Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

for the misfortunes of others, when we withhold the relief which they want, and we can give.

• This was the crime of the person before us; this was his condemnation : not simply because he had received his good things in his life-time, but because he rioted in them without any thought of the next. Not because Lazarus had his evil things, but because his evils were increased by the closeness of this inan's hand and the hardness of his heart.'

The twenty first is a Latin sermon, on Matt. x. 34, preached at Cambridge, in 1759.–At the conclusion the author has subjoined a prayer, which he sometimes used before his fermon. This is a sensible and animated composition; much superior to the cold and insipid forms which we have frequently heard on the same occasion,

About ten of these discourses, or perhaps more, were leparately published, soon after the occasions on which they were delivered. The rest make their first appearance in the present edition.

II. A Critical Commentary on Archbishop Secker's Letter to the · Right Honourable Horatio Walpole, concerning Bijoops in

America, 8vo. Pr. Is. 6d. Dilly. .

THE late archbishop of Canterbury, among other instances

of his zeal for the support of ecclesiastical discipline, took some pains to promote the scheme for establishing bishops in our American colonies. He recommended this point, soon after his advancement to the see of Oxford, in a sermon which he preached before the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts; and continued to make it an object of his wishes to the hour of his death, as appears by his order for the publication of his letter to Mr. Walpole. The use and expedience of such an establishment has, however, been much disputed. "The author of this Cominentary, who appears to be no contemp:ible judge, treats it as an unseasonable, and a mischievous project. . . Before he proceeds to examine his grace's letter, he takes notice of two or three circumstances relative to the occasion on which it was written, the time when, and the reason why it was published.

• Mr. Walpole's letter, says he, we are informed by an ada vertisement prefixed to the bishop's, was written in the year 1750, to the late Dr. Sherlock, then bishop of London. It does not appear that bishop Sherlock gave any answer to it, either by word or writing. Bishop Secker indeed supposes, “ that if my lord of London had ever conversed with Mr. Walpole on the subject, since he received Mr. Walpole's let. ter, he had doubtless said every thing material by way of reply ;" yet nothing of this sort appears, and as nothing in writing by way of answer from Dr. Sherlock to Mr. Walpole was known to Dr. Secker, the more probable supposition is, that bifhop Sherlock, convinced by Mr. Walpole's letter of the danger, the folly, or at least of the inexpedience of the projeit, made no reply at all.

docs

• But the moment it is communicated to Dr. Secker, he eagerly seizes the opportunity, and attempts to answer the statesman's objections ; very little, one would think, to that gentleman's satisfaction, who from the beginning of the year 1751, to the day of his death, seems to have let this letter lie quietly by him, as other schemes might do with other mi. nisters of state, who should be in no disposition to be amused with the visionary proposals of weak or designing projectors.

• But since his grace's executors, in compliance with his fiat of May 25, 1759, have thought fit to revive this letter, may we not ask, What is become of Mr. Walpole's letter to .bishop Sherlock? That Dr. Secker, and consequently his exe. cutors, had it in their power to publish Mr. Walpole's letter is very probable. If any circumstances made it either iinpradi. cable or improper to publish that letter, candor and common justice required, that this answer to it should have been suppressed for the same length of time. If the pablic had any claim upon archbishop Secker for his sentiments concerning American bishops, they had likewise a right to the whole process which drew those sentiments from him. Mr. Walpole's letter might have objections in it, which archbishop Secker did not think proper to touch, and his grace could not be uninformed, that to publish answers to treatises, which they who Thould judge between the parties have no possible means of consulting, has always been a standing and a very reason. able prejudice against the fairness and impartiality of the an[werers.

.As Mr. Walpole's letter is thus withheld, we can only. conjecture, that it might be occasioned by some previous conversation between himself and the bishop of London, concern. ing bishops in America. It is very unlikely Mr. Walpole șhould begin the subject. Ministers of state were then said to be particularly cautious of giving offence to the colonists, and these, they could not but know, had no predilection for epis

copacy.

copacy. The colonists, on the other hand, who were mombers of the church of England, were more cfpecially within the bishop of London's episcopal department. It was there. fore natural enough for his lordship to propose an improvement of their religious condition. It was his peculiar business to remove, as far as he could, all obstacles to it, and confequently to answer Mr. Walpole's letter. He did not answer it. He plainly thought it unnecessary.

• How then came this province to be turned over to the biShop of Oxford ? If we look no farther than the advertisement before the pamphlet, there is some appearance of a reason for it. We are there informed, that Mr. Walpole's letter was communicated to bishop Secker, by the bishop of London. And hence it might seem, that the bishop of London, having either less leisure, or less ability, left Mr. Walpole in the hands of his brother of Oxford. But in the very first page of this answer, bifhop Secker says, Mr. Walpole's letter was commupicated to him by Mr. Walpole himself; nor does he seem to know any thing at all of the bishop of London's sentiments on the subject of that letter. It may therefore be surmised, that bishop Secker was set to work merely by his own alacrity, in so good a cause.

