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easily took up a Notion that they could not leave her too little. They knew that the Monks in dark Ages, had importuned from the Fears of intimidated dying Sinners, unreasonable Grants of great Estates, and along with these, the reforming Generation made no Scruple to rob the Church of its natural Inheritance, which it had enjoyed from the Piety of purest Times, in Imitation of a Pattern given by God himself, when he condescended to compile a Body of Laws, both civil and ecclesiastical for the Government of his chosen People.
The Land which had been given by superstitious Penitents, to found or endow the Nurseries of religious Idleness, were perhaps very properly resumed in Favour of the Crown, rather than of the Heirs of the Donors; for had they been restored to the latter, it would have produced such infinite Consusion among the Claimants, as probably would have redounded less to their Benefit and the Nation's, than the Method which was taken. But does it also follow, that there could be a Dissiculty to ascertain the right Owners of the parochial Tithes, which were found in the Hands of the Monasteries? It was easy to know that the Monasteries had taken them from the Parish-Priests, and by worse Means, if possible, than their Influence over the staggering Resolutions of dying Men. They robbed the secular Clergy with a strong Hand, by the Aid of the usurped arbitrary Power of the See of Rome, which was wrought upon by Money, to interpose in Favour of the Regulars; not without an Eye to some political Maxims, little less than treasonable; for the Allegiance of the Subject was divided, by that Solecism in Politicks, imferium C 2
in imperio; and frequent Experience told us, that the Regulars knew no Sovereign but the Pope; These Sufferings of the parochial Clergy were not a Reason, at the Reformation, why they should not be restored to their own.
Indeed if it shall happen that the christian Temper of Posterity, one Way or other, (hall bring back the Tithes, or an Equivalent for them, to the Church, I should never wish that it might be endowed with great Estates in Lands into the Bargain. My only Desire is, that Religion may not suffer by making the Clergy contemptible, who will always be held in Contempt, if they are obliged to live in Poverty.
In the mean while there might be some other Expedients found out, that would contribute to place them in a comfortable Condition to attend their great Charge, the Care of Souls. There are too many Paristies in England, both in City and Country: It is true, there are some Parishes too large, which ought to be divided; but there are a great many more too small, which would be better united: Two or three insussicient Provisions for so many Pastors of little and ill attended Flocks, may amount to a competent Maintainance for one able Minister, who may do his Duty with Satisfaction to a decent Congregation.
Perhaps also it is not now necessary, that the Revenues of Colleges should be as ample as formerly for the Education of Youth, when the Nation is overstocked with Learning already, and there are not Benefices sussicient to receive the Men who have gone thro' the Course of their academical Studies. I could therefore rejoice that we had fewer People educated on Charity to fill the Church; not at all dreading the Want of a Supply
ply from those of better Fortunes, if we could contrive to advance the Benefices to a reasonable Value; which would be much surthered by taking away some Superfluities of Schools and Colleges, and bestowing them in the Endowment of the Church, where they are most wanted. I am sar from thinking it for the Benefit of Religion, or of the Nation, to diminish the Number of Prosessors or Fellows in either University. It will always be necessary to the Permanency of found Learning, that there mould be a considerable Number of Men of good Parts and Education maintain'd at sull Leisure to attend their Studies in every Branch of Literature. But will this also prove, that there is a national Advantage in bringing forward yearly, at the publick Expence, an hundred Persons to the Degree of Batchelor of Arts, who know not afterwards which Way to turn themselves, and have Reason to wish, that instead of reading Ramus and Aristotle, they had been taught to throw the Shuttle, or hold the Plough of their Fore-Fathers.
A poor Man may be as honest as a rich one, but it is not generally so easy to tempt the latter into mean and scandalous Actions. The Necessities of some of the lowest of the Clergy, are apt to lead them into Mistakes that cause a Clamour against the very Priesthood, and do a real Disservice to Religion. And yet these meanest of the People (who seek the Priest's Office, that they may eat a Piece of Bread) are immediately ready to sancy themselves Gentlemen , and that their Families are also advanced in Blood and Degree. Hence it happens in their Oeconomy, that during, the Father's Lise-time, the Son is bred at a Freeschool, undoubtedly designed to be a Bishop at C 3 leasti feast; the Father drops off, and then the poor Youth is glad to find Employment as a Drawer in a Tavern, or perhaps to wear a Livery, and it is well if no worse happens. As for the Daughter, (he learns to dance, and play on Musical Instruments; and because she is a Gentlewoman, she scorns to do the Office of a Country Housewife at home, or to go to Market along with the.Wives and Daughters of the neighbouring Farmers. Her Education is like that which the unhappy Gentry of Georgia are said to give their Daughters, to sit them for the Seraglios of the Turkijh and Per~ sian Grandees, and the Event is often worse, if poffble. The best.Prospect after such an Education, is an honest Servitude.
Which of the Bishops (if he has not made himself remarkable for Moroseness) is not daily pester'd with Ecclesiastical Beggars, the pretended or real Widows and Orphans of indigent Clergymen, besides Crowds of indigent Clergymen themselves. I do not observe these Facts, as believing it improper for Clergymen to marry; but being of Opinion, that those of them who marry, and cannot save any Thing for their Families, should at least teach them to endure and work thro' that low State of Life they are born to: And I also consider it as a Reason for augmenting the Value, tho* we should considerably diminish the Number, of Benefices in England.
I rejoice as an Englijhmen, that our Clergy are rather Ten Thousand than an Hundred Thousand: There are the fewer idle Hands in the Nation, compared with its Popijh Neighbours, therefore our Wealth is the greater.
I rejoice also, that these Ten Thousand are not sestrained from,.Marriage: For, this single Advantage tage will in a few Generations soread the Protestant Religion over Europe, by our gradual Increase of People and the Decrease of the Papists', unlefe the Almighty, for his own secret Purposes, shall fend some more Kings to reign in Protestant Kingdoms, like the present King of Sweden. Were it not that Cromwell (in too great Haste to settle that miserable Kingdom of Ireland) gave vast Multitudes of the Natives to the Spaniard; and that the late Revolution, and some Laws which followed it relating to Religion, and others concerning Trade, have sent great Numbers of the fame People to France (all which have been replaced by the Natives of Great-Britain, besides our large Export to our American Colonies) France and Spain before this must have felt more sensibly, how burthensome their Religion is to the State: And these our Britijh Iflands would have grown lip by this Time as populous as the United Netherlands.
It cannot be pretended, that the taking away the Funds from the Scholarships, and Exhibitions in the Free-Schools and the Universities, to apply them to the Augmentation of poor Livings, can work an Injury to any one; it is true, that whoever is in Possession of an Income of that Nature, ought to enjoy his legal Estate in it; but on the Vacancy (no Individual having a Right) the PubJick may well and justly apply it to the most laudable Purpose; and I believe it is hardly a Question in our Age and Country, which is the more eligible Species of Charity, (the Education of poor Scholars, or Maintainance of poor EcclesiasticKs with Cure of Souls?) To this I may add, that many of the Estates which are in that unnecessary Method of Charity, were for a like Reason taken C 4 from