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“ Church of Christ" retains in its bosom that | alliance is injurious to the church itself, is by its which is confessedly irrational, inconsistent with effects upon the ministry. Scripture, contradictory, absurd, subversive of the It is manifest that where there are such powerful very genius and design of the gospel :—for what? motives of interest to assume the ministerial office, Because the church is allied to the state ; because it is and where there are such facilities for the admission a Religious Establishment.
of unfit men-unfit men will often be admitted. There is such an interest, an importance, an aw- Human nature is very stationary; and kindred results fulness in these things, resulting both from their arose very many centuries ago. “ The attainments effects and the responsibility which they entail, that of the clergy in the first ages of the Anglo-Saxon I would accumulate upon the general necessity for church were very considerable. But a great and reformation some additional testimonies.
total degeneracy took place during the latter years In 1746 was presented to the convocation, “ Free of the Heptarchy, and for two generations after the and Candid Disquisitions by Dutiful Sons of the union of its kingdoms.” And why? Because “ mere Church," in which they say, “ Our duty seems as clear worldly views operated upon a great proportion of as our obligations to it are cogent; and is, in one them; no other way of life offered so fair a prospect word, to reform.” Of this book Archdeacon Black- of power to the ambitious, of security to the pra. burn tells us that it was treated with “much con- dent, of tranquillity and ease to the easy-minded."* tempt and scorn by those who ought to have paid -Such views still operate, and they still produce kinthe greatest regard to the subject of it;" and that dred effects. “ it caused the forms of the church to be weighed in It is manisest, that if men undertake the office of the balance of the sanctuary, where they have been
Christian teachers not from earnestness in the cause, found greatly wanting.".
but from the desire of profit or power or ease, the “ Our confirmations, and I may add even office will frequently be ill discharged. Persons who ordinations for the sacred ministry, are dwindled | possess little of the Christian minister but the name, into painful and disgusting ceremonies, as they are will undertake to guide the flock; and hence it is usually administered.”+
inevitable that the ministry, as a body, will become Another archdeacon, who was not only a friend of reduced in the scale of religious excellence. So bathe church but a public advocate of religious esta- bitual is the system of undertaking the office for the blishments, says, " Reflection, we hope, in some, and sake of its emoluments, that men have begun to avow time we are sure in all, will reconcile men to altera- the motive and to defend it. * It is no reproach to tions established in reason. If there be any danger the church to say that it is supplied with ministers it is from some of the clergy, who would rather suffer by the emoluments it affords." | Would it not have the vineyard to be overgrown with weeds thun stir the been a reproach to the first Christian churches, or ground; or, what is worse, call these weeds the fair-could it have been said of them at all? Does be est flowers in the garden.” This is strong language: who enters the church for the sake of its advantages, that which succeeds is stronger still. “ If we are to enter it “ of a ready mind?”But the more lucrawait for improvement till the cool, the calm, the tive offices of the church are talked of with much discreet part of mankind begin it; till church gover- | familiarity as “prizes,” much in the same manner as nors solicit, or ministers of state propose it, I will ven- we talk of prizes in a lottery. “ The same fund ture to pronounce, thať (without His interposition produces more effect—when distributed into prizes with whom nothing is impossible) we may remain as of different value than when divided into equal we are till the renovation of all things." | Why shares.”This “effect” is described as being “both “ church governors” and “ministers of state" should an allurement to men of talents to enter into the be so peculiarly backward to improve, is easily church, and as a stimulus to the industry of those known. Ministers of state are more anxious for the who are already in it." But every man knows that consolidation of their power than for the amendment talent and industry are not the only nor the chief of churches; and church governors are more anxi. | things which obtain for a person the prizes of the ous to benefit themselves by consolidating that power, church. There is more of accuracy in the parallel than to refcrm the system of which they are the passage of another moralist. “ The medical profesheads. But let no man anticipate that we shall sion does not possess so many splendid prizes as the indeed remain as we are till the renovation of all church and the bar, and on that account, perhaps, is things. The work will be done though these may rarely, if ever, pursued by young men of noble refuse to do it. “ If,” says a statesman," the friends families." Here is the point: it is rather to noble of the church, instead of taking the lead in a mild families than to talent and industry, that the prizes reform of abuses, contend obstinately for their pro- are awarded. There are, indeed, rich preferments, tection, and treat every man as an enemy who aims but these, it is observed, do not usually fall to merit at reform, they will certainly be overpowered at last, as the reward of it, but are lavished where interest and the correction applied by those who will apply it and family connexion put in their irresistible claim."| with no sparing hand."$ If these declarations be That plain-speaking man Bishop Warburton writes true (and who will even question their truth ?) wo to his friend Hurd, “ Reckon upon it, that Durham may be allowed, without any pretensions to extraor- goes to some noble ecclesiastic. 'Tis a morsel only dinary sagacity, to add another: that to these un- for them." It is manifest that when this language sparing correctors the work will assuredly be assign- can be appropriate, the office of the ministry must ed. How infatuated, then, the policy of refusing be dishonoured and abused. Respecting the priestreformation even if policy only were concerned ! hood, it is acknowledged that “the characters of men
are formed much more by the temptations than the The next point in which the effect of the state duties of their profession.
