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" on to subscribe those Articles; still to disbe“ lieve and contradict them &."
Under the existing circumstances there is no room to wonder at such observations. But ought not something to be done by the Dignitaries of the Church to rescue the Clergy at large from these censures ? Above all, docs it not behove the Primates to inquire into the causes of such serious charges, and to take some effective steps towards removing them ?
The conspicuous part which your Grace has taken in the Society lately instituted, for educating the children of the poor in the principles of the Church of England, forbids me to question your readiness to manifest equal anxiety and zeal for the religious instruction and spiritual edification of the adults of the community. But how are these objects provided for in the present state of the established ministry ? Such is the discordance between the doctrines preached in different churches, and in some cases even in the same church on different parts of the day, by Clergymen who have all subscribed to the same theolo. gical system, that a regular churchman, unless he previously knows who will occupy the pulpit, cannot form even a probable conjecture, whether he shall hear truth or error, orthodoxy or heresy.
An observation long ago made by Dr. Waterland, on the subject of clerical subscription by those who did not fully agree with the doctrine
a Ind. Wh. vol. iii. p. 403, 404.
of the Church respecting the Trinity, is equally applicable to the subject more immediately under consideration. If either State oaths on the one
hand, or Church subscriptions on the other, “ once come to be made light of; and subtleties “ be invented to defend, or palliate, such gross in
sincerity, we may bid farewell to principles, “and religion will be little better than disguised “ atheism.” But every one, at all acquainted with the state of the Clergy, knows that in innumerable instances their “ Church subscriptions” have been "made" as “light of” as the generality of oaths taken at our custom-houses, which have long been proverbial as so many unmeaning forms. But what becomes of principles? If, as has been justly observed, every posiure is an approximation to a shape, and every act an advance towards a habit, what fatal effects such solemn acts of gross insincerity be reasonably expected to produce on the moral sense of the Clergy themselves! And how is it possible for the Laity to escape the mischievous conse, quences ?
Are there not too many, who commence the clerical career by “subscribing willingly and “ ex animo" to certain Articles, as being "and every agreeable to the word of God,” which they have scarcely given themselves the trouble to read, or perhaps have read and disbelieved and never intend to preach ?Of such
* First Defence of Queries, against Dr. Clarke, pref. p. 4.
unworthy sons of the Church, such antipodes of
hands is made,
Who among the Clergy are the most exact in
world, and all the sinful .lusts of the flesh ?" not only avoiding the grosser pollutions, the vulgar vices of the world, but also refraining from the various
gay and fashionable expedients which perverse ingenuity has contrived for murdering
time and dissipating serious thought ? Who are the most diligent in discharging the duties of their office public and private ? Who are most “ attentive to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine;
meditating upon these things; giving them“ selves wholly to them; that their profiting may
appear unto alla ?” Who are most laborious in
preaching the word, instant in season and out “ of seasonb;” privately as well as publicly re
proving, rebuking, exhorting with all long “suffering and doctrine?” Who are followed by the most numerous and attentive congregations ? Of whom may it truly be said, as it was of our divine Lord, during his ministry on earth, that " the common people heard him gladlyoz” Whose preaching is most effectual “by sound “ doctrine both to exhort and to convince the
gainsayersd”-to “convert sinners from the “error of their wayse”-to “ turn many to
righteousnessf”--to “ make men wise unto sal“ vation, by faith in Christ Jesus?"—Who are the closest followers of the apostolic exhortation,
Be thou an example of the believers, in word, “in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, “ in purity h?” Who possess the refined pleasure of beholding the most important practical advantages resulting from their labours--such as, the libertine become chaste, the drunkard sober,
* 1 Tim. iv. 13, 15.
b 2 Tim. iv. 2.
• Mark xii. 37.
the avaricious liberal, the slothful industrious, the fraudulent honest, the censorious candid, the liar a speaker of truth, the contentious peaceable the passionate meek, the proud humble, the malicious benevolent; in a word, those who “ were " the servants of sin, made free from sin, and “ become servants of God, having their fruit “unto holiness, and the end everlasting lifea ?" The answer to these questions, to be consistent with truth, must be- THOSE WHO SUBSCRIBE THE ARTICLES IN “THE LITERAL AND GRAMMATICAL SENSE.” No person can attend THEIR ministrations, and observe the multitudes hanging upon their lips, without contrasting the interest excited by their sermons to the indifference discovered under those of the generality of their brethren. And every unprejudiced observer finds himself surrounded by numerous proofs, that their preaching does in fact answer the ends for which the preaching of the Gospel was originally instituted.
What sincere regret, then, must it occasion to every true Churchman, that these firmest friends and most active promoters of the best interests of the Church should be discountenanced by any of those who ought to encourage them in their work, and to rejoice in the success of their labours ! Yet such is the melancholy fact. The pulpit and the press the episcopal charge, and the private intercourse, have all been employed to raise prejudices against them, and bring
Rom, vi. 20, 22. ·