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Country-Gentleman-The times, Matthew, require great zeal and great exertions; and unless something be immediately done to stop the effects of delusion and fanaticism, it will soon be too late for the united efforts of the best friends to the constitution, both in church and state, to prevent the downfal of both. If gentlemen who wish well to the cause of religion would but take some pains in their own families and neighbourhood to bring them to church, and to fix and confirm them in their attachment to it, if they would take the trouble to inquire of their servants or their labourers, when they do not see them at church, why they were absent, and where they go; if they would take the opportu. nities which accident may throw in their way, to talk with the poor in their neighbourhood, as you say the zealous adversaries of our esta. blishment do, upon these subjects, to impress them with a sense of the value and importance of the advantages which they lose by not coming to church, and remaining steadfast in the faith and communion to which they belong; if, when no other opportunity offers, they would call in upon them, and enter into a friendly conversation with them, that might lead to remove the prejudices which are so industriously spread among them, to alienate their confidence and respect from their parish ministers, they inight, I am well assured, do a great deal of good to the poor, and a most essential service to the cause of Religion and the church. The public are very ready to throw the blame upon the Clergy, and im: pute it to their inactivity and indifference that our churches are so much deserted, and that methodism spreads with such rapidity as it does in every quarter ; but I believe the fault may be traced to our own inace tivity and indifference. More is done by the zeal and exertions of the leading members of those societies, to draw away the multitude from their parish churches, and attach them to the places and preachers they go after, than by the preachers themselves. And I think that it more depends upon the leading members of our church to attach the Jower orders of the people to its constitution, worship and ministers; to fortify them to withstand the arts and efforts that are made use of to draw them away, to induce them to be firm and constant in their attendance upon its ordinances, to give them that confidence in their teachers that will lead them to profit from their ministry, than it does upon the clergy themselves, who cannot force them to come to their churches; who are too personally concerned, and too pointedly the objects of opposition and obloquy, to take the active part that it res quires, to do away the effects of misrepresentation and aspersions that so nearly concern themselves. And by your own account, Matthew, you pay more respect to the advice of a neighbouring superior, who shall take the pains to reason with you, and to shew you that he is in terested for your welfare, than you would do to the admonition of your minister, if he were to call upon you, and persuade you to become a more regular attendant upon his ministry.
“ Matth. A poor man likes to be talked to by his betters, and to see that they have some care for him; and what they say must be for our good, for it don't make a pin odds to them whether we go to church or meeting ; but the parsons-
“ Co. Gent. Stop, Matthew. I know what you are going to say ; and I wish to prevent you from falling into that illiberal and unfounded train of reflection upon the Clergy, as if interest were their object, and they wished you to come to their churches, because they would be gainers by your attendance. It would be a narrow and illiberal way of thinking, if their interest were concerned, to suppose that a little tem, poral advantage to themselves had a greater share in their motive than a
sense of the importance of their duty, and a deep concern for your souls. But they have no interest whatever in it. Whether you go to hear thein or not, their churches remain, and their emoluments, secured by laws both human and divine. Whether their congregations be large or small, makes not a sixpence difference to them. Their only advantage is the pleasure which it must give to a faithful and conscientious minister of God, to see himself surrounded by the whole family of christians which have been committed to his care--to have the opportunity of fulfilling the ends of his appointment to know that his labour is not in vain in the Lord. So that you should not imagine, when they apply themselves to you in the strong armour with which they are furnished, to bring you to the house of God, that they have any more interest in doing it than any private gentleman that might call upon you with the same intent. But I wish that every private person, who has any influence in his neighbourhood, would employ it in this way. It would at least strengthen the hands of the ministry ; and though I by no means wish to see the clergy desist from their laudable efforts, in season and out of season, to protect their flock from the wolf that cometh to scatter and devour them; yet, as I before observed, it rests more with others than with them to keep them within the fold. Others can say of their ministers what they cannot say of themselves. They may dwell upon the merit and excellence of that preaching whereof they themselves can say nothing. They may confront the sound and edifying doctrines which they hear in our churches, against the Aimsy and fana. tical effusions which are put in opposition to them. Those zealous ef. forts which the friends and followers of opposing doctrines employ to spread and recommend them, they can, without offence to delicacy, adopt, to give weight and recommendation to the doctrine and preaching of their own parish ministers. And it is not for want of care or con. cern for the poor, as you imagine, that they do not do this. They are very careful for you in all other respects, as you just now acknow. ledged ; and they would be equally careful in this, if they did not, un fortunately, consider it as a thing out of their way, and, perhaps from their own high opinion of the talents and good disposition of the clergy, quite unnecessary, if not an intrusion upon the province of those to whom it more properly belongs." ." Marth. I am sure if any one had taken the pains that you have done to explain things to me, and to shew me the advantages of our own church, and the sin of leaving it and going after strange preachers, I should never have left it. · "Go. Gent. One of the great evils that we have to lament at this time is, that many of those who have been educated in our church, but have not been very good members of it, when they have been awakened, as they term it, that is, in plain English, when they come to be sensible of their sins, and to see that they have not been wliat they ought to be, instead of remaining in the conununion of the church, to repair ihe injury they have done it by their past behaviour, and to show the example of a renewed life and conversation to counteract the mischief of their former bad one, they go on to add injury to injury; they renounce their communion, and thus throw upon the church the discredit which belongs to themselves; and from lukewarm, careless, perhaps disgraceful members, become most zealous adversaries; and, not content with withdrawing themselves from its communion, they seem to consider it as one of the necessary fruits of their conversion, to do all they can to draw away others from it, as if be. cause they had been bad, none can be otherwise within the pale of the church. You know, Matthew, you have lived a very bad life yourself;
and now, instead of making some amends to your church for the discre. dic you have done it, you leave it, as if it was the fault of the church, and not yourself, that you have been so bad.'
