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to their charge, that they will seriously consider, whether
my last conjecture be not more than probable: if they think it so, there will be less need to entreat them to forecast, or bethink themselves, what a stock of learning and prudence the occasions of these times (conference with sectaries, and disputation with papists) will require: what an habit of gravity in attire, and of retiredness in conversation, is necessary to make a clergyman exemplary to the loose and vain conversation of these days: what an adult degree of virtue and godliness it must be, that must withstand the incursion of profaneness in this age. And there will not be so much need to beseech them to buy fathers, councils, and other good classic books; to mortify the flesh with study, fasting, and prayer, and to do every thing becoming a curate of souls: using this book, as a looking-glass, to inform them what is decent.
8. 4. In this fourth paragraph I intend an address to our non-conforming brethren; both to those that are out of parochial cures, and to those that, having benefices, conform with duplicity of mind, and do as little as they can. I beg leave to tell them, (and desire them to believe that I do it in all sincere humility and charity,)
First, That all the clergy of mine acquaintance, and, I verily believe, all the old clergy of the nation, as well as my poor self, and many of the younger, do long to see ourselves and our younger brethren conform to that idea of a clerk, which the noble holy Herbert hath portrayed in this book.
Secondly, That what dissimilitude is found in the younger clergy is partly occasioned by that disturbance which the late wars made in the universities.
Thirdly, They therefore have the greatest reason imaginable to come in with speed, and join cordially in helping to repair those breaches in the church, (which they first made,) at which, swarms of sectaries have entered in amongst us, and too many others have eloped out into the church of Rome.
I do verily believe, that the best amongst them would think it a rich blessing to see both church and state in such condition as they were in before themselves moved towards a change. And if all the presbyterians would first seriously reflect upon the issues of their attempts; the death of the king, the best of princes; of the archbishop of Canterbury, of the lords Strafford and Montrose, four persons most worthy to live, (as Josephus says of those Jews whom the zealots slew in Jerusalem ;) and all the blood spilt, and treasure spent in the wars :
Secondly, Upon the sudden total disappointment of their whole design:
Thirdly, Upon the manifested falseness of that calumny cast upon the good old bishops and clergy, as if they meant to bring in popery, (for the increase of which, the presbyterians have given great opportunity, though they did not intend it:)
Fourthly, Upon the sad corruption of manners, that broke in upon the demolition of government:
Fifthly, Upon the apostasy from the church, and violent inundation of sects: methinks they should not think it enough, to wipe their mouths, and wash their hands, and say, We meant well, we intended the glory of God, &c. but to bring forth fruits meet for penitents; that is, because they made havock of the church, to labour more abundantly to repair it; and to do this with speed, and in sincerity.
§. 5. This fifth paragraph contains a friendly prosopopeia or apostrophe to T. B. the author of a book intituled, The grounds and occasions of the contempt of the clergy. If the author had subscribed his name, I might perhaps have said to him what I here write. Sir, I am sorry that that wit of yours is not under the conduct of more wisdom. You have reproved divers things worthy of reproof; but in a manner worthy to be reproved: i. e. scoptice, sarcastice, with wit satirical; not with that gravity wherewith such faults ought to be reproved: like one puffed up, and not like a mourner.
You have rightly pitched upon two sluices that let into the church men not rightly qualified. 1. Promiscuous admission into the universities. 2. Indiscriminate or præproperous ordinations; which latter is often but a consequent of the former. For after admission, and twelve terms, a degree and letters testimonial do too usually follow of course. And the bishop will in charity construe the subscription of ten or twelve presbyters in a college equivalent to the imposition of so many hands with him in ordination : except he do, as bishop Wren, lord bishop of Ely, used most carefully to do; never accept a testimonial, unless it did certify, that the subscribers thought the party qualified for holy orders.
