Front Page Titles (by Subject) A Letter to a Gentleman at Edinburgh, concerning the busy and assuming Spirit of the Ecclesiastics, and their extravagant Demands upon the Laity. Anno 1725. - A Collection of Tracts, vol. 2
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A Letter to a Gentleman at Edinburgh, concerning the busy and assuming Spirit of the Ecclesiastics, and their extravagant Demands upon the Laity. Anno 1725. - John Trenchard, A Collection of Tracts, vol. 2 
A Collection of Tracts. By the Late John Trenchard, Esq; and Thomas Gordon, Esq; Vol. II. (London: F. Cogan, 1751).
Part of: A Collection of Tracts, 2 vols.
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A Letter to a Gentleman at Edinburgh, concerning the busy and assuming Spirit of the Ecclesiastics, and their extravagant Demands upon the Laity.
YOU desire to know something of the present Spirit and Conduct of our Clergy; a Curiosity to which you are prompted by the Behaviour of your own, who, you say, are so zealous for the Welfare of your Souls, as to concern themselves in all your Affairs, even in such as relate only to your Persons, Families, and Diversions. That, in former Times, the holy Men, their Predecessors, were wont to mix their reverend Spite and Impertinence with their ghostly Care, to confound Spirituals with Temporals, and to dictate in all Things, is what I have heard; but was in Hopes, that a freer Spirit, with an Increase of Liberty and Sense, had put an End to such Ecclesiastical Intrusion, and taught the present Set, that as their Ministry is known to be bounded by the Bible, and the Civil Constitution, they ought to keep themselves warily within the Limits of their Ministry; that if they break the Bounds within which they are placed, and usurp a Jurisdiction which they have not Force to maintain, People will scorn their Fairy Dominion, and they will lose their Credit by grasping at Power. The Authority of Nurses and Pedagogues is confined to Infants and Pupils; it is stinted in Time, as well as in Measure, and ends where Childhood ends, and where the Years of Discretion begin. Should an old Woman take upon her to direct my Youth, because she fed and whipped me when I was a Babe, or should my Tutor, who taught me to decline Verbs, or to chatter Logic, when I was a Boy, seek with his pedantic Talents to controul me, when a Man, I should be apt to think the Nurse and the Tutor, though perhaps alike wise, yet alike unfit for Mastership and Government.
The Province of our spiritual Nurses is restrained to Offices purely spiritual. In the Conduct of domestic and civil Life, in the Rules of good Sense and Business, or even in those of just Thinking and Reasoning, they are, generally, of all Men, the most unfit to direct or advise. Besides their eminent Inexperience, besides the Narrowness of their Spirit, and that their Judgment is as defective and aukward, as is their Address and Behaviour, they generally meddle with the Affairs of other Men from Motives intirely despicable and selfish, from Pride and Peevishness, from Resentment or Revenge, or for some paltry Advantage, for a Fondness of being courted or feared, of being thought wise and important, or from some other Consideration unworthy of a Man of Sense, or Honour, or Spirit.
It is to no Purpose to say, that they only aim at correcting Vice and ill Principles. For they often create Vice, and find it where it is not, in harmless Mirth and Amusement, and in Recreations where not only all Decency and regular Behaviour is observed, but where Vice and Impertinence are ridiculed and lashed, and where Lessons of Morality and Honour are recommended and inforced. And for ill Principles, what they call so, are often no other than harmless Speculations and Inquiries after Truth, or the Result of such Inquiries; often the most noble and beneficent Notions, such as represent the Deity uniform, dispassionate, and impartial, abhorring human Cruelties, forgiving human Weaknesses and Mistakes, pleased with a sincere Heart, nor expecting more from his Creatures than he has given them, and disengaged from all little Prejudices in favour of Sects and Parties.
