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Printed for J. and J. PEMBERTON, at the Golden-Buck
against St. Dunstan's Church in Fleetstreet. MDCCXXXVIII.

2005.17

OXFORD

Reverend Brethren,

Am very sensible you cannot meet together on this Occasion,

without making deep ReflectiI

ons on the Loss, which you have suffered for the publick Good; by the Removal of a Pastor,

whom the Experience of so many Years hath taught you to esteem and honour so highly. It is your farther Unhappiness, that He is succeeded by a Person, very unequal to the Care of this conspicuous and important Diocese. But your Humanity and your Piety will, I doubt not, incline

you, both to accept and to affist the Endeavours of one, who can assure you with very great Truth, that he is earnestly desirous of being as useful to you all as he can, and seriously concerned for the Interests of Religion and of this Church. Would to God there were less need of expressing a Concern for them, than there is at present !

Men have always complained of their own Times: and always with too much Reason. But though it is natural, to think those Evils the

greatest, which we feel ourselves; and therefore Mistakes are easily made, in comparing one Age with another : yet

this we cannot be mistaken in, that an open and professed Disregard to Religion is be

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come,

come, through a Variety of unhappy Causes, the distinguishing Character of the present Age; that this Evil is grown to a great Height in the Metropolis of the Nation; is daily spreading through every Part of it; and, bad in itself as any can be, must of necessity bring in most others after it. Indeed it hath already brought in, such Diffoluteness and Contempt of Principle in the Higher Part of the World, and such profligate Intemperance and Fearlesness of committing Crimes in the Lower, as must, if this Torrent of Impiety stop not, become absolutely fatal. And God knows, far from stopping, it receives, through the ill Designs of some Persons and the Inconsiderateness of others, a continual Increase. Christianity is now ridiculed and railed at, with

very little Reserve: and the Teachers of it, without any at all. Indeed with respect to us, the Rule which most of our Adversaries appear to have set themselves is, to be, at all adventures, a bitter as they can: and they followit, notonly beyond Truth, but beyond Probability : asserting the very worst things of us without foundation, and exaggerating every thing without mercy: imputing the Faults, and sometimes imaginary Faults, of particular Persons to the whole Order; and then declaiming against us all promiscuously, with such wild Vehemence, as in any Cafe but ours, they themselves would think, in the highest degree, unjust and cruel. Or if sometimes a few Exception are made, they are usually made only to divide us amongst ourselves : to deceive one Part of us, and

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Charge to his CLERGY.

5
throwa greater Odium upon the other. Still were these
Invectives only to affect Us personally, dear as our
Reputations are and ought to be to us, the Mischief
would be small, in comparison of what it is. But
the Consequence hath been, as it naturally must,
that Disregard to Us hath greatly increased the Difre-
gard to publick Worship and Instruction: that ma-
ny are grown prejudiced against Religion; many
more, indifferent about it and unacquainted with
it. And the Emissaries of the Romish Church, ta-
king the Members of ours at this unhappy Disad-
vantage, have begun to reap great Harvests, in the
Field which hath thus been prepared for them, by
the Labours of those, who would be thought their
most irreconcileable Enemies.

YET, however melancholy the View before us
appears, we have no reason to be discouraged : for
let us take care of our Duty, and God will take
care of the Event. But we have great reason to
think seriously what our Duty on this Occasion is,
and stir up each other to the performance of it:
that where ever the Guilt of these things may fall,
it
may

not fall on our Heads. For it must needs be Matth
that Offences come: but wo to that Man, by whom 7.
the Offence cometh. Our Grief for the Decay of
Religion might be attended with much Comfort in
regard to ourselves, could we but truly fay, that no
Faults.or Infirmities of ours had ever given Advan-
tages against it.

But though, God be thanked, we are far from being what our Adversaries would represent us; whose Reproaches perhaps were ne

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