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imply that this great astronomer had employed his life in studying only the book of nature:-“ Dr. Halley, I am always glad to hear you, when you speak about astronomy, or other parts of the mathematics, because that is a subject you have studied, and well understand; but you should not talk of christianity, for you have not studied it: I have; and am certain you know nothing of the matter.” :
Many other persons, possessed of some discern. ment, observe the hypocrisy of several of the greatest pretenders to religion: they see them no better, and scarce even so good as some, who make less pretensions; and this becomes an insuperable offence to them. If these discerning men, however, would attend more to their own conduct, and less to the misconduct of others, it would be much happier for them, and more to their honour. Can any thing be more unreasonable, than that the gospel should be made answerable for all the weaknesses, vices and follies of its advocates? Will philosophy endure to be tried by this test? The fact is, truth is a stubborn thing, and does not fluctuate with the varying whims and opinions of men. Every person must give an account of himself unto God. Hypocritès have no encouragement from the Bible, Why should any man, therefore, make their hypocrisy an objection to that Bible? Let the blame fall where it belongs. The fate of such persons is fixed by the Judge of the world himself. Their false pretensions are utterly disclaimed by him. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many shail say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy naine, and in thy name cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works; but then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, all ye that work iniquity.
The weakness, folly, and enthusiasm, the noise and nonsense of the zealots(1) among all denominations of Christians, is another cause of the infidelity of the age. Unbelievers see the absurdity of their pretensions and proceedings, and they are undistinguishing and illiberal enough, to comprehend them, and the pure gospel of Christ, in one general sentence of reprobation. Such a conduct is surely uncandid, and highly unbecoming the character of men who would be thought lovers of wisdom. Where we see integriiy and good intention at the bottom, we should make all requisite allowance for the infirmities of men. The best and wisest are encompassed with darkness, and know but in part. One grain of piety and moral excellence, is of more worth than the highest attain
(1) The extravagances of some of the German Anabaptists, the French Prophets, the English Quakers, Puritans, and Metho. dists, have given great and just offence to many sensible and well-disposed people, and have been instrumental in driving no small number into downright indifference to all religion; while others have contracted the most inveterate principles of infidelity. But shall the follies of few mistaken individuals, subvert the nature of things, and the laws of everlasting truth? Because some men are weak, silly, enthusiastic, and inflamed with spiritual pride, shall we take upon us to say, there is no such thing as sound religion and good sense in the world? This would be to make ourselves as weak and culpable as those whom we con. demn.--All revivals of religion have been attended with excesses; all sects and parties have had, and will have among them, men of warm imaginationsand feeble intellects; and wherever persons of this description become strongly impressed with the importance of religious truth, they seldom fail to disgrace the party which they belong. There is no remedy for such unfortunate cases, but to use our best endeavours to restrain and keep them within the bounds of moderation. This however is usually ex. tremely difficult; for all such persons are most commonly wiser than ten men that can render a reason. They are blown up with self-importance consider themselves as the peculiar favourites of heaven, and under the immediate teachings and leadings of the Divine Spirit. While this persuasion continues, they treat the direction of Scripture as a dead letter, and in vain do you attempt to reduce them to order, and the sober dictates of reason and
ments in the arts and sciences, without those moral and religious qualifications.
Others again take offence at the absurd doctrines of the several religious establishments(2) in Christendom. They discover in them certain peculiarities which they conceive to be irrational. They confound the doctrines of these human institutions, which were formed in the very dawn of the reformation, while men's eyes were yet scarcely open enough to discover truth, with genuine christianity. Not being at the pains to examine matters to the bottom, and distinguish accurately, they suppose them to be alike, and hence contract a rooted indifference, if not an unconquerable aversion, to all religion.
Some there are again, who, seeing the pomp and pride of many of our bishops and dignified clergy, how they, in direct opposition to the whole spirit of the gospel, as well as their own holy profession, scramble for emolument, and heap together from two to half a score lucrative places of preferment, while several thousands of their brethren are destitute of the ordi. nary comforts of life, without further examination, naturally suppose that religion is all priest-craft and self-interest, honour and conscience having nothing to do in the business.