This creating and multiplying of Sins, and finding Transgressions where the Bible finds none, has what the World calls Policy in it; because the more Sin abounds, the more necessary ghostly Men are thought; and this Policy they have improved so notably, where they have been encouraged, or even suffered, that they have turned almost every thing into Sin, except what is the most wretched and unmanly of all Sins, that of adoring and obeying Priests. But this Policy is attended with one flagrant Inconvenience: Every Man of Discernment will be apt to ask, If Iniquities are thus increased, and Men grow daily worse, in spite of such numerous Monitors, in spite of their holy Counsels, their pious Examples, their awful and repeated Denunciations; then what avails an expensive Army of Priests, who own themselves daily conquered, and utterly unequal to the adverse Host? This looks like a Confession, that either Satan fears them not, or that they do not all that might be done against Satan.
In Popish Countries there are several Transactions, which appear like palpable Juggles between the Devil and the Friars, particularly in the Business of Exorcism, and casting out evil Spirits: The Devil in Possession often holds out a long and inveterate Siege, and when he is at last ejected, he is free to enter into the same Person again, or into somebody else. If they have indeed Power over the Devil, why do they not cast him quite out of the World, at least out of the Country? Would we not think that a General mocked us, if he asserted, that he had beaten the Enemies every-where driven them out of every Town, and every particular Place, but still they were as strong as ever, and still ravaging the Country? I should think that he and his Troops deserved to be broken, notwithstanding his boasted Skill, and invisible Feats.
Methinks it is not the deepest Craft for holy Men, armed with such high Powers, to be always appearing in a Fright, and crying for Help from unhallowed Laymen, upon every Phantom of Danger. Against the Cause of God, we are assured by himself, that the Gates of Hell shall not prevail; and to such as maintain his Cause by his own Assistance, what Danger is to be apprehended, what human Assistance can be wanted? The Apostles wanted none against the whole Pagan World, against all the Hosts of Jewish and Pagan Priests, breathing Persecution and deadly Rage: Yet the Apostles had no Establishment, no Revenues, no privileged Tribunals to harangue in, no Laws against Heretics or Gainsayers, nor even against Blasphemers; and were but a few Men, dispersed over the World, without Money, without Mobs, and even without University Education.
At present, and for many Ages past, we have had Apostolic Men by Thousands in every Country, and Millions of Money they have cost almost every Country to maintain them. They are protected by Laws sufficiently indulgent, and without Number. Schools are erected and supported at the public Expence for their Education; they themselves govern these Schools, and conduct the National Teaching, both in the Schools and in the Pulpits. The first Thing learned by Infants is to reverence them; they catechise us when Children, they instruct our Youth, and when we are Men, we are not manumitted from their Instruction. Young Women are partial to them, old ones adore them. When we are in Health we wait upon them for Admonition; and, when sick, receive their Counsel and Discipline at home. ’Tis they that exhort, they that rebuke, they that preach to the People, they that pray for them; it is they who administer the Seals of the Covenant, work a holy and imperceptible Change in Wine, and Bread, and Water, and they who utter ineffable Mysteries: They bless, they curse; they offer Heaven, they possess Earth; they denounce Damnation; they cry aloud, they threaten, they terrify: They are Ambassadors from God; they know his Will; they bear his Authority; they communicate his Intentions, deliver his Commands, distribute his Rewards and Terrors, apply his Blessings and Judgments: They shut the Gates of Paradise; they open those of Hell; they admit us into Christ’s holy Church, they nurture us in it, or exclude us out of it, and are daily apprising us of their own Power and Importance.
Now what can annoy, what ought to frighten or alarm Men, thus endowed and reverenced, thus adored and exalted, thus dear to Heaven, thus absolute upon Earth, thus encompassed and guarded by Securities divine and human, so signal and many? It is too great a Compliment to the Powers of Darkness, and, in my Opinion, inconsistent with Orthodoxy, to suppose them a Match, much more an Overmatch, for the Children of Light, especially for the Envoys and Representatives of the Almighty. This would be introducing a terrible Doctrine amongst Men; it would be finding a Reason and an Apology for the Worship paid by the wild Indians to the Evil Spirit; who being an Enemy to God, and long since vanquished and damned, can never be an Object of Terror to sound Believers: The Wicked One has no Armour that is Proof against a lively Faith, which, as it can remove Mountains, must easily drive away Satan. It is therefore want of Faith to fear the Devil, whom even Free-thinkers and Unbelievers fear not. It is indeed Matter of Lamentation, that Christians, yea the Directors and Conductors of Christians, should have less Courage than Men who are given up to a reprobate Mind; Men left to uncovenanted Mercy, and without Shield or Fence against the Assaults of the Enemy.
