« VorigeDoorgaan »
found, than perhaps in all the Kingdom besides :
This, my Lord, is a glorious Work, and a
city, never shines so bright, in my opinion, as Job xxix. when he puts on Righteousness and Judgment for 14, &c. a Robe and Diadem ; as when he is a Father to
the Poor, and the Cause that he knows not,
* Episcopus Londinensis (Saith an antient record) speciali quadam dignitate cæteris anteponendus, quia ecclesiæ Cantuariensis Decanus est Provincialis. Vid. Present State of GreatBritain, Þ. 72.
the Wicked, and plucketh the Spoil out of his Teeth : Princes and Nobles, we are told, admire him then, and the Blefing of him that was ready to perish, comes upon him.
The Bounty of Heaven has given us a Prince, that will suffer none of his Royal Authority to be wanting in the Relief and Protection of the meanest Subject that he has : The same kind Heaven has placed you in a Sphere, where your Example must needs be influential, and dispose other People to a right Conception of things. The great and opulent Clergy will forget their fancied Superiority, be afraid to insult, and ashamed to treat us otherwise than Brethren, when they see you equally covering us under the Shadow of your Wing, and not disdaining to call us Sons. I must fly therefore to your Lordship's Throne, and invoke your Favour and Protection, while I endeavour to set before you (not to the best Advantage, that I cannot do, but fairly and impartially, and as it has. been transmitted to me) the present State of some of your inferior Clergy ; a thing which others perhaps have industriously conceaľd from your Knowledge too long, for Reasons that will not bear the Light. At this Throne I must take the Freedom to plead the Rights, I conceive, we have ; and to complain of the Wrongs, I am sure, we suffer; to suggest some Remedies, that perhaps may be of use, and incite your Lordship to pursue them; with all due Deference to your Lordship’s Character and consummate Wisdom, but perhaps wirh less Tenderness towards those that are of the same Order and Equality with us (a few Appendages of Fortune only excepted) and whose unworthy Treatment of us (to give it no harder Term as yet) has compellid us at last to break a long-continued
Silence, Silence, if not to work upon other Mens Minds, at * least to ease our own.
To set our Plea then in some Method before yoli.
I. As we are the Ministers of the most High
God, we think we have a Right to Honour
and Respect. II. As our Labour and Time is entirely de
voted to his Service, a Right to Mainte
nance and Support. III. BECAUSE the Passions of Men are not to
be trusted, and that this Maintenance may
Security for it. And,
the weakest may not be undone; a Right
peal. And, V. To Mercy and Lenity, when we have
These are Rights that I think we may call our own, because they are made over to us in the Word of God, which is the great Charter of our Privileges : They are confirm’d to us by the Laws of Nature, and Consent of all Ages : They are maintain’d in the Decrees and Doctrines of antient Churches, and antient Fathers; and again, renewed and established to us in the Laws, and Offices, and Constitutions of our own. But this I am to prove ; and then, in Contraposition, shew your Lordship how grofly, at this time, they are invaded.
* Est aliquod calamitatum delinimentum dediffe lacrymas malis, & pectus laxasse fufpiris ; & nulla major est pæną quam effe miserum, nec videri, Drep. Paneg. ad Theod.
I. YOUR Lordship is too conversant in all Histories, both sacred and profane, to need any Information from me, upon what honourable Terms the Priesthood began, when the First- Numb. iii. born, and Head of the Family, was appointed 12. to that Office ; when the Prince and the Priest were united in one and the same Person ; * and to have a Right of ministring about holy things, was reckoned among the Jews, one of the high- , est kinds of Nobility *: How all other Nations, both civiliz'd and barbarous, that had a Sense of God, or Form of Religion, among them, unanimously agreed to reverence the Priests, the Ministers thereof+: How the Gospel bestows upon them the highest Titles and Appellations of Honour ; and commands them to be obey'd, Heb. xili. and to be esteemed very highly in Love for their 7: 1 Work's fake: How the apostolical Age received". them, even as the Angels of God, giadly ministred to their Necessities, and were ready in comparison to pluck out their very Eyes to do them Gal. iv. good : How converted Kingdoms admitted them 15. to the nearest Trust, made Edicts, settled Revenues, and granted Immunities in their Favour, protecting their Persons from Violence, and their Reputations from Slander and Reproach : And in latter Times, when this Zeal began to abate, how the Laws of the Church endeavor'd continually to revive it, ut omnes fuis Sacerdotibus, tam majoris Ordinis, quam inferioris, a minimo 14fque ad maximum, ut fummo Deo, cujus vice
tinually to Laws of the this Zeal began
* EE W T duty ési siñaor 1 Bagnéas dis oquvótata rý musia merdalet tuis isgdar o róuos. Phil. de præm Sa-, cerd. p. 832.
+ Vid. Fofeph. vita, Tom. ii. p. 661.
# Vid. Cave's Primitive Christianity, p. 158. and Binga ham's Orig. Eccl. vol. 2. Gib. Cod. Can. Eccl. p. I, &c. and Cumber's Discourse upon the Ordination-Office.
in Ecclefia Legatione funguntur obedientes exiftant, as we find it in one of the * Capitulars
WHAT I chose rather to suggest to your Lordship's Observation, is, the Grounds upon which the Scripture requires that the Clergy in all Ages should be held in such Honour and Eltimation. And,
1. One of these is the Dignity and great I Cor. iv. Majeity of the Master they serve : Let a Man
account of us, says the Apostle, as of the Ministers of Christ. The Use of the Word Minifter indced is almost brought down to the literal Acceptation of it, a Servant ; for to serve and to minister, servile and ministerial, are Terms in a manner equivocal. But when 'tis remembred, that we are not the Servants of Men, but of Christ; of him, who is the Fountain and Original of Honour, and to whom all Powers and Principalities both in Heaven and Earth do bow and obey ; whose Name reflects Lustre, and whose Promises assure us, that the least Kindness or Affront offer'd to us, shall be resented as done to himself; when this is remembred, I say, the Word rises in its Signification, and our Imagination begins to feel a grateful Sense, upon the Reflexion of our being thought worthy to attend in the meanest Offices about so great a Mafter. For this Reason perhaps it is, that the same Word, in the Old
Testament, signifies both a Priest and a Prince ; and that the Royal Prophet, who had no con
temptible Notion of Greatness himself, makes PT. Ixxxiv. it his Option to be a Door-keeper in the House
of God, rather than to dwell in the Tents of
iWickedness. For this reason, I am sure, it is, Lev. ii. that such Care was taken in the Levitical Law, 17, 6°C. * Cap. Car. Mag. An. 805. ch. 35. p. 4376