Front Page Titles (by Subject) Priestianity: or, A View of the Disparity between the Apostles and the Modern inferior Clergy. Anno 1720. - A Collection of Tracts, vol. 2
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Priestianity: or, A View of the Disparity between the Apostles and the Modern inferior Clergy. Anno 1720. - 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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Priestianity: or, A View of the Disparity between the Apostles and the Modern inferior Clergy.
TO promote Peace and Quietness, to endeavour a Reconciliation among Neighbours, is undoubtedly a Duty incumbent on all Mankind; but surely They, who call themselves the Servants of the Lord, the Successors and Followers of the Apostles, are under a double Obligation to perform this Christian Office. If we make a Scrutiny into the Actions and Ingratitude of the Inferior Clergy, we shall find, that, Viper-like, they attempt to sting the Bosom, which took Compassion on them, nourished them, and gave them (as it were) second Life. If we search for the Original of our domestic Feuds and petty Quarrels, we shall discover that they are caused by the Chaplain, or one of his Tribe; at least it will appear, that he was the Encourager, if not the Author, of them. When a Shepherd will intrust a Wolf with the Care of his Flock, then I shall consent that a Priest may be Superintendant of my Family.
Whether it be by Nature or Compact, I shall not at present inquire; but it is demonstrable beyond Contradiction, that a Priest is no sooner admitted into a Family, than he begins to worm himself into every Secret; and when he has discovered their Failings (for who is there that does not fall seven Times every Day?) he lords it over them with a supercilious Countenance, and haughtily usurps an arbitrary Sway. He glories that he has it in his Power to create Quarrels, and foment Animosities; he expects great Advantage from troubled Waters, and, if Threats will not prevail, creates Divisions in the Family, disunites theAffections (those mutual Bands of harmonious Wedlock) and seruples not to put asunder whom God has joined. But these spiritual Busy-bodies do often meet with Punishment; though not in proportion to their Demerit: The good Man of the Family (to use the Country Phrase) perceiving the Tricks and Artifices of the well-fed Levite (not to mention his Amours and Intrigues) gives him a Dimittis, and reduces him to his primitive Necessity of Preaching and Praying for Bread.
If as due Care was taken in the Execution of our Laws, as in the Enacting them, it would conduce much to the Preservation and Continuance of that Oeconomy and good Order, that Amity and even Temper, which is requisite in every Family. There is a Penalty on every Master and Mistress, who shall take any Servants without a Certificate of their good Behaviour from the Person by whom they were last employed; and this Law was thought to be so reasonable and just in its Nature (and who can make any Objection to it?) that it affects all Men alike: The highest Quality are as liable to this Penalty, as the inferior Subjects. If therefore they, who are resolved to keep Chaplains (whether from a Motive of Pride, and to gain the Esteem of the World, or for Fashion-sake only) would demand a Certificate from such as cringe for the Office; we should find few Levites, who could produce Credentials sufficient to intitle them to a second Reception. Besides, much Confusion and Heart-burnings might be avoided by complying with this Law; and much more be prevented, if no Priest were admitted to direct or dictate to a Family, but when he appears in his consecrated Asylum.
A Levite, take him in the Capacity of a Chaplain or Parish-Priest, is but a menial Servant; and I have met with one only, (and never heard of another) who was so just to his own Conscience, and ingenious to the World, to confess that undeniable Position. Will they preach or pray without Hire? No. Will they guide and direct you without a Reward? No. Are they not maintained by the Parish, or by such Persons who unhappily take them into their Houses? No Man can deny it. Why therefore should they disown the Appellation which their Wages intitle them to? We can assign no other Reason than an innate Disposition to Pride and Arrogance. If they were kept at that Distance,which is absolutely necessary for the Humiliation of a Servant, they would be more mannerly and less aspiring. A pampered Chaplain flatters himself with having as much Right to my Lady’s Favours as her Lap-dog, and no doubt but he would willingly supply his Place; while the Parish-Priest, through our Indulgence and Familiarity, first assumes to be our Equal, and then commands Admittance to our Wives and Daughters. There is one Thing worthy of our Notice, clean Straw and slender Diet (to speak in the Language of Sportsmen) preserves a Spaniel’s Nose, and causes him to remember his Duty.
I know not any Subject which is so liable to Laughter and Ridicule, no Topic, which lays so justifiable a Foundation for Banter, as to hear the Inferior Clergy affirm, that they are indued with the Holy Ghost. If they studied to do Religion a Disservice, they could not more effectually accomplish it, than by such an Assertion. I own, indeed, that they pretend as much to Religion, as the Warming-pan Gentleman does to the Crown of Great-Britain; but their Actions manifest a Distrust of their Doctrine, and run counter to their own Rules. From what Period of Time do they date the Gift of Inspiration? From the Moment, no doubt, of their Ordination: It will follow, therefore, that all who receive Holy Orders, are endued with that divine Blessing. If this be granted, then it is impossible for a Priest to preach or write amiss, or indeed to be guilty of any Crime. But we are convinced by Experience, that they preach and write what is not Orthodox, and lead enormous and irregular Lives: From whence it is evident, that they pretend to have that heavenly Gift, which they have not.
Can the Holy Ghost speak with a double Tongue? No Man sure will be so presumptuous to own such glaring Blasphemy: And yet we must give Credit to this, if we believe or acknowledge the Tribe of Levi to be inspired. For let us enquire into the Tenets of the Priests of Rome, and those of England (omitting all others) and we shall find them as opposite to each other as North to South: Yet no Man will deny the Validity of their Ordination. Nay, let us compare the Doctrine of our English Priests with one another, and we shall find them to clash violently; so that we are brought under this Dilemma, that the Holy Ghost contradicts himself,or the Priests are not inspired: It is execrable Blasphemy to assert the former, and a obld but necessary Truth to affirm the latter.
It is impossible to foretel what may be the Fate of the ensuing Treatise; but if I were certain that it would meet an ill Reception from the World, yet it should not give me the least Uneasiness. I am sensible, that many a Book has been made a Sacrifice for telling what is [improperly called] unseasonable Truth; because (like a Mirror) it discovers those Deformities, which Flattery might have varnished over.
When I behold a Priest with so much Sanctity in his Countenance, that it portends the D———l and all of ——— in his Heart, it calls to my Remembrance, what History informs us of a certain Apple in the Eastern Parts of the World: This Fruit has a beautiful Outside, whose Temptation is so very strong, that it allures many an unwary Traveller to partake of its hidden Poison. As therefore our Nature is so easy to be imposed upon, we ought to be very circumspect, and guard ourselves from the Wiles and Sophistry of Priestcraft. And indeed it behoves us to be doubly watchful, and keep a strict Eye upon our Children, when we suffer them to be tutored by a Priest, or imbibe their Sentiments. For we know by woful Experience, that they will infuse such Principles into them, as are most consistent with Priestly Interest, and will advance their Power and Authority.
There is not one Observation in this Book, but might furnish Matter enough for a large Volume; but I have used all the Brevity imaginable, because I would not tire my Reader with dwelling too long upon the same Subject, nor be thought to aggravate the Crime, which I endeavour to expose.