" Marth. That is not right. If I have been bad, it's no reason why others should be so. And if I have brought the church into discredit by my bad example, I should stay in it, if it was only to undo the mischiet I have done ; that's true enough. ." Ca. Gent. Aye, and not hold out to others that they cannot be as good Christians in their own church as in any other society upon earth. It is a very mischievous insinuation, even if it were confined to their own separation; but they seldom stop here. They who have been such untworthy members while they have continued in it, think it not enough to do God service by their own secession; tltey raise the standard of dissension, if it be not already erected in their neighbourhood ; they build meetings, if their circumstances allow them; They become at least contributors; and, if they contribute nothing else, they take care to add in numbers all that the rankest inveteracy can bring over from the church to unite in the same hostile opposition to its discipline and peace.
" Marth. I shouldn't think but they might be as good Christians in the church as they can out of it; there's nobody to hinder them from bele ing as good as they like ; and as to the prayers of the church, nobody can say any thing against them.
* Co. Gent. Why there it is, Matthew, that I am most puzzled to acccunt for their conduct. They allow the prayers of the church to be perfectly Evangelical; the articles they will tell you are the same ; so that both the doctrine and the worship accord with their own sentiments, and yet they leave its communion and become Dissenters. If they were really Dissenters from principle and conviction, there would be something to be said for them; but to approve of the doctrine and the worship, and go elsewhere to exercise their devotions, is an odd way of shewing their approbation : it is something like their villifying and opposing the church of Christ and his Ministers, to express their love of his Gospel.
“ Matth. It is an odd way, to be sure, of shewing their good will to the church, to set up meetings against it, and to draw away as many as they can from it. But they do sometimes come to church.
" Co. Gent. Yes, when one of their own way of thinking is to preach there : but this is in iny opinion worse than never coming. To single out a few whom they distinguish with the rank of Evangelical, and follow them, what is it but to tell the public by implication what they are not very backward to say in words, that the main budy of the Clergy are unfit to have the instruction of those who are committed to their care; and you know what I have already said upon that subject. For my own part, if I were one of their way of thinking, and the Minister of the parish in which I live did not come up to my standard, I would content myself with attend. ing very constantly, and uniting in the use of our excellent Liturgy, which, according to their own estimation, is Evangelical, and which my Parish Minister can certainly read with as much propriety and edification as the most Evangelical preacher among them; I would be a regular communicant with my neighbours; and I would hear and avail myself of all the advantages that his discourses afforded me, (and it must be a poor onc indeed froin which I could not learn something,) and for the rese I would apply myself to my Bible and what good books I could get at home, rather than make a schism in the body of Christ, divide his church, and hurt the cause of religion by a bad example."
The The latter part of this quotation gives us occasion to remark, as we do with much concern, that some of those among the regular clergy of the establishment, who are denominated by the title of Evungelical, make no scruple of enticing persons from other parishes to hear their preaching, and to attend their ministration of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. This they do, sometimes by covert insinuations, and sometimes by open declarations, that the Gospel is not preached by the ministers of the parishes, where such persons dwell. We wish such clergymen to consider what is the intention of the Church of England in committing the care of particular parishes to particular pastors, and what is the true meaning of that oath of canonical obedience to the bishop, which every clergyman is required to take, when he is instituted by him to a benefice, or licensed to a curacy. With respect to the laity, who are thus enticed, we are persuaded, that the desertion of their own Parish-church, for the sake of attending a favourite preacher, though that preacher is a member of the establishment, if not in itself a schism, is a leading step towards it. But indeed it is evident, that this practice contains in itself many of the evils of schism, and is a breach of that discipline, which it is the design of the Church of Eng. land to preserve. This, with respect to the administration of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, in particular, very clearly appears from the 28th canon, which inculcates it as a duty upon every parish minister, when he sees persons neglecting attendance at their own parish-church, for the sake of attending his ministry, instead of encouraging them to do so, to admonish them of their irregularity, and to recommend a change of conduct. We do not deny, that cases may happen, in which it would be justifiable for a person to leave his own Parish-church, for the sake of attending at a neighbouring one; but we think, that such cases must be extremely rare ; and, we are sure, that the pretence of attending what is generally called an Ecrungelical preacher, is not one of them.
TO THE EDITORS OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN'S MAGAZINE,
GENTLEMEN, THERE appears to me some similarity between the following Fare1 well Colloquy with God, as he calls it, written by the learned Sit Thomas Browne, Knt.*, and the admirable Evening Hymn of Bishop Kenn. As the book is rather scarce, I have extracted the verses for yayr Magazine, and am, . Your constant reader,
* Religio Medici, first edilion, 12mo, 1643, p. 17 for
Thou whose nature cannot sleepe
The SOLDIER'S PRAYER in the FIELD of BATTLE.