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•annot but see they are daily making around us. At suchatime, and under such circumstances, it is not a trifling alteration in ©ur Liturgy,* it such it needed, nor any improvement in our manner of reading it, + if that were not already very stir perior to the supposed eloquence of their extempore orators, that would do any thing to strengthen ourselves or annoy our enemies: but there is one thing, which, if it had fortunately occurred to the friends and rulers of out church at an earlier period, would have done much to prevent the increase of secta. rists, and will I am confident even now be a very great safeguard, and operate more than any thing that is left for us to do to diminish their numbers, or at least with respect to one numerous body of them, to prevent their increase, and that is the idea which Mr. Pearson suggests, that every preacher before he be admitted tp the office of a teacher be examined in the Greek Testament.
Nothing can be simpler, more reasonable in itself, or more easily to be effected than this: which, like all other discoveries when made, one cannot help wondering that it had not been made before. The abuses of a right which was indisputable in its principle, and the glaring perversion of the Act of Toleration to purposes which it was never intended to countenance, have long been the subject of lamentation in the minds of those who have turned their thoughts to the state of the church, and the growing dissensions which present themselves to the eye of an observer in every part of the kingdom: but how to restrain the abuse without infringing the principle, or incurring the charge of being inimical to the principles of religious liberty, was the difficulty that presented itself in limine, and appeared so formidable both to the ministers of state and the ministers of religion, that they had not the courage to venture a step further into the consideration of the important subject which called their attention. But here the difficulty is at ODce removed, and the,re is nothing more to be done than the qualification of the principle already admitted, and so long acted upon, by a simple provision which does not at all affect the principle, and goes to the very point at once from which the greatest part of the evils with which we are now surrounded have sprung. For what is there that can militate with ihe principle of that act, or to which the objects themselves whom it was intended to protect, will not most readily allow to be
* Mr. Pearson's letter. f Ibid..
A A perfectly
Vol. XIII. Churchm. Mag. for Sep. 1807.
perfectly just and reasonable in requiring of those who claim the privileges of it, that they fliould be subject to an examination which shall determine their fitness to be entrusted with the important charge of public teachers?
If, however clear and evident the truths might be, and demonstrable the doctrines, as the pure word of God, they were required to hold and teach this or that particular do6trine without which they could not be suffered to undertake the office of teachers, the rights of conscience might be pleaded in bar to the requisitions proposed; but to be able to read the Scriptures, in which the truths of the Gospel are contained, in the original language in which those Scriptures were written, is a qualification without which it must be admitted, by all who take Scripture for their guide, that none can be competent or ought to be permitted 10 teach the truths therein contained. Men are not entrusted with the lives, the health and safety of the public, without a proof of suitable qualifications for the charge. Medical professors must pass an examination before they are permitted to undertake the cure of bodily infirmities: how much more important is this precaution in the cure of fouls? In the naval and other departments, those who are to be entrusted with the safety of so many of their fellow creatures, are not allowedto undertake so great a charge without examination. In the Church the rulers must have full proof of their fitness before the candidates for orders can be admitted into the ministrv; and why should any be suffered to take upon themselves the important charge of public instruction in matters which respect thiG highest of all concerns, until the government are satisfied that they possess at least so much of the requisite talents of a religious teacher, as that they understand the language in which the religion is written? Unless they pretend to immediate revelation, and if they do, they should give full proof of their mission to the satisfaction of the government before they be permitted to deliver, under the sanction of divine authority, doctrines which may not only be the delusion of their own imagination, but which every rational and reflecting mind must know to be such, or worse; unless they can make it appear by the signs of an Apostle that they are commissioned and sent from God; unless they declare themselves to have no belief in what is already re-, vealed, and if they do this, the question would be whether they ought at all to be permitted to do the mischief that such an open disavowal of that divine rule of faith and practice \y which all Christian states are influenced would be attended
Vitfa—unless I fay, they utterly disclaim the written Word as the source and fountain ot their doctrines, they surely ought to be competent to the understanding of that word, to be acquainted with the language at least, in which it was originally written, if they be not deeply read in other writings that have been considered -as necessary to elucidate the Scriptures and fit them for teachers of religion. It might be too much to expect them to be men of erudition, to be well acquainted with all those preparatory subjects which are considered not only by ourselves, but by the dissenters, as necessary to form a public teacher of religion. The aids which religion may borrow from other sciences, the enthusiastic evangelical teacher may despise, but he must not be suffered to despise the word of God. The book in which the religion which he professes to teach is contained, it is at least to be expected that he be able to read, and in its own language, that he may draw it pure from the fountain head. There can be no hardship in requiring this. It is the least that is due to the care of the people in the highest of all their concerns, to fee that they fee not left exposed to the dangers of delusion and error that may be fatal to their future peace, if it be not injurious to their own, or the peace of society in the present state. There can here be no just cause to complain of persecution. There can be no scruples of conscience to alledge as an exemption from the test proposed. The New Testament is the basis on which all denominations of Christians build their faith; and to be able to read this in the original, is the lowest qualification that can be admitted to make them competent to understand the religion which they are to teach, and to give them any pretensions to set up for the instructors of others. The teacher cannot complain that he is required to give this proof of his competency: his hearers will be benefited. The regular dissenters so far from complaining of infringement of the Act of Toleration, will rejoice with ourselves in seeing the care of the principles and morals of the public put into better hands; and the clergy will, if they mall still fee a falling off from their church, and their labours still too much obstructed by dissension, at least have the satisfaction to know that their people are not led away by every illiterate pretender to knowledge, who may have the vanity to think himself qualified for a teacher; that it cannot be the lowest of the people to whom they commit themselves when they leave their appointed pastor; and that those who do intrude themselves into the priest's office cannot be such as are altogether without knowledge, or have assumed this office without some
Aas previous previous steps that must be attended with more labour and expence of time, if nothing else, than many of the present sort of teachers would like to undergo.