As I have no personal Pique against any Clergyman, or against the Body of the Clergy in general, so I cannot justly be charged with writing out of Envy or Revenge; my sole Intent being only to expose their Vices, in hopes they will one Day convince us of a thorough Reformation: And it is my constant Custom to put forth some pious Ejaculation, so I beseech Almighty God, that as Charity covers a Multitude of Sins, he would pour down a double Portion of this Blessing on all Priests, who are in so great Need of it.
Mr. Collier tells us, that Chaplains are like so many Houshold-Gods, aud ought to be esteemed as such: To which Orthodox Report I readily consent. But tho’ this was intended as a Compliment to his Reverend Brethren, yet, in my Opinion, there cannot be a more severe Satyr against them. For we are sensible, that the Houshold Deities of the Ancients were errant Blockheads, kept more for Show than Use; they had nothing in them, and were justly deemed to be Lumber, and superstitious Trumpery. And indeed if every Chaplain had his Sportula, as his Office naturally requires, each Family might fare the better, and the Sanctified Interloper would learn Humility.
It was customary with Archbishop Laud to say, that he hoped to see the Time, when ne’er a Jack Gentleman in England should dare to stand before a Clergyman with his Hat on. Such an haughty and imperious Expression manifested the genuine Spirit of the Sons of High-Church: And no doubt but this Upstart, Semi-Protestant Prelate, would have endeavoured to fulfill his Hopes, had not God Almighty, thro’ his infinite Goodness, thought fit to cut him short, and deliver our World from such a Plague. But in Return to his graceless Grace’s meek and humble Wish, the Author of the following Pages heartily and fervently desires, that a Day may speedily come, when ne’er a Scoundrel who pretends to Divinity, [whether a Strippling, or an overgrown Pensioner] shall be admitted into the Company of his Betters, be they Gentlemen or Peasants, except he supplicates with his Hat in his Hand; even tho’ he be equipp’d with his Spiritual Harness.
I am the more sanguine in my Expectations, because I perceive that the British Spirit begins to re-assume its Reason; that it shakes off the Bigotry of Priestcraft, and daily disesteems the Delusion of jugling Impostors. Can there be a greater Slur upon an Englishman, than to say that he dares to act bravely, yet dares not to think freely? Is not Liberty of the Mind preferable to the Liberty of the Body? If therefore we have preserved the One from Foreign Enemies at the Expence of our Blood and Treasure, we ought to secure the Other from Domestic Invaders. And let us always lay before us this salutary and glorious Maxim,
Non minor est virtus, quàm quærere, parta tueri.
It would puzzle the wisest Heads in the Universe to account for the Defection among his Majesty’s Subjects, and the Alienation of their Allegiance, did they not consider the Power of Priestly Men. The bad Clergy are like so many malevolent Planets, which shed their baleful Insluence, and affect the Inhabitants of this World; And how many are there, who eagerly swallow whatever proceeds from the Mouth of a Priest? They take for good Food and wholesome Nourishment, what they too often find by Experience to be rank Poison to their Minds. Such are the direful Effects of Bigotry and the Want of Thought! Such the pernicious Consequence of sacrificing our Reason to the arbitrary haughty Will of an aspiring Chorahite!
How like Patriots and Britons did the People in the West behave themselves at the Time of the Revolution! They were truly sensible that they must inevitably have sacrificed their Religion, Liberties and Properties to the Humour of Tyranny, had they not joined King William of ever Glorious and Immortal Memory. And indeed Twelve Years are not elapsed, fince those very People (of my own Knowledge I speak it)retain’d a just Sense of those inestimable Blessings, which their Monarch had secured and confirmed to them: Nor did they fail to manifest their Gratitude, and acknowledge the Goodness of their Benefactor with unfeigned Hearts, upon every Occasion.
But alas! Tempora mutantur———And how many of these once Glorious Men have(to their eternal Shame)converted their Loyalty into Rebellion! The Unanimity, Love and Affection, which was formerly so conspicuous among them, is now changed into Discord, Hatred, and burning Envy. They will not hearken to Reason, nor suffer themselves to be convinced of their Errors; no Arguments can prevail with them, or the plainest Demonstrations work upon ’em. They are stupid and obstinate, and will not be undeceived: They have Eyes, but see not; Ears, and hear not: Which confirms the following Observation, that they who are debauch’d in their Principles, will quickly be so in their Intellectuals.
Now if we enquire into the Time and Cause of this unhappy and deplorable Metamorphosis, we shall quickly be able to give entire Satisfaction in those Particulars. Whig and Tory, High-Church and Low-Church, [Words of Ignominy,invented to nourish Faction] were perfect Strangers to our Ears, or at least grown obsolete, and buried in Oblivion; but when the Spiritual Hydra began to belch forth his Poison, when the Convicted Priest went his Progress, the Air was corrupted with his Breath, and the fell Contagion spread it self far and near. The Snakes, which had lain so long in the Grass, began to shew their Heads, and hiss; they stung many, and did much Mischief for the Space of four Years, or thereabouts: But Providence deprived them of their Sting in due Season, and now the Party-coloured Animals are insignificant.
Had this sturdy Boutefeu been endued with a just Sense of the Priesthood, he must needs have known, that Humility was one of the fundamental Pillars that supported it; and consequently that he was sapping her Foundation, when he rode in Triumph round the Country(rejoicing in the Pride of his Heart)attended with factious Crowds, and received by disaffected Magistrates. But had he been treated according to his Demerit, a Cat-of-nine-tails and a Cart would have graced him better, and his Progress ought to have been from Newgate to Tyburn.
From hence we may date the Æra of all those Animosities and Heart-burnings, those Divisions, Seditions and Rebellions, which have plagued our Sion: And as they had their first Rise from the Pulpit, so they are as wickedly and industriously fomented from Pulpits or private Conversation to this Day.
I do not so much wonder, that the Vulgar, and more illiterate Part of the Kingdom were seduced and deluded with the specious and false Notion of the Church being in Danger, when I reflect, that too many Men of Parts and Education fell under the same Infatuation: But that they should still continue under that Delusion is unaccountable.
If the Church had no better Friends to protect and support her than her black Guard, we might justly say, that she were in Danger; but as it is manifest, that she flourishes under the Guardianship of the best and most pious of Princes, to Him surely we ought to return cur sincere and hearty Thanks, and pay the Allegiance and Love to Him, which our Duty requires from us, and our Religion calls upon us to perform.
As the inferior Clergy call themselves the Physicians of the Soul, so they ought to confine themselves to that particular Practice; but when they deviate from this, and pretendto a Knowledge of what is beyond their Sphere, they may truly be called spiritual Quacks, and no Regard ought to be paid them. He runs a great Risque who ventares himself under their Management; and ten to one but he comes off a Sufferer in the End.
Notwithstanding the Case is so plain and undeniable, yet they have rivetted themselves into the good Opinion of the common Herd, who not allowing themselves Time to think, place an implicit Faith in these Empirics; and not admitting the Advice of able Judges and sound Practitioners, their Wounds must turn to a Gangrene. So Mountebanks, by their Assurance and Volubility of Tongue, vend their poisonous Packets at a cheap Rate, and ingratiate themselves with the Vulgar; while regular Physicians and Surgeons, who make the Health of Man their Study, are laughed at and despised, their Practice postponed, and their salutary Prescriptions and Medicines set at nought, undervalued, and neglected.
