« PreviousContinue »
This leads me to enquire wherefore they rose up against him.. Was he a drunkard, a murderer, or seditious person or did he speak reproachfully of the miracles of Christ and of Moses? No, none of all these were alledged against him. But the grand cause of their umbrage was, “The word of God increased, and
then numbers of his disciples increased,' whereby the people forsook their old libertine pastors, insomuch that the parish synagogues, in many places, were almost wholly forsaken. Exactly alike again : Stephen you must know, was a great ringleader of that sect that turned the world up-side down; he was full of faith and power, performing many notable miracles, to the grief of the gentlemen belonging to the libertines; therefore they thought it best to dispatch him out of the way, for the safety of the church.
It would be endless, my beloved, to point out all the instances in which the Jewish and the ----- clergy agree; I shall therefore leave them to another occasion, and shall pass on to another very famous church in that part of the world, and after that I shall come near home, within our own ken. And,
III. This famous church was that of Diana at Ephesus : and I wot in this church there was many a good living in the gift of the University; and I trow, that the Heads of Houses were very careful that none should enjoy one of them unless he was well known to be a true son of the church, that is to say, a promoter of the sale of the shrines of Diana, and a worshipper of the image that fell down from Jupiter.
This Diana was, in her day, a lady remarkable for hunting of stags, and ever since, her clergy have been as remarkable for the hunting of (not stags, but) a good benefice. Now, my beloved, this same huntress was the personage worshipped by most people of Asia, and she had many, very many clergy, who adored her for the sake of gain; for by this craft we have our wealth, say they. A language not yet practically laid aside.
There was a famous University for the training up gentlemen in the holy craft of making shrines for the goddess ; and a lucrative craft they found it, my beloved, for they had it in their power to sell a brazen shrine for a golden price; a thing which others besides them practise.
This University was at Ephesus, a very populous city, where water was cheap, but fire very dear; and here were many colleges and halls for training up of young men in the craft of getting wealth. Every hall had a head, and over all the Heads of Houses was a Vice-Chancellor, the Rev. Dr. Demetrius by name.
As for praying, reading, and expounding the Scriptures, they meddled not with then, but were, in the highest degree, intent upon getting wealth.
Well, they carried on this craft for many years, till at last there came som: itinerant preachers to town, who made it their
of young business to pray to God, to read and expound the Scriptures, and sing hymns in private houses, contrary to the sense of the University of Ephesus. This was no small mortification to the clergy, who very well knew, that if real religion, or praying, reading, and expounding the Scriptures were tolerated, that it would put an end to their lucrative priestcraft, and their reverences would fall into disgrace. But to prevent such a catastrophe, the Rev. Dr. Demetrius, Vice-Chancellor, assembled the Heads of Houses to consult what was best to be done, and it was resolved, nemine contradicente, to cry out the church was in danger, that under pretence of saving the church, they might save their own profits. Well, they cried out, that the church was in danger, that the church was in danger, till they had sufficiently inflamed the rabble, who have always proved the pillars of the church, when instigated by the PRIESTS; then they laid hold on the itinerants, and had them before the Heads of Houses, who gave them such treatment as praying people may expect to meet with from the clergy of the ----. It happened, however, as in a late case, that there was one man of integrity and honour amongst them, much like the Head of Edmund Hall; only with this difference---the one was an attorney, and the other is a gentleman in holy orders. Well, this attorney, it seems, being town-clerk of Ephesus, thought that the clergy carried their authority a little beyond the rules of moderation and decency---a thing by no means uncommon for some gentlemen of the cap and gown. This town-clerk took up the cause of the itinerants; and in a spirited, sensible manner, defended their conduct and tenets; not from the thirty-nine articles, but from the articles of natural religion and morality, and spake very highiy of their piety and good behaviour. I cannot but remark, that in this affair the town-clerk was more successful than the gentleman who pleaded the cause of the six methodists at Oxford : the former over-ruled the purposes of Diana's clergy, but the University clergy over-ruled the motion of the latter, according to our text; for, though he defended their doctrine from the thirty-nine articles of the established church, and spoke very highly of the piety and exemplariness of their lives, These six young men were expelled the University for praying, reading and expounding the Scriptures, and for singing hymns in a private house. For why? Why truly, my beloved, because praying, reading, and expounding the Scriptures, is not the craft by which we get our wealth. For proof of this proposition, I refer you to stubborn facts, namely, that you shall seldom see a divine, who makes a point of praying, reading, and expounding the Scriptures, and of singing hymns, either in private or public houses, who keeps his equipage, and possesseth your fat livings. I wot, my beloved, that one drone eats more honey than four
laborious bees : for proof of this, I refer you to the Rev. Dr. Pliny, an author of approved merit, and a great divine.