"** Since then the temptaany thing be gained by the dexterous distinction that spend, to purchase the power of assigning a Christian I have somewhere met with, that although the mo- minister to a Christian flock, is one of those desperate tive for “ taking the oversight of the flock” be in- follies and enormities which should never be spoken deed lucre," yet it does not come under the aposto. | of but in the language of detestation and horror." lical definition of " filthy."
tions are worldly, what is to be expected but that any thing more clearly indicate the fear of reforming ?-a fear the character should be worldly too!-Nor would that extends itself to the state, because the state thinks (with reason or without it) tbat to endanger the stability of the
• Southey: Book of the Church, c. 6. church were to endanger its own.
* Knox's Essays, No. 18. . T'he Confessional..
Mor, and Pol. Phil. b. 6, c. 10, | A Defence of the Considerations on the propriety of requi.
Gisborne's Duties of Men. ring a subscription to Articles of Faith. By Dr Paley: p. 35.
knox's Essays, No. 53. $ Letters on the subjert of the British and Foreign Bible
Warburton's Letters to Flurd, No. 47. Society, by the present Lord Bexley.
Mor. and Pol. Phil. p. 266.
A man buys an advowson as he buys an estate, and Of the eventual consequences of thus introducing for the same motives. He cares perhaps nothing unqualified, and perhaps irreligious, nobles into the for the religious consequences of his purchase, or government of the church, Bishop Warburton speaks for the religious assiduity of the person to whom he in strong language. “ Our grandees have at last presents it. Nay, the case is worse than that of found their way back into the church. I only buying as you buy an estate ; for land will not rewonder they have been so long about it. But be as- pay the occupier unless he cultivates it—but the sured that nothing but a new religious revolution, living is just as profitable whether he exerts himself to sweep away the fragments that Harry the VIII. zealously or not. He who is unfit for the estate by left after banqueting his courtiers, will drive them want of industry or of talent, is nevertheless fit for out again.” * When that revolution shall come the living!
These are dreadful and detestable which will sweep away these prizes, it will prove abuses. Christianity is not to be brought into juxtanot only to these but to other things to be a besom position with such things. It were almost a shame of destruction.
to allow a comparison. “Who is not aware that, If the fountain be bitter, the current cannot be in consequence of the prevalence of such a system, sweet. The principles which too commonly ope- the holy things of God are often miserably prorate upon the dignitaries of the church, descend, in faned ?" 7-“It is our firm persuasion, that the presome degree, to the inferior ranks. I say in some sent system of bestowing church patronage is degree; for I do not believe that the degree is the | hastening the decay of morals, the progress of insame, or so great. Nor is it to be expected. The subordination, and the down fall of the establishment temptation which forms the character, is diminished itself.' Morality and subordination have happily in its power, and the character, therefore, may other supports:-the fate of the establishment is rise.