An ill Story in the Mouth of a Clergyman runs like Hedge-firing from one to another, till it has passed the whole Line: And no Consideration is had, whether there are any justifiable Grounds for such a calumnious Rumour. And indeed if they will not spare their own Fraternity, (as we have a recent Instance of their not doing so, in a late Controversy among the Doctors of the Church;) how should the Laity expect to find better Quarter from such Hands. Fama vulgi is a weak and bad Foundation, yet we know that too many Reputations have been sacrificed upon no other Proof: So that such Clergymen, who give a Loose to their Tongues, and mangle a Man’s Character, may not improperly be called Spiritual Butchers.
He that relates a Tale to any of the inferior Clergy, with a Design that it should pass no further, will find himself miserably baulked in his Expectation: It could not possibly spread further, had he put it into the Gazette. Examples of this Kind are numerous; but I shall only mention one, which is of the freshest Date.
A Gentleman, without Premeditation, or any malicious Intent, told a young Priest, in private Conversation, a Story which he had heard relating to one of his Acquaintance. It is not proper to mention the Particulars, because the Words are of a glaring Nature; and the Gentleman, I find (havingtraced the Story) is intirely innocent of what he is charged with, the Accusation being as false as scandalous. However, the Suckling in Divinity growing big with his Burden, and impatient to be delivered, hastes to the usual Place of Rendezvous, and there disembogues himself to his Fraternity, who, you may rest assured, resolved that the Story should not lie dormant. How consistent the rash Behaviour of this pious Strippling was with good Fellowship and Charity, I leave the World to judge; nay, I’ll submit it even to his own Friend’s Determination.———He that has a Mind to be further informed, need go no farther than the Charter-house Coffee-house, and associate himself with the Black Locusts.
I little thought, when I began this Preface, that I should have dwelt so long upon such a dirty and unsavory Subject. I shall therefore conclude with the following Epistle, which was sent to Cardinal Alberoni during his Administration of foreign Affairs.
May it please yourEminence,
“WE have an High-church Priest among us, who condemns your Politics in endeavouring to excite the People of France to Commotion and Rebellion, while others applaud your Design: For this Son of Levi alledges, that you have only copied after him, with this Difference: You acted by Agents no way qualified for so grand an Enterprize; but he rode about the Country, poisoning, vivâ voce, the Minds of the deluded People, who most eagerly imbibed the Venom. Thus he had [as he most impiously terms it] his Desire over his Enemies, by appearing in propriâ personâ; whose brawny Shoulders and smooth Face, recommended him to the kind Graces of the Fair Sex, who at that time were Ladies of the Ascendant over their Husbands, and their Purses.
“To dissipate that chagrin Air, which is no way agreeable to a Person of your sanguine Temper and Vivacity, permit me to relate a Tavern Jest. I was lately invited to drink a Glass at the Pope’s Head; our Room was commodious, our Wine had a true Flavour, but every Man complained of the cold Weather. One of the Company called for the Cardinal, another for the Doctor, the Fire being much upon a Level with the Credit of us Tories, viz. almost extinct. I could not for my Life imagine what they would be at, till I saw the Drawer come up with an Instrument in his Hand, ycleped a Fire-pan; I quickly perceived, that its Property was to raise a Flame in an Instant. I smiled to myself, judging the Appellation to be very à propos.
“The Question was put, Whether your Eminence could not lay a juster Claim to this Tool of Combustion, than the Doctor? After a long Debate, it was carried in the Negative; being urged strenuously, and proved to a Demonstration, that the Doctor had been a more successful Engineer (and your Senior) in setting Fire to the Mines he had laid, and inflaming a whole Nation. However, it was agreed, nemine contradicente, that if you can make Interest at Rome for the Doctor to fill one of the Vacancies in the sacred College, he shall give you the Right Hand in this Affair, and promise to renounce all Claim and Title to it for himself, and his Heirs for ever. I have the Honour to be
Priestianity: Or a View of the Disparity between the Apostles and the modern inferior Clergy.
THAT the Contempt of the modern inferior Clergy increases daily, is obvious to every Man; nor will it be otherwise, while Men are allowed to see with their own Eyes, and hear with their own Ears, except the Sons of Levi begin a Reformation among themselves. Vain and groundless is the Cause which they assign for the Disrespect that is shewn to them, viz. a Combination of a Set of People, who call themselves Free-thinkers, to asperse the Gentlemen of the Long Petticoat Tribe, and cast an Odium upon them: And this, they say, is done without any justifiable Foundation, without any Regard to their Function, which ought to be held sacred.
I know no Man who disesteems the Priesthood: But since there is almost a total Defection among the Priests, and no Sign of Amendment; since they are become supine and indolent, and will not put a Stop to the growing Evil, which may easily be effected; since their Principles are bad, and their Morals worse, it is a Duty incumbent on every Christian to reprove them openly. For he that respects and countenances such Persons, may be justly said to approve their wicked Ways, or at least to encourage them to persevere therein.
There is a Nescio quid in the Face of a good Clergyman, which naturally commands Reverence and Respect; and he merits not the Name of Man, who pays them not with Chearfulness. But there is somewhat so Tour and distasteful in the Looks of a bad Clergyman, that he draws an Odium from us instead of Esteem: To the former therefore of these Gentlemen we are willing, and rejoice to grant such Honours as may justly be attributed to them; but no honest Man can allow that the latter have the least Pretence to a Share of them. God Almighty seems to have set a Mark upon these reprobate Animals, as he did upon Cain; and which is hourly visible in the scattered Jews, and the perjured Bailiffs: And as Providence never did any thing in vain, we certainly deserve to be censured, if we neglect and despise so salutary a Caution, or endeavour not to shun such common Enemies to our Peace and good Society.
I cannot chime in with the black and numerous Herd, who would persuade us, that an equal Respect ought to be paid to all Persons in holy Orders, without enquiring into their Worth and Merit. I must confess, that their Argument to enforce this Acknowledgment seems to carry a good Colour with it, namely, their being the immediate and peculiar Servants of Christ: And therefore, they say, we ought to honour them for their Master’s Sake. But with Submission to these aspiring, pious Men, we may argue, by the same Parity of Reason, that a Traitor, a Murderer, or a Profligate, might claim a due Deference from us, because they have been employed in some honourable Family, or descended from ancient and Praise-worthy Ancestors. So that the Argument which they bring to countenance, or rather to support their Assertion, is so far from being of any Service to them, that it quite overthrows it: And this is demonstrable from the following Maxim, which will not admit a Contradiction or Exception.
Now, since these Abiramites, these false Apostles, would deceive us with an Opinion of their being Successors to Christ, and his Disciples; since they claim a Privilege extraordinary, and an uncommon Respect from thence; I shall make a Scrutiny into their Morals and Behaviour, and shew how alien their Characters are from the holy Twelve, and their Brethren. This I purpose to do with all the Sincerity imaginable; and so ingenuous a Declaration will surely take away all Umbrage of Malice or Partiality.
