Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

ciple of undeserved indulgence granted to every species of our enemies, under whatfoever form or name (which are almost innumerable) they may appear. The object of my present address is to call the attention of yourself and your readers, if you deem it deserving of a place in your miscellany, to the above two points.

Your correspondent Clericus has very well-noticed some of the penal statutes which have been recently passed, to compel incumbents to reside on their livings; and the reviewer of the late excellent publication of Mr. Thomas, intitled, : " Strictures on Subjects relating to the Established Religion and the Clergy, &c.” p. 210 of your last month's magazine, hath quoted a passage from that timely publication, tending to fhew how exaggerated was the account of the number of non-resident incumbents in England, which those acts would lead unprejudiced persons to believe. I sincerely hope, for the honour of my brethren, that this is really the case; and, on the supposition, that it is so in a considerable degree, how unkind is it in the legislature to endeavour to depreciate the national guardians of the established religion in the eyes of the public, by enacting (in many instances) unequal and un. just laws against them. I may be allowed to use both epi, thets, because I believe instances have been given in proof of them both on various occasions. But it is unwise also for the legislature to hold this conduct towards the clergy of the Establishment. For by the same degrees as you bring into contempt the ministers of religion, you bring into contempt the religion itself; and, whilst we have fo many enemies already to contend with, it surely does not need that we should have more ; and particularly the legislature, which ought to guard and protect us.-But take, for a moment, the other side of the question, and suppose that there really existed, in considerable degree, such a culpable want of residence as the acts in question would lead us to suppose; is this in fact the most likely means of curing that evil which could be taken? That men of no sense or care for religion, will evade every penalty that the laws can lay on them, we have abundance of instances every day before our eyes. Unless men have a real pleasure in the performance of their duty, and act from principle and not from compulsion, little benefit can be rationally expected from the forced measures which have so systematically been pursued for some time paft. And I am clearly of opinion, that in point of advantage to the spiritual interests of any parish whatever, the scale

would

would greatly preponderate in favour of a worthy and exemplary curate officiating in the place of an unworthy, and perhaps, dissipated incumbent; who was compelled to relide, contrary to his wish and inclination. It appears therefore to me, Mr. Editor, that, although the benefit of true religion may really be the object which the legislature has in view, by the late statutes concerning non-residence, yet that those acts are calculated to do more harm than good. • Let us now turn our thoughts to the second point men. tioned above, the undeserved indulgence of the sectaries and enemies of our establishment. The Act of Toleration, as it stands at this day, is deserving of this epithet of undeserved indulgence, for' by it every empty petylant and ignorant enthusiast, however destitute of abilities, or deficient in quali. fications, may, not merely be permitted, connived at, or tolerated, (which is all they can in reason or justice expect,) in the free and undisturbed profession of his religious opi. nions, but likewise, on the bare profession of his dissent from the established religion, and his expressed desire to preach and teach religious opinions contrary to it, demand, on the payment of fixpence, a license to teach and preach those re. ligious opinions to the world. Now, whether the candidate for such license be qualified or not qualified, proper or im. proper in a vast variety of ways, to execute so high an office as that of expounding the word of God, the magistrates at the quarter-sessions, if I understand the matter right, have no power to inquire. The candidate complies with the letter of the act, and the magistrates are compelled to license him, let him be ever so unworthy, ever so much disqualified for the office he demands. This, Mr. Editor, may be strong language, but it is not more strong than true: does it not then require speedy reformation ? But this is not all: the licensed preacher to a dissenting congregation, is not only hereby permitted by law to bellow forth oftentimes senseless, and frequently blasphemous ribaldry to the gaping multitude, and to make out in noise what he wants in sense, but he is by, such licence exempted from sundry parish-offices, which have both trouble and expence annexed to them, and hereby to throw an unequal burthen of those offices on others. Now pray Mr. Editor, inform me, if it be wisely or prudently done to continue this act in its present form, without revising it, and accommodating it to the exigencies of the times in which we live. To me, I own, it appears pot. And I should be glad to be informed, why penal Itatutes are to be made every sessions to be explained,

amended, amended, and altered continually, against the established clergy, (for so I consider many of the late acts to be,) although the said body of men in the late critical times, have by their public discourses from the pulpit, and by other means, rendered the most essential services to the state by their zeal and loyalty, as witness the many excellent sermons that have been published : and why the dissenters, particu. larly the raving, ignorant, and artful enthusiasts, called Me. thodists, should, by the continuance of their present unde. served * indulgences, have a reward, as it were, for acting in almost every instance, diametrically the reverse! I would not, Sir, be thought a perfecutor in any sense of the word, but I would wish to be considered as a supporter of truth, aud a favourer of desert. And I contend, that the services of the great body of the established clergy deserve praise and encouragement, instead of pains, and penalties; and I equally affert, that the indecent revilings, the clamours, and the general conduct of modern enthusiasts, require several regulations and restraints to be imposed on them; and that allo without delay, if we would preserve in its health and purity the religion at present established in these realms, in. ftead of seeing it rooted up from its very foundations,

