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serves to lessen or increase their several congregations, from whom they receive their contributions.
Another difficulty which may embarrass the Presbyterians after their establishment will be, how to adjust their claim of the kirk's independency on the civil power, with the constitution of this monarchy? a point so delicate that it has often filled the heads of great patriots with dangerous notions of the church-clergy without the least ground of suspicion.
As to the Presbyterians allowing liberty of conscience to those episcopal principles when their own kirk shall be predominant, the writers are so universally agreed in the negative, as well as their practice during Oliver's reign, that I believe no reasonable churchman (who must then be dissenter) will expect it.
I shall here take notice, that in the division of employments among the Presbyterians, after this approaching repeal of the Test Act, supposing them in proper time to have an equal share, the odds will be three or four to one on their side in any further scheme they may have toward making their religion national. For I reckon all those gentlemen sent over from England, whatever religion they profess, or have been educated in, to be of that party; since it is no mark of prudence for any persons to oppose the current of a nation where they are in some sort only sojourners; unless they have it in direction.
If there be any maxim in politics not to be controlled, it must be the following: that those whose private interest is united with the interest of their country, supposing them to be of equal understanding with the rest of their neighbors, will heartily wish that the nation should thrive. Out of these are indubitably excepted all persons who are sent from another kingdom to be employed in places of profit or power; because they cannot possibly bear any
affection to the place where they sojourn, even for life, their sole business being to advance themselves by following the advice of their principals. I except likewise those persons who are taken into office, although natives of the land ; because they are greater gainers, while they keep their offices, than they could possibly be by mending the miserable condition of their country.
I except, thirdly, all hopers, who, by balancing accounts with themselves, turn the scale on the same side; because the strong expectation of a good certain salary will outweigh the loss by bad rents, received out of the lands in moneyless times.
If my lords the bishops, who I hear are now employed in a
scheme for regulating the conduct and maintenance of the inferior clergy, shall, in their wisdom, and piety, and love of the church, consent to this repeal of the Test, I have not the least doubt that the whole reverend body will cheerfully submit to their spiritual fathers, of whose paternal tenderness for their welfare they have found so many amazing instances.
I am not, therefore, under the least concern about the clergy on this account. They will (for some time) be no great sufferers by this repeal; because I cannot recollect among all our sects any one that gives latitude enough to take the oaths required at an institution to a church-living: and until that bar shall be removed, the present episcopal clergy are safe for two years. Although it may be thought somewhat unequal that, in the northern parts, where there may
be three dissenters to one churchman, the whole revenue shall be engrossed by him, who has so small a part of the cure.
It is true, indeed, that this disadvantage, which the dissenters at present lie under, of a disability to receive church preferments, will be easily remedied by the repeal of the Test. For the dissenting toachers are under no incapacity of accepting civil and military employments; wherein they agree perfectly with the popish clergy, among whom great cardinals and prelates have been commanders of armies, chief ministers, knights of many orders, ambassadors, secretaries of state, and in most high offices under the crown; although they assert the indelible character, which no secretaries among us did ever assume. But that many, both Presbyterians and Independents, commanders as well as private soldiers, were professed teachers in the time of their dominion, is allowed by all. Cromwell himself was a preacher; and he has left us one of his sermons in print, exactly in the same style and manner with those of our modern Presbyterian teachers; so was colonel Howard, sir George Downing, and several others, whose names are on record. I can therefore see no reason why a painful Presbyterian teacher, as soon as the Test shall be repealed, may not be privileged to hold, along with the spiritual office and stipend, a commission in the army or the civil list in commendam : for as I take it, the church of England is the only body of Christians which in effect disqualifies those who are employed to preach its doctrine from sharing in the civil power further than as senators; yet this was a privilege begun in times of popery, many hundred years before the Reformation, and woven with the very institution of our limited monarchy.
There is indeed another method whereby the stipends of dis
senting teachers may be raised and the farmer much relieved ; if it should be thought proper to reward a people so deserving and so loyal by their painciples. Every bishop, upon the vacancy of a church-living, can sequester the profits for the use of the next incumbent. Upon a lapse of half a year the donation falls to the archbishop, and after a full year to the crown during pleasure; therefore it would be no hardship for any clergyman alive, if (in those parts of Ireland where the number of sectaries much exceeds that of the conformists) the profits, when sequestered, might be applied to the support of the dissenting teacher, who has so many souls to take care of; whereby the poor tenants would be much relieved in those hard times, and in a better condition to pay their rents.