Many substantial and very good Reasons may be given for our Saviour’s chusing such laborious and painstaking Men for his Apostles; to mention which would be digressive from my present Purpose; I shall therefore avoid all Ambages, and begin with observing, that the Apostles were Men of such a mean Extraction, that there was no room to boast of their Pedigree, if their Inclinations had prompted them to it. It would be no difficult Matter to prove, that most of the Clergy are upon a Level with them in this Particular; but as they are willing that the censorious World may remain in Ignorance of their Affinity to each other as to this Point, I shall keep my Mouth as it were with a Bridle, being always cautious not to lay a Stumbling-block of Offence in the Way of our weak Brethren. Wherefore I now proceed to my second Observation, namely,
That the Apostles had an immediate Commission from Christ to preach the Gospel, and baptize all Nations, with a Power to remit or retain Men’s Sins.
The Clergy pretend to have the same equal Power and Authority, though not immediately from Christ; for they assert, that their Commission is derived from the Apostles by a long Succession, who granted to their Successors for ever such Power as Christ had invested them with. I am apt to think, if any Man should question the Validity of their Power, they would chuse to plead Prescription for remitting or retaining Sins, rather than be put to prove it. Christ very well knew, that he could confide in the Sincerity and Uprightness of his Apostles, when he delegated such a Power; but I do not find that he entailed it upon their Heirs and Successors; nor is there Reason to think he did, because he foresaw their Degeneracy and Corruption: Therefore the Apostles had no Title to, and consequently could not give and bequeath a Power to their Successors, which was settled upon them only during Life. But to put the Matter beyond Dispute, since the Clergy do claim an equal Power with the Apostles, let them convince us by an ocular Demonstration, as our Forefathers were convinced: Let them work Miracles, and we will give Credit to their Testimony. If they fail in the one, as they themselves are sensible they do, then we have all the Reason and Justice in the World to conclude them to be Usurpers and Impostors in the other.
A third Observation is, that the Apostles were meek and humble; they called themselves the Servants of Christ; they meddled not with State Affairs, or denied the Authority of the Civil Magistrate.
Nothing can be more engaging in Society than Courteousness and Assability; they are two Qualifications essentially necessary to constitute a Gentleman, and without which, the Name is an empty Word. Is it not therefore strange, that the modern Clergy, who are as covetous of the Appellation as any Men living, should manifest a Behaviour fuli of Pride, Haughtiness, and Insolence. They ridicule and despise a Lowness of Spirit, [which Christ recommends to his Apostles from his own Example] calling it an Indication of a vulgar and Plebeian Soul. Pride is a Distemper so catching, that it has infected the Clerks, and in time may reach the Sextons: Look on that Lump of Mortality, that Emblem of a Chaos Man Hugh. He thinks that he stoops very low, if he vouchsafes a Nod to a Shopkeeper, though the honest Tradesman unvails his Head, and makes his Obeisance with all the Humility imaginable. Now, what shall we say to this? Why, truly, Man Hugh observes the Fashion, and treads in his Master’s Footsteps. He knows the old Proverb, Trim Tram.——— What Pity it is that these two, who are upon rising Ground, are not raised higher! Heaven grant they may be advanced according to Merit, since they are in the great Road to Preferment.
We may reasonably imagine, that the Garb of the Apostles was plain and innocent, and their Deportment agreeable to their Garb; but the inferior Clergy are wiser than their Predecessors. They look upon a Jantee Air and Mien to be excellent Virtues; and he that is not a Man of Mode will gain few Proselytes. There is a je ne sçay quoy (they say) in the decent Adjustment of a Cambrick Band; and when a Spruce Bob is placed in a due Decorum, or when the Ringlets of the Hair fall in nice Order, they manifest a captivating Power. Is not a brilliant more attractive than a Cramp-ring? A Cloth-gown and Cassock preferable to a Frize-Jacket and Trowzers? A smooth-faced Priest, with his Lilly-hand, fixes the Eyes, and consequently the Ears of his Audience; but one of the Barkin Tribe, with weather-beaten Countenance, and freckled Fist, would throw the tender-hearted Ladies of this delicate Age into Convulsions.—Oh! that I may live to see [what is yet in the Womb of Time] the Day when some enterprizing Son of the Laudean Race shall exchange his Inkhorn for a Bilboa Blade, and convert his canonical Rose into a white Feather! Who shall frequent Operas to improve his Voice, and the Theatre to regulate his Port and his Mien! Who shall become a pious Sir Foplin, or a holy Sir Courtly!
A farther Manifestation of the wide Difference between the Apostles and the Clergy is, that the latter do ambitiously arrogate to themselves the Titles of Shepherds of our Souls, and Heaven’s Ambassadors. But with Submission to these religiously, aspiring Priests, they would do well to take Care of their own Souls, before they pretend to be Guardians of other Men’s. If I see a Banker profuse of his Money, will not the World condemn me as a Fool or a Madman, if I entrust him with mine? They will acknowledge that Christ is Head of the Church, provided that you own them to be the Body, and the Laity the Members: To which they add an indefeasible Maxim, that all rotten Members ought to suffer Amputation. Indulge me, ye Men of Humility, to carry the Metaphor farther, and say, that Corrosives ought to be applied to proud Flesh; and if so, what will become of the Church’s Body? Will it not quickly appear a mere Skeleton?
——— Risum teneatis?
Can there be a more romantic Notion, than for a Priest to call himself Heaven’s Ambassador? This is Presumption in the Superlative. Ambassadors! Can a greater Indignity be offered to the King of Kings? Are not all the People in the Universe, Princes and Potentates, as well as the inferior Sort, his Subjects? To whom then should he send Ambassadors? Not to his own Vassals. However, to gratify their aspiring Humour, we will admit their Title of Honour, if they produce their Credentials; that is, let them heal the Sick, give Sight to the Blind, make the Deaf to hear, and the Lame to walk.
Politics are now become an universal Theme, and we hear more of them from the Pulpit than Soul-saving Doctrine: No Man is reckoned orthodox, who does not dabble in State-Affairs. As soon as a beardless Youth is accoutred with his spiritual Habiliments, he begins to arraign the Constitution which nourishes him, and condemn the Proceedings of the Prince’s faithful Ministers under whom he lives. He usurps an Authority to which he has not the least Shadow of Pretence; nor will he defist till his Wings are clipped, and his Ambition pinioned. But to do Justice to the Innocent, I must own that this Crime is to be found only among Popish and Half-Protestant Priests, viz. High Church.
The Apostle Paul, who was a Roman, and a loyal Man, submitted to be tried by the civil Magistrate; but Priest Paul, who was an Englishman, and a Traitor, denied that the civil Power had any Jurisdiction over him, or that he ought to be tried by any other Power than the Spiritual: And there are few Clergymen, who do not adhere to the same Principle. The Reason is so very obvious, that to mention it would call the Judgment of my Reader in question.———It is said, that when Kid, the Pirate, was going to Low-water Mark, he cried, Had Avery been my Judge, and twelve of the Madagascar Buccaneers my Jury, I should not have feared a safe Deliverance.
A fourth Observation is, that the Apostles met frequently to eat Bread and drink Wine; whose Lives and Conversation were conformable to their Doctrine.
