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As to the king, or queen, of any country, being head of the church, and having the appointment of bishops, and the nomination to church-livings, it is utterly inconsistent with the very essence of the evangelical dispensation, and the unalienable rights of mankind. Neither his majesty—nor the lord chancellor, nor his majesty's ministers, have, or can have any concern in the government of the church, or in the appointment of officers in it, or to it, directly, or indirectly, according to the spirit of the gospel, but only in their private capacities as individual members of the church. No man upon earth is entitled to any such
power. It is one of the very worst traits of popery, and an infallible criterion of an anti-christian assuming. Mat. XX. 20.--28, and xxiii. 1-12.
As the law now stands in this country, the king is absolute head of the church, and the fountain of ail ecclesiastical power; but so far as the patronage of benefices goes, this is more nominal than real; for there are as many heads as there are patrons of livings. A drunken, swearing, libertine lord chancellor, who is living in open fornication or adultery, contrary to every law human and divine, as has been the case, has the appointment to a large number of livings: A corrupt, vile, unbelieving, immoral, wicked minister of state, has the nomination of abundance of others.
are rapidly diffusing themselves among niankind, a clergyman cuts off from salvation, most of the foreign Protestant churches, and the whole body of Dissenters of every description in this country, but by the uncovenanted mercies of God. Richard Hill, in his Apology for Brotherly Love, has given such an answer to Daubeny's Guide, as that gentleman cannot refute. If the doctrine of the Guide be right, we cannot be justified in leaving the church of Rome. The capital mistake of the whole seems to be, a substitution of the church of England for the church of Christ, exactly in the same manner 'as the Papists substitute the church of Rome for the church of Christ.
A papist, or some of the most immoral nobility or gentry of the land, have the patronage of others. In not a few instances, ladies have the presentation to church preferments. These are all virtually and substantially so many heads of the church; while the king or queen is only nominally and partially so. This is surely a lamentable state of things. Can any man wonder at the spread of infidelity and irreligion? Can we justly expect other than the downfal of such a system of corrupt, worldly policy? These melancholy truths sound harsh and disagreeable in the ears of interested men, and men who swallow every thing as gospel, to which they have been long accustomed; but I affirm it with all possible seriousness, that, as I sunderstand the Scriptures, a radical reform, and the removal of all these secular circumstances alone, can save us for any length of time, from national distress. I refer our bishops and beg they will seriously consider the awful declaration-Dan. ii. 35, 44. Is not the time for its accomplishment fast approaching, and near at hand?
I have spoken of the patronage of church-livings. The church-livings of England and Wales make together, about ten thousand. Of these, near a thousand are in the gift of the king. It is customary, however, for the lord chancellor, to present all the livings under the value of twenty pounds, in the king's book, and for the ministers of state to present all the rest. Those under twenty pounds are about 780, and those above,e near 180. Upwards of 1600 pieces of church preferment, of different sizes and descriptions, are in the gift of the 26 bishops: more than 600 in the presentation of the two universities: about 1000 in the gift of the several cathedrals, and other clerical institutions : about 5,700 livings are in the nomination of the nobility and gentry of the land, men, women, and children ; and there may be 50 or 60 of a description different from any of the above,
and nearer to the propriety of things. These are all so many heads of the church, the king or queen of the country being a kind of arch-head.(5)
The bishops of the establishment are, contrary to all ancient usage, chosen by the civil power, the clergy and people over whom they are to preside, not having the least negative upon their election. When they are chosen too, they take their seats in the upper house of parliament, like unto the temporal lords: this is good human policy, supposing the kingdom of Christ to be a mere worldly sovereignty; but it is utterly inconsistent with the spirituality of our Saviour's empire, and has had for many ages a most unhappy effect upon the interests of his religion in the world.(6) Their emoluments are of such a nature, their worldly engagements so numerous, and the temptations to the pleasures, honours, and amusements of life so strong, that their minds become secularized, and they lose all-lively relish for the peculiar duties of ministers of the gospel, which they iherefore very generally commit to the inferior orders of the clergy. They are as much officers of the crown as the judges and magistrates of the land. They are chosen by the civil power, they are paid by the civil
(5) Jewel writes, “ that Elizabeth refused to be called head of the church; and adds, that title could not be justly given to any mortal, it being due only to Christ; and that such titles had been so much abused by Antichrist, that they ought not to be any longer continued.”
