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most complete, when innocence is united with distress in the objects of our bounty, when the distress is out of the reach of any other help, and when in the exercise of the general duty we fulfil the special injunctions of our Lord. In the distress which our present charity immediately regards, we find these circumstances united. The widow and the orphan are our objects: Their claim to misery is in the common right of human nature; it stands not on the ground of guilt and ill-desert: And for those widows and those orphans, in particular, whose cause we plead, should we be questioned by what means their condition hath been brought thus low, we will confidently answer, By no sins of their husbands or their parents more than of their own. It is peculiar to the situation of a clergyman, that while he is ranked (as the interests of religion require that he should be ranked) with the higher orders of the people, and is forbidden by the ecclesiastical law, under the severest penalties, to engage in any mercenary business, which might interfere with the duties of his sacred calling, and derogate in the eyes of the multitude from
the dignity of his character, his profession, in whatever rank he may be placed in it, the least of any of the liberal professions furnishes the means of making a provision for a family. It may be added with great truth, that what means the profession furnishes, the cleric who is the most intent upon its proper duties, the most addicted to a life of.study and devotion, is the least qualified to improve. Hence it will oftener happen to the families of clergymen than of any other set of men, and it will happen perhaps oftenest to the families of the worthiest, to be left in that state which by the principles established in the former part of this discourse is poverty in the truest import of the word, to be left destitute of the means of earning a livelihood in the employments for which they are not disqualified by the laudable habits of their previous lives.
This evil in the domestic life of the minister of the gospel, I will venture to predict, no schemes of human policy ever will remove. Grand in the conception, noble in the motives which suggested it,
promising perhaps in its first aspect, but fraught with ruin in its certain consequences had it been adopted, was the plan of abolishing the subordinate dignities of the hierarchy, in order to apply their revenues to the better maintenance of the parochial clergy. The parts of civil societies, as of all things in this nether world, are severally wholes, similar to the compounds. compounds. Every order of men in the great society of a nation is but a smaller society within itself. The same principles which render a variety of ranks essential in the composition of a state require inequalities of wealth and authority among the individuals of which each rank is composed. These inequalities, to form a harmonized consistent whole, require a regular gradation between the opposite extremes; which cannot be taken away, but the extinction must ensue of the whole
description of men in which the chain is
Nor less fatal to our order would be any change in the tenure of ecclesiastical property; especially the favourite project of an exchange of tithes for an equivalent in
land. Many of us here have felt, in some part of our lives, the inconvenience of succeeding to dilapidated houses, with small resources in our private fortunes, and restrained by the circumstances of a predęcessor's family from the attempt to enforce our legal claims. But what would be the situation of a clergyman who in coming to a living should succeed to nothing better than a huge dilapidated farm? which would too soon become the real state of every living in the kingdom in which the tithes should have been converted into glebe: Not to mention the extinction of our spiritual character, and the obvious inconveniences to the yeomanry of the kingdom, which would be likely to take place, should this new manner of our maintenance send forth the spirit of farming among the rural clergy.
The truth is, that the hardships of our order arise from causes which defy the relief of human laws and mock the politician's skill. They arise, in part, from the nature of our calling; in part, from the corrupt manners of a world at enmity with
God; but primarily, from the mysterious. counsels of Providence, which, till the whole world shall be reduced to the obedience of the gospel, admit not that the ministry should be a situation of ease and enjoyment. The Christian minister, in the present state of Christianity, hath indeed an indisputable right to a maintenance, from the work of the ministry, for himself and for his family; as he had indeed from the very earliest ages; "For the labourer is worthy of his hire." In a Christian government, he justly may expect to be put, so far as the secular powers can effect it, into the same situation of credit and respect which might belong to a diligent exertion of equal talents in any other of the liberal professions. Such provision for the maintenance and for a proper influence of the clergy is at least expedient, if not necessary for the support of Christianity, now that its miraculous support is withdrawn, and the countenance of the magistrate is among the means which God employs for the maintenance of the truth. Yet after all that can be done by the friendship of the civil powers, since our Lord's kingdom is not of the present world, it