Page images

best parts and ability to undertake the facred function; that the best caufe may have the best management, and the purest religion the ablest defenders. It is also necessary that their maintenance should bear some proportion to the dignity of their character, and should raise them above the contempt of thofe who are apt to be influenced by outward appearances; for, though wisdom is better than strength, nevertheless the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard. And farther, that by this means they may be better inabled not only to provide for their families, which is a duty incumbent upon

them as well as the rest of mankind, but to be examples to their flock in charity and in doing good, as well as in all other parts of their office and duty. And the wisdom of our christian forefathers thought these

considerations of such force, that the government

has appointed for the maintenance of our ministers the house and glebe*, and the oblations which were the voluntary offerings of the faithful, very considerable in the primitive times; so that the necessities 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 antient custom was retained in voluntary oblations, besides tithest, which are the main lawful supportof the parish minister. The

In what manner.


Thele were the original endowments of a church, without which it cannot be supplied, and without which it could not be confecrated ; and upon which was founded the original right of a patronage. For it appears from the Lord Coke, that the firft kings of the realm had all the lands of England in demerne, and Les Grand Manours and Les Royalties they reserved to themselves ; and with the remnant they enfeoffed the barons of the realm for the defence thereof, with such jua risdictions as the court baron now hath ; and about this time it was, when all the lands of England were the kings demesne, that Ethelwulf, almost vine hundred years since, conferred the tithes of all the kingdom upon the church by his royal charter; which is extant in abbot Ingulf, and in Matthew of Westminster.

+ We do not read of tithes paid the apoilles, becaule the zeal of chriftians in their times was so great, that as many as were poffeffors of land or houses sold them, and laid the price of them at the apostles feet; and the devotion of the following ages, even to the latter end of the fourth century, was so reavarkable for the libeTality of their offerings and oblations, that their bounty to the evangelical priesthood exceeded what the tenth would have been, if they had paid it ; so that there was no reason to demand tithes, when men gave a greater pioportion of what they pofl fred; tho', even during those ages, there want not teftimonies from the fathers of those times, that tithes were due under the gospel as well as before, and under the law: and that they were paid is plain from the apostolical canons, which provide for the disposal of them.


reafon of their payment is founded on the law of God, and their settlement among us has been by the antient and undoubted laws of this nation. Therefore such as by tricks or shifts keep back or refuse to pay tithes in whole or Thegreat fin in part, or by any other means defraud the clergy of of facrilege. their maintenance, are guilty of that grievous fin of facrilege, by taking what is fet apart for the clergy's subsistence, to employ it in other uses, or to their own particular profit; which is robbing of God, as the prophet informs us : Will a man rob God? yet ye have robbed me; but ye fay, Wherein have

robbed thee? In tithes and offerings, faith the Lord. So that here we are told by God himself, that the with-holding tithes is a robbing of him: and what is gotten by such a robbery the prophet declares in the next verse, Ye are The punisu cursed with a curse; becaufe of such sacred things God is the true and proper owner. And accordingly we read in scripture of severe punishments inflicted on those that were guilty of this sin of facrilegell.

III. A third thing whereby we are to thew our honour to God is to keep holy the fabbath-day, and all other The times of times set apart for his service : for, as God expećts his feruice. a part of our goods for the maintenance of the fettled miniftry in his church ; fo he requires us to honour and express our reverence towards him, by dedicating a particular part of our time to his immediate service. Remember, says he that thou keep holy the fabbath-day. So,


[ocr errors]

I We have fewn upon good anthority in the preceding note*, that tithes 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 rene-charge for the church on the fame, before any part thereof was demised to others : so here let it be also observed, that if perhaps fome of the great men of the realm bad 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 consent, before they did transmit them to the hands of the gentry, or any who now claim from them. So that the land being thus charged with the payment of eithes, came with this clog unto the lords and great men of the realm, and hath been so transmitted and passed over from one hand to another, until they came into the possession of the present owners, who must have paid more for the purchafe of them, and required larger rents from their tenants, if they had not been thus charged. And whatever right they may have to the other nine parts, either of fee simple, leafe, or copy, they have certainly none at all in the tithe or tonth, which is no more cheits, than the other nine parts are the clergy's.

