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who can bear it? But since it appears to me to be fully warranted, or rather absolutely required by the Laws of Christianity, already set down, Page 506, 507, 508. I know of no Power on Earth that can allow me to dispense with them. However, seeing this whole Head chiefly concerns the Clergy of the established Church, that, if possible, they may be at last moved to think of the doleful Case they are in, and into what a doleful State they have brought our Laity,who depend upon them also. Take my own and Bishop Burnet's most serious Admonitions to them, produced formerly by me, as follows : And may Almighty God make them at last effectual to their through Reformation. Yeare the Salt of the Earth, (Matt. v. 13.) says our Saviour to his Apostles, and by then, in effect, to all their Successors in preaching his Gospel : But if the Salt have lost its Savour, wherewith shall it be salted ? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under Foot of Men, [See Christian Discipline, Page 77, 78.]
If the Reader will pardon a short, but not unseasonable Digression, it is clearly my Opinion, that till our Defenders of Christianity do more than they have most of them hitherto done, as to affording the World this Conviction that they are really in Earnest themselves ; particularly till our Bishops leave off procuring Commendams, and heaping up Riches and Preferments on themselves, their Relations, and Favourites ; nay, till they correct their Non-residence ; till they leave the Court, the Parliament, and their Politicks, and go down to their
Dioceses, Dioceses, and there labour in the Vineyard, instead of standing the most part of the Day idle at the Metropolis; they may write what Vindications and Pastoral Letters they please, the observing Unbelievers will not be satisfied they are in Earnest, and by Consequence will be little moved by all their Arguments and Exhortations.
What Opinion of the Clergy's Preaching is entertained by some, we may learn from the known Story of the Conference between Dean Aldridge and Mr. Brotherton the famous Comedian : For when the Dean declared to Mr. Brotherton his Surprize, how Comedians should so deeply effect an Audience, while Preachers cannot do it, whose Subjects are yet so much more serious and affecting than the other's Fictions ; Mr. Brotherton, upon Leave obtained to speak his Mind with the utmost Freedom, made Answer, Mr. Dean, we are in Earnest, and
you are not.
To this let me add, by way of Conclufion of this Head, what is already at the End of my Paper of Christian Discipline, P. 79, 80. and the Conclusion of my Reflections on Mr. Collins's Book of Free-thinking; as follows:
I have lamented, says Bishop Burnet, during my whole Life, that I saw so little true Zeal among our Clergy, (Hift. of bis Own Time, Vol.I."
Pag. 183.) I saw much of it in the Clergy of ! the Church of Rome, though it is both ill-directed 6 and ill-conducted: I saw much Zeal likewise • in the foreign Churches : The Diffenters have a great deal among them; but I must own, that
i the main Body of our Clergy has always appeared 6 dead and lifeless to me, and instead of animating
one another, they feem rather to lay one another i asleep. Without a visible Alteration in this, you i will fall under an universal Contempt, and lose
both the Credit and the Fruits of your Ministry.
-I say it with great Regret, I have observed • the Clergy in all Places through which I have « travelled, Papists, Lutherans, Calvinifts, and
Dilsenters : But of them all, our Clergy is much < the most remiss in their Labours in private, and « the least severe in their Lives. If the Clergy e abandon themselves to Sloth and Idleness; if they o neglect their proper Function, and follow a vain, ,
a covetous, or a luxurious Course of Life ; if • they, not content with educating their Children · well, and with such a Competency as may fet • them afloat in the World, think of building up
their own Houses, and raising up great Eftates,
they will put the World upon many unacceptable • Enquiries : Wherefore is this Waste made? Why, 6 are these Revenues continued to Men who make • such an ill Use of them ? And why is an Order
kept up that does the Church so little good, and gives it so much Scandal?
· I conclude with the Words of the Prophet « Ezekiel, as set down and applied to the Clergy of « the Christian Church, in the Apostolical Constitu« tions, Lib. ii. Ch; 18. [Refleet. on Free Think.
Pag. 54.] And I earnesty beseech God we may all < take Warning from them, left they also rise up ' to our Condemnation hereafter : Woe unto the
Shepherds of Israel ; for they have fed themselves ; the Shepherds feed not the Sheep but themselves : re eat the Milk, and are cloatbed with the Wool; ye say the Strong, ye do not feed the Sheep. The Weak . have ye not strengthened ; neither have ye healed « that which was sick ; neither bave ye bound up that i wbich was broken; neither have ye brought again " that which was driven away; neither bave ye fought that which was loft ; but with Force and
Insult bave ye ruled over them ; and they were • scattered, because there was no Shepherd, and they • became Meat to all the Beasts of the Forest.'
5. The Protestant, as well as the Popish Courts, freely tolerate, or rather greatly support and encourage, Masquerades, Ridotto's, Balls, and Plays, I had almost said even, Bawdy-houses, and Gaming-houses also ; which, if any thing can be so esteemed, are the groffest Parts of those Pomps and Vanities of the present wicked World, which all Christians folemnly renounce in their Admisfion into the Christian Church by Baptism. Nay, we here do more than, perhaps, any Popish King, dom in the World would do, I mean tolerate Mr. Henley, in his weekly, impious, and profane Abuse of all that is sacred, for twenty-three or twenty-four Years together, every Lord's-Day Evening, as I have already noted ; which I reckon amongst the Plays also, only much worse than they ; yer do I ever esteem of these Masquerades, Ridotto's, Balls, and Plays, Bawdy-houses, and Gaming-houses, as the Devil's Head-Quarters; where, under the Notion of Diversion, Men are taught to be enormously
wicked and profane, lewd and luxurious. Yet do I well remember, that when I once long ago cast my Eye on the Dedication of a Play to fome Bishop, or eminent Churchman, I found the Author pleaded, that · None were Enemies to the Stage, but they were Enemies to the Church, and to Episcopacy
also. A mighty Encomium upon the Church of England this ! Nor do I perceive, that when our Princess of Wales's Great Grandfather, Ernest the Pious, (Life, Page 44.) brought a Play once to be acted before him, whose Subject was, The State of a Debauch'd Church, he did any thing else than truly represent, most, if not all our present Courts, where our modern Plays are asted, and as they have been here ever since the Restoration of King Charles II. whose Character you have in Bishop Sherlock's Sermon ar Salisbury, by me already inserted, after the second Part of the Memoirs of my Life, Page 7. where he says, “ There never was a < Time when Lewdness, Irreligion, and Profanee ness were heard with more Patience :' Tho' perperhaps I may now add, that they are at present heard with more publick Approbation, than they were in that debauched Court itself; because Lewdness, Irreligion, and Profaneness, are greatly increased since that Time. Otherwise, such a contemptible Person as Mr, Colley Cibber would not have so long been our Poet-Laureat; at least he would not, in this very Juncture, when every fober Christian is alarmed by the apparent Signs of the divine Displeasure, and thinking of a solemn Reformation from such courtly Fooleries ; to adver