It must be owned by the most inveterate Enemies of the Clergy, (if any such there are) that the Sons of Levi have more frequent Meetings than the Apostles had, especially when they hear of good Wine and liberal Parishioners. But then, perhaps, it may be objected, that the Apostles met in a religious and spiritual Manner, and the Clergy in a more sociable and natural one. I must concede to this Objection, knowing what is most agreeable to Priests. Nevertheless, to alleviate the Imputation of their frequenting Taverns and Coffee-houses, [in which they spend a triple Proportion of Time, to what they do in their Churches and Closets] we must do them the Justice to say, that as they are not endued with as large a Portion of Grace as was given to the Apostles, so consequently they cannot undergo the great Burden and Fatigue of preaching once, and reading Prayers thrice a Week, without recruiting their exhausted Spirits. Now if this cannot be done in a private House, at the Expence of some of their Flock, why should they be censured, or esteemed blame-worthy, if they go to a Tavern, eat their Bread with Joy, and drink their Wine with a marry Heart? Why should not the diligent Labourer be indulged in refreshing Nature? Has he not as keen an Appetite, as distinguishing a Palate as another Man? Besides, Wine enlivens the Understanding, and gives fresh Vigour to a jaded Invention: And let me tell you, a well worded Expression in Conversation may furnish a Man with Topics for an orthodox Sermon.
Precept without Example avails little in making Proselytes; it were therefore to be wished that Priests would adhere to the Rules which they lay down for converting Infidels to Christianity, and confirming those who are converted. I frankly confess, that they will sometimes give us the best Advice how to save our Souls, though they neglect their own; and it is undoubtedly a Mark of Tenderness to put us in the Way to eternal Happiness, and a particular Token of their Civility and polite Breeding, not to jostle us in the Road. They exclaim against Usury and Extortion, yet try all the Ways and Wiles imaginable to gather Riches. Oh! that I were so well skilled in Divinity, to know what Length a Man may take to improve his Talent! They recommend Fasting and Abstinence as necessary to subdue the Lusts of the Flesh; how near they conform to these Recipes, let their fat Joles and ruddy Cheeks bear Witness. They inveigh against Profuseness in Dress and Apparel, yet think it no Crime to give an extravagant Price for Wigs, Hats, and Holland Shirts. Decency indeed is commendable; and to the Praise of the inferior Clergy be it said, that they take Care to make clean the Outside of the Platter.
A fifth Observation; the Apostles were charitable.
Charity is so often in the Mouths of the Clergy, that there is too much Cause to suspect it seldom enters into their Hearts; or if they have any, it begins at home (according to the Proverb) and there I fear it will end. St. Paul has spent a whole Chapter in praise of this most excellent Virtue; Prophecy and Learning cannot come in Competition with it, and Faith profiteth nothing without it. No Christian surely will dare to question the Authority of St. Paul, and since Charity is so absolutely necessary, and that we cannot go to Heaven without this Passport, this Badge of Admission; what Opinion must we entertain of those Priests, in whom the least Glimpse of Charity does not appear? Can we reasonably think, that they believe a future State, who will not embrace and manifest the Means which must bring them thither? It is not my Business to shew the Latitude of the Word Charity; I shall leave it for those, whose Duty it is to do it, and heartily wish that they would convince us of the Necessity of this divine Virtue by practising it. I never heard or met with a Clergyman, who declared his Want of Charity, [and that too in the most barefaced Manner] except the Pious and Reverend Doctor* ———who lives between Newgate and Tyburn.
An intimate Friend and Acquaintance of the Doctor’s wrote a Letter to him, in which he recommended the Bearer as the Son of a very worthy and orthodox Clergyman, who had been bred up in the Principles of the Church, and never swerved from them, who had University Education, and was an honest, loyal Gentleman, though in narrow Circumstances. For these Reasons he requested, that as the Doctor was to preach before the Sons of the Clergy, and the rest of that honourable Society, he would recommend the Gentleman to the Stewards as a proper Object of, and as one justly intitled to, their Charity. The Doctor, having read the Letter (and out of a Pique, I suppose, to the Name, which he could not digest since a remarkable Trial in Westminster-Hall) answered, I have no Charity for those who are not of my Church. The Doctor being called upon to explain what he meant by his Church, would have evaded the Charge; but being closely pressed, replied, The Gentleman was educated in the Principles of the Church of Ireland, and I in the Church of England.———O rare! Name, if you can, any Differences in their Doctrine, Rites, and Ceremonies.———Cede mejoribus, ye Men of Levain and St. Omers; or match, if you can, the uncharitable Doctor.
A sixth Observation is, that the Apostles preached constantly, and in all Probability without Hire; they baptized those who were worthy of Baptism; they visited the Sick, and prayed with them gratis.
Preaching is accounted the most apostolical of all the Acts of the Ministry; and Gregory says, Censemus eos, qui Apostolorum figuram tendent, prædicare. Thomas Aquinas asserts, that Prædicatio est actus principalissimus & proprius; and St. Chrysostom calls it, Omnium bonorum summum. St. Paul gives a strict Charge of Preaching to Timothy, who was a sickly Man: His Words are, I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the Quick and the Dead, at his appearing, and in his Kingdom, preach the Word, be instant, &c.
How happy would it be for the inferior Clergy, how pleasing to God, and acceptable to Man, if they were half as diligent and assiduous in the Salvation of Souls, as they are in obtaining a rich Benefice! But, alas! when they have once obtained the desired Port, they grow supine and negligent, and imagine that they discharge their Duty, if they procure a Journeyman to officiate for them. A rich Priest will visit his Flock, and preach to them perhaps as often as he comes in Person to fleece them, viz. twice a Year, to receive an Equivalent for his Tithes. The labouring Oar is given to some indigent Hireling, while the lazy Man of God (I cannot say the Man after God’s own Heart) eats the Bread of Idleness. He that will work cheap shall be first employed, though a Novice in his Business; but what will the Lord say to his negligent Steward, when he comes into his Vineyard and finds rotten Fruit?
The Validity of Lay-Baptism has been often controverted, but never refuted; and if Original Sin cannot be washed away by any other Hands than the Priest’s, how hard and deplorable is the poor Man’s Case! Must a Soul perish for want of a Piece of Silver? Must Christ lose a Subject through the Avarice and Extortion of one who calls himself his Servant? Will not his Death be required at the Levite’s Hand? I do not find that there was a Book of Rates in our Saviour’s Time, when he commanded the Apostles to baptize all Nations; their Commission was not limited to the Rich and Wealthy; the Poor and Needy had an equal Claim to the Benefit of their Administration: They gloried in having an Opportunity to visit the Sick, the Distressed, and those who were in Prison: They comforted the Fatherless and the Widow; they fed the Hungry, and cloathed the Naked; they rejoiced in Things Spiritual: but the inferior Clergy glory in Things Temporal: They did all Things for the Sake of Christ, and the Clergy will do nothing but for the Sake of Mammon.———No Penny, no Pater-noster. This is a Saying too often verified.
A Person past Hopes of Recovery sent for the Priests of the Parish, who promised to come, but did not: Whether they were hindered by Love, or a Bottle, I shall not determine. At the Expiration of three Days, Application was made to Dr. K———, who said he would go, provided the Person should pay the Expence of his Coach-hire. The Messenger consented to this, but the Conditions could not be performed till the sick Person’s Apparel (which lay on the Bed, and kept off the Cold) was sent to the Pawn-broker’s to raise Money. The Doctor was an Eye-witness to this, and graciously took but two Shillings.
What says the Prophet?*Your Priests teach for Hire: I think he might also have said pray for it.——— I will not be so uncharitable to affirm, that the inferior Clergy will do an ill Thing for Money; but this I may say, I never knew them do a good one without it.