sealed. I say sealed It cannot perpetually stand I believe that (reverently be it spoken) through the without thorough reformation; and it cannot be re. goodness of God, there has been produced since the formed while it remains an establishment. age of Hartley, a considerable improvement in the Another mode in which the state religion of Enggeneral character (at least of the inferior orders) of land is injurious to the character of its ministers, is the English clergy. In observing the character by its allowance and practical encouragement of which he exhibited, let it be remembered that that non-residence and pluralities. These are the natural character was the legitimate offspring of the state effects of the principles of the system. It is very religion. The subsequent amendment is the offspring possible that there should be a state religion with. of another, and a very different, and a purer parent- out them ; but if the aliiance with the state is close age. “ The superior clergy are in general am--if a principal motive in the dispensation of bene. bitious, and eager in the pursuit of riches ; flatterers fices is the promotion of political purposes—if the of the great, and subservient to party interest ; prizes of the church are given where interest and negligent of their own immediate charges, and also family connexions put in their claim—it becomes of the inferior clergy and their immediate charges. extremely natural that several preferments should The inferior clergy imitate their superiors, and, in i be bestowed upon one person.
And when once this general, take little more care of their parishes than is countenanced or done by the state itself, inferior barely what is necessary to avoid the censures of patrons will as naturally follow the example. The the law.--I say this is the general case ; that is, far prelate who receives from the state three or four the greater part of the clergy of all ranks in this preferments, naturally gives to his son or his nephew kingdom are of this kind.”+ These miserable effects three or four if he can. upon the character of the clergy are the effects of a Pluralities and non-residence, whatever may be Religious Establishmeni. If any man is unwilling said in their favour by politicians or divines, will to admit the truth, let him adduce the instance of always shock the common sense and the virtue of an un stablished church, in the past eighteen hundred mankind. Unhappily, they are evils which seem to years, in which such a state of things has existed. have increased. “ Theodore, the seventh archOf the times of Gregory Nazianzen, Bishop Burnet bishop of Canterbury, restricted the bishops and says—“ The best men of that age, instead of pressing secular clergy to their own dioceses ;" and no into orders or aspiring to them, fled from them, ex- longer ago than the reign of James I., “when plucused themselves, and judying themselves unworthy ralities were allowed, which was to be as seldom as of so holy a character and so high a trust, were not possible, the livings were to be near each other." | without difficulty prevailed upon to submit to that
But now we hear of one dignitary who possesses which, in degenerate ages, men run to as a sub- ten different preferments, and of another who, with sistence or the means of procuring it":
an annual ecclesiastical revenue op fifteen thousand It might almost be imagined that the right of pounds, did not see his diocese for many years private patronage was allowed for the express pur- ! together. $ And as to that proximity of livings pose of deteriorating the character of the ministers which was directed in James's time, they are now of religion-because it can hardly be supposed that held in plurality not only at a distance from each any church would allow such a system without a other, but so as that the duties cannot be performed perfect consciousness of its effects. To allow any by one person. Il man or woman, good or bad, who has money to
* Upon such persons "toets the awful responsibility (I
might almost call it the divine prerogative) of assigning a fock • Warburton's Letters to Hurd, No. 47.
to the shepherd, and of selecting a shepherd for the flock." Hartley : Observations on man.
Gurnes's Peculiarities, 3d, ed. p. 164 Dise, of the Pastoral Care, 12th ed. p. 77. “ Under Lan. + Christian Observer, v. 20, p. 11. franc's primacy no promotion in the church was to be obtained Southey : Book of the Church, c. 6. by purchase, neither was any unfit person ruised to the epis- $ For these examples see Simpson's Plea... I say nothing of Copal rank,"
| Here it may be observed how imperfect is the argument
(sce Paley,) that a religious establishment does good by | Southey : Book of the Church, chap. 7.
kouping an enlightened man in each parish. Mem, in the Ms.
