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You are the minister of a religion famous for its morality. Do nothing to weaken this evidence of its divinity.
Avoid all gross vices, drunkenness, adultery, lying, blasphemy, sabbath breaking. It is not enough for you to abstain from swearing and lying, you must not take the Lord's name in vain, nor allow yourself to prevaricate. Abstain from what Scripture calls filthiness of spirit, pride, levity, hypocrisy, avarice, discontent, distrust, mental immoralities. Practise all the moral duties of both tables, and let your flock see as well as hear your doctrine. "Have no fellowship with those unfruitful works of darkness, gaming, horse-racing, frequenting taverns and ale-houses, play-houses, operahouses, balls, assemblies, masquerades; avoid also hunting, shooting, dangling at the heels of Sir Robert, cringing at the levee of my lord, and fetching and carrying for my lady, of all which, whatever may
he said for secular men, not one can be proper for you. The minister of Christ must at least appear to be a man of delicate and refined moral virtue.'
You are a minister of a revealed religion. Study the Holy Scriptures, distinguish the doctrines of revelation from the discoveries of philosophers; the precepts of Christ from the prudential saws of Epictetus ; the doctrines and laws of his kingdom from human creeds and worldly maxims; and do pot imagine that classics and mathematics, novels and plays, contain a body of christian divinity.
Never turn the sacred truths of revelation into ridicule, nor call being born again, fearing the Lord, praying by the spirit, the cant of a party. The phraseology of scripture may have been misunderstood; but you should not discard both comment and text; you have adopted the book, and you ought to explain its meaning. Avail yourself of all opportunities of disseminating Scripture knowledge. Catechize the children, and the poor in your parish. Carry religion home to their bosoms. Lay aside the self-important haughtiness of a priest, and put on the meek and humble temper of your
Go into the cottages of the poof. Encourage their meeting together to pray and to read the Holy Scriptures. Teach them to set up family worship, to perform a course of domestic devotion, and, above all things, never countenance the profanation of the Lord's day, but teach them to reverence and improve it.
You are, Sir, a minister in a rich community. Your country gives you good wages, and they expect at least some work. Employ your emoluments to better purposes than those of dress and equipage, Sunday visits, midnight revels, assemblies, simoniacal contracts, and such like. Detest the miserable disposition of hoarding wealth, and dread being possessed with the rage of rising to preferment. Remember, all church emoluments are fiduciary, and they lapse into the public hand, when the services for which they were granted, are not performed. Flatter the vices of no patron; but with a modest boldness reprove
them. Dare to be upright. Despise the shame of singularity. Touch no sinecures. Renounce needless pluralities. Do not plead for non-residence, and, if you must have a curate, let him share both work and wages. It would be tedious to you, were I to go through the duties that are annexed to all offices from the curate up to the metropolitan of all England, and I will only beg your patience, while I add, in general, avoid the six vices, that disgrace too many of your order. Destroy the prejudices of deists and infidels--allow, at least, the probability of some defection and adopt the course prescribed by the oracles of God.
The principal vices that disgrace the priesthood are: 1. Ignorance of a body of christian divinity. 2. Perjury, if they subscribe upon oath their belief of propositions, which they have either not examined, or do not believe. 3. Ambition, expressed in a haughty reserve in private life, a vain and pompous parade in public, a pedantic affectation of wisdom of words in their public preaching, by which they sacrifice the edification of a whole congregation to the silly vanity of shining as men of genius. 4. Insatiable avarice, ten thousand times more tenacious of a four-penny Easter offering than of all the ten commandments. 5. Timeserving, always pursuing those measures which serve their own interest, surrendering to it philosophy and divinity, the interest of their country, and the honour of their God. 6. Hypocrisy, acting a part, recommending christianity by office, and establishing pa anism by inclination, at
church in masquerade, and at a play in their native character. Such priests as these turn the heavenly manna into poison. They give the enemies of religion cause to blaspheme, they are the ridicule of Atheists, and the reasons of Deism ! Be it your holy ambition, Sir, to wipe off the foul prejudices that defile the face of a weeping reformed church. Your community is suspected of symbolizing with popery, for Parpalio the pope's nuncio offered in the pope's name to confirm yonr service book. All reformed divines own, the distinguishing characters of that apostate church are three, superstition, tyranny, and immorality. Are there no evidences of your posessing these gloomy marks of antichristianism? Are your morals uncorrupt? Do you place no religion in habits, places, words, and forms ? Have you resigned the unrighteous dominion over conscience, that in less inquisitive times your
order unjustly acquired? Have you like other penitents joined restitution to repentance? Have you ex. pelled no students for praying and reading the scriptures? denied ordination to no candidates on account of their holding the doctrines of your own articles ? suspended and persecuted no clergymen for preaching more zealously than yourselves? Have you awed none into silence, who would speak if they dare?
What said you to your petitioning colleagues ? and what to the dissenting clergy, whom you flatter, and soothe, and call brethren in Christ? Are they freed from oaths, and subscriptions, and penal laws ? Christian liberty ! thou favourite offspring of heaven! thou first born of christianity! I saw the wise and pious servants of God nourish thee in their houses, and cherish thee in their bosoms! I saw them lead thee into public view; all good men hailed thee! the generous British Commons caressed and praised thee, and led thee into an upper house, and there....
.. there didst thou expire in the holy laps of spiritual Lords !. . .• Allow, it is not impossible, it is not improbable, it is very likely, that may have happened in christianity, which has happened in law; multifarious statutes have obscured plain common law. Changing the term law for divinity, I will recite the words of one of the chief ornaments of that profession. The christian religion has fared like all other venerable edifices of antiquity, which rash and unexperienced workmen have ventured to new dress and refine with all the rage of modern improvement: hence frequently its symmetry has been destroyed, its proportions distorted, and its MAJESTIC SIMPLICITY exchanged for specious ernbellishments, and fantastic novelties. For, to say the truth, all niceties and intricacies owe their original not to Scripture divinity, but to additions and innovations, often on a sudden penned by men, who had none, or very little judgment in divinity.... In fine, Sir, feed the flock of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood-covet no man's silver, or gold, or apparel —warn every one night and day with tears--serve the Lord with all humility of mind-keep back nothing that is profitable to us-teach us publicly, and from