You therefore surprise me, by telling me, as you do, that a Pantomime, a poor Player, Tony Ashton, and his Comedians, have been able to ruffle and disquiet the Minds of the Reverend Ministers of the Kirk. What Tools he brings with him, terrible to the Hierarchy, I cannot conceive. The Laws, the Gospel, and private Persons, are protected by the Civil Power: And if Tony can hurt and insult neither Religion, nor Cæsar, nor Particulars, how comes he to occasion such Uproars and Alarms?
Doubtless there are several Plays too gross and licentious; and so, sometimes, have been many Sermons: Yet, when a Preacher has abused the Privilege of Preaching, advanced wild Opinions, and uttered dangerous and ridiculous Follies, as, upon Occasions, has happened, it has not been allowed to interrupt or contradict him. Nay, when the Civil Power has questioned him for insulting or calumniating the Civil Administration, his Brethren have waxed wroth and outrageous, that any of their Body should be questioned at any Tribunal but their own: A Right and Impunity, which, I think, are claimed as sturdily by the Fathers of the Kirk, as by our High-Church, or the High-Church in Italy.
But as this extravagant Claim implies, that all Rights and Powers whatsoever do, directly or indirectly, appertain to themselves, and dooms all Men to a vile and blind Dependence upon the Clergy in all Things; so it should warn every Man, who would not blindly tread in the Steps, and hang by the Cloak or the Cassock of a Pedagogue, to preserve an Independence upon the Clergy in all Things where the Clergy have nothing to do. Other Commission, than that of counselling and exhorting such as will hear them, I know none that our Blessed Saviour has given them; and this he has given to all Men.
What have the Parsons to do with our Recreations and Amusements? Does the Gaiety and Openness of the Spirit, occasioned by Festivity and Diversion, lead to Sin and Lubricity? Who told them so? Upon me it had never any such Effect; and by what Rule do they judge? In my Opinion, the opposite Commotions of Spirit, those of Bitterness, Ferocity, and Uncharitableness, are in themselves sinful; odious and unsociable I am sure they are, and the genuine Attributes of Monks and Cynics.
With Pretences equally just, may they claim the Direction of our Persons, Tables, and Dress. The Ladies must not wear fine Silks, nor the Men fine Perriwigs, for Fear of exciting Concupiscence, and alluring one another: Nay, they must not wear fine Linen, nor wash their Faces, for the like Theological Reason. They must not enter a Tavern, for fear of being drunk; nor be merry, for fear of being profane; nor eat a good Meal, nor deal in Sauces and Dainties, for fear of pampering the Flesh.
There is no Length to which such impertinent Reasoning, when it is once admitted, will not go: And, in Effect, we see that in every thing which passes within the Heart of Man or Woman, or in their Dress, Eating, Drinking, and general Oeconomy, the Romish Priests act the Busy-body, and assume to be Comptrollers even in the conjugal Pleasures, those between a Man and his Wife, they assert a Right to be informed and to dictate. They of that Religion know this by Experience; and by reading their Books of Confession and Casuistry, every one may know it. What, in the Name of Wonder, is it to a Man who deals in Spirituals, whether, when a Woman, in Bed with her Husband, lays her Leg upon his, he is to take it for a Signal and obey it, though she say never a Word? Yet this Query is put by a grave Casuist, and answered in the Affirmative; Imo, certe, says he, propter Modestiam Sexus. So favourable was the good Doctor to the Ladies!