I am, Mr. Editor," . . Your faithful and obedient servant, April 21, 1808. A COUNTRY VICAR. · P. s. I am glad to find that your correspondent Iota,

whose contributions have at various times so greatly enriched the pages of your magazine, has started the question, though only by inference and casually, of “a connection between the visible and invisible world, or, that there are spiritual þeings continually surrounding us, who take an intereft, according to their natures, in our affairs." Seep. 194, of your last month's magazine. What your correi. pondent means in the above sentence, to which he appears. to be favorable himself, is, I apprehend, Whether there be such beings as guardian angels under the present difpenfa. tion of the Gospel, (as there indisputably were under that of Moses, and till our Saviour's appearance upon earth, and (for some time after it,) who are appointed by Almighty God to interfere in the affairs of particular individuals upon

earth?

• I say undeserved, because I know several instances in which this epithet is perfectly applicable, and I have heard of almost in. numerable others in which it equally applies.

earth? This is a very curious and interesting subject, and by no means, in my humble opinion, unimportant in its consequences; and, as I have particularly, and in some degree methodically, turned my thoughts to the consideration of it some years ago, I should be extremely happy to see the opinion of Jota stated at large, in the pages of your miscel. lany, as soon as possible: and I shall not be backward, if he fhould desire it, to communicate my own opinions to him thereon.

hall pages oppy to station

ON SELECT PROPHECIES OF ISAIAH.
(Continued from page 271.)

IV.
On the FOUNDATION Stone in Zion, xxviii. 16, supported

by 1 Pet. ii. 6. INFIDELS pretend that Hezekiah is here also to be un

derstood, and that the promise is addressed to the people of Judah, and could not be of any comfort to the ten tribes, Israel going to be led captive, and swallowed up, &c.-But sure it might be a source of comfort to the faithful among the Ifraelites, that this Stone was to be a sure foundation to their children, who should return and re-people Jerusalem, and be converted to Christianity. The expression “ Thall not make hafte," might be better thus, “ will not,” or “let him not;"-futures and imperatives being put for each other.

Infidels also pretend that St. Peter, 1 Epis. ii, 7, 8. has borrowed from Isaiah viij. 15. the expression of Stumblingblock, “ inconsistent ideas being brought together only for the fake of words, without circumstances proper for their appli. cation.” But, surely, here is so far from any inconsistency, that it is a proof of the prophecy's just application to Chrift. ---He who was the Foundation of the Church, was a Stumbling Stone to its adversaries; a circumstance no-wife appli. cable to Hezekiah, or any prince but Christ.

V... On the Prophecy of The LAME LEAPING, and DUMB SING.

ING, &c. xxx. 6, supported by MATT. xi. 5. and JOHN . X. 38.

. INFIDELS

INFIDELS would confine all this to the joy of the peo. ple of Judah after the destruction of Sennacherib's army. But any impartial person must confess, that though these words might, in a lower sense, be fulfilled at that time, yet that they were beyond comparison, much more exactly fulfilled in the time of our Lord; and especially as the word “ ransom. ed” in propriety, signifies those who are bought with a price, and particularly Christians who are redeemed with Christ's blood.

They pretend also, that the several expressions in chap. xxxv. 7-10, do not agree to the history of Christ; but surely these figurative expressions highly agree to the times of Christianity.

VI. On the Prophecy of A VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS, &c.

xl. 3, supported by Mat. iii, 1-3. Mark i. 2, 3. Luke iii. 3, 4. JOHN i. 23.

INFIDELS pretend that this Prophecy relates to the re. turn from the Captivity in Babylon. But though these words were accomplished primarily, and in a less-perfect sense by that return, they were ultimately accomplished, and perfectly, in John the Baptist. The words were so much more completely accomplished in the latter case, that there is no comparison. No one literally and truly cried in the Wilderness to prepare the way of the return of the Jews; but John, for a considerable time, literally cried thus to the world.-Besides; the way of the Lord, which john the Baptist pointed out, was infinitely more truly so than that by which the Jews returned. Again ; the making his paths straight, was ftrialy and properly the province of our Lord, and very imperfectly the work of the return. ing Jews. The whole life and character of John the Baptist was so exact an accomplishment of this prediction of Isaiah, that from this alone the Jews might have distinguished our Lord to be the Messiah. He indeed wrought no miracles, and so gave no direct proof of a commiflion from God: but his business, so exa&tly predicted, was a proof sufficient that he was the Messenger of the Lord; and his disinterestedness ---his disowning himself to be the Messiah—and his leading such a mortified life without hope of profit, and braving death to discharge his duty, were the strongest proofs of his making way for the Messiah, as his Harbinger,

in the wie, comparifox, accomplished in The

« PoprzedniaDalej »