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Christ under the Gospel are called God's Ministers ; not that it was always true of them, that they Mal. ii. 6. walked before God in Peace and Equity, and turned 8. many from Iniquily; for too often they were gone out of the Way, and caufed many to stumble at the Law ; but because they had a particular Relation to God in the Performance of that Worship, which was paid to him. And though they may be bad Men, yet the Et Et of Christ's Ordinances is not taken Artic. away by their Wickedness, nor the Grace of God's Gifts xxvi. diminijhed from such who receive the Sacraments rightly and by Faith, which are effektual by reason of Christ's Institution and Promise, alihrough they be minfiered by evil Men. Just a Pardon passed by an immortal Lord Keeper, or a Sentence pronounced by a wicked Judge, are looked upon as valid to all Intents and Purposes, because their Efficacy depends not upon the Qualifications of those in S. Chryf. Commission, but upon the Sovereign Authority in S. John from whence they both receive their Commission. P:558, So that the Advantages we receive by their Administrations, and the Relation they have to God, should still preserve some Respect for their Persons. And it is doubtless a better Demonstration of Christian Zeal, where we have a thorough Information of their scandalous Lives, to make Proof of it before their lawful Superiors, that being found guilly, they may by just Judgment be deposed, than either by our Words or Actions to affront or contemn them ourselves, or to provoke others to do the like.
Q. What is ibe ill Consequence of despising the Perlons, and exposing the Conduct of our Pastors, the Ministers of Christ?
A. It diminishes that Credit and Effect which their spiritual Administrations ought to have upon the Minds of Men, and makes them less capable of doing that Good which their Profession obliges them to attempt; for as much as we take from
the Opinion of their Piety and Integrity, so much we leslen their Power in promoting the Interest of Religion, whose Fate very much depends upon the Reputation of those who feed and govern the Flock of Christ. And this the Enemies of Religion are very sensible of, who omit no Opportunity of exposing their Persons, and representing their sacred Function only as a Trade, whereby they procure an advantageous Subsistence.
Q. But since the Interest of the Clergy is fupported ly what they plead for, doth not ibis make it reasonable to suspeet that all revealed Religion is only Priest-craft?
A. It is very fit that they who quit all other Methods of procuring Subsistence should live of that Gospel they preach; and though Men may be swayed by Interest, yet the truth and Falthood of Things no ways depend upon it; and the Meafure of judging concerning them are quite of another Nature. It is sufficient Evidence must convince a Man that is impartial, concerning the Truth of what is allerted, and it is reasonable to suppose, that they who make it their Buliness to search into these Matters, should be best acquaintcd with the Grounds of Conviction. And we find that our Value for the Laws of the Land and the Art of Physic, is no ways abated by the great Advantages they make who follow either of those Professions.
Q. Is it rcasonable to be prejudiced against Religion upon the Account of the bad Lives of some of ibe Clergy?
A. As long as Clergymen are clothed with Flesh and Blood as well as other Men, we ought not to be prejudiced against Religion, because some few are overcome by the Follies and Infirmities of Mankind; the many remarkable Inftances of Piety and Devotion, of Charity and
Sobriety among the sacred Order, should rather confirm us in our holy Faith, since they, who have had the greatest Opportunities to examine the Grounds of Religion, shew forth the Truth and Excellency of it by holy Lives suitable to their Profession.
Q: How may the Clergy best preserve that Honour and Respect which is due to ibeir Character ?
A. By discharging the Duties of their Profeffion with great Zeal and Conscience ; by behaving themselves with Gravity and Sobriety, with Meek- Bp. Stilness and Charity, the folid Ornaments of their holy lang fleet. Function, and the surest Method to raise themselves above the Reproaches of a malicious World; for true Value and Esteem is not to be acquired by the little Aris of Address and Infinuation, much less by Flattery and by complying with Men in their Follies, but by Steadiness and Resolution in the Pere formance of their Duties, joined with all that Charity and Gentleness in their Behaviour, which is confitent with being true to their own Obligations.
Q. W berein consists that Love we owe to ibe Ministers of God?
A. In being ready to assist them in all Difficulties, and in vindicating their Reputations from those Aspersions which bad Men are apt to load them with In covering their real Infirmities, and interpreting all their Actions in the best Sense ; never picking out the Faults of a few, and making them a Reproach to the whole Sacred Order.
Q. Why ought we to provide a Maintenance for the Clergy?
A. Because they are in a peculiar Manner Servants of the great God of Heaven and Earth, to whose Bounty we owe all that we enjoy; and therefore should dedicate a Part of what we receive to his immediate Service, as an Acknowledgment of his Sovereignty and Dominion over
all. And what makes this Duty farther reasonable is, that in order to be Instruments in God's Hands in procuring our eternal Welfare, they renounce all ordinary Means of advancing their Fortunes; they surrender up their Pretensions to the Court and Camp, to the Exchange and the Bar; and therefore it is highly fit that their laborious and difficult Employment, purely for God's Glory and our Salvation, should receive from us the Encouragement of a comfortable and honourable Subsistence.
Q. Why ought their Maintenance to be Honourable and plentiful ?
A. That Parents may be encouraged to devote their Children of good Parts to the Service of the Allar ; for it is not probable, they will sacrifice an expenceful Education to an Employment that is attended with small Emoluments. And if some Persons have Zeal enough to engage in the Ministry without a Respect to the Rewards of it, yet common Prudence ought to put us upon such Methods as are most likely to excite Men of the best Parts and Ability to undertake the sacred Function; that the best Cause may have the best Management, and the purest Religion the ablest Defendants. It is also necessary that their Maintenance should bear some Proportion to the Dignity of their Character, who are Embassadors for Chrift; and should raise them above the Contempt of those
who are too apt to be influenced by outward ApEcclef. ix. pearances. For though Wisdom is better than
Strength, nevertheless, as Solomon hath long since observed, the poor Man's Wisdom is despised, and bis Words are not heard. And farther, that by this Means they may be better enabled not only to provide for their Families, which is a Duty incumbent upon them as well as the reft of Mankind, but to be Examples to their Flock in Charity and
in doing Good, as well as in all other Manner of Virtue.
Q. What Maintenance do the Laws of the Land align to the Clergy?
A. First, The Manse, or House and Glebe, which was the original Endowment of the Church, without which it cannot be supplied; and without which it could not be consecrated; and upon which was founded the original Right of a Patronage. Secondly, the Oblations, which were the voluntary Offerings of the Faithful, very considerable in the Primitive Times; so that the Neceflities of the Church were liberally supplied from the great Bounty of the People; and when, upon the spreading of Christianity, a more fixed and settled Maintenance was required, yet somewhat of the ancient Custom was retained in voluntary Oblations. Thirdly, Tithes, which are the main legal Support of the Parochial Clergy. The Reason of their Payment is founded on the Law of God; and their Settlement among us hath been by ancient and unquestionable Laws of the Land; so that, in the Judgment of the greatest Lawyers, nothing is more clear and evident than the legal Right of Tilbes.
Q. What makes it highly reasonable that the Subjects of England should chearfully submit to the Payment of Tithes ?
A. Because Tilbes were granted by the Bounty and Munificence of the first Monarchs of this Realm to the Clergy, out of all the Lands in the Kingdom, and the perpetual Payment thereof laid as a Rent-charge for the Church on the same, before any Part thereof was demised to others. And if perhaps some of the great Men of the Realm had then Estates in absolute Property, as it is certain there were very few, if any, that had, they charged the same with Tithes by their own