A seventh Observation: The Apostles were Men of Moderation; they used not Compulsion to oblige People to conform to their Doctrine; they reasoned with their Hearers.
Moderation is one of the shining Characteristics of a Christian; but Moderation among the modern Clergy, is like King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, much talked of, but never seen. We exclaim against the Tyranny of Rome, and the Spanish Inquisition, but we may find unchristian Treatment in Courts nearer home. I do not find by the Laws of God, that an Ecclesiastic has a Power to punish the Body or Pocket of a Layman: There were no Libels, Citations, Articles, Penance, Imprisonment, (and a long Train of Etcæteras to be read in the spiritual Catalogue) when Christ and his Apostles were on Earth: There were no pecuniary Mulcts or Commuting in those Days, for a Lapsus Linguæ, or Things of small Moment. Will not the Acceptance of a pecuniary Mulct bear this Interpretation? The rich Man may fornicate, while he that is poor shall be debarred the most intense Pleasure. The Apostles were averse to such inhuman and diabolical Inventions as wholesome Severities; and yet who are more ready to put them in Practice than the Half-protestants? What are wholesome Severities but the Fire and Faggot, Whips and Dungeons? Are they not the killing Arguments of Dragooning Jesuits? How close they stick to the Letter of the Text! Compel them to come in. ’Tis true, indeed, our Saviour gave such Command; but I challenge the Clergy to give me one Instance of Severity used by Christ or the Apostles. They were certainly the best Interpreters of their Master’s Words; they used no other Compulsion than solid Arguments. But there is a Generation of ——— who value themselves upon the Wisdom of this World, and would display their Christianity by savage Cruelties. As if Religion, like the Laws of Draco, were to be founded in Blood. How pleasing is Persecution to a tyrannizing Priest! How opposite to a Christian Spirit!
Implicit Faith is the Doctrine of worldly Men, and though we are injoined to search the Scriptures, because in them we have eternal Life, yet I could name a Person within ten Miles of Hammersmith, who said, That we have had no good Times since the Laity were permitted to read the Bible, nor should we have any till they were prohibited the Use of that Book. Is this conformable to the Protestant Religion, or incompatible with it? Methinks it has an ill Smell, and squints wishfully at Rome.
God Almighty does not require us to make Brick without Straw; he does not expect to reap where he has not sown; but since he has given us Reason whereby we may distinguish between Good and Evil, it behoves us to set a true Value upon this glorious Talent, and not sacrifice it to the ipse dixit of any spiritual Jacobite whatever. Let every Man steer by his Reason, and he that offers to deprive you of it is a designing, crafty Knave. Every Man living has a Right to think freely, and Reason ought to direct him: This I will maintain, though every Levite should become an Opponent. For he who takes up his Religion upon Trust, may with Ease be deluded into the most erroneous and damnable Opinions. Try all Things, says St. Paul, and hold fast that which is best. Now, how can we try or judge what is good, what bad, if we do not make use of our Reason? The Apostles did not upbraid those whom they could not convert, with opprobrious and infamous Names: But the inferior Clergy stigmatize them who are not on their Side, and call them Deists, Socinians, Libertines, Atheists, &c. Nay, that excellent Pattern of true Protestant and Christian Piety, Archbishop Tillotson, is called a grave Atheist; but there is no other Cause for this unjust Imputation than his having a larger Share of Religion and sound Learning than other People.
Conscience in the Apostles is an eighth Observation.
He that can fathom the Conscience of a Priest, may quickly discover the Depth of the Ocean, and find out the Longitude. He is seldom for giving, but always for getting: And when his Heart is opened, which happens as frequent as a Jubilee at Rome, he manifests his Liberality with a Finger and Thumb, as if the other Parts of his Hand were seized with the Gout. But when you make an Offering, he receives it with as keen an Appetite as an hungry Jack; and had Solomon lived in our Days, he might with Reason have said, There are Things which never are satisfied.
What shall we say in favour of our High-church Clergy, who swear Allegiance to King George, yet secretly own, and privately pray for a Popish Pretender? And, what shall we think of others who take the Oaths, yet countenance Men dismissed from their Lectureships for scandalous Words, and black Insinuations against the most merciful Prince on Earth? They may hoodwink the Vulgar, but Men of the least Penetration will see that Birds of a Feather will flock ———. This touches somebody’s Copyhold, but I shall not say a Word of the uncharitable Doctor.
I could mention a certain Levite, of no ordinary Rank, who called the late Rebellion a Rising of the People; for a Rebellion, says he, is taking up Arms against a lawful Sovereign: Wherefore he would not acknowledge the Presion Prisoners to be Rebels. This scrupulous Gentleman abjured the Pretender, and no doubt he is a Man of Conscience———very capacious. Search all the Records of Time, and find out a Plot the blackest that Hell ever hatched, and a Priest will appear at the Bottom.
A ninth Observation is, That the Apostles were zealous for the Church of Christ at all Times, without that jesuitical, and consequently modish, Distinction of High or Low.
I am very well aware, that some clever staunch Bigot will take me up short, and smartly ask me, if I dare deny that the orthodox inferior Clergy (as they term them) are for the Church? To which I ingenously answer in the Negative, provided they mean High-Church. And therefore should any one question me, why did the People so furiously rage, and why did a* Convict become an Itinerant? Oh, for the Church. Why are their Sermons stuffed full of double Entendres, and why do they rail at the Friends of King George? Still for the Church. Why are† the Priests and the Prophets prophane? And why‡do they err through strong Drink? Why do they preach in an orthodox Billingsgate Stile? And why do they slander, defame, back-bite, and snarl at Dissenters? All, all for the Church.
If the inferior Clergy had heartily espoused the Welfare of the true Protestant Church, or had any Regard for the Purity of our most holy Religion, immediately after the scandalous Peace of Utrecht, they might justly have said we were falling a Sacrifice to the Roman Baal. We then stood on the Margin of the deep and terrible Abyss, when Providence of its tender Mercy brought forth the First of August, and made the potent George our second Deliverer. There was room in those Days for Dr. Sacheverel to have said truly, we were in Perils among false Brethren. He should then have told bold Truth, and preached in Season, as he did out of Season at St. Paul’s; his Harangue on the Fifth of November having little in it that was pertinent to the Business of the Day, being calculated to reflect on the Presbyterians, and cast an Odium on the happy and glorious Revolution.
That the Apostles did not condemn or stigmatize other People, for preaching and adhering to that Doctrine, which they themselves were under an Obligation to preach and adhere to, is my tenth Observation.
Here is a spacious Field to traverse; a Subject fit for a Polemic Writer. I might with Ease demonstrate that there is not one Sect of Religion now upon Earth, which does not differ widely from the Apostles in this Particular: But as I design to write with all the Brevity imaginable, I shall only give one flagrant Instance of our own Inferior Clergy’s Deviation from the Apostles in this Matter.
I have been told by a Gentleman in Black, [and may the other Gentleman in Black reward him, if he has deceived me] that every smart, dapper Fellow, who stands Candidate for spiritual Authority, must subscribe his Assent to, and inculcate the orthodox Doctrine of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, before he be admitted a Dictator to a Congregation.
