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“the recognition of the principle of appropriation,” by which jargon they designate the assumption of a power by the legislature to seize upon the property of the Church, and to apply it to secular purposes,
scelera ipsa nefasque Hâc mercede placent'
the other appear to have overlooked the consoling truth, that the civil establishment does not constitute the Church; and that nothing which the government or the populace can effect, in any age or country, has power over the existence, the efficiency, or the progressive increase of that body of Protestant Episcopal Christians whose head is the Lord Jesus Christ : nor do they sufficiently perceive that the great body of the people, hitherto misled, from their want of due information, by a system of hardy untruth, and
· Lucan, Phars. 1.
mystified by impracticable schemes of ecclesiastical reform, and an equal distribution of ecclesiastical revenues, are becoming sensible of the deception practised upon them, and of the ignorance and incapacity of speculators who have failed to distinguish reformation from plunder, while the lower orders are growing daily more indifferent to the objections raised against the Church, since the Dissenters have, in a great measure, abandoned the points of controversy respecting doctrine and discipline, to concentrate the force of their attack upon our endowments, and our connection with the State.
ως ηδυ καινοις πράγμασιν και δεξιοίς ομιλείν, ,
It must be admitted, notwithstanding this partial awakening of the public mind, and the general demonstrations of attach
ment to the National Church which have recently been made in all parts of the kingdom, that the “signs of the times” are sufficiently threatening to call for all our vigilance, energy, and courage. We are loudly threatened with the degradation and impoverishment of our Establishment; and it is unquestionable that the success of our adversaries, though it would prove but a Cadmean victory, must be attended not only with the distress and ruin of
thousands among the most loyal and useful subjects of the State, but with fearful convulsions and disastrous changes throughout the institutions of the country, and a long eclipse of its glory and prosperity. The removal of our temporal influence must, in the first instance, let loose a vast additional influx of wild opinions and practical licentiousness; and he is no rash prophet who ventures to predict that the boasted constitution of England will not long survive the shock of our fall.
The Church of Christ, meanwhile, of which we are the ministers and members, will remain fixed upon the rock which He has established for its foundation, ' plures efficimur quoties metimur",” but we are not therefore released from our obligation to maintain the Establishment with our utmost zeal and ability ; nor would it be any mark of a Christian spirit, if we could be indifferent to the fate of our country. Our Lord wept over the approaching ruin of Jerusalem and her magnificent temple; and we may be more than pardoned if we cannot contemplate without “great heaviness and continual sorrow of heart?,” the frequent indications that our own Zion “knows not the day of her visitation 3.
But mere passive regret is not the state of mind which becomes a “good soldier of Jesus Christ ;" our danger, though
Tert. Apol. sub fin.
2 Rom. ix. 2. 3 Luke xix. 44.
undeniable, is not yet so extreme as to justify the abandonment of hope, and of strenuous exertion ; “naufragium sibi quisque facit?,' and it is of the utmost importance, in this crisis, that the clergy, particularly, should take a correct and deliberate view of their position, and of the duties which it requires.
this engrossing subject, I venture to offer to my fellow-labourers in the vineyard, the suggestions which present themselves to my own mind, they will, I am sure, do me the justice to regard it rather as a call upon their sympathy and support, than as a presumptuous attempt to instruct where I ought gladly and respectfully to learn.
The clergy in this kingdom, have not only the rights and duties of citizens, but, as a corporation entrusted by the State with the religious education of the people, we have also a political rank in
1 Lucan, ibid.