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tion.* By their decent, yet manly firmness, in supporting their invaded rights, the rest of the nation was inspired with a similar resolution to resist the precipitate and unconstitutional measures of an infatuated court; and throughout the whole of that memorable and glorious transaction, their behaviour was at once so prudent and intrepid, so suitable to their profession, and so friendly to the righteous cause of genuine liberty and pure religion, that they received one of the highest and most flattering rewards with which a British subject can be honoured, — the unanimous thanks of the Commons of Great Britain in Parliament assembled. t
· * To the same eminent persons we owe the subversion of the whole system of Atheistic Philosophy, from its very foundations. See the Bishop of Worcester's Sermons. S. i. p. 23.
t Journals of the House of Commons, Feb. 1, 1688.
Among other instances of cool yet resolute opposition to the despotism of James by the prelates and clergy of the Church of England at this momentous period, the reader will recollect, with peculiar veneration and gratitude, Bishop Compton's refusal to comply with the king's illegal order to suspend Dr. Sharp, for preaching against popery; the resistance made by Dr. Hough, and the Fellows of Magdalen College in Oxford, to the king's arbitrary mandate in favour VOL. II.
These, perhaps it will be said, though important, are past services, and are calculated to prove, not what we ourselves, but what our predecessors have done for the public. Yet surely they are reasons for esteeming the order in general, for bearing testimony to the merits of those who have formerly adorned it, and for exercising every act of kindness and humanity towards the persons who succeed them in their ministry. And even these, we hope, have something to plead in their behalf. They have not, we trust, materially departed from the principles of their ancestors. The English clergy, we do not scruple to say, are still zealously attached to the interests of virtue and religion ; are still, in general, faithful, diligent, and regular in the discharge of their sacred functions. They are still sincere friends to real constitutional freedom ; and the very same love of it, which at the Revolution, led them to refuse a slavish and unlimited obedience to the illegal mandates of arbitrary power, induces them now to promote, both by their doctrine and their example, that dutiful respect, and conscientious submission to all lawful authority, which the Gospel most peremptorily enjoins; the extreme want of which is at present but too visible, and yet without which no true liberty can long subsist. But although, on these grounds, they have judged it expedient to throw their weight into the scale of government, yet they have done this without any unbecoming vehemence or heat; and amidst all the violent dissensions which have lately agitated this kingdom, they have, as a body, conducted themselves with a degree of prudence, temper, mildness, and moderation, which must do them no small credit in the eyes of every unprejudiced observer. * And that, in other respects, their talents, their learning, and their morals, are such as have gained them general approbation and esteem, may be collected from this single circumstance; that when you want to find out proper instructors for your children, you naturally turn your thoughts to the clergy; and it is in their hands, in their houses, you chuse to place whatever you hold most dear and valuable in the world. To them, in short, has long been, and still is, confided that most important trust, the education of youth; a trust which it is no vain boast to say they have discharged with fidelity and ability. * Under their direction, the schools and universities of this kingdom have acquired an acknowledged superiority over all the other seminaries of Europe. In their colleges have been formed most of those great and illustrious characters that have contributed to the glory and prosperity of this country: and even among that large number of persons here present, there are
of a popish president; and the truly noble and patriotic conduct of the seven Bishops, who were sent to the Tower, and brought to a public trial, for their petition to the throne against the second Declaration of Indulgence founded on the Dispensing Power. These acts of magnanimity on the part of the English clergy, indisputably prepared and led the way to the great and glorious events which soon after fol. lowed.
* How well qualified they are for this employment, has been fully shown by a consummate judge of the subject of education, in the Dialogues on the Uses of Foreign Travel, Ist ed. Dial. 2, p. 183. The attentive perusal of these inimitable dialogues is strongly recommended to all those who prefer a foreign university to our own, or who suffer their sons to ramble over Europe at an early and most dangerous period of life, not only without a clerical governor, but even sometimes without any governor at all.
few, I apprehend, who have not, at some period of their lives, derived considerable benefit from the instructions of our order.
These known and undeniable facts are, we conceive, very unequivocal proofs of our good conduct and good estimation; and ought greatly to outweigh all those unmerited calumnies which are so often thrown both upon the order in general, and the individuals of which it is composed, by those who know very little of either. * That there are in ours, as in every other profession, several unworthy members, it is in vain to deny: and where can be the wonder, if in so very numerous a society some apostates should be found? But take the whole in one collective view, and it may with the
* “ The rule,” says a great and good prelate, “ which “ most of our adversaries seem to have set themselves, is, “ to be at all adventures as bitter as they can; and they “ follow it not only beyond truth, but beyond probability; “ asserting the very worst things of us without foundation, “ and exaggerating every thing without mercy; imputing “ the faults, and sometinies imaginary faults of particular .“ persons, to the whole order; and then declaiming against “ us all promiscuously with such wild vehemence, as in any 6 case but ours, they themselves would think in the highest “ degree cruel and unjust.” Secker's Charges, p. 5.