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that if a Rector can easily and comfortably go from, home when any occasion seems to him to require it, he is the more likely to engage a Curate: now two clergymen are better for a parish, generally speaking, than one; in various ways; some of which it might be rather invidious to mention. The having two, suppose half the year, would compfenfate to the parish for the rector's absence, occasionally, during the other half; that is, the parish would be more benefited so, than if only the rector resided his legal nine months, and got assistance during the other three, from neighbours, or others not interested in the parish, and absent from it.
The present confinement of a rector to his parsonagehouse may be a great hinderance to a clergyman's marrying a lady of large property; as such a one would want a roomy house, stables, and offices; or would have a good dwelling of her own. In licentious times many a lady of fortune may judge it reasonable to unite herself to a man of good morals and regular decent behaviour; especially if her appearance and manners are not of that brilliant fort, which are apt to catch the eye, and dazzle the judgment of the opulent and the noble. Now a woman ot large property, in tie situation of a rector's wife, does a great deal ot good in a Parish; and very much encourages attendance on religious duties. Besides that it is greatly conducive to the public good that property should be united to virtue; and that a pro-, vision should be made for those well-principled females, who might without it alwdys live single. This reasoning Tupposes some considerable intercom se to subsist between the rector and his parish; but the useful kind of alliance here spoken of would seldom be consistent with perfect conformity to the present law.—And what has been observed with regard to clergymen acquiring property by marriage, might be applied to those who have property without it. And such are the nearest to being disinterested in entering into the ministry: disinterested ministers are, generallyTpeaking more Hkely to perform offices of religion with a right spirit, (besides that they must benefit the houses, and other temporalties) than those who fay, "Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priests offices that I may eat a piece of bread." (i Sam. ii. 36.}
m One part of a clergyman's duty is to Jtudy religion, natural and revealed; but books are often difficult to be procured in country retirement, or even in many towns. Liberty here might be so very useful as to pay for the hazard of its being abused. And ma,ny who think and read, may find occasion to publisn. Country printing is very troublesome and inaccurate, in many places; and when sheets are sent backward and forward, the evil is not always removed. When we look, at the inestimable worth of some publications in our church, we must be inclined to run a good deal of hazard in order to support any thing so useful. And we must think, that by granting liberty any way capable of producing such important good, we are serving the best interests of religion. • .
It may be urged by some, that according to the present law in these cafes a bishop would grant a licence, which the abp. would not hesitate to confirm; but in effect, that differs much from Liberty . Is a man to make bishop and archbishop, with all their secretaries &c. confidents of his design upon a lady of fortune? yet security is needful for his first proposal., Is a man of property, who flatters himself he could do good as a clergyman in his own way, to lay open all his fond willies and benevolent schemes; and so, if he is fortunate enough to escape ridicule, to tie himself up, and lose the cheering feel ot doing good according to varying circumstances, horn free choice and genuine good will? Shall the author damp his enthusiasm and expose his delicacy without a certainty of finally succeeding? no; liberty is quite a different thing from public written leave, given by the heads of the church, aher an application which may probably have produced an examination, discordant to the finer sentiments of human nature.
What then is to be the result of all these observations? If I were obliged to determine so important a matter, I think I should try the experiment of giving the clergy a discretionary power with regard to Residence; though I should endeavour to invent some methods of encouraging them to listen to the dictates of conscience, and ot rendering clerical duty pleasing as well as satisfafcfory to him who should regularly perform it.
I cannot think any large body of men more likely to make good use of discretionary power than the clergy; especially if patronage were exerciied according to its true intent and meaning. Something to this purpose was mentioned amongst the remarks on the law concerning curates. I own I am unable to adopt any thing so degrading to the sacred order, as that a clergyman is to be treated like a school-boy, and not to be suffered to go out of bounds without asking the master's leave. Whatever degrades the clergy must lessen the respect and esteem of the people towards them; and
what what greater evil can arise? Nay, confinement must lower and debase the sentiments and principles of the clergy themselves: and whatever does so, must materially hurt the spring which sets in motion all the most valuable efforts of the good pastor. Let a peaceable and modest man be ever so submissive to authority, his mind under confinement, cannot have that noble energy, that divine love ot beneficence, which a consciousness of freedom and choice would constantly supply.