But I have another provision to recommend in addition to the one which we have been considering, and that is, that every person who shall apply for a licence to set up for a public teacher, shall either enter into a recognizance to con* fine himself entirely to that profession, or be subject to the same restrictions and penalties as the clergy, who are not permitted to follow any other business, but are required When they have made their choice of this profession, to devote their whole attention to it. Neither in this cart there be any hardship. The fame ground on which the clergy are restricted from all worldly occupations and cares, will apply to all other teachers of religion. Their minds should be wholly occupied by the spiritual and important cares which they have undertaken. If it be so in one cafe it must be equally so in the other. And if it should be said that sufficient provision is made for the former, but no adequate remuneration is provided for the latter, that is a question which is to be Considered by them selves before they enter upon the office, not for the legiflature, who if they voluntarily chuse that course of life in preference to their owrt, have a right to lay them under such restrictions as shall appear necessary to the due discharge of the duties of their profession. Very inadequate in a number of cases is the provision of the clergy, and yet they are obliged to submit to this condition, except in one instance only, that of farming,-and this not without a special provision in the act, and a licence to be obtained for that purpose from their bishop. At present the licensed teacher has greatly the advantage of the regular clergy: he can follow a profitable business, or even as a mechanic in many cafes earn more by his daily labour than the parochial curate, and pocket all the emoluments of his conventicle without any authority to restrain him, or fear of prosecution from the tribe of informers whom the clergy have to keep, them in awe. He has in common with the clergy the privileges ahd exemptions which they can only claim after a long and expensive course of education, while he has only to apply to the. quarter sessions, and for a single sixpence, purchase a license that will exempt him from ballots, and procure him other privileges, which are in themselves of so much value, that I have no doubt many set up for preachers for the fake of these. Indeed I have often wondered that government should allow so many able and well bodied men, who might
fee so' Much better employed in the service of their country, to avail themselves of the pretext of a call in the service of God, to shun the burdens which fall upon the rest of his majesty's subjects. More, even to a great extent, might, if they knew this advantage, take the benefit of these unqualified exemptions. The provision which I have been speaking of would be a qualification that would meet all these abuses, and confine the privileges to those alone who devote their whole time to the profession. Let none be licensed but those who do so engage to make that their sole employment, and the legislature will silence the voice and quench the zeal of many a saint, who will not leave his earthly calling to obey the call of God, and many an artful knave, who with all his protended zeal for the Gospel, will not chuse to purchase the privileges and exemptions that shall be annexed to the profession, at such an expence. Here, as in the former case, the principle of the Toleration Act is not affected. Here is no infringement of religious liberty. The profession of a teacher is open to all persuasions, but subject to these simple but just conditions; conditions no less reasonable in themselves, than beneficial to the people, who are to be the objects of their care, that they be qualified for the office they undertake, and that they confine themselves to the discharge of the duties of it. If Mr. Perceval as an Orthodox Churchman, which I hope he is, reads your Magazine, I hope he will give these hints a thought, m the little leisure that the recess may allow him, and come prepared"at the next meeting of parliament, to adopt such measures, as may j without militating with the principles of religious liberty j give to the Church established its due ascendancy, and restore the strength it wants.
I am. Sir,
■August, 14.1807. U. B. P.
ON THE CURATES' ACT.
T-0 THE IDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN's
1EEING in your Magazine for July, some strictures on the