Wolsey, under Henry VIII. was head of the English church, and one of the greatest tyrants over the consciences of men that ever existed. Blessed be God for the reformation! and the pre. sent liberty which we enjoy!
(6) If the gospel of Christ gave encouragement to such a state of things as this, I would reject all its pretensions, as a divine scheme, with indignation. I do not wonder the world abounds with infidels and insidelity! What pity, however, men will not distinguish between the use of the gospel, and the abuse of it! between the gospel itself, and the additions which have been made to it by interested men!
power, they are amenable to the civil power alone, the clergy and the people not possessing the least controul. And then, as to the titles, by which they are designated, they carry the most indisputable marks of the antichristian apostacy. His grace, the most reverend father in God, William, by divine providence, lord archbishop of Canterbury!--The right reverend father in God, John, by divine permission, lord bishop of London-What is there in the titles of the pope of Rome, (7) that is more magnificent than the sound of these words? How unlike is all this to the spirit of the gospel, and the character and conduct of the lowly Saviour of mankind ? Mat. xi. 28-30; xxiii. 1-12. How much calculated are such high sounding titles to swell the pride of frail mortals? Popes, bishops, and parsons are made of like stuff with other men!
And then, what shall we say to the secular, and lukewarm condition of the generality of the clergy of the land ?--to the patronage of benefices?-to the common and abominable sale of livings?“to our simoniacal contracts ?-_our sinecures, pluralities, nonresidences?(8)—to our declaring we are moved by
(7) Paine, speaking of the reformation, says, “ A multiplicity of national popes grew out of the downfal of the pope of christendom.”-Romeitself scarcely ever had a more bloody, libidinous, and detestable head of the church, than was Henry VIII. the self created pope of our own ecclesiastical constitution.
(8) The curates in many cases are as culpable with respect to non-residence, as the bishops, and rectors, and vicars. In my own neighbourhood, and mostly in my own parish, we have upwards of twelve chapels, where there is no resident clergyman. It is much the same in other parts of the kingdon.
The reader will find several of these defects of the church of England touched upon by Burnet. I add,
My lord S-li has got a mistress, of whom he has grown weary. On condition the rev. A. B. will marry her, and make her an honest woman, he shall be rector of such a living in the gift of his lordship
the Holy Ghost to preach the gospel, when we are moved by nothing more than a desire to obtain a good living, and, perhaps, even deny that there is any Holy Ghost ?-to our reading one species of doctrines in the desk, and preaching directly opposite in the pulpit?
Abundance of persons object to several things in the 39 articles of religion—to several things in the book of homilies--and to the imposition of subscription to any human creeds and explications of doc
The living of C-h is in the gift of Mr. Get; he has got a daughter; if the rev. Ch. Pes will marry her, he shall be presented to the church.
Mr. G-n has a son, who is neither fit for law, physic, or the army. He has such a living in his patronage. This son shall be trained to the church, and be incumbent of the family rectory.
My lord D-n has got four sons; one shall enjoy the title and estate; another shall go into the army, and be made a general ; another shall go to sea, and become an admiral; the fourth shall be trained for the church, and be promoted to a bishoprick.
Sir P -Pr, has in his gift a rectory of the value of 2000 pounds a year. The rev. G. W. agrees to give him five thousand pounds in hand, and five hundred a year for ten years.
In this manner are daily bartered the souls of men, like sheep in a market!-Is it probable that such a state of things should be maintained for many ages or years longer? If there be a God, who judgeth the earth, he cannot look upon such abominations with indifference. Abuses of a similar kind have brought destruction upon other countries, and shall England alone be permitted thus to play the devil, and no notice be taken of us by the moral Governor of the world ? Such things are indefensible, and make one blush for the church in which it is possible they should take place.
The valuable preferments in our church, are almost universally obtained by money, or by interest; merit having little or nothing to do in the business. My indignation constrains me to state, that Maurice, author of Indian Antiquities, &c. &c.-O shame to a venal age!-is left to starve upon a distant and laboriouscuracy of fifty pounds a year.
“ Ye bards of Britain, break the useless lyre,
And rend, disdainful, your detested lays;