Imágenes de páginas

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 divide among them the 140,000 pounds a year, making upon an average near 83 pounds per year a piece.

The whole income of the Kirk of Scotland, was, in 1755, about 68,500 pounds a year. This was divided among 944 ministers, and on an average made 72 pounds a piece, per annum.

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 those clergy, in what a deplorable situation must a large share of the remaining seventeen thousand ministers be? And these church dignitaries, who are in possession of several thousands a year, per man, have made laws, directly contrary to the practice of 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 ?(5),

Could there be any impro

(5) 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 is in direct opposition to the spirit of the gospel. A conscientious deist, if such can be found, who worships God in spirit and in truth is infinitely prefere able to a proud, haughty, pompous bishop, or dignified clergyman, who trades in livings and souls; and will be damned with a damnation far less severe. Bishops and clergymen of this descrip

priety in their conduct, if they should peaceably and respectfully address the king, who is 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 20,000 pounds a year-another ‘15,000_another 10,000 another 5000_another 3000—another 2000-and another 1000.-One shall heap living upon living, preferment upon preferment--to a vast amount merely because he has got access too often by mean compliances—to some great man-while his more worthy brother is almost in want of bread for his children. Law, bishop of Carlisle, possessed at the time

tion, profess what they will, are infidels at bottom. They believe nothing of the spirit of christianity. 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.

Mr. Ostervald, attributes the corruption of the people chiefly to the clergy.-'The cause of the corruption of Christians is chiefly to be found in the clergy. I do not mean to speak here of all churchmenindifferently. We must do right to some, who dis. tinguish themselves by their talents, their zeal, and the holiness of their lives. But the number of these is not considerable enough to stop the course of these 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.”

The instances of extreme blame which attaches to the higher, orders of the English clergy are very numerous.

A certain gentleman, not an hundred miles from my own neighbourhood, is possessed of about a thousand a year private fortune. He is a married man, but without children. He has one living in Che. shire, 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 com. pany, and private tutor in a nobleman's family. But what is most culpable, he resides upon none of his livings, and very seldom comes near them. Can that church be faultless, which permits such horrible abuses? The bishops themselves, however, being generally guilty of holding a yariety of preferments, and of most inexcusable non-residence, are disposed to connive at every thing of the kind among the superior clergy who are under their inspec: tion.

of his decease, ten or more different preferments. He was bishop-head of a college-prebend-rector-librarian, &c. &c. &c. and all this bestowed upon himnot 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 had influence with men in power.

Instances of this kind are common. They are however, unjust, impolitical, and 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 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 view to any one individual, or a wish to have any thing better for myself, and actuated only with a love to truth, and the advancement of our common christianity, I for one, protest in the fuce of the sun, against all such abuses. And I solemnly avow, that the spirit of the present times is such, that unless these, and similar disorders be rectified, by the wisdom of the legislature, the whole ecclesiastical fabric in this country, will ere long, be completely overturned.(6) 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 country

(6) The church of France, before the revolution, consisted of 18 arch-bishops, 118 bishops, 366,264 clergy, regular and secu. lar, who together enjoyed a revenue of abrut five millions sierling. The kingdom was divided into 34,498 parishes, besides 4,644 annexed parishes; in all 39,142 parishes.

to withdraw from the upper house ;(7) resign 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,(8)

(7) This 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 governors in church and state could see it right to-but what shall I say? Why should I desire impossible changes ?- It is because I wish as well as any man to my 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 against the vast body of archbishops, bishops, deans, prebenus, canons, archdeacons, rectors, vicars, curates, lecturers, commissaries, chancellors, proctors, surrogates, &c. &c. with which our church abounds. We clergymen should do well frequently to study the 34th chapter of Ezekiel. It might do us much good.

“ Yeclergy, 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 view'd with fear
The comet's baneful influence is a dream,
Your's real and pernicious in th' extreme.”

Oh laugh, or mourn with me, the rueful jest
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 waymark in the road to bliss ?
Himself a wanderer 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." · (8) It is no uncommon thing for the bishops of our church to hold such preferments as are utterly incompatible with each other, Hinchecliffe was 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 have been resident


and quietly retire into their respective dioceses, never appearing in the great council of the nation, but when absolutely wanted: if they would come among the clergy-converse with them freely, and treat them as

in his diocese, among the clergy and people; as master of Trinity, his presence could not be dispensed with.

We have had others, who have enjoyed several incompatible preferments-a bishopric-a headship of a college-a prebendaryma 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 as a lord of parliament, his presence is frequently and justly required.--What account their lordships can give, either 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 religion. Were they to preach like 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 re. spectability can excuse such a conduct. We are continually hearing of the rapid spread of infidelity. The bishops of London and Durham 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: it is not christianity 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 culpable. Our negligence, lukewarmness, worldly-mindedness, and immorality, will ruin the country. And when the judgments of God come 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. Is there not, how. ever, a cause, for their dissatisfaction? The grievances of the protestant part of the people are many and considerable. The bishop of Derry, wliose bishopric is 15,000 pounds a year, is now rambling over Europe, and, has not set foot in his diocese for twenty-four years

. This is a specimen of the treatment which churchmen meet with.. we wonder, they, as ell as the catholic and dissenters, should murmur? Ireland would at this moment, in all probability, have been lost to England, had not the mad and

« AnteriorContinuar »