I For further satisfaction, see the duty of the people to their ministers, Sunday viii. Sedl. 4

The ends for which the fabbath was originally instituted,

and for which the command was from time to time Sabbath, why indi- renewed, were principally as follows: That men tuted.

might continually commemorate the works of creation; which original reason of the institution of the fabbath is of eternal and unchangeable consideration. Another reason of this commandment is, that the poor labourer and the servant, and even the cattle may have a time of rest. This reason likewise, as well as that of commemorating the creation, is of a moral and perpetual nature. And a third reason, which was added upon occasion of renewing this institution to the Jews, was, that they might commemorate their deliverance out of the land of Egypt, which to that people was as it were a new creation. And because it was a manifest contempt of this great deliverance, and a presumptuously wilful despifing of a plain command of God, the man in the wilderness, who did but gather sticks upon the fabbath-day, was by God's especial direction commanded to be put to death: and as the mos Tal

part of the commandment concerning the fabbath is of perpetual obligation; so the ritual or instituted part, which had relation to the deliverance of the Jews out of Egypt, is Why chan.

abolished by the gospel. But then, instead of the ged into the Jewish sabbath, there succeeded, by the appointLord's day. ment and practice of the apostles, the commemoration of our Lord's resurrection : Which coming to pass upon the first day of the week, the christian Lord's day was accordingly from thenceforth kept on the first day of the week, which we call Sunday. Therefore one day in seven must be yielded unto the Lord, and set apart for the exercise of religious duties, both in public and private. For

We must not only rest from the works of our calling, but How to be our time must be employed in all such religious exkept. ercises as tend to the glory of God and the salvation of our own souls. We must regularly frequent the wor

ship of God in the public assemblies, from which In public. nothing but fickness or absolute necessity should detain us : and there * we are not to talk or gaze about us, but to join in the prayers of the church, hear his most holy word, receive the blessed facrament, when administered; and contribute to the relief of the poor, if there be any collection for their support: that we may thereby openly profess ourfelves christians, which is one great end of public assemblies in the service of God. We ought in private to enlarge our ordinary devotions, and to make the subject of

word, See the worship of God in his bouse, page 45.

. them chiefly to consist in thanksgivings for the In private. works of creation and redemption, recollecting all those mercies we have received from the bounty of Heaven through the course of our lives : to improve our knowledge by reading and meditating upon divine subjects ; to instruct our children and families; to visit the fick and the

poor, comforting them by some seasonable assistance; and if we converse with our friends and neighbours, to season our discourse with prudent and profitable hints for the advancement of piety; and to take care that no sourness or moroseness mingle with our serious frame of mind. In a word, it is to be spent in works of necessity, and in works of charity; and in whatsoever tends, without superstition and without affectation, to the real honour of God, and to the true interest and promoting of religion and virtue in the world. The extremes to be avoided are: on the one hand, that habit of spending great part of the Lord's day in gaming, and in other loose and debauched practices ; which has to numberless persons been the corruption of their principles, and the intire ruin of their morals; on the other hand, an affected judaical or pharisaical preciseness, which usually proceeds from hypocrisy, or from a want of understanding rightly the true nature of religion. And

From hence we may collect the great advantages of a religious observation of the Lord's day : it keepeth Its advanup the solemn and public worship of God; which tages. might be neglected, if left to depend upon the will of man; it preserveth the knowledge and visible profession of the christian religion in the world; when, notwithstanding the great differences there are among christians in other matters, they yet all agree in obferving this day, in memory of our Saviour's resurrection : and it is highly useful to instruct the ignorant by preaching and catechising, and to put those in mind of their duty, who in their prosperity are apt to forget God. Moreover, by spending this day in religious exereises, we acquire new strength and resolution to perform God's will in our several stations for the future. : IV. Besides this weekly day of the Lord, there are other In observing


principal times or days fet apart by the church, eiibe feasts of ther for the remembrance of some special mercies ibe church. of God, such as the birth and resurrection of Christ, the coming down of the Holy Ghost from heaven, &c. or in memory of the blessed apostles, and other faints; who were the happy instruments of conveying to us the knowledge of Christ Jesus, by preaching his gospel through the world, and most of them attesting the truth of it with their blood; which ought to be observed in such a manner, as may After what answer the ends for which they were first appoint

ed; that God may be glorified by an humble and grateful acknowledgment of his mercies ; and that the falvation of our souls may be advanced, by believing the myfteries of our redemption, and imitating the examples of those primitive patterns of piety that are set before us. Therefore on those days we should be fo far froin looking upon them as common days, or making them instruments of vice and vanity, or spending them in luxury and debauchery, intemperance, excess, and sensuality, as the manner of some is, who look upon an holy-day as designed for a loose to their passions and unbounded pleasure; that our greatest care should be to improve our time in the knowledge and love of God, and of his son Jesus Christ our Lord, by constantly attending the public worship, and partaking of the blessed facrament, if it be administered, and in private by enlargingour devotions, and withdrawing ourselves as much as posible from the affairs of the world, particularly expressing our rejoicing by love and charity to our poor neighbour. If the holy-day is such as is intended for our calling to mind any mystery of our redemption, or article of our faith, we ought to confirm our belief of it, by considering all those reasons upon which it is built, that we may beable to give a good account of the hope that is in us. We should from our hearts offer to God the facrifice of thanksgiving, and resolve to perform all those du

« PreviousContinue »