This meddling of theirs in every thing, and meddling like Masters and Governors, will make People tired and uneasy to be under their Direction in any thing: So that where they are not armed with the Civil Sword, and the Terrors of an Inquisition, as, I thank God heartily, they are not like to be with us; they will lose the Credit which they might otherwise preserve, and grow contemptible by being troublesome and impertinent. The Pulpit is their Province, and even that is a Province which they should exercise with Modesty and Wariness; especially in a Generation like this, when People have learnt to assert their natural Liberty, and the Use of their Senses, and to dispute the Truth of Positions which they judge to be doubtful or false, however imperiously maintained by Men of Reverence and Name.
That Authority which depends only or chiefly upon the Esteem and Opinions of Men, is exceeding precarious, and will decay or perish as those Opinions alter, or that Esteem is lost, or lessens. Many have lost all Credit, by carrying it too high, or by maintaining it by false and deceitful Supports. What has been the Consequence of all the wild and unmeasurable Claims contended for in behalf of Churchmen, by Dr. Hickes, Mr. Lesley, and the other Champions of that Cause? It is true, they were greedily swallowed by many of the selfish and aspiring Clergy; infatuated many weak Brains amongst them, and deceived several of the People, chiefly the Vulgar in Condition of Understanding: But their Triumph was short and contemptible. These extravagant Demands for extravagant Power in Ecclesiastics, occasioned a Number of such Answers, as have not only set the Authority of Churchmen very low in the Opinion of almost all Men, and demonstrated, that from Christ they derive no Power or Revenue at all, but, for all that they have, must be beholden to Laymen and the Law; but they have likewise, by Reasoning and Examples upon that Subject, shewn the Spirit of the Ecclesiastics almost in all Times, to have been so tyrannical, vindictive, and rapacious, that most Men are become loth to trust them with over-much Wealth or Power, or indeed with any, independent upon the Civil Government.
As the Writings of these Divines were visionary, absurd, and indeed arrogant, full of Principles destructive of Civil Liberty, and all Liberty, opposite to the Spirit of the Reformation, and contrary to all good Sense, and all Modesty; and yet greedily read and approved by Numbers of the inferior Clergy; Men who had better Sense and Discernment, and wished well to the free Constitution of their Country, conceived Indignation at the propagating and encouraging of Notions so wild and mischievous; and have exposed them so effectually, that such Notions, and the Authors of them, are now as much contemned, as they were insolent and chimerical. Such, in truth, was the Scheme of these Nonjurors, and their Followers; so exorbitant and wicked it was, that nothing but blind Popery, settled in the Church, and absolute Tyranny in the State, could have supported it; and I think, it is plain, that both these Supports were intended to be introduced. Indeed, the Scheme itself necessarily implied them; and without them, it was a mere Dream.
It is true, that some of these high Contenders for unbounded Power in the Church and the Crown, wrote against Popery, and set Bounds to the Prerogative in Church Matters. But it is equally true, that they only contended against the Popery of the Pope, and against owning the Jurisdiction of Rome: They, at the same time boldly asserted a Power to themselves equal to that of the Pope; asserted all the dreadful, all the selfish and lucrative, and most of the extravagant Positions of Popery; such as the Right of knowing Hearts by Confession; the Power of Damning and Saving; Prayers for the Dead; Extreme Unction; great and princely Power and Revenues, all holden in their own Right, without depending upon the Civil Power, and even in spight of it. If I must be enslaved or oppressed by an imperious, assuming Priesthood, what is the Difference to me, whether my Oppressor live at Rome, or Canterbury, or Edinburgh.