But I pass on to the fourth established church, the clergy of which, in all respects, possessed the spirit of University divines, or Heads of Houses; and I trow, it is a church of great pretensions, the clergy of which are as infallible as the most holy mother pope Joan, that lady who was Christ's vicar, Peter's successor, and carried the keys of heaven, hell, and purgatory, in her pocket, when she was in her prime and her moon shone at full. I guess, by this time, you know that I mean the good old one, catholic, Roman, infallible, pontifical, universal, mother church, in the bosom of which our forefathers of the sursingle slept so snug, wrapt about with abbey lands, as with warm blankets. And if I may speak the sentiments of my sable brethren of the University, and we wish for the sake of those lands, that we were all safe rolling in her warm bosom once
But I will not keep you in suspense about it. IV. Church, the conduct of whose clergy was so near a-kin to the conduct of the clergy of *****. In the days of Betsey, the vestal Queen, the clergy suffered great discontent. For why? Because praying, reading, and scripture-expounding people were suffered to live, and were even tolerated in the University, which was a kind of counterbalance to the emolument their reverences had enjoyed in the days of Mary, of scarlet memory; for as soon as this orthodox lady had ascended the throne, matters took a very agreeable turn, and the right reverend bishops, Bonnor and Gardiner, began to work for the good of the church. Like truebred doctors, they searched every corner of the land for matter to work upon; and who should they pitch upon, trow ye, but those ministers and others who prayed to God, read and efpounded the scriptures, and sung hymns ? For those clergymen were much like unto others; they discouraged praying to any besides saints, canonized in their own church; and as for the scriptures, they found it for their interest that the sense of them should be concealed. And, no doubt, other people of the same practices have reasons equa!ły ponderous to assign for their conduct.
Who was Cranmer, my beloved? Why truly, though he was primate of all England, he took upon him to pray, read, and expound the Scriptures, and as one such, according to the laws of the Trent council, he was expelled the convocation, and burut to death, as an enemy to the clergy. Latimer and Ridley, and Hooper and Taylor, and Bradford and Hunter, and Philpot, &c. &c. were all of them guilty of those heinous offences of praying, of reading, of expounding the Scriptures, and of singing of hymns. The same crimes with which the Oxford methodists were charged, for which they were expelled the University.
Thus, beloved, I have with much pleasure gone so far through
first proposed plan ; and from what I have advanced, we may raise the following remarks:
i. That the spirit of our doctors has been the same in all ages ---a noble spirit of opposition to methodistical tenets. The magicians, the astrologers, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, the scribes, the pharisees, the lawyers, the sadducees, and the doctors, and the shrine-makers, and the inquisitors, and the Roman bishops, and the Vice-Chancellors, and the Heads of Houses, are all in the same religion ; namely, to oppose praying, reading, and expounding the Scriptures.
2. That the state of religion in our land is likely to be soon upon a very respectable footing, seeing no more than six, out of the vast number of students at Oxford, took upon them to pray to God, to read and expound the Scriptures ; so that it is hoped, the many parishes in England will be likely to have parsons who will let their parishioners have their own way, and go quietly to hell without disturbing of them. Whereas, was not care taken to suppress praying people in the University, we should have the nation swarming with them, much to the detriment of priest. craft.
3. It is observable, that we have found out more fully what four of the six gentlemen were, ere they set a foot in the University; one was a publican; another, a smith ; a third, a barber; and a fourth, a teacher under W----y, as it is written . by the Rev. Dr. Oxoniensis,---Gazetteer 12199, April 8, 1768 ; and I wot, my beloved, though my kindred are professors of such arts, they are held dangerous---therefore must not be tolerated by the clergy.
First and foremost, The clergy have suffered much discontent from the blacksmith; and whilst the bitterness of the loss of the abbey-lands belcheth from our stomachs, we prunella gentlemen will never forgive the blacksmiths. Query, For why? Ans. Because he was a blacksmith's son, Lord Thomas Cromwell by name, who stripped the church ; that is to say, the clergy, of those warm, those fat abbey lands. No more blacksmiths, I pray ye, now---we'll have none of them. Therefore, Mr. V--e C-------r did well in expelling the man, because he had been a blacksmith.
2. Arother of them had been a publican, i.e. a tax-gatherer ; and I suppose Mr. V-- C-------r thought the difference betwixt tur-gathering and tithe-gathering being so very triling, that after a young man had sufficiently learned at home to gather taxes, it was quite needless for him to come to the University to learn to gather tithes. I wot, my beloved, that the old grudge betwixt the pharisees and the publicans has not yet subsided; for, as the learned Oxoniensis observes, the V-C C-------r expelled a man the University for having been a publican.
3. And in the next place, another had been a barber; that is to say, a shaver. His reverence, Dr. Nowel, public orator of the University, hath given it as his charitable opinion, that this same barber can make a very good wig, from whence he lovingly concludes, that the said barber need not to starve; and from whence I conclude, that he would have made a very useful member of the University. A good wig, says Dr. Nowel, i. e. a decent artificial covering, for a bald pate; wherefore, it seems to have been very bad policy to expel so useful a man, at a time when the Heads of Houses are so bald and weather-beaten themselves.
4. A fourth was a teacher in a school, under W----y: but who or what this same W----y is, whether an hill, an old abbey, an holy college, or an oak tree, the accurate Oxoniensis does not say. But this schoolmaster who taught under it, be it what it will, was justly expelled. For why? Because he departed so very far from the rule established among students. The common rule observed by the hopeful young gentlemen of the gown, is, before they have so much as learned the first lesson of themselves, they conclude that they are able to teach others: witness so many dull parsons. But this man, though he had been accustomed to teach others, meanly debased himself so far as to receive instructions from others; but such a mean opinion of one's self being no way likely to add weight to the importance of the parson, must not be tolerated.
END OF THE SHAVER.
DIRECTIONS TO THE BINDER.
Portrait of the Author to face the Printed Title.
What is this mighty affair
He fell on his knees and implored mercy