THE CASE OF Pluralities & Non-Residence RIGHTLY STATED: In a Letter to the Author of a Book called, A Defence of Pluralities, &c. shewing the false Reasonings and evil Doctrines therein contained.

By an Impartial Hand, and a Hearty Well-wisher to the Church of England.

LONDON, Printed for Richard Baldwin, at the Oxford Arms-Inn, in Warwick-Lane. 1694.

THE CASE OF Pluralities and Non-Residence Rightly Stated.

THE CASE OF Pluralities and Non-Residence RIGHTLY STATED, &c.

SIR,

YOU have not thought fit to acquaint the World by what Name or Ti­tle you are dignified, or distinguished, or where you dwell: and if I should know where your Parsonage or Vicarage-House stands, your Book gives me reason to think, that if I directed my Let­ter thither, it would not find you at home. And therefore I know not [Page 2] how to Salute you, but from the Press.

'Tis not my design to find fault with any thing in your Book which is honest, or tolerable. I shall pass o­ver some expressions, which will not bear a Censure, and not call you to account for every undecent, or impertinent passage: and if you had dealt thus with those whom you call Antipluralists, I had had less to say to you.

You complain in your Introducti­on of some both of our Friends and Enemies, who have made too violent exclamations against Pluralities in ge­neral. But I desire you seriously to consider whether you have not been transported to the contrary extreme, and endeavoured to palliate and ju­stifie some things, which are really blameable, and sinful: I know that upon all occasions men of your Spi­rit, when you are pursued by ar­guments, take your selves to the Church as a sure Sanctuary, and no man must undertake to question, or contradict what you say, upon peril of being lookt upon and treated as her [Page 3] Enemies. Though our Church pretends not to Infallibility, or Perfection; yet some who would be thought her choicest Sons, seem to affect some­thing very much like it. They en­deavour to put the Stamp of her Au­thority upon their own private opi­nions, and even faults, and impeach all such as will not admit them to be Current and Authentick, for Fa­ction and Disobedience. And I do not know that our excellent Church hath reason to be asham'd of any thing more than such Sons, who would per­swade the World that their personal faults are committed by her Authori­ty, and countenanced by her Indul­gence.

Such men as these, thinking to make amends for failure in what is their proper Duty, usually overdo the business in blustring and talking for her, and in a superconformity as to lesser, and external matters; and, which looks very ugly in Clergy­men, they usually slight, and vilifie those of their Brethren, who consci­entiously, and industriously discharge their duty, as a sort of popular, and, [Page 4] which amongst them is scandal enough, moderate men, especially if they up­on any occasion express their dislike of enormous Pluralities, and Non-Residence. Some of those severe things which you say of some City-Preachers may be true. And yet I believe that most of them do more Service to the Church than any Non-resident Pluralists, or even the De­fender of them. They keep many in her bosome, and in tolerable confor­mity to her, who would soon be frighted into a Conventicle by a Mi­nister of your temper.

But if they are to be blamed who Preach not so discretely as they ought, how much more ought you in justice to blame those, who hardly Preach at all, at least in such places as they should? And pray let me know by the next, what reason you have to be so very angry with those honest Gen­tlemen, who whilst they themselves faithfully perform their Office, some­times reflect upon others for not do­ing the like, as to call them Puritans, Infidels, Traditors: and to treat those who are guilty of the greatest fault [Page 5] that Ministers well can be, viz. neg­glect of the Souls of People commit­ted to their charge, so very gently? Let me know upon what grounds you deal with the former as Enemies to the Church, and not the latter. 'Tis natural for men who do their own duty, and bear the heat and burden of the day, to be moved at the negli­gence and laziness of them who should be their Fellow-labourers, especially if they find themselves rewarded by their Superiours with nothing but Scorn, and Contempt; and the others punished for their Idleness with the best Livings, and Preferments. 'Tis no wonder if some men concern'd have perhaps too deeply resented, and warmly declared against such pro­ceedings. I am apt to think that if so deserving a person, as your self, Sir, should have had the ill luck to have had your merits overlook'd, and gotten no Benefice at all, or a very mean one, and had seen many inferior to your self in true worth, rich­ly provided for, you might thereby have been provok'd to write as zealous­ly against Pluralities, as you now write [Page 6] for them: [...] 185. If yet a Soul oppress'd with poverty could ever have rais'd it self to attempt any such great design.

You may wonder how I am got al­ready almost to the end of your Book; but the reason of my referring to these words is, because you seem plain­ly in that Paragraph to inform the World how you come to be an Au­thor, viz. by your being a Pluralist and Non-resident. For there you would perswade us that hardly any but such can be Writers. But if you have no excuse for your absence from, or neglect of your Cures, but this, take my word for it, you had better be amongst your Rusricks, as you are pleased to call your Parishi­oners.