That Predestination is the Doctrine of the Church of England, appears from the seventeenth Article among the Thirty-nine which were agreed upon by the Archbishops and Bishops of both Provinces, and the whole Clergy in the Convocation holden at London in the Year 1562, and was approved and allowed to be holden and executed within the Realm, by the Assent and Consent of Queen Elizabeth, and subscribed to by the Archbishops and Bishops of the Upper House, and by the Subscription of the whole Clergy of the Nether House in their Convocation, in the Year of our Lord 1571. Vide Thirty-nine Articles.
I shall transcribe as many of the Words as are most necessary to my Purpose. ——— “Predestination to Life is the everlasting Purpose of God, whereby (before the Foundations of the World were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his Counsel, secret to us, to deliver from Curse and Damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of Mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting Salvation, as Vessels made to Honour. ——— As the godly Consideration of Predestination, and our Election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable Comfort to godly Persons, and such as feel in themselves the Working of Christ, &c. so for curious and carnal Persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have before their Eyes the Sentence of God’s Predestination, is a most dangerous Downfal, whereby the Devil doth thrust them either into Desparation or into Wretchlessness of most unclean Living, no less perilous than Desperation.”
Now, if any Regard is to be had to Oaths and Subscriptions (which no Corinthian Priest will, I hope, deny;) surely those sacred Ties and Obligations will prompt them to cherish and propagate the Doctrine which they have so openly and so solemnly espoused. But, alas! how many are there who warmly embrace, and cordially believe and support this Tenet! Or, rather how many are they who rail at, and vilify those who preach this Doctrine, branding them with the Name of Predestinarians (viz. all the Dissenters of what Denomination soever) as a Mark of Infamy, Contempt and Pseudodoxy!———Are these the legitimate or spurious Sons of the Church? Are these Men the true Servants of the Omnipotent, Just and Merciful God? Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in Ascalon.
The eleventh Observation is, That the Apostles went from Place to Place to make Converts, and strengthen those whom they had converted; without taking any Money to defray their Expences, or furnishing themselves with Necessaries requisite for the Time of their Abode among the Brethren.
There is no Religion whatever, which has not its Itinerants, who keep close to this Example of the Apostles, except our own Inferior Clergy; among whom I cannot find one Example. I must own, indeed, that there is sometimes a Transmigration from one Parish to another, where one Minister (with Pockets well lined) will swop a Sermon with his Brother: A sure and certain Symptom of a Debauch, or idle Week.
“What Pity it is, that among the many Projects now on foot, some pious and zealous Christians will not open a Book for Subscriptions to erect Houses of Call, where lazy, well-fed, pampered Priests may find a Labourer for the Day of Sabbath! No doubt but this would be of more Emolument to the Undertakers, than the Project for the Grand Fishery, and many indigent Souls would be capacitated to pay for a Dinner, who had no other Dependance, than the Assistance of the Spirit, to appease his mutineering Intestines, and prevent them from flying into Rebellion.”
Upon second Thoughts, it is no difficult Matter to prove, that several Ministers have travelled fourscore or an hundred Miles to preach the Gospel: But then we must take notice, that it is for the Sake of a more profitable Benefice: That they do not travel without Money, without Company; but carry with them their Bags and Baggage, Wives and Children, Maid-servants and Men-servants, their Cattle, and all that are within their Houses and Gates. So charitable are they even to the brute Beasts! And yet I believe there is not one of them, who, if he speaks from his Heart, can say with the Philosopher, Omnia mea mecum porto.———
A twelfth Observation is, That the Apostles disagreed not among themselves concerning Fundamentals necessary to Salvation; neither did they contradict one another in their Definitions and Notions of Mysteries and Fundamentals.
The Opinions of Men, relating to the Means conducive to eternal Salvation, are as different as their numerous Sects and Divisions: However, all the Nations in the Universe agree in this one grand Point, an Object of Worship and Adoration. This was allowed throughout the World, before the Coming of our Saviour; but with this Difference, that some worshipped the True God, others (like the Papists) most religiously bent their Knees to Gods made with their own Hands. Now that they, who profess and call themselves Christians, and have but one unerring Compass to steer by, should pursue such Courses as are diametrically opposite to each other, in hopes of reaching the desired Port at last, is a Subject which affords much Speculation. I have here a spacious Field before me, and should I enter into a Detail of the Principles of every Christian Sectary, I should deviate from my first Resolution, and swell this little Tract into numberless Volumes.
As there are many Divines and Enthusiasts, who have undertaken to explain and unfold the Mystery of the Blessed Trinity, (a Task too difficult for the Performance and Comprehension of human Frailty, and which indeed is a presumptuous Undertaking;) I shall here recite their own Words, and shew how they contradict and clash against each other.—* Some of the inferior Clergy make the Three Persons to be external Relations of the one Substance of the Deity to Mankind, viz. Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier: and the same Reverend Person makes each Person a Third of God, as† Length, Breadth, and Thickness make a Cube; or as∥ Three Groats make a Shilling, or Three Nobles a Pound.
§ Some make the Persons to be Eternal Modes of Substance, or Internal Relations of the Substance of the Deity it self.
‡ Some maintain Three Distinct, Unequal, Eternal Beings; the First whereof is alone Self-existent, and the Second and Third subordinate.
* Some maintain Three Distinct, Eternal, Equal Beings, whose Unity is partly numerical, and partly specifical.
Again† Some make the Doctrine of the Trinity to consist in Three Distinct, Eternal, perfectly Equal Beings agreeing in a Specific Unity.
** Mr. Puzzle-Text, the Anthropomorphite, is of a different Opinion from all the Divines who ever wrote upon the Trinity. He says, “There are Three Lives; and that such a Notion will very much contribute to the Honour of God, the Ease of good Christians, and the Discouragement of Heretics. How can it comport (continues he) with God’s infinite Goodness, or consist with his infinite Wisdom, and so conduce to his Honour and Glory to make the main Article of the Christian Faith so puzzling and intricate, as that none of ’em yet could understand it themselves, or explain it competently to others? Nay, which is far worse, and so dishonourable to God, as not to be endured. Were Christians obliged to believe the Trinity according to the common Notion, or standing Model of it, in order to their future Bliss, they must then assent to a thing impossible, to a rank Contradiction, and to a notorious Lie, to obtain Salvation; even that Three Modes are Three distinct Persons, and so every one of them God most truly,———
“For the Body of Christians to recommend unintelligible Things, and to impose it on its Members; and induce People to swallow them, to tell them that they are profound Mysteries, when they are perfect Nonsense, what can be more infamous and disparaging?
He asserts, That all Men had a wrong Notion of the Trinity to this very Day.
“For Christians (says he) to enjoy the Benefit of the Gospel for seventeen hundred Years; to be baptized into a Trinity, and profess that they believed it as a prime and fundamental Article; and yet during all those Centuries, to have no Notion of it among the Learned and Wise, but what was light and empty, silly, impertinent and nonsensical; to say no worse, (if searched to the Bottom) is not this sad and dismal?” But his Notion of a Trinity runs thus:
“Allow the Divine Essence to be an Infinite, Eternal Spirit, quickened and actuated by Three distinct Lives, and the First naturally and from Eternity springing up in it, and as naturally and eternally begetting the Second Life, they Two by a like Prerogative Power breathing or sending forth a Third; in which the prolific Force and Virtue of Divine Life was fully spent, and did fully terminate; and the Adorable Trinity is most perfectly and gloriously constituted, and, I think, intelligibly enough.”