Of the moralcharacter of this deplorable custom, it Bench of Bishops! Alas! there is the origin of a is not necessary that we should speak. “I do not great portion of the delinquency. If they were to enter," says an eminent prelate, "into the scanda- establish a discipline, the first persons upon whom lous practices of non-residence and pluralities. This they must exercise it would be themselves. Who is so shameful a profanation of holy things, that it ever heard of persons, so situated, instituting or reought to be treated with detestation and horror."* establishing a discipline in the church? Who then Another friend of the church says, “ He who grasps shall exercise it ? The subordinate clergy? If at the revenue of a benefice, and studies to evade they have the will, they have not the power; and if the personal discharge of the various functions which they had the power, who can hope that they would that revenue is intended to reward, and the per
Who can hope that, whilst above half of formance of those momentous duties to God and these clergy are non-residents, they will erect a disman, which, by accepting the living, he has under- i cipline by which residence shall be enforced !- I say, taken, evinces either a most reprehensible neglect of discipline, efficient discipline is impossible ; and i proper consideration, or a callous depravity of submit it to the reader whether any Establishment heart.”+ It may be believed that all are not thus in which Christian Discipline is impossible, is not depraved who accept pluralities without residence. essentially bad. Custom, although it does not alter the nature of actions, affects the character of the agent; and al. though I hold no man innocent in the sight of God English establishment upon its formularies, its mio
From the contemplation of these effects of the wl supports, in his example, this vicious practice, isters, and its discipline, we must turn to its effects yet some may do it now with a less measure of guilt than that which would have attached to him who generally upon the religious welfare of the people.
This welfare is so involved with the general char. first, for the sake of money, introduced the scandal
acter of the establishment and its ministers, that to into the church.
exhibit an evil in one is to illustrate an injury to the Tile public has now the means of knowing, by the
other. If the operation of the state religion prereturns to Parliament, the extent in which these
vents ministers from inculcating some portions of scandalous customs exist–an extent which, when it was first communicated to the Earl of Harrowby, how stands the fact ?
divine truth, its operation must indeed be bad. And “struck me,” says he, “ with surprise, I could almost ing to avoid every doctrine which would retard their
Aspiring clergymen, wishsay with horror.” Alas, when temporal peers are horror-struck by the scandals that are tolerated and reality or necessity of divine influence.”
advancement, were very little inclined to preach the
The eril practised by their spiritual teachers !
which this indicates is twofold: first, the vicious state By one of these returns it appears that the whole
of the heads of the church; for why else should number of places is ten thousand two hundred and
“advancement” be refused to those who preached sixty-one. Of the possessors of these livings, more than one half were non-resident. The number of religion ; for religion must needs be injured if a por
the doctrine of the gospel;—and next, the injury to residents was only four thousand four hundred and
tion of its truths are concealed. Another quotation twenty-one. But the reader will perhaps say, What matters the residence of him who receives the money, virtue, learning, and apparent piety, feared to preach
gives a similar account: Regular divines of great 80 that a curate resides ? Unfortunately, the pro- the Holy Ghost and his operations, the main doeportion of absentee curates is still greater than that of incumbents. Out of three thousand six hundred
trines of the Gospel, lest they should countenance and ninety-four who are employed, only one thousand
the puritan, the quaker, or the methodist, and lose
the esteem of their own order or of the higher five hundred and eighty-seven live in the parishes they serve ; so that two thousand one hundred and preach the main doctrines of the gospel” from con
powers.”+ Did Paul or Barnabas ever “ fear to seven parishes are left without even the residence of sideratious like these, or from any considerations a curate. Besides this, there are nine hundred and
whatever? Did our Lord approve or tolerate such seventy incumbents who neither live in their parishes
fear when he threatened with punishment any man themselves nor employ any curate at all! What is
who should take away from the words of his book! the result ! That above one half of those who re
But why again should the clerical order or the higher ceive the stipends of the church, live away from their flocks; and that there are in this country three
powers discsteem the man who preached the main thousand and seventy-seven flocks amongst whom
doctrines of the gospel, unless it were from motives
of interest founded in the establishment ! no shepherd is to be found !- When it is considered that all this is a gratuitous addition to the necessary
And thus it is, that they who are assumed to be
the religious leaders of the people, who ought, so evils of state religions, that there may be established
far as is in their power, to guide the people into all churches without it, it speaks aloud of those mischiefs of our establishments which are peculiarly its of interest! If this concealment is practised by men
truth, conceal a portion of that truth from motives One other consideration upon this subject remains.
