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fident minister, when even cathedrals are almost desolate, and visitations themselves conducted in a manner so truly farcical, one would think them intended only for an exhibition in the Haymarkct.

i I am not without apprehensions that this language may provoke fome, who prefer the pomp of a priest to the credit of a Christian. But I am under no uneasiness; and am ready to defend myself under the cover of facts, should a scalping party of Mohawks be sent out to punish me for my temerity.'

It must be acknowledged that the representation here made and farther inlifted on in the body of this work, has a tendency to excite resentment in serious and upright minds, really concerned for the interest and honour of religion, and the welfare of inankind. Whether it be stridly fact that religion suffers as much by the oppresion of pluralities, under a Protestant, as ever it did, or more than ever it did, under a Popilh prelacy,' is a point which we will not undertake to determine; nor does it appear to us that Mr. Penningtan has discusled it with suficient precision to establish the assertion, unless we ought to except what is said concerning prebends and some other preferments distinguished by the name of dignities. However, without entering into this comparative view, it is too evident that there are in our Christian and Protestant Church of England leveral practices of this fort, which loudly call for a reforma. tion.

Ecclefiaftical history shews us, that as the boundaries of the Church were enlarged, it foon degenerated from its primitive pu. rity and excellence. Several persons whose stations afforded thém a degree of power, and furnished them with opportunities of accumulating wealth and grandeur, were not negligent in im. proving them. As disputes and differences of opinion prevailed among Christians, it was thought requisite to appoint fynodical confultations of the superiors of different churches, to determine concerning these points; than which, generally speaking, nothing has proved more hurtful to the cause of cruth, piery, and charity. The deputies who formed thefe afsemblies, though no more than representatives of the people, soon began to allume fome peculiar honour and authority, and it was judged necessary also to make some distin&tions of rank among them. This infatuating desire of superiority produced restless ambition; by which means, as convocations were enlarged, and general councils began to be appointed, eminent and fuper-eminent titles were created, till at length, as this Writer obferves, that of Patriarch was thought of, in imitation of the Jews; and nothing less than an imaginary divifion of the world, Alia, Africa, or Europe, was luficient for his Yupreme dignicy.' But it is auded) .ewan chis extent of jurisdiction was inadequate to the

pride of a Roman Pontiff: he must truly he Bishop æcumenical, prince of Patriarchs, and abíclute sovereign of confederate Churches.'

The spirit of pluralism, it is justly remarked, began to thew itself in the third century. Our Author briefly traces the progress of corruption in succeeding times, according to the accounts which are given by F. Paul and Dr. Molheim, till he comes to the time when benefices were first instituted, the precise period of which, he observes, it is not ealy, perhaps not possible, to fix : ' And, says he, it is no great matter whether we know it exactly or not; being one of the cales in which, as the celebrated Lord Boling broke remarks, I had rather be guilty of all the anachronisins of a Jewish chronologer than have my head filled with the learned lumber of a modern antiquary.-Let it be supposed then, without scruple, that pluralities might have their real origin in the sixth century.'

Dispensations, commendams, and other expedients of which the Reader may here find a Mort account, were employed by way of palliative for the enormity, and the canonilts were very dextrous at inventing shifts and pretexts to evade the force of the injunétions that were formed for its supprefion. Ciement Vil. was the famous Pope, who by the plenitude of his power brought pluralities to their confunimation, making his nephew, Hippolito, Cardinal de Medicis, com nendatary universal; being not ashamed to grant unto him all the vacant benefices in the world, whether fecular, regular, dignities, parfonages, ample or with cure, for fix months, and appointing him usufructuary from the first day of his noiellion.'

Mr. Pennington proceeds to a more direct consideration of the rise and continuance of this evil in our own country. It does not appear, he says, at what period, or in what manner, pluralities were first permitted in the English Church ; but it is incontestable that abuses of this kind must have been committed before the council of London afiembled by Archbishop Corbel, in which the famous Cardinal John de Crema prelied; for the twelfth canon ordains, That no one person thall have two ho. nours in the Church. By which title, benefices of any denomination may be meant, and consequently it is an express probibition of pluralities.'

Soine Readers will still be at a loss to know about what time this practice is supposed by our Author to have been introduced into the Englim Church : he should have observed that the above council was allembled, as we apprehend to have been the case, towards the beginning of the twelfth century, or in the

But, he adds, the prohibition had no effet : for the Popes being at this time in the zenith of their power, dispensations X 3

might

year 1127

might be purchased and pluralists enabled to enjoy their acquifitions with full security. And yet, to give the Devil his due, the Popes were extremely ready to censure the simoniacal conduct of the Prelates and Clergy; as if they wanted nobody to be guilty of it but themselves. The truth is, they wanted to put every thing in every place in a way the most conducive to their own good. They were always willing, when properly applied to, that a plurality of benefces should be permitted, but they would not fail to take advantage of this very permission, when any particular exigency made it expedient for them.'

It is farther remarked that about this period, some persons were pluralists without the requisite qualification, the papal authority; this our Author infers from the speech of Walter de Cantilupe, Bishop of Worcester, which we are told he made in the council convened at London, by the legate Cardinal Otho; when pulling off his mitre, he spoke to this effec“ Holy Father, many persons of quality and falhion, and like myself of noble blood, hold pluralities without dispensation Some of whom, having hitherto lived in a manner hospitable and magnificent suitable to their fortunes, and being now advanced in years, it would be very bard to reduce to indigence by deprivation. Some, indeed, are young, but men of spirit and bravery, who would run the last risque rather than be reduced to a single benefice. I freely own that I have been myfelf of the same opinion; and if I must lose one benefice, would Jole all. You see the danger of rigorous discipline; and let me beg of you to consult his Holiness, our Lord the Pope, before you proceed to extremities.”