Let the Reader judge, whether this Notion is more intelligible than any of the rest.———He further observes, that
“The Three Divine Persons have each of them an Image in human Figure, symbolically representing their Adorable Selves.”
This he proves from several Texts of Scripture; but sure he had little Regard to, or had forgot the second Injunction in the Decalogue. ——— I remember the Time when a Book not half so glaring and barefaced as this, was deemed worthy of a flaming Sacrifice; and I admire that no pious Informer, out of the Abundance of his Zeal for the Athanasian Fundamental of Christianity, has been moved by an internal Impulse of Religion or Malice, to present and prosecute this Pamphlet. No Scourge, no wholesome Severites for this audacious Levite! He is one of the Inferior Clergy, a weak Brother; and these are Motives sufficient to protect him from the Resentment of other priestly Deliquents.
The Thirteenth Observation is, That the Apostles were strict Followers of their own Constitutions, or By-Laws.
I must confess, that this Observation might very naturally have fallen under the Tenth; but since I omitted to recite it in that Place, what follows, I hope, may be allowed as an Appendix to it.
If I should assert, That there is not any Religion whatever, whose Laws and Canons have not been violated by the Inferior Clergy, I should incur the Censure of Zealots and Enthusiasts: But I see no Reason for loading such Assertion with the Calumny of Rash Judgment, since it is a Truth daily Observation confirms. I shall not descend to give particular Instances of each Kind, but hope it will suffice for the present to mention one of our own Canons, and shew how our High-Church spiritual Worthies, or Half-Protestants, do become Delinquents: Which small Sketch may give us an Idea of the whole.
———Ex pede Herculem.
The 55th Canon enjoins every Priest to pray for the King upon the Throne nominatim, in the Prayer preceding the Sermon. But tho’ these Conscience-Dispensers have taken the Oaths to King George, (and would dispense with an Hundred more as big as St. Paul’s, for a Living half as large) yet what Evasions and Quibbles do they use! One says Pray ye; another, we are commanded to pray, but does it not: Such a Servant should be beaten with many Stripes. A Third, Let us pray, but banters his Audience like an Orthodox Juggler; for he does not pray for the King, tho’ he mentions his Name. A Fourth, with an hereditary Corinthian Face, legitimately High-Church, regards not the Injunction of the Canon. Now may we not say to these Hypocrites, what our Blessed Saviour said to their Brethren the Scribes and Pharisees? Woe unto ye!
TO avoid the Censure of each snarling Priest-ridden Cynic, who talks much of the Church and Religion, yet frequents not the one, or practises the other; I am obliged, in Justification of myself, and to satisfy my Friends and Acquaintance, to declare, That I have not any Design to strike at the Priesthood. For I am thoroughly convinced, that there ought to be a Regimen in the Church, and its Government by Bishops is necessary and scriptural; but yet I will not presume to determine, whether they are such by a Divine or Human Institution.
Good Clergymen are (to me) like beautiful and strong Pillars in an antique and stately Edifice; but vicious Priests are the Emblems of corrupted Rafters. As among the Apostles there was one false Brother, whom the Papists acknowledge as the Foundation of the Church, viz. Peter; one Traitor, as Judas; ambitious Persons, as James and John, who prevailed with their Mother to sollicit the most honourable Places from Christ: This to sit on his Right Hand, That on his Left: So likewise there were some, who were wholly spiritual, and had no ambitious, no worldly Views before them. And tho’ among the Tribe of Levi, there are Proud, Persecuting, Covetous, Rebellious, Perjured Priests; yet there are some [and oh! that they were a thousand times more in Number, than what Abraham proposed to God for the Preservation of Sodom and Gomorrah] who are of an humble and meak Spirit, Religious, Loyal, Charitable Men; Men of Conscience and Moderation.
But after all, I greatly fear that the crying Evils of the Inferior Clergy will never cease, till a Stop be put to the Ordination of Beardless Boys and indigent Souls. These are the Persons who come before they are called; and creep in at the Window, when they should enter at the Door of the Temple. These are they whom Necessity obliges, or Prejudice persuades to act contrary to the Laws of God and Man, to humour their Patrons, and support a Party. These are they of whom the Psalmist speaks, they are corrupt and become abominable, Happy would it be for this Nation, if the Tares which are now growing, and those which are already run to Seed, where rooted out!
As I am resolved not to be deluded by Priestcraft; so I could wish that every Man would resume his Reason, and not regard any Clergyman, of what Title or Denomination soever, merely because he is a Clergyman; but be guided in this Particular by the Words of St. Ambrose, and give a more than ordinary Attention to them. Nihil est in hoc sæculo excellentius Sacerdotibus, sublimius Episcopis, si Nomen congruat Actioni, & Actio respondeat Nomini; si non, Nomen inane, Crimen immane. Ambros. de Dignitat. Sacerdot.
The End of theSecond Volume.
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ORDERS, STANDING ORDERS, and RESOLUTIONS of the Honourable House of COMMONS, relating to their FORMS of PROCEEDING, PRIVILEGE, &c. &c. Collected out of the JOURNALS, and digested under their severalHeads.
IF it is reasonable to wonder, that this Manual was never published before, it will be so much the less necessary to apologise for publishing it now: And, surely, if it appears, that not only all who have Seats in Parliament, or who are in a Capacity to sit, or who have Business to transact there, but the whole People in general, are interested in the Rules and Orders of their Representatives, it will not be disputed, that they ought to be acquainted with them; and the Persons will rather deserve their Thanks than Censure, who put it in their Power to be so.
Now, barely to read them, is to be convinced of this; for they will be found to reach almost all Orders of Men, either mediately or immediately. And it is fit for those without Doors to reflect, with a due Mixture of Reverence and Attention, that the Word Privilege is become as sacred as the Word Law; and that Ignorance may be held as insufficient a Plea, in case of an Offence, against the one as the other.
Then for those within, if we may presume to speak of them at all, it can scarce be said, that they are qualified for the Trust reposed in them, till they are acquainted, in some Degree, with the Methods in which it is to be discharged: And this is a known Truth, that Men of very slender Parts, by rendering themselves thorough Masters of the Forms of the House, have made themselves considerable, have fancied themselves to be more so; and, by the mere Dint of calling to Order, and quoting Journals and Precedents, have sometimes defeated Arguments they could not answer, and triumphed over Talents and Abilities that infinitely transcended their own; which is all that need be said to recommend a Study, hitherto, perhaps, too much neglected; and to justify this Publication.
[* ]Micah. iii 11.
[* ]Dr. Sacheverell.
[† ]Jer. xxiii. 11.
[‡ ]Isa, xxvii. 7.
[* ]Wallis’s Letters of the Trinity, Let. III. p. 40, 41.
[† ]First Letter, p. 11.
[∥ ]Third Letter, p. 42.
[§ ]Dr. South’s Animad. and Tritheism charged.
[‡ ]Fowler’s 28 Prop. Bulli Defens. Fid. Nic. Cudworth’s Intellect. System. Payne’s Sermon.
[* ]Sherlock’s Vind. of the Trinity and its Defence.
[† ]Braddeck’s Doctrine of the Fathers, &c. Part. 1.
[** ]An Antidote against Arianism: By Erasmus Warren, Rector of Worlington, Suffolk, Anno 1712.