I will suppose that you neither intended to give that offence which your book has given to divers eminent, grave, and learned men in both universities; nor to yield that nutriment to profaneness which
your book hath done. For I hear (by those that are sorry for it) that as some things in your book were matter of chat in coffeehouses at C. before it was printed; so now since it was printed, they be matter of pastime in taverns at L. where wit, and wine, and profaneness sport themselves in their own deceivings; and make the faults of God's ministers (for which all that fear God do grieve) the matter of unhallowed mirth. Sir, how could you write that descant upon our blessed Saviour's words [Weep not for me-] without mingling your tears with your ink: Had you known the author, you would have pitied him; he was a man of great wit, mixed with excess; of a fancy extended to his hurt.
One of your exceptions, i. e. poverty, is so far from being a ground of contempt, that it is a cause of commiseration and honour, ab extra, ab intra, of
comfort and joy. Aristotle says, He is the best artificer that can make the best shoe of that leather that is given him. That minister that hath a poor living, and yet lives as well and does as much good as is possible to be done by any one that hath no better, shall have praise both of God and man. I have not observed any one thing (be-hither vice) that hath occasioned so much contempt of the clergy, as unwillingness to take, or keep, a poor living.
An holy man in a poor living is in a kingdom; if there be a kingdom of heaven upon earth; as I believe, I know, there is. It is a thesis that I dare undertake to make good against a Jesuit: Status inopis parochi in ecclesia Anglicana est perfectior statu cujuslibet monachi in ecclesia Romana.
There be two main occasions of contempt which you take no notice of. The one external, and that is, ENVY; a mighty engine, which sometimes casts hatred and instruments of death, sometimes bolts of scorn, upon men. 'Laici sunt infensi clericis, is a proverb that holds in the many. It daily feeds, partly, upon the patrimony of the church, by God's wonderful providence restored to the clergy, and rescued from those that had devoured it; (and I do here, in the name of my brethren, acknowledge, that, for THAT MERCY, and the mean profits of it, we are all accountable to God and man;) partly, upon the sedentary lives of churchmen; because they do not make tents as St. Paul did, nor hold the plough, thresh, or drive trades, as themselves do, they think them idle persons.
The other occasion omitted by you, (which also affords nourishment to envy,) is the affectation of gallantry, &c.
But your defect in assigning real grounds is recompensed with a great excess of instances in a long legend of clerks και οι πολλοί καπηλεύοντες και δολούντες τον λόγον του Θεού: some of which were dead nigh sixty years ago. I hope God has forgiven them; and I beseech him to prevent the like in all that be alive. And I pray you consider what reputation he is like to gain, that in a church having eight or nine thousand parishes, and perhaps as many clerks, or more, shall make it his business to ravel into sixty years backward, (twenty of which were a miserable anarchy,) and to collect the imprudenter dicta of young and weak preachers, to weed their books, and make a composure, loathsome to all good men, delightful only to such as make a mock of sin. Besides, you have imposed upon the reader, by charging the clergy of the church of England with those wild notions which were delivered by fanatics, qualified neither with orders nor arts. As for instance, (pag. 71. viz.) that the worm Jacob is a threshing worm, &c. It was delivered in Blackfriars church, London, in the year 1654, by a fanatic mechanic, who at that time was one of colonel Harrison's regiment, one of the late king's murderers. This is attested by a person of quality, who then was an ear-wit
Sir, by this time I hope you are willing to consider, 1. Whether it had not been better to have thrown a cover of silence over all your instances. I will tell you a sad inconvenience that comes from the mere relation of the abuses of holy Scripture, made either by profane wit or weak folly. They do Basavíceu every pious soul that hears or reads them. They infest the memory or fancy, and, (as the fowls that came down upon Abraham's sacrifice,) by presenting themselves, trouble a man's mind whilst he is reading the word of God, and should only attend to the pure meaning of the Spirit. Besides, oné relation begets another, and so on still they engender, till profaneness become tradition. And therefore wise men make a conscience of making rehearsal of witty applications that wrong the text.
2. Whether the event have not overreached your intent. The pretence of your book was to shew