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the occasions; your book is become an occasion of the contempt of God's ministers.
3. What service you have done, and what thanks you may expect from God, the church, and state, if your
book shall (by accident only) deter but one ingenuous youth, one hopeful gentleman, one 'noble man of good and great endowments, from entering into holy orders; the expedient appointed by God for saving souls.
But blessed be God, who hath secured the honour of the function from being disparaged by the misdemeanours of men that officiate in it; or by the malignity of such as observe their failings, with design to revile them.
Though the vulgar ordinarily do not, yet the nobility and gentry do, distinguish and abstract the errors of the man from the holy calling, and not think their dear relations degraded by receiving holy orders.
He that would see a fair catalogue of ancient nobles who were consecrated bishops, (well toward the primitive times of Christianity,) let him read the epistle dedicatory of the rey. Dr. Cave's book, intituled, Primitive Christianity. And for our late and present times, accept of that which here followeth.
I have read, that Henry the Eighth was by his father designed to the archbishopric of Canterbury, if his brother, prince Arthur, had lived to succeed in the crown.
Dr. Montague, who was bishop of Winchester, (when I was young,) was uncle to the lord chamberlain that last died, or at least nigh of kindred to his father, who, after he passed through many honourable offices, died president of the king's most honourable privy council.
The old earl of Westmorland did dedicate one of his sons to God's service in the sanctuary; and he became a good example of gravity and piety to those of that calling; and, for any thing I know, is so till this day.
So did the old lord Cameron, (father to Ferdinando lord Fairfax,) a son of his; who was first a regular and sober fellow of Trinity college in Cambridge, and afterward rector of Bolton-Percy in Yorkshire, where he was sequestered (we may well conclude) for his good affection to God and the king, if his brother or nephew could not secure him.
There was a brother of the lord Gray's of Wark in Cambridge, in my time, who was very studious and virtuous, and after that entered into holy orders, and took a charge of souls upon him, and discharged it as became him.
The rev. Dr. Gray, rector of Burbidge, in the county of Leicester, was earl of Kent, about the year of God 1640.
There be divers persons of noble extraction, which have lately entered into holy orders, and are most worthily dignified and promoted in this church.
One is, the right rev. Dr. Henry Compton, now lord bishop of Oxon, brother to the right hon. earl of Northampton that now is, and son to that valiant earl, who was slain in the high places of the field, fighting for his God and for his king, in the year 1643.
The rev. Dr. Greenvill, brother to the right hon. the earl of Bath, is another.
The right rev. Dr. Crew, clerk of the closet to his majesty, now the right rev. lord bishop of Durham, and son to the right hon. lord Crew, is another.
The rev. Mr. John North, late fellow of Jesus college, and public professor of the Greek tongue in the university of Cambridge, and prebendary of Westminster, son to the right hon. the lord North of Cartledge, is another.
The rev. Dr. Brereton, son to the late lord Brereton of Brereton-Green in Cheshire, is another.
My hopes that there be more (I pray God make them an hundredth times more) noble worthy persons entered into holy orders, admonish me to beg pardon of all such whose names I have (not pretermitted, but) omitted, only out of a mere negative ignorance, occasioned by my private condition.
These noble persons, so excellently qualified with virtues, learning, and piety, by bringing along with them into the church the eminency of their birth also, have cast a lustre upon the clergy, (as greater stars help to brighten up their less-shining neighbours,) and have advanced their Christian priesthood to the height it was at under the law of nature, when it was the hereditary honour and prerogative of the first-born of the chief family to be the priest of the most high God.
And surely these noble persons have shewed (and so will all the nobility that follow them shew) a twofold wisdom in their choice of this holy function. For first, the calling gives them better opportunities to get heaven: and secondly, it gives them title to the good things of the earth, (rectories, donatives, dignities,) their portions in the church's patrimony, which cannot miss them, being doubly well qualified.
The advantage of doing God service, which height of birth gives to a nobleman or gentleman, over what a clerk of lower parentage hath, is very considerable. The truth taught by them is sooner believed; a reproof bestowed by them is better received; an example of virtue shewed by them makes deeper impression, than the same coming from one of meaner extraction would do. This observation I first made in those two great lights of our church, Dr. Fern, lord bishop of Chester, who was a knight's son; and Dr. Hammond, who was of an ancient family. And the reader will observe more in this book, whose author was a person nobly descended.
The wisdom of this land confirms this truth. Our
laws give that privilege to higher birth, which a man of meaner descent must stay, and study, and perform divers exercises for, by the space of fourteen years. To be a knight's son, born in wedlock, is as good a qualification for some preferments, as to be a bachelor in divinity. The example and wisdom of these noble
persons will save me the labour of beseeching the other nobility and gentry of this kingdom; 1. To think the priesthood a function not unworthy of them, or their relations. 2. To look upon the patrimony of the church, as a good provision for their own dear children: as it is also for every mother's son of the commonalty that is duly qualified. And, 3. Therefore, that it is not only an impious thing, because sacrilege, but also an impolitic deed, because destructive of the means of a man's own and his children's well-being, to wish or desire, much more to consent to, or endeavour, the taking away of churchmeans devoted to God for the maintenance of such as attend his service.
This address to the nobles has not made me forget T. B. I mean to take my leave of him in as friendly a manner as I begun; and the rather, because he intimates a wish, that some augmentation of means might be made to the poor clergy. A thing that my soul desireth: and more; I intend to endeavour it, when and wherever it lies in my power. If I had ten thousand pounds, I would give nine thousand of it to that use. A thing which the cathedral church of Worcester hath carefully done: and I know not any cathedral that hath left it undone.
I know a prebendary of the cathedral church of York, that refused three hundred pounds fine for renewing a lease of an impropriation; and chose rather to settle half the clear profits of the tithes for an augmentation upon the vicar. And another, of another church, that hath settled a tithe that cost three hundred and fifty pounds ; with divers other instances of this kind. He
may see I have complied with his wish. I entreat him to condescend to an earnest request of mine; that he would endeavour, if not to augment the means of the poor clergy, yet to recompense the injury his book hath done them.
S. 6. But all this while, do I not forget myself much, and the reader more? I will conclude this preface with a short description of a complete clergyman.
He is a son, like Samuel, begged of God by his devout parents before he was begotten by them; and dedicated to serve God in his sanctuary before he was born; upon presupposal of shape and temper of body, of abilities and faculties of mind fit for that service: and these allowed for such by men of exquisite judgment: seasoned in his infancy, at home, with piety; at school, with arts ; accomplished with sciences and degrees at the university; prepared for holy orders by prayer, and reading (St. Chrysostom de Sacerdotio, St. Gregory's Pastoral, and such other books as learned men shall direct): called by a bishop, or excited by a master of a college, or some grave divine, to receive holy orders. And when he is entered, he governs himself by the canons of the church, and best examples of the age. In sum; he imitates the author of The Temple, and of this book, The Priest to the Temple, the holy Mr. George Herbert. To whom God assimilate the clergy, and amongst them
The most unworthy,