads." Can we, or ought we to be surprised, that many 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 luke-warm, our Confirmation, and used every mean in his power to encourage and excite candidates for Ordination to come with due qualifications. He complains, 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 of Scotland and Ireland, are supposed to make as before i noted, a body of 18,000 men, the number of truly moral, religious, and diligent characters, is, comparatively, small. This is one maiu reason of the prodigious increase of Methodism; and for the sair e'? reason Infidelity is at this moment running like wildfire 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 maqfully forward not in a fiery persecuting spirit, but in the spirit of our DIVINE MASTER-We shall neither have churches to preach in, nor people to preach to. Let the Bishops and Clergy of England look at their brethren in France-and arise--set out on a new plan - or be for ever fallen!


« PreviousContinue »