The Manner also in which these High-church Writers treat the Crown, is most insolent, shameless, and dishonest: They exempt themselves, and all that is theirs, which is whatever they have a mind to call so, from all Cognizance or Authority of the Civil Power of the Prince. Their Persons, they say, are sacred, as well at his; nay, more sacred, and their Possessions defended by Privileges divine: So that though they surrender him the Laity, to be used or spoiled, fleeced or flayed, as he pleases; though they bely the holy Name of God to sanctify Oppression, to secure the Oppressor, and to terrify the poor abused Sufferers from lifting up their Hand, or even their Voice and Complaints, for Relief; though they call every Attempt to preserve their Persons and Property, and to resist insulting Spoilers, a resisting of God, and for it threaten Damnation; yet, if he dare but to touch themselves, dare to meddle with their Revenues, to enter the Sanctuary, or to claim any Share of their Wealth or Jurisdiction, Heaven and Earth are summoned to assist them, and to resist him; Woes are denounced against the faint Heart, and feeble Hand; and the Crosier is reared against the Sceptre.
Is not such impudent Conduct enough to open the Eyes of all Men, even of the most stupid, bigotted, and blind? To see Religion turned into a manifest Market of Power and Wealth; the great God made the Voucher of an execrable Bargain between the Oppressors of Men in their Persons, and the Oppressors of Men in their Consciences; to see Men tied up, or let loose, made tame or furious, crouching under unrelenting Tyranny, or armed against legal Power, just as they are directed, scared, or inflamed by Priests! To see these Priests claiming to themselves all sorts of Privileges, and Wealth and Power without Bounds; to see them assuming Principalities and Power, by virtue of Successorship to the poor, wandering, and persecuted Apostles; and yet denying the abused Laity, from whom they have all things, to have a Right to any thing, not even to their Property, and their Senses! Will such Clergymen, after this, complain that such Clergymen are not reverenced? Men, who by their extravagant and selfish Positions, discover a Spirit so unchristian and unsociable; such a one as undermines all the Rights and Pleasure of human Society, and of human Life. They are, indeed, contemned; and upon themselves they have drawn that Contempt. Will they complain of the Growth of Infidelity and Profaneness, when, by their Example and Principles, they had shewn that they had meant to debase Religion as far as it could be debased, by turning it into an Engine for Dominion and Opulence; and perverted the Gospel into a Scheme of Grandeur, Absurdities, and Persecution? What has propagated Infidelity so much as their own selfish Tenets and Conduct, and the vile Use which they made of the Bible; as if it had been nothing else but a Patent to exalt Priests, and inslave the Laity? Of all the Latitudinarian Books in the World, the Writings of High-church Men are the most fraught with mischievous and horrible Positions.
I wish, for the Honour of the whole Body of the Clergy, that the Convocation had at any time branded such infamous and pestilent Doctrines, by some just and public Censure, such as they have been very free to bestow upon Books and Propositions which defend the common Rights of Conscience and Society. By their utter Silence in this Matter, they have administered a Handle to some for suspecting (I hope unjustly) that, to Assemblies of Clergymen, the Happiness of the Laity was of little Concernment, and Liberty of Conscience a Matter of Offence: That they had Views irreconcileable to the Reformation, and the Establishment, and were pursuing an Interest opposite to that of the Public. What heightened this Suspicion, was the manifest Partiality of their Conduct: While they were assiduously searching after Books which defended the Civil Rights of Society, and the unalienable Right of all Men to think for themselves, in order to censure them; and in doing it, did notoriously misrepresent them; they thought fit to pass over Books which asserted the blackest of all Iniquities, that of Persecution; Books which reviled the Constitution, struck at the Root of public Liberty, contended for public Servitude (in the Laity only) and boldly revived and maintained the most dangerous and impudent Opinions of Popery. And when such impious Writings were laid before them, their Boldness and pestilent Tendency shewn, and Passages quoted out of them, shocking to the Ears of Freemen and Protestants; still that Reverend Body persisted to make no Animadversions.