of great virtue, learning, and apparent piety, what
are we to expect in the indifferent or the bad! We An internal discipline in a church, both over its ininisters and its members, appears essential to the
are to expect that not one but many doctrines of the
gospel will be concealed. We are to expect that proper exercise of Christian duty. From what cause
discourses not very different from those which Sodoes it happen that there is little exercise of disci
crates might have delivered will be dispensed, inpline, or none, in the church of England! The
stead of the whole counsel of God. What has been reader will perhaps answer the question to himself:
the fact ! Of“ moral preaching,” Bishop Lavington “ The exercise of efficient discipline in the church is
says, “ We have long been attempting the reformaimpossible ;" and he would answer truly. It is im
tion of the nation by discourses of this kind. With possible. Who shall exercise it? The first Lord
what success ? None at all. On the contrary, we of the Treasury! He will not, and he cannot. The
have dexterously preached the people into downright • Burnet: Hist. Own Tiinės, v. 2. p. 646.
infidelity.” Will any man affirm that this has not The diocese of St David's is not included, and the return
been the conseqnence of the state religion ! Will Includes some dignities, sinecures, and dilapidated churches,
I do not know but the details are sub. • Viressimus Knox: Christian Philosophy, 3d edition, p. 24. stantially the same at the present time.
+ Id. p. 23.
Gisborne: Duties of Men.
It cites that of 1810
any man, knowing this, affirm that a state religion is ' of the miners, and colliers, are in the same condition; right or useful to Christianity ?
and if they are not universally so, it is more owing But as to the tendency of the system to diffuse to the zeal of the methodists than to any other infidelity, we are not possessed of the testimony of
How is it accounted for, that in a country Bishop Lavington alone. “ It is evident that the in which a teacher is appointed to diffuse Chrisworldly-mindedness and neglect of duty in the tianity in every parish, a considerable part of the clergy, is a great scandal to religion, and cause of population are confessed to be absolute pagans ? infidelity."* Again: “ Who is to blame for the How, especially, is it accounted for, that the few spread of infidelity? The bishops and clergy of the who are reclaimed from paganism, are reclaimed, land more than any other people in it. We, as a not by the established, but by an unestablished body of men, are almost solely and exclusively cul- church? It is not difficult to account for all this, pable.”+ Ostervald, in his - Treatise concerning if the condition of the established church is such as the Causes of the present Corruption of Christians, to make what follows the flippant language of a makes the same remark of the clergy of other clergyman who afterwards was a bishop: churches ;-" The cause of the corruption of Chris- person I engaged in the summer," as a curate, “ is tians is chiefly to be found in the clergy." Now, run away; as you will think natural enough, when supposing this to be the language of exaggeration-- I tell you he was let out of jail to be promoted to supposing that they corrupt Christians only as much this service.” + as mea who make no peculiar pretensions to religion The ill effect of non-residence upon the general - how can such a fact be accounted for, but by the interests of religion is necessarily great. conclusion that there is something corrupting in the scientious clergyman finds that the offices of his clerical system ?
pulpit are not the half of his business: he finds that The refusal to amend the constitution or formu- he can often do more in promoting the religious laries of the church, is another powerful cause of welfare of his parishioners out of his pulpit than in injury to religion. Of one particular article—the it. It is out of his pulpit that he evinces and exerAthanasian creed—a friend of the church, and one cises the most unequivocal affection for his charge; who mixed with the world, says, “ I really believe that he encourages or warns as individuals bave that creed has made more deists than all the writings need; that he animates by the presence of his of all the oppugners of Christianity, since it was constant example; that he consoles them in their first unfortunately adopted in our liturgy."! Would troubles; that he adjusts their disagreements; thai this deist-making document have been retained till he assists them by his advice. It is by living now if the church were not allied to the state ! - amongst them, and by that alone, that he can be Bishop Watson uses language so unsparing, that, “ instant in season, and out of season," or that he just and true as it is, I know not whether I would can fulfil the duties which his station involves. How cite it from any other pen than a bishop's: “A prodigious, then, must be the sum of mischief which motley monster of bigotry and superstition-a scare- the non-residence of three thousand clergymen in. crow of shreds and patches, dressed up of old by phi- ficts upon religion! How yet more prodiyious losophers and popes to amuse the speculative, and must be the sum of mischief which results from that to affright the ignorant.” Do I quote this because negligence of duty of which non-residence is but it is the unsparing language of truth? No; but one effect! Yet all this is occasioned by our reli. because of that which succeeds it : “ Now,” says the gious establishment. “ The total absence of non. bishop, “a butt of scorn, against which every un- residence and pluralities in the Church of Scotland, fledged witling of the age essays his wanton efforts, and the annual examination of all the inhabitants of and, before he bas learned his catechism, is fixed an the parish by its minister, are circumstances highly infidel for lif-! This I am persuaded is too fre. | advantageous to religion.” I quently the case, for I have had too frequent op- The minister in the English Church is under pe. portunities to observe it.”'S If, by the church as it culiar disadvantages in enforcing the truths or the subsists, many are fixed infidels for life, how dif- duties of religion upon irreligious or sceptical men fusively must be spread that minor, but yet practical Many of the topics which such men urge are di. disrespect for religion, which, though it amounts rected, not against Christianity, but against thut et. not to infidelity, makes religion an unoperative thing hibition of Christianity which is afforded by the -unoperative upon the conduct and the heart- church. It has been seen that this is the cause of unoperative in animating the love and hope of the infidelity. How then shail the establis led clergyChristian-unuperative in supporting under afflic- man efficiently defend our religion He may in tion, and in smoothing and brightening the pathway deed confine himself to the vindication of Chris, to the grave!
