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because so much of good is contained in it, that the reader must be either good or bad in the extreme, who does not derive benefit from it.
Feeling with the Critic,* " that an extra official exhortation to that renovation of mind which conftitutes the characteristic of the true Christian, assisted by the credit of this author's fituation, the just and general confidence in the worth and fincerity of his character, the clearness of his intellect, and the force of his eloquence, will produce a more extensive, and on many minds a more powerful effect, than any inftruction from the pulpit, or even from the pen of a divine;" I feel earnestly defirous of contributing to fo important an object.
Before I conclude this postscript, however, I could wifh (if it may be done without offence, and where no offence is meant, none should be taken) to recall to the particular attention of this respectable author fome few confiderations.
In his late publication he has pronounced a general condemnation upon the profeffional character of the Clergy of the established church. By wife and candid men, a general and indifcriminate condemnation will be feen in a light, in which this author, if we
*Brit. Critic, for Sept. 1797.
may judge of him from fome parts of his work, would be very unwilling that his fentiments fhould appear. Confidered, in its reference to the Clergy as a body, his fentence is certainly not lefs impolitic, than unjust. It is unjust, because unsupported by facts. It is impolitic, because it must prove detrimental to the conftitution of this country; by alienating the minds of the community from that branch of it, which has always been regarded as its firmest support.
The utmoft credit will be readily given to this author for his good intention. Upon this head I believe the opinion of the public is not lefs honourable than it is decided. But convinced, as I am, that the church of CHRIST has been ever an Episcopal church; and that a feparation from its communion has been, what it always will be, the fruitful fource of herefy* and uncharitableness, and confequently one of the greatest misfortunes that has ever happened to the Christian world; it is impoffible to look with indifference upon that growing prevalence of fectarianifm, which marks the character of the present day,
"Inde fchifmata et hærefes oborta funt et oriuntur, dum epifcopus, qui unus eft, et ecclefiæ præeft fuperbâ quorumnam præfumptione, contemnitur: et homo dignatione DEI honoratus, indignus hominibus judicatur." CYPRIAN. Epift. 69.
Our author would be confidered to be a profeffed friend to our happy establishment. No one can feel more difpofed to fee him in that light than myself. At the fame time, I trust, it will not be regarded as any intentional impeachment, either of his integrity or judgment, to remind him, that railing against the clergy of the establishment has been that preparatory step to fubverfion, which has been twice adopted with fuccefs by the fubjects of Great-Britain. It may be unneceffary to add, that the Revolution of the last century in this kingdom, and that lately ef fected in our colonies, are the inftances which I have in view.
It is not pofitively faid, because I would not haftily pronounce sentence against the good fenfe of this nation; but he must be a very unprofitable spectator of what is going forward around him, who does not fee reafon to fear, that a confpiracy against our establishment is now in a state of rapid growth in this country.
But furely these are eventful times, in which no wife man will be forward in hazarding experiments. Allowing that reformation is wanting, (a subject, upon which, alas! there can be but one opinion) it is ftill a matter of effential confideration, in what manner that
reformation is to be effected. The difeafe of which we complain, fo far at least as the clergy are concerned, is partial; fuch as, we truft, the vigour of a found conftitution will prevent from becoming def perate. But an ill-judged method of cure ofttimes brings death to a patient, not otherwise in danger.
If, upon the ground of the prefent fuppofed in. fufficiency of the clergy, (a fact which their enemies know themselves to be incapable of proving) communion with our church be no longer confidered a matter of Christian obligation; and it be judged advifeable, for the more effectual advancement of the Christian cause, to follow what may be deemed the found of the Gofpel, wherever heard, or by whomfoever delivered; we do not hesitate to say, that in fuch cafe the remedy will, in the end, prove worse than the difeafe; and that thofe well-meaning perfons, who are perhaps most fanguine in its application, will eventually find that they have been only instruments in the hands of defigning men for the accom plishment of purpofes, which, could they foresee them, they might be anfong the laft to promote, "If the foundations be deftroyed, what can the righteous do?" Pfalm xi. 3.
POSTSCRIPT to the CLERGY.
HE confideration of writing to my Brethren the Clergy on a fubject, with which every minister of the church is, from his profeffion, fuppofed to be acquainted, has more than once stopped my pen. But circumftances and fituation may qualify one minister to speak more fully upon fome particular subject than another, without his laying claim to any general fuperiority in profeffional knowledge.
It having been the will of Divine Providence to fix my refidence in a place, which has given me continued opportunities of lamenting the effects produced by a feparation from the communion of the Christian church; it is to be expected, that my thoughts fhould occafionally have been employed upon this fubject. Such of my brethren as are placed in fimilar fituations, may perhaps be obliged to me for bringing into one collected point of view the result of my reflections upon it.