What Conclusion, advantageous to their Reputation, could be drawn from a Proceeding so evidently unequitable and unjust, when a Set of Men, assuming to be Judges, were apparently Parties, and had so little Regard, or rather so much Aversion, to righteous Judgment, that upon Truths the most obvious, upon Principles the most benevolent, their Wrath and Anathemas fell; while the most daring Arraignment of private Conscience, and the most bare-faced Insults upon public Liberty, Civil and Christian, incurred no Blame? In one, for Example, it was a heinous Crime, and loudly censured, to have said, “That our Saviour’s Kingdom was not of this World;” though after our Saviour himself he said it. But it proved to the Convocation no Matter of Offence, for another to have impiously maintained, that “Heaven itself waited for the Sentence from the Priest’s Mouth, and God himself followed the Judgment of the Priest”———That “Kings and Queens are to bow down before the Priest, with their Faces towards the Earth, and to lick up the Dust of his Feet;” with many other mischievous and unhallowed Extravagancies, to the Disgrace of Religion and common Sense. Was this the Way to be reverenced, to utter, as the Oracles of God, such impudent and poisonous Falshoods, or to defend them, or not to stigmatize them? Was it not rather a Way to forfeit all common Respect, and to incur universal Indignation and Scorn?
A Family is a small State, as a State is a great Family. Now, suppose the Master or Prince of a Family take into his Service a Chaplain, and give him Bread and Wages; Does this same Chaplain take a Method to be reverenced or believed, if he tell the Man who maintains him, “I am your spiritual Prince, you are my spiritual Subject; I can absolve or damn you: You must tell me all the Secrets of your Heart, let me judge of your Thoughts; submit without Murmuring or Hesitation to my Dictates and Censure, and be obedient to my Discipline. You must call me your Chaplain in no other Sense than you say, My Lord, and My God. You ought to fall down before me, and lick up the Dust of my Feet. My Government in your Family, as a Priest, is farther above yours, as you are a Layman, than Heaven is above the Earth; and my Revenue ought to be greater than yours, though you are a Prince in your House.
“And to make you Amends for thus sharing with you in your Power and Riches, I do hereby, in the Name of Heaven, doom all your Children and Servants, that is, all your Lay-Domestics, to be your Slaves, without Reserve; and I do assert your Authority over them, be it ever so cruel, unnatural and destructive, to be the Ordinance of God; and you to be his Vicegerent, however wicked and unlike God you prove. But my Person and Property you must not touch; for I am a sacred Person; in all the Money and Power which I take from you, I am independent and unaccountable; for I am the Lord’s Priest, and my Wealth is God’s Wealth. It would be Sacrilege in you to meddle with either; if you do, you will be damned; and if I can persuade your Lady, or your Son, to give me any Lands or Treasure, for the Good of their Souls, whatever Artifices I use to draw such Donations from them, you must protect me in the Possession, against your Grand-children, or any other Claimant whatsoever; for to take it from me, or from any future Chaplain for ever, would be to rob God and the Church.
“Moreover, if any of your Family, your Lady, Children, or Servants, should presume to differ in Opinion from me, and follow their own Conscience, this is Schism, it is a damnable Sin; for out of the Church, that is, without my Permission and Management, there is no Salvation: And such Schisinatics, Heretics, and Gainsayers, you must prosecute, that is, fine, imprison, whip, hang, or burn, as I shall direct you: If you do not, you favour Heretics and Schismatics, and I will excommunicate you, that is, deliver you to the Devil; and then you are unworthy of any Authority, and I will excite your Family to turn you out of your House, unless by Submission to me you shew yourself penitent, and worthy to be restored: Upon this Condition I will recal you, and turn off the Person that I put in your Room, whom I will call an Usurper, if he do not humour me in all Things. For, ’tis I who can preserve Obedience, or stir up Strife and Fighting in your Family, and teach them the Necessity of obeying or resisting, by the Terrors of Divine Vengeance, which is always armed when I am angry, and asleep when I am pleased.”