It is well known that there are about 18,000 clergymen in England and Wales, of the established religion, and nearly 10,000 parishes. The rectories are 5,098; the vicarages 3,687; the livings of other descriptions 2,970; in all 11,755.
Twenty or thirty of those livings may be a thousand a year and upwards: four or five hundred of them 500 pounds a year and upwards : two thousand of them 200 pounds a year and upwards: five thousand of them under one hundred pounds a year. The average
(2) “ It is the corruption of establishments, ten thousand times worse than the rudest doninion of tyranny, which has changed, and is changing, the face of the modern world.”
value of livings is about 140 pounds a year, reckoning them at 10,000.
In the year 1714, when queen Ann's bounty began to be distributed, there were,
1071 livings not more than 10 pounds a year. 1467
50 In all 5627 livings not more than 50 pounds a year a piece.
All the 10 and 20 pounds livings have now been augmented by the above donation.
This bounty is about 13,000 pounds a year, clear of deductions, and is, therefore, equal to 65 augmenta. . tions annually at 200 pounds a piece.(3)
The whole income of the church and two univer. sities is about 1,500,000 pounds a year. There are 26 bishops, whose annual income is 72,000, or according to another account 92,000 pounds ; each bishop, therefore, has on an average 2,770 or 3,538 pounds a year, supposing he had no other preferment. There are 28 deaneries and chapters, whose income is about 5,000 pounds a year each, making together about 140,000 pounds. The income of the two universities is together about 180,000 pounds a year. The 10,000 clergy(4) have together about 1,108,000
(3) The clergy are indebted to bishop-Burnet for this application. The money itself arises from the first fruits and tenths of church-livings, above a certain value, which, before the time of Henry the 8th, used to go to the Pope of Rome.
(4) T'he dissenters in England and Wales make about a fifth part of the nation, consisting of near 1400 congregations. The Quakers are numerous, being about 50,000, but the Baptists are more numerous than either the Quakers, or the Presbyterians, or Moravians.
To tivese should be added the Methodist preachers of the gospel. The number of travelling preachers among the Methodists of Europe, at the last conference, was 558-the local preachers
pounds a year among them, which is little more than 100 pounds a piece. The whole body of the clergy and their families make near 100,000 souls, that is, about an eightieth part of the nation. And reckoning the population of England and Wales at eight millions of people, every clergyman would have a congregation of 444 persons to attend to, in the same way of calculation.
There are 28 cathedrals, 26 deans, 60 arch-deacons, and 544 prebends, canons, &c.-Besides these,
amounted to 2000. In the United States there are 571 Methodist travelling ministers and about 2000 local preachers. The members under the direction of the British conference, including Ire. land and the West Indies, amount to 134,576-and in the United States, the last returns (1808) made the whole Society to consist of 144,590 professing Christians.
The followers of George Whitefield and Lady Huntingdon, consist of nearly an equal number, in Great Britain.
What a highly respectable compliment do the “ blind mouths" of this world pay the Methodists, in calling every man by that name whose conduct is moral, whose piety is fervent, and whose affections are set upon the things that are above! -Good men in all ages have been what the foolish world now call Methodists.
Aiken, in his Tour through North Wales, has paid that body of people a very high compliment. Paley says, ' after men became Christians, much of their time was spent in prayer and devotion, in religious meetings, in celebrating the eucharist, in conferences, in exhortations, in preaching, in an affectionate intercourse with one another, and correspondence with other societies. Perhaps their mode of life, in its form and habit, was not very unlike the Unitas Fratrum, or that of the modern Methodists.”
Cecil has given a fair account of this body of people, which is every where spoken against, and has honestly and ably defended them from the obloquy, which is usually cast upon all seriously religious characters by the world. The single circumstance, of their being generally reviled and abused by other denominations of professing Christians, is a certain sign, that there is something peculiarly good and excellent among them. The criterion, whereby to judge, which our Saviour has given us is, “ If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."