tianity without reference to a church; but then he To these minor consequences also we have unam- does not defend that exhibition of Christianity which biguous testimony: “ Where there is not this open his own church affords. The sceptic presses him and shameless disavowal of religion, few traces of it with those things which it is confessed are wrong. are to be found. Improving in every other branch He must either defend them, or give them up as inof knowledge, we have become less and less ac- defensible. If he defends them, he confirms the quainted with Christianity.” Il-" Two-thirds of the sceptic in his unbelief; if he gives them up, he dolower order of people in London," says Sir Thomas clares not only that the church is in the wrong, but Bernard, “ live as utterly ignorant of the doctrines that himself is in the wrong too; and in either case, and duties of Christianity, and are as errant and un- his fitness for an advocate of our religion is impaired. converted pagans, as if they had existed in the wild- Hitherto, I have enforced the observations of est part of Africa.”—“ The case,” continues the this chapter by the authority of others. Now, I Quarterly Review, “is the same in Manchester, have to appeal for confirmation to the experience Leeds, Bristol, Sheffield, and in all our large towns. of the reader himself. Chat peculiar mode of inThe greatest part of the manufacturing populace, jury to the cause of virtue, of which I speak, has • Hartley : Observations on Man.
received its most extensive illustrations during the + Simpson's Plea, 3d edit. p. 76.
present century; and it has hitherto, perhaps, been Observations on the Liturgy, by an Under Secretary of
• Quarterly Review, April 1816, p. 233. Misc. Tracts by Watson, Bishop of Landaff, v. 2, p. 49.
+ Litters between Bishop Warburton and Bishop Hurd. Wüberforce : Practical View, 6th edit. p. 389.
Gisborne: Duties of Men.
the subject rather of private remark than of public of the current of human improvement, and in Engdisquisition. I refer to a sort of instinctive recoil land the influence of this institution is great. These from new measures that are designed to promote are fruits which are not borne by good and healthy the intellectual, the moral, or the religious improve. trees. How can the tree be good of which these are ment of the public. I appeal to the experience of the fruits ? Are these fruits the result of episcothose philanthropic men who spend their time either pacy? No, but of episcopacy wedded to the state. in their own neighbourhoods, or in “ going about Were this union dissolved, (and the parties are not doing good," whether they do not meet with a of that number whom God hath joined,) not only greater degree of this recoil from works of philan- would human reformation go forward with an accethropy, amongst the teachers and members of the lerated pace, but episcopalianism itself would in some state religion than amongst other men—and whe- degree arise and shake herself as from the dust of ther this recoil is not the strongest amongst that the earth. She would find that her political alliance portion who are reputed to be the most zealous has bound around her glittering but yet enslaving friends of the church. Has not this been your ex- chains-chains which, hugged and cherished as they perience with respect to the Slave Trade and to are, have ever fixed her, and ever will fix her, to the Slavery-with respect to the education of the people earth, and make her earthly. with respect to scientific or literary institutions The mode in which the legal provision for the for the labouring ranks—with respect to sending ministry is made in this country, contains, like many preachers to pagan countries—with respect to the other parts of the institution, evils superadded to Bible Society? Is not familiar to you to be in those which are necessarily incidental to a state redoubt and apprehension respecting the assistance of ligion. If there be any one thing which, more than these members of the establishment, when you have another, ought to prevail between a Christian minisno fear and no doubt of the assistance of other ter and those whom he teaches, it is harmony and Christians ? Do you not call upon others, and in- kindliness of feeling: and this kindliness and harvite their co-operation with confidence? Do you mony is peculiarly diminished by the system of not call upon these with distrust, and is not that Tithes. There is no circumstance which so often distrust the result of your previous experience ? “ disturbs the harmony that should ever subsist be
