« 上一頁繼續 »
has enabled the reverend few, to lord it over the consciences and pick the pockets of the cheated many; often adding insult to injury in the bargain. Let not therefore the inhabitants of Christendom point the finger of scorn at the Asiatics, for worshipping their Grand Lama, their Mahomet, and their Bramins, and for suffering themselves to be so foolishly cheated out of their liberty, reason, and common sense; for most assuredly, the last are only in magnitude what the first are in miniature. We will now bumbly take the liberty to close this department, with the lengthy quotation we promised to introduce; and which will show more clearly than I can possibly do, the present power of dignified prelates, and prostituted parsons;* and that the privileges they usurp, is a flagrant infringement on the rights of God.
• No candid intelligent reader, surely, will censure me for exposing such clerical impostors; as it would be more consisten: in them, to censure me for expos. ing a den of robbers: because the last only rob us of our money, but the first rob us of our souls and money.
“Indeed, the religion of Jesus Christ admits of no civil establishment at all. It is inconsistent with the very nature of it, and it was never designed to be incorporated with any secular institution wbatever. It made its way at first, not only without human aid, but even in opposition to all laws, both civil and religious, which then prevail. ed in the Roman empire. This was the state of it for upwards of 300 years. It seems too, to be the intention of Divine Providence, to reduce it again to the same simple and unconnected state. America bath set the example. France Italy, Holland, and Switzerland are going the same way. And it is highly probable, all the other states in Europe will, in due time, follow the same steps. As things now are in this country, the religion of Jesus Christ, which was not only not to be of this world, but in direct opposition to it, is certainly a temporal, worldly, civil institution. At least it is a strange mixture of things secular and religious : nearly as much so, as it is in the catholic countries.
“ As to the king or queen, of any country, being head of the church, and having the appointment of bishops, and the nomination to church-livings, it is utterly inconsistent with the very es. sence of the evangelical dispensation, and the unalienable rights of mankind. Neither his majesty-nor the lord chancellor, nor his majesty's ministers, have, or can have any concern in the government of the church, or in the appointment of officers in it, or to it, directly or indirectly, according to the spirit of the gospel, but only in their private capacities as individual members of the church. No man upon earth is entitled to any sucb power. It is one of the very worst traits of popery, and an infallible criterion of an anti-cbris. tian assuming. Mat. xx. 20-28, and xxiii. 1-12.
6 As the law now stands in this country, the king is absolute head of the church, and the fountain of all ec. clesiastical power; but as far as the patronage of benefices goes, this is more nominal than real; for there are as ma
ny heads as there are patrons of liv. ings. A drunken, swearing, libertine lord chancellor, who is living in open fornication or adultery, contrary to eyery law huraan and divine, as has been the case, has the appointment to a large number of livings: a corrupt, vile, unbelieving, immoral, wicked minister of state has the nomination to abundance of others. A papist, or some of the most immoral nobility or gentry of the land have the patronage of others. In not a few instances, ladies have the presentation to church preferments.These are all virtually and substanti. ally so many heads of the church ; while the king or queen is only nomi. nally and partially so. This is surely a lamentable state of things. Can any man wonder at the spread of infidelity and irreligion? Can we justly expect other than the downfal of such a system of corrupt, worldly policy? These melancholy truths sound harsh and disagreeable in the ears of interested men, and men who swallow every thing as gospel to which they have been long accustomed; but I affirm it with all possible seriousness, that, as I understand the Scriptures, a radical reform, and the removal of all tbese secular circumstances alone, can save us for any length of time, from national distress. I refer our bishops and beg they will seriously consider the awful declaration-Dan. ii. 35, 44. Is not the time for its accomplishment fast approaching, and near at hand?
5 I have spoken of the patronage of church livings. The church-livings of England and Wales make together about ten thousand. Of these near & thousand are in the gift of the king. It is customary, however, for the lord chancellor, to present all the livings under the value of twenty pounds, in the king's book, and for the ministers of state to present all the rest. Those under twenty pounds are about 780, and those above, near 180. Upwards of 1600 pieces of church preferment, of different sizes and descriptions, are in the gift of the 26 bishops : more than 600 in the presentation of the two univer.