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all which there is a humiliation day appointed by law, and soon approaching); so, in order to give a tolerable maintenance to a minister, and the country being too poor, as well as devotion too low, to think of building new churches, it was found necessary to repair some one church which had least suffered, and join sometimes three or more, enough for a bare support to some clergyman, who knew not where to provide himself better. This was a case of absolute necessity to prevent heathenism, as well as popery, from overrunning the nation. The consequence of these unions was very different, in different parts; for, in the north, by the Scotch settlement, their numbers daily increasing by new additions from their own country, and their prolific quality peculiar to northern people; and, lastly, by their universally feeding upon oats (which grain, under its several preparations and denominations, is the only natural luxury of that hardy people), the value of tithes increased so prodigiously, that at this day, I confess, several united parishes ought to be divided, taking in so great a compass, that it is almost impossible for the people to travel timely to their own parish church, or their little churches to contain half their number, though the revenue would be sufficient to maintain two, or perhaps three worthy clergymen with decency; provided the times mend, or that they were honestly dealt with, which I confess is seldom the
I shall name only one, and it is the deanery of Derry; the revenue whereof, if the dean could get his dues, exceeding that of some bishoprics, both by the compass and fertility of the soil, the number as well as industry of the inhabitants, the conveniency of exporting their corn to Dublin and foreign parts; and, lastly, by the accidental discovery of marl in many places of the several parishes. Yet all this revenue is wholly founded upon corn, for I am told there is hardly an acre of glebe for the dean to plant and build
I am therefore of opinion, that a real unfalcated revenue of six hundred pounds a year, is a sufficient income for a country dean in this king
and since the rents consist wholly of tithes, two parishes, to the amount of that value, should be united, and the dean reside as minister in that of Down, and the remaining parishes be divided among worthy clergymen, to about 3001. a year to each. The deanery of Derry, which is a large city, night be left worth 8001. a year, and Rapho according as it shall be thought proper. These three are the only opulent deaneries in the whole kingdom, and, as I am informed, consist all of tithes, which was an unhappy expedient in the church, occasioned by the sacrilegious robberies during the several times of confusion and war; insomuch that at this day there is hardly any remainder left of dean and chapter lands in Ireland, that delicious morsel swallowed so greedily in England, under the fanatic usurpations.
As to the present scheme of a bill for obliging the clergy to residence, now or lately in the privy council, I know no more of the particulars than what has been told me by several clergymen of distinction; who say, that a petition in the name of them all has been presented to the lord lieutenant and council, that they might be heard by their council against the bill, and that the petition was rejected, with some reasons why it was rejected; for the bishops are supposed to know best what is proper for the clergy. It seems the bill consists of two parts: first, a power in the. bishops, with consent of the archbishop, and the patron, to take off from any parish, whatever it is worth, above 3001. a year, and this to be done without the incumbent's consent, which before was necessary in all divisions. The other part of the bill obliges all clergymen, from forty pounds a year and upwards, to reside, and build a house in his parish. But those of 401. are remitted till they shall receive 1001. out of the revenue of firstfruits granted by her late majesty.
SENT DOWN FROM THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE HOUSE OF
LORDS TO THE HONOURABLE THE HOUSE OF COMMONS IN
WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1731.
HAVE often, for above a month past, desired some few clergymen, who are pleased to visit me, that they would procure an extract of two BILLS, brought into the council by some of the bishops, and both of them since passed in the house of lords : but I could never obtain what I desired, whether by the forgetfulness or negligence of those whom I employed, or the difficulty of the thing itself. Therefore, if I shall happen to mistake in any fact of consequence, I desire my remarks upon it may pass for nothing; for my information is no better than what I received in words from several divines, who seemed to agree with each other. I have not the honour to be acquainted with any one single prelate of the kingdom; and am a stranger to their characters, farther than as common fame reports them, which is not to be depended on; therefore I cannot be supposed to act upon a principle of resentment.
I esteem their functions (if I may be allowed to say so without offence) as truly apostolical, and absolutely necessary to the perfection of a Christian church.
There are no qualities more incident to the frailty and corruptions of human kind, than an indifference or insensibility for other men's sufferings, and a sudden forgetfulness of their own former humble state, when they rise in the world. These two dispositions have not, I think, any where so strongly exerted themselves, as in the order of bishops with regard to the inferior clergy; for which I can find no reasons, but such as naturally should seem to operate a quite contrary way. The maintenance of the clergy throughout the kingdom, is precarious and uncertain, collected from a most miserable race of beggarly farmers; at whose mercy every minister lies to be defrauded. His office, as rector or vicar, if it be duly executed, is very laborious. As soon as he is promoted to a bishopric, the scene is entirely and happily changed ; his revenues are large, and as surely paid as those of the king; his whole business is, once a year, to receive the attendance, the submission, and the proxy-money of all his clergy, in whatever part of the diocese he shall please to think most convenient for himself. Neither is his personal presence necessary, for the business may be done by a vicar-general. The fatigue of ordination, is just what the bishops please to make it; and as matters have been for sunie time, and may probably remain, the fewer ordinations the better. The rest of their visible office consists, in the honour of attending parliaments and councils, and bestowing preferments in their own gifts; in which last employment, and in their spiritual and temporal courts, the labour