As the nature of our work will not allow us to follow this Writer regularly through his disquisitions upon this subject, we shall only add a few farther extracts; and these we shall take from his account of the state of things in England about the beginning of the fifteenth century. 6 The

agents in that scene of violence which closed the fourteenth century with the deposition and death of Richard the Second, seem to have disseminated the feed of discord with so even a hand, that every part of the nation was really over-run with the briars and thorns of civil war : for people of all sorts and orders took a personal share in the public disturbances. The following age may well be distinguished therefore as the most bloody period in English history : every contest, political or religious, being carried on by both sides with the vindi&tive fpirit of favages. The persons, who exclaimed againft the corruptions in the Church, and went under the ignominious appellation of Lollards, were remarkable for their boldness and an invincible resolution; but let ecclesiastics of equal zeal, and less fincerity, blame them; let their warmth be called fanati

cism, and their courage the ferocity of furies ; let them be proved by the clearest metaphysical logic the missionaries of Satan : for if ever the Devil did any good, it was when he sent them into the world ; as your men of a meek spirit would never have promoted the reformation with effect. But would it not be a supposition far too complaisant to imagine that the clergy of this age must be literally meek, because they inherited the earth? They were certainly as capable of committing cruelties as the Reformers were of enduring them; and if ever they attempted the salvation of Heretics, it was after a manner the most horridly formidable, it was so as by fire. Sir John Oldcastle had the unhappy fortune to become an object of their spiritual regards, and his malady was found to be irremoveable by the force of any medicine then in vogue. You'll say, what could they do in such a cale? I'll tell you what they did. They were unwilling to lose their reputation as physicians of the soul, and, like real empirics, had recourse to a desperate remedy: to be drawn on a hurdle, and executed as a common felon, would have been punishment enough for him as an outlaw; but then bis heterodoxy would not have had its due: he was therefore hung up as a traitor, but by the middle, left he should die too soon, and not be burnt alive as a Heretic.'

After taking notice of the pride, avarice, and corruption of the clergy at that time, he thus proceeds : " The nation was indeed so much discontented with the clergy for their negligence, that the Commons had complained in parliament sometime before, and presented a petition to the Council of State, defiring that if any man of holy church, having cure of fouls, was absent from his benefice six weeks together, the benefice might become void : but all the answer they could obtain was only this, that the laws in force were sufficient, and the Lords Spiritual had engaged they should be duly executed. This was mere evasion.-It must seem astonishing that ecclesiastics durft so grolly violate the laws, when they law that men of honest and religious principles were fully determined by their repeated attempts to reform the corrupt discipline of the Church. When they found their parliamentary petition for a redress of grievances had not the effect they hoped for, they were, some of them, so dispassionately regular in their applications, notwithstanding the exclamations against the clergy daily encreased, that they resolved to try once more what service a general council could do them. But here again the synodical decrees, as usual, were rendered insignificant by the artifices of the canonists and the power of the Popes; and corruption still continued to prevail; for benefices were still granted to persons who were exempt from residence, or to such as were incapable of performing parochial duties ; and therefore, in many places, X4

there

there was no priest, or one not qualified for his office, so that the people wanting instructors might well fail away 10 LOLLARDY; no hospitality being maintained, no facraments duly administered, not even the religious rites at funerals observed. Such was the unhappy state of many a parish in this country during the remainder of the fifteenth century, and to the period of the Reformation. An infelicity evidently occasioned by nonresidence.'-The Reformation, adds this Writer, is an epocha of high distinction. The lovers of manly liberty, and rational religion in Europe, in America, in every region where commerce can make way for a free intercourse, have the greatest reason to magnify the mercy of Divine Providence, and esteem it the most signal blefling since the birth of a Saviour, Englishmen in particular have every reason to be grateful for so advantageous, so glorious an event: as no people had been more opprefied by the insolence and extortion of an arbitrary priesthood ; nor had any people, at the very junclure, less probability of its accomplishment.'

It is well known that, under the direction of Henry VIII. the Commons soon proceeded to consider the state of the Church, and that bills were passed against pluralities, nonresidence, the farming of lands by churchmen, &c. which it is said do, to this day, restrain the pluralities and regulate the non-residence of the English clergy. It may seem strange, observes Mr. Pennington, that Pluralis should be fond of an act against pluralities; and yet it is certain the great dignitaries of the Church, and the confiderable among the clergy, have always Mewn, when it was in any danger of a repeal, a most

remarkable predilection for this act of parliament.---At first ini deed they dreaded it, like the saxifying face of Medusa, but

they had no sooner seen it, than they were suddenly overcome, as it were, with a fascinating smile, and really admired it very much: for it was not even half so terrible as the Vatican thunder : its penalties were easily eluded; and it was every way as harmless as a fynodical decree.

It is very plain from this act, which is said to be against pluralities, that the grievance itself was never intended to be redrefled. It might indeed be very proper to pretend so, on several accounts : but if there had been any such design, it seems very strange that so many conditions should be provided as qualifications for evasion. Many canons and decrees had been made before to restrain the abuse, but this being all their aim, they never answered the purpose. And the reason was obvious : dispensations always prevented them. Why were they then permitted any longer? Does it make any sort of difference whether a bad custom is continued under the authority of a king, a Pope, or the Dhala Lama of Tartary? The prohibition of pluralities

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