But there is another difficulty in this matter, against which a remedy does not so readily occur. For supposing the Test Act repealed, and the dissenters, in consequence, fully qualified for all secular employments, the question may still be put, whether those of Ireland will be often the persons on whom they shall be bestowed; because it is imagined there may be another seminary [Scotland] in view, more numerous and more needy, as well as more meriting, and more easily contented with such low offices; which some nearer neighbors hardly think it worth stirring from their chimney sides to obtain. And I am told, it is the common practice of those who are skilled in the management of bees, that when they see a foreign swarm at some distance approaching with an intention to plunder their hives, these artists have a trick to divert them into some neighboring apiary, there to make what havoc they please. This I should not have hinted, if I had not known it already to have gotten ground in many suspecting heads; for it is the peculiar talent of this nation to see dangers afar off; to all which I can only say, that our native Presbyterians must, by pains and industry, raise such a fund of merit as will answer to a birth six degrees more to the north. If they cannot arrive at this perfection, as several of the established church have compassed by indefatigable pains, I do not well see how their affairs will much mend by repealing the Test: for to be qualified by law to accept an employment, and yet to be disqualified in fact, as it will much increase the mortification, so it will withdraw the pity of many among their well-wishers, and utterly deprive them of that merit they have so long made, of being a loyal, true, Protestant people, persecuted only for religion.
If this happen to be their case, they must wait maturity of time, until they can, by prudent, gentle steps, make their faith become
the religion established in the nation; after which, I do not in the least doubt that they will take most effectual methods to secure their power against those who must then be dissenters in their turn : whereof, if we may form a future opinion from present times, and the dispositions of dissenters, who love to make a thorough reformation, the number and qualities will be very inconsiderable.
Thus I have with the utmost sincerity, after long thinking, given my judgment upon this arduous affair; but with the utmost deference and submission to public wisdom and power.
QUERIES RELATING TO THE SACRA
MENTAL TEST, 1732.
WHETHER hatred and violence between parties in a state be not more inflamed by different views of interest than by the greater or lesser differences between them, either in religion or government?
Whether it be any part of the question at this time, which of the two religions is worse, popery or fanaticism; or not rather which of the two (having both the same good-will) is in the hopefulest condition to ruin the church?
Whether the sectaries, whenever they come to prevail, will not ruin the church as infallibly and effectually as the Papists?
Whether the prevailing sectaries could allow liberty of conscience to dissenters, without belying all their former practice, and almost all their former writings ? Whether
hundred thousand Scotch Presbyterians are not fully as virulent against the episcopal church as they are against the Papists; or as they would have us think the Papists are against them ?
Whether the Dutch, who are most distinguished for allowing liberty of conscience, do ever admit any persons, who profess a different scheme of worship from their own, into civil employments, although they may be forced by the nature of their government to receive mercenary troops of all religions?
Whether the dissenters ever pretended, until of late years, to desire more than a bare toleration ?
Whether, if it be true, what a gorry pamphleteer asserts, who lately writ for repealing the Test, that the dissenters in this kingdom are equally numerous with the churchmen, it would not be a necessary point of prudence, by all proper and lawful means, to prevent their further increase ?
The great argument given, by those whom they call low.churchmen, to justify the large tolerations allowed to dissenters, has been, that by such indulgences the rancor of those sectaries would gradually wear off, many of them would come over to us, and their parties in a little time crumble to nothing.
Query, Whether, if what the above pamphleteer asserts, that the sectaries are equal in number with conformists, be true, it does not clearly follow that those repeated tolerations have operated directly contrary to what those low-church politicians pretended to foresee and expect?
Whether any clergyman, however dignified or distinguished, if he think his own profession most agreeable to Holy Scripture and the primitive church, can really wish in his heart, that all sectaries should be upon an equal foot with the churchmen, in the point of civil power and employments ?
Whether episcopacy, which is held by the church to be a divine and apostolical institution, be not a fundamental point of religion, particularly in that essential one of conferring holy orders ?
Whether, by necessary consequences, the several expedients among the sectaries to constitute their teachers are not absolutely null and void ?
Whether the sectaries will ever agree to accept ordination only from bishops ?
Whether the bishops and clergy will be content to give up episcopacy, as a point indifferent, without which the church can well subsist?
Whether that great tenderness toward sectaries, which now so much prevails, be chiefly owing to the fears of popery, or to that spirit of atheism, deism, scepticism, and universal immorality, which all good men so much lament?
Granting popery to have many more errors in religion than any one branch of the sectaries, let us examine the actions of both, as they have each affected the peace of these kingdoms, with allowance for the short time which the sectaries had to act in, who are in a manner but of yesterday. The Papists in the time of king James II. used all endeavors to establish their superstition, wherein they failed by the united power of English Church Protestants, with the prince of Orange's assistance. But it cannot be asserted that these