There is little doubt but the editors of this letter think themselves well justified in executing his grace's order for printing it aster his death, as well as in taking an early opportunity to do it. And yet, might they not have had a reafonable apology for demurring to that order at this particular juncture, when any attempt at religious innovations in our colonies, seems to be highly unseasonable ?

At the 15th page of this letter, his grace moves a question, “ Whether the appointment of bishops in the colo-, nies, would not stir up dangerous uneasinesses abroad or at home !!!

There is I think little doubt but that these uneasinesses had been represented to bilhop Sherlock, by Mr. Walpole (who had very good opportunities of knowing) as the inevitable consequences of such an appointment.

. But whatever of this kind might then be apprehended, archbishop Secker lived to fee uneasinesses in the colonies of a. very different nature from any that were dreamt of eighteen years ago: such indeed as might have suggested to him, that nothing could be more unseasonable, than the trying his fa. vourite experiment at a time when every wife and good man, and every well-wisher to the peace and prosperity of his majesty's government, saw how necessary it was to avoid all occa

sions of irritating the British colonies of America. His grace's arguments, in answer to the question abovementioned, whatever weight they might have in 1751, or even in 1759, are lighter than vanity itself, when applied to the ftate of things in 1768. And whoever perufes a tenth part of the pamphlets which have appeared, during the late altercations on colonysubjects, will easily perceive, that the publication of such a letter as this, in the midst of these jarrings, would be adding fuel to the flame. And yet the written order for the printing of it had laid by his grace, as appears, from 1759 to the time of his death, without one reflection of the very ill effects it might have when he was gone. And could his executors think of doing any honour to his grace's prudence, his charity, or his moderation, by exposing to the public his grace's earneftness for advancing his project, at the hazard of so much con. fusion as must have attended any attempt to execute it at that time

After these and some other preliminary remarks, the author passes on to the contents of the letter.

• There are two expedients, says the commentator, in use at present for furnishing the colonists of the church of Eng. land with ministers of their own communion; 1, By ordaining natives of America who come to England for that purpose. 2. By sending English ministers to the colonies from hence.

• As to the first of these, Dr. Secker observes, that “ sending their fons to so distant a climate must be very inconvenient and disagreeable, and taking the small pox here is said to be peculiarly fatal to them,” i, e. peculiarly to the persons who come here for orders. For when his grace mentions a little below, that, “ their young men of fashion would still come to England for polite accomplishments," no apprehensions of what would be inconvenient or disagreeable to them, are expressed, nor any mention made of any peculiar farality of the small-pox to such young men.

“ The expence also, says his grace, must be grievous to persons of small fortunes, such as most are who breed up their children for orders; and yet not sufficient to bring any accession of wealth to this nation that would be worth naming, were more of that rank to come.”

• From the cast of this answer, one may conjecture, that Mr. Walpole had objected to American bishops, that fuch a measure would prevent the colonists from coming hither, and spending their money among us. To obviate this, his grace was obliged to suppore, that none would send their sons to England to be ordained, but perfons in mean circumstances. But I am inclined to believe that the statesman's ob. jection would strike a little deeper, and that the confideration with him might be, that the more inducements the colonists in general should have to stay at home, and the fewer occa. fions of personal intercourse with the mother country, the more they would aspire to independency; a matter of very serious consideration among the ministers of those times.

ftances,

• The statesman, no doubt, argued, that if the colonists of the church of England were impowered to manufacture deacons and priests for themselves, as well as other things, which they have hitherto imported from hence, they would in tiine have a church independent upon that in the mother country; a consideration of ten times more importance to Mr. Walpole, than the w that would be gained by a few young men coming to england for crders, or that would be loft by their staying away.

2. With respect to the clergymen of the church of Eng.' land who are sent from hence, it must be a matter of great concern to all who wish well to the interests and credit of the establishment, to be told by an archbishop of Canterbury, that few of them, in proportion, “ can answer the end for which they were designed.” That the rest are “ men of desperate fortunes, low qualifications, bad and doubtful characters, and a great part of them Scotch Jacobites.” Is this for the honour of the society which sends them? How greatly does this representation detract from the credibility of those accounts they give us from time to time, of the success of their labours in our plantations; which depend, in a great ineasure, ou the veracity of men of these wretched characters? When the public is solicited, as is often the case, to supply the deficiency of the society's funds, by their charitable contri. butions, will they not be apt to consider, before they give their money, upon what sort of men it is to be expended ?

• And how would the matter be mended by sending bilhops instead of priests ? Every consideration drawn from the nature of the service, the danger of the voyage, absence from family.connexions, &c. which at present ferves to discourage private clergymen of easy fortunes, good learning, sound principles, and respectable characters, would operate with equal force upon the mind of, a destined bishop, and create the faine reluctance that other men have mewn to engage in such an adventure.

• Would his grace have said in answer to this, that a larger stipend, an increase of power, and a more respectable title, would have engaged more reputable candidates ; I am afraid

this

« ZurückWeiter »