Now, would Pretences and Claims, thus impious and shameless, be borne from any particular Chaplain, by his particular Lord or Patron? And yet are not such Claims asserted by the High Clergy in general? And do they not affect every individual Layman, by affecting the whole Body of the Laity? They treat us to our Faces, like Vassals blind and tame, and doom us without Ceremony, to bear Invasion and Tyranny with meek Hearts, and Hands bound. All that we have, is hardly enough for them. Yet were we to treat them as they treat one another, a very small Competency would appear a sufficient Appointment and Maintenance for the Successors of the Apostles. Do we not frequently see a Reverend Doctor possess three, five, nay eight hundred Pounds a Year, sometimes more than a thousand; and yet out of this great Revenue, which he thinks not too much, and hardly enough, though he do nothing for it, give no more than fifteen, twenty, thirty, or at most forty Pounds a Year to a Curate, for doing the whole Duty of the Parish? If this be enough for the Labour of a Clergyman, why do the Laity give any-where more? If it be not, why does the rich Doctor give so little? The Curate is furnished with all necessary Abilities and Qualifications as well as the Doctor, and has the same spiritual Powers, to baptize, to give Absolution and the Communion, to marry, preach, pray, bury, visit the Sick, and to take Tithes, if he had any to take.
Thus, in the Opinion of former Bishops, (Governors of the Church) who often kept Curates themselves, when they still retained a good fat Living in Commendam: and thus in the common Practice of the inferior Clergy, Wages sometimes not much higher than those of a Carter, scarce ever so high as those of an Exciseman, are sufficient for doing all the Functions of a Clergyman. Would this not seem a Rule to the Laity, a Rule taken from the best Authority in the World, that of the Practice of the Clergy, how to rate the Work and Worth of a Clergyman? Why should they expect that Laymen should value the Labour and Use of a Clergyman higher, than the Clergy themselves do in Fact value it? They will not say, that three, or five, or eight, or ten hundreds a Year, is little enough for the Sagacity of chusing, and the Trouble of hiring, a Curate for twenty, or thirty, or forty, though sometimes things equally foolish and absurd are said; for there are many Laymen who can drive a hard Bargain, and pinch their Workmen, and we too often find the Reverend Deputy of a great Doctor full as bad and insufficient as if the Church-wardens had picked him up and hired him. I would therefore be glad to know why any Man, why especially a Minister of the Gospel, who should labour in Season, and out of Season, should have any Revenue, especially a great Revenue, for nothing?
But I ramble from my first Design, though, perhaps, had I pursued it, I should not have tired you less. But I am like other Authors, who, whilst they please themselves, think that they are furnishing Delight to their Reader. To your Information I pretend not to add any Thing, not even in telling you that I am, with great Affection and Sincerity,
SIR, Your Faithful Servant,
M. S. Johannis Trenchard, Armigeri.
QUI, quamvis antiqua stirpe ortus, multisque opibus florens,
Neque domo, neque pecunia, præcipuam sibi laudem Assecutus est.
Quam alii claritudine generis,
Quam alii divitiis
Gloriam ostentant fortuitam & inanem, Ille virtute ingenioque
Sinceram, propriamque, & mansuram sibi comparavit:
Solertia & morum sanctitate, imaginibus domus, Præluxit.
Vim animi, integritatem vitæ, in patriam fuosque caritatem
Pauci equârunt; antecessere nulli.
Pueritia vix egressus, Foro vacavit,
Legum peritus, causisque orandis validus: Sed jurgiis Forensibus atque lucro statim valedicens, Secessum dilexit, vitamque privatam.
Reip. tamen curam, nunquam sibi neglectam, Neque deposuit, nec frustra exercuit;
Dominationis cujusvis generis hostis perpetuus, Et vere timendus;
Libertatis, priscique moris,
Custos rigidus, Vindex acer.
A Monument Sacred to the Memory ofJohn Trenchard,Esq;
A Gentleman descended from an ancient Family,
And conspicuous for abundant Wealth:
Yet neither from his Race nor his Fortune,
Did he derive his principal Renown.
Some boast a Glory derived from the Lustre of their Lineage;
And rely upon the Merits of their Ancestors:
Others vaunt the Glory of their Wealth.
Vain and accidental is all such Glory.