As a member of the Church of England I should be the less afraid to hazard the experiment of liberty, as I think it may have been said to have been already tried, (that is, freedom from restraints of governors) and as it does not appear that the mischiefs of it (though liberty will always be attended with many abuses) did in reality occasion the present law; or that they were greater than confinement would have occasioned.—As I conceive the matter, the law of Residence made under Henry VIII. would have grown sufficiently obsolete to give liberty, had it not been for some litigious, revengeful, or interested informers. And to counteract such worthless people was the real design of the present law: but to prevent vexatious law-suits is, in effect, to defend liberty, or prevent its being punished. When a law was to be made, it might be thought proper and decent to regulate Residence, and endeavour to correct abuses (for abuses certainly did, and always will exist); but I would submit, whether a new law would ever have been made, if worthy^ well-meaning clergymen had not been harassed by ill-meaning informers: though the liberty enjoyed from those in authority might be considered as unrestrained.
It seems to me as if the abolition of Pluralities would have moreeffect in producing useful Residence, that is, in answering the professed end and design of the act before us, than any regulation which it contains. Yet pluralities it expressly and aarefully maintains, (sect 40. as I understand it.)
Men are often ready to urge, that a strict examination of a law under consideration is needless, because that law would not be rigorously put in execution. And it is, I grant, frequently a better method to let a law fall into disuse, than to repeal it expressly: but this, I think, is only in the cafe of antiquated laws, the repeal of which would, in some way, hurt the habitual feelings or notions of some well-meaning persons; the present law, being quite new, has got no hold of men's minds; nor has it any inveterate prejudices in its favour; neither, though the whole magistracy of the country
were were inclined to let it drop into disuse, could that happen: it could never become obsolete for the same reason that the old law of Henry VIII. never became obsolete, because interested or malicious men, will always have motives for prosecuting, whilst they can get a fine. Were the whole power of censuring lodged in disinterested and enlightened judges, I verily believe that the present law would gradually fall into total neglect, if it were not repealed; but unhappily it constitutes those persons its preservers, who have no legislative wisdom, nor any love for the public welfare, nor any concern for the interests of religion. And in such a case, every degree of liberty, allowed by the wisest and best men in authority, acts only as a snare, and as a temptation to incur danger and loss. How soon the penalties of the present law will be neglected by those in authority, must probably depend upon a sort of experiment: if the evils of relaxation prove great and scandalous, the penalties may sometimes be levied; if not, the rulers 9s the church will probably, by degrees, pass them over unnoticed.
And now, fir, I will conclude. I may have thrown out notions which I may hereafter wish to correct; nay, I am persuaded, that some of my friends, if I had opportunity of consulting them, would now correct some things, though I know not which. Your correspondents must supply their place: they have shewn, in many instances, how friends who thoroughly esteem each other, may entertain different opinions, and express dissent inoffensively. There is a great difference between writing one's own thoughts, as they occur j and deciding finally, on a careful review, and advice of judicious correctors. I am conscious that my meaning is good; that I have no desire to excite discontent, even had I the power. I am a peaceful and obedient subject, in church and state: but as those who make laws, are usually in the great and busy world, some things may possibly escape their notice, which may occasion actual difficulties to those, whose business it is to carry theory into practice.
July 6, 1807. RECTOR.
ANECDOTES OF SKELTON.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN S
I WAS greatly delighted, and I hope much edified, by the perusal of the interesting memoir of Philip Skelton, which appeared in some of your former volumes. Having since met with the life and correspondence of Richardson, who was Skelton's printer and friend, I was particularly pleased with some notices respecting that excellent man,' contained in the letters of the Rev. Smythe Loftus, and as it is probable that many of your readers may not have seen the work, the following extracts will afford them an agreeable amusement.
"I hope soon" says Mr. Loftus, in his letter from Dublin, June 20, 1757, "to meet our common friend Skelton at Killian, my brother's country place. The good man is very well, and the distresses of his people by this hard season, have only served to shew forth his uncommon virtue. He is very unhappily situated in one of the wildest counties in this island, where he has nothing but a collection of very low working people, and these, by the badness of the last harvest, and the destruction that a mighty storm made of their corn, have long since been driven to the greatest distress, without any one to help them but himself. To do this, he forgave those who were poor (almost the whole of his parish) their tythe of last year; he laid out wha"t money he had to buy corn for them; he borrowed twenty pounds, which was all he could get; he sold off thirteen pounds worth of his books, and he has sent four hundred volumes more (the only treasure he has) to Dublin, to be sold for them, and has.left himself but about two hundred more, which he cannot possibly do without."
In a letter from Dublin dated August 3, 1757, Mr Loftus
"I was disappointed in my hopes of meeting my friend Skelton at my brother's country place; he wrote to me that he could not leave his poor people till the harvest was come in, and in that mountainous and cold country that this