Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

were it not for religious prospects, I should be wretched beyond the utmost energy of language to express. Although poverty and old age together be but a mortifying fate, yet as to any personal misery, I hope I could defy it to touch me with impatience. But, oh! my Lord, the thing that enervates all my fortitude, and cuts me to the heart, is, to see my poor family in want, and to be a spectator of their misery without the power of relief! “As you may have the direction of some charities, be pleased to use your influence in the case of “Your Lordship's “Faithful servant, - “ MATHEw Wor'THINGTo N.” It will easily be imagined, that a letter such as this, written with all the pathetic E 2 eloquence

eloquence of undissembled distress, could not fail to make a strong impression on a feeling mind. The Bishop was exceedingly struck by it; and with the assistance of the Chancellor, Dr. Peploe, immediately opened a subscription, towards which he contributed largely himself, as a temporary relief: soon after which, the Living of Childwell, a vicarage in his gift, becoming vacant by resignation, he immediately presented it to Mr. Worthington. I have related this occurrence, not only because it is in itself an extremely interesting one, but as it marks a very conspicuous feature in the Bishop's character; namely, the eagerness with which his mind always seized a benevolent object. It was not a mere compliance with judgment. It was not a frigid, dilatory, reluctant charity, extorted by the occasion. On the contrary, I never yet saw any one, who appeared to me to possess, in a more exalted degree, the true spirit of beneficence. It came warm from the heart, unchecked by cold calculation; whilst the good he did became doubly valuable by his manner of doing it.

[graphic]

On the 10th of March 1779, a motion was made in the House of Commons, for leave to bring in a Bill for the further relief of Protestant Dissenters; the purport of which was to exempt them from subscription to the Articles, and to entitle them to the full benefit of the Act of Toleration, on their taking the oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy, and subscribing the Declaration against Popery. To this the Bench had no objection; but were at the same time of opinion, that in a Christian country none ought to. be allowed to preach or teach without some E 3 formal

[graphic]

formal acknowledgment of their being Christians and Protestants, and that they will make the Scriptures the rule of their faith and practice. Upon this principle it was agreed to move an amendment to the Bill, containing a declaration to that effect, and with the exception of a few expressions, the same with that proposed by the Dissenters themselves, on a former application to Parliament in 1773. In the Bishop's papers, I find the following reasons assigned for the part which he himself took in this question.

"On the most mature consideration," he says, "I am clearly of opinion that some declaration was proper and necessary, and that for several reasons. First, Because the English clergy in general, and many of the laity, would have been, and 1 think justly, exceedingly dissatisfied, had the Bishops vonsemed to an unlimited limited indulgence of religious opinions, without any declaration at all.

"Secondly, When any one applies for liberty to preach and teach, the State has a right to know what the leading principles of his religion are, in order to be assured that they contain nothing injurious to civil society, or to the established form of Government.

"Thirdly, If there be no declaration, not only Protestant Dissenters, but Mahometans, Deists, Atheists and Pagans, will by this Bill be entitled to preach and teach their opinions with impunity; for any of these may pretend to be Protestant Dissenters. And although these may be connived at, as they now are, so long as they behave peaceably and inoffensively, yet I apprehend the Legislature would not choose to give them a legal toleration. Indeed some of their opinions are E 4 dangerous

[graphic][ocr errors]
« FöregåendeFortsätt »