Take, for example, that very simple institution, tween a clergyman and his parishioners as contenthe Bible Society-simple, because its only object tions respecting tithes.” Vicessimus Knox goes is, to distribute the authorized records of the dis- further : "" One great cause of the clergy s losing pensations of God. It is an institution upon which their influence is, that the laity in this age of scepit may be almost said, that but one opinion is enter- ticism grudge them their tithes. The decay of re. tained—that of its great utility: but one desire is ligion and the contempt of the clergy arise in a great felt--that of co-operation, except by the members measure from this source." + What advantages can of established churches. From this institution the compensate for the contempt of Christian ministers most zealous advocates of the English church stand and the decay of religion? Or who does not peraloof. Whilst Christians of other names are friendly ceive that a legal provision might be made which almost to a man, the proportion is very large of would be productive, so far as the new system of those churchmen who show no friendliness. It were itself was concerned, of fewer evils !-Of the polito no purpose to say that they have claims pecu. tical ill consequences of the tithe system I say no. liarly upon themselves, for so have other Christians thing here. if they were much less than they are, -claims which generally are complied with to a or if they did not exist at all, there is sufficient evi. greater extent. Besides, it is obvious that these dence against the system in its moral effects. claims are not the grounds of the conduct that we It is well known, and the fact is very creditable, deplore. If they were, we should still possess the that the clergy exact tithes with much less rigour, cordial approbation of these persons—their personal, and consequently occasion far fewer heartburnings, if not their pecuniary support. From such persons than lay claimants. The want of cordiality often silence and absence are positive discouragement results, too, from the cupidity of the payers, who How then are we to account for the phenoinenon ? invent vexatious excuses to avoid payment of the By the operation of a state religion. For when our whole claim, and are on the alert to take disreputphilanthropist applies to the members of another able advantages. ch'irch, their only question perhaps is, Will the But to the conclusions of the Christian moralist projected institution be useful to mankind ? But it matters little by what agency a bad system opewhen he applies to such a member of the state reli.
The principal point of his attention is the gion, he considers, How will it affect the establish- system itself. If it be bad, it will be sure to find ment ?- Will it increase the influence of dissenters ! agents by whom its pernicious principles will be - May it not endanger the immunities of the church? elicited and brought into practical operation. It is
- Is it countenanced by our superiors ?-- Is it agree- therefore no extenuation of the system, that the able to the administration ? And when all these clergy frequently do not disagree with their pari. considerations have been pursued, he very commonly shioners: whilst it is a part of the system that Tithes finds something that persuades him that it is most are sold, and sold to him, of whatever character, “ prudent” not to encourage the proposition. It who will give most for them-he will endeavour to should be remarked too, as an additional indication make the most of them again. So that the evils which of the cause of this recoil from works of goodness, result from the Tithe system, although they are not that where the genius of the state religion is most chargeable upon religious establishments, are chargeinfluential, there is commonly the greatest back- able upon our own, and are an evidence against it. wardness in works of mental and religious philan- | The animosities which Tithe farmers occasion are thropy. The places of peculiar frigidity are the attributable to the Tithe system. Ordinary men do places in which there are the greatest number of not make nice discriminations. He who is angry t:he dignitaries of the church.
with the Tithe farmer is angry with the rector, who Thus it is that the melioration of mankind is con puts the power of vexation into his hands, and he tinually and greatly impeded, by the workings of an who is out of temper with the teacher of religion institution of which the express design is to extend loses some of his complacency iu religion itself. You the influence of religion and morality. Greatly impeded: for England is one of the principal sources • Gisborne: Duties of Men.
+ Essays, No.