His was of his own acquiring, without Allay,
Personal and permanent,
The pure Result of his Virtue and Parts.
In his native Accomplishments, and in the Sanctimony of his Morals,
He gained Splendor surpassing that of his House.
In Vigour of Spirit, in Integrity of Life,
In Tenderness to his Country, to his Kindred and Friends,
Few ever equalled him,
None ever surpassed him.
Whilst yet a Youth he attended the Bar,
Learned in the Laws, and a powerful Pleader.
But soon abandoning the Strife of Suits,
And the Pursuit of Gain,
He preferred Retirement and a private Life.
His Concern however for the Public
(A Concern ever inseparable from his Thoughts)
He neither renounced, nor exercised in vain;
Of Encroachments and Domination of every kind
A constant and a formidable Foe;
Of public Liberty, and primitive Institutions,
A rigid Assertor, a powerful Champion.
Simul naturæ humanæ, pravitatis hominum,
Ambitusque & calliditatis Potentium,
Gnarus, ac probe suspicax,
Prætextus eorum a consultis, a Domino Magistratum,
Vimque & superbiam, quandocunque lacesserant,
Summa facundia increpare ausus est.
Post finem belli Gallici, Gulielmo Principe,
Oratione scripta, adhuc Juvenis
Efflagitavit atque obtinuit,
Invitis Aulicis & frementibus.
Par ipse summis negotiis,
Et honores meritus, sed aspernatus,
Artibus privati præcelluit.
Tristes Fanaticorum ineptias,
Libertati civum atque bonis inhiantium,
Petulantium istorum & aviditatem
Ac iter redarguit & coercuit:
Nec Deum Opt. Max.
Truculentiæ effræni, vel vociferatui inani annuere,
Aut lapsu & erroribus mentis offendi Ratus est.
Annos V. post L. vixit, sibi satis;
From Observation he knew, from a just Principle he suspected,
The Frailty of human Nature, and the Pravity of Men,
With the Ambition and Artifices of Men in Power:
Between their avowed Pretences, and real Pursuit,
He could well distinguish,
As between the worthy Magistrate and the lawless Ruler;
Ever resolute to encounter every public Violence,
And all the Insolence of Power,
With consummate Eloquence.
The Disbanding the Army after the French War,
In the Reign of King William,
By an Argument written and published,
Even in his Youth he undertook to procure,
Urged it with great Force,
And even succeeded.
In Opposition to the Efforts and Rage of the Courtiers:
To the highest Affairs his Abilities were equal:
But deserving public Honours,
And despising them,
He shone in the Accomplishments of private Life.
To the wild Fury of all Visionaries and Mystists,
To the direful Fooleries of all Bigots,
His Enmity was bent and perpetual,
As Men ever ravening against the Liberty, against the Possessions,
Of their Fellow-Citizens.
Eloquently he exposed, zealously he restrained,
The petulant Spirit and Avarice of such Men.
That the God of Nature, supremely Great, supremely Good,
Could ever approve wanton Cruelty, or devout
Clamour, and empty Sounds,
Or could ever be offended with the Mistakes and Roamings of the human Soul,
Was what his rational Heart could never conceive.
To the Age of almost fifty-five he lived,
An Age to himself sufficiently long;
At non Patriæ, non amicis, nec uxori.
Cæterum, ut sine labe vitam transegerat,
Mortem absque formidine obiit,
Liberis viris & bonis nunquam non desiderandus;
Decemb. XVI. An. Ch. MDCCXXIII.
Manent Monumenta ingenii, semperque manebunt,
Scriptis multi generis sacrata.
But not so to his Country, nor to his Friends, nor to his Lady.
As he had passed his Life without Blemish,
He encountered Death without Fear.
A Man by all virtuous Men and Freemen Worthy to be for ever lamented.
He died on the sixteenth of December 1723.
Of his Genius and Abilities there are Monuments remaining,
Such as will for ever remain,
Consecrated to Time and Posterity in Writings of various Kinds.