Tho' if a man have a mind to be an Author, I do not know why he may not be so, and yet serve his Cures too. I despair ever to see you so effectually to serve the Church by writing, as the Blessed Richard Hooker did, who perform'd the Office of a diligent Pastor, during the time of his writing those most Excellent Books of Eccl. Polity. You are pleased to say, [Page 7] that to your certain knowledge he had, Ibid. and dyed possessed of very great Preferments: and yet one may dare say he was no Pluralist, and Non-resident; if he had, we should have heard of that too.

And here, Sir, I must tell you, that one grievous thing I have to charge you with, is that under a pre­tence of proving Plurality, and Non-residence, to be lawful Jure Divino, you undertake to say, that a Minister hath no obligation to personal labour in his Charge, and that he may if he please be absent altogether from them.

Sit still, O Pluralist, Eat, Drink and be Merry. Farm out your Benefices, and make the best of them. And let the Curate look to the discharge of your Con­science, and Duty to God and the Peo­ple. You have your Quietus given you by our Author. There will never any ac­count be required of you for the Souls of your People, nor your own neither. For if Ministers, and especially Incum­bents are not accountable for neglect of duty to the Souls intrusted with them, there is no reason to think that [Page 8] any other men should be punished in another World for the Non-perfor­mance of any other obligation what­soever. And yet that you are guilty of doing this, appears from what you say in reference to the Spanish Bishops in the Council of Trent, who would have had Residence of Bishops to be declared necessary Jure Divino. Up­on which if the Spanish Bishops, [...]ag. 24, 25. say you, had been asked, whether the Resi­dence which they asserted to be of Di­vine Right, included the whole year, or only part of it, they could not have a­greed in it. If Residence of the whole Year were required by the Law of God, by what Authority did they appear in that place out of their Dioceses, &c. If only partial Residence were required, who should define how much God would accept, or how much might lawfully be spent out of their Dioceses? It might have been alleged against them, that since God himself had revealed nothing as to this matter, it was an evident Argu­ment that he intended no such obligation: So that according to your wise way of arguing, to reside even any the least part of a year in ones Bishoprick is [Page 9] not necessary Jure Divino. And you do yet more openly assert this Do­ctrine, when you bring the Incum­bent before the great Tribunal at the last day, and like a trusty Advocate for the Non-resident Pluralist, you plead thus for him.Pag. 33, 34. And then as to a Proxy, if the Priest allegeth that the same Authority of the Bishop, which committed the Care of the Parish to him, did disburden him of that Care, and imposed it in whole, or in part upon a Substitute, there is no reason to be­lieve that God will not accept this plea. Here you speak out indeed, and all at once. For if a Cure may be wholly served by a Substitute, and if God at the day of Judgment will accept of such a Plea, then 'tis plain that all personal care and labour is unnecessary. But, Sir, 'tis to be hoped before that great and terrible day of the Lord's, comes, you will learn more Seriousness and Modesty, than to think of preferring so thin and false an excuse to so great a Judge.

[Page 10]A false Excuse I say. For what Statute, or Canon of the Realm, or Church of England doth authorize a Bishop to disburden an Incumbent of the Care of his Parish, and impose it in whole upon a Substitute? I know that Dispensations may be had for Local Non-residence. But I challenge you, or any Man else to produce a­ny Authority that the Bishop hath, either by our Canon, or Statute-Law to transferr the Cure of Souls wholly from the Incumbent to another. Though when I consider you as an An­tiquary, I have a good mind to revoke my challenge. For you may have Rods in Brine, and Canons perdue, which a Countrey Gentleman never heard of before. And we need not despair of having any thing made out by Men vers'd in such Studies, since we have had such Doctrines published as the genuine Product of the Church of England represented in Convocation, which the hundredth part of the Cler­gy themselves knew nothing of, till they had layn in the dark about 80 years, and were at last published, ei­ther [Page 11] to prove some new Doctrine, or else for nothing at all.

But let me as a Friend once more remind you of that wretched Plea which it seems you intend to make for your self and Brethren, at the last day; consider of it again, and tell me whether you think it can pass in that great Court: nay whether your own Conscience, if you would let it speak out, can vouch it, or rely upon it. I am so far from thinking that it will be accepted by him who is grea­ter than our Consciences, and knoweth all things, That a Civil or Ecclesiastick Judge would, or at least ought to re­ject it. For 'tis certain if any Bishop should pretend to a power beyond Law, and Canon, and the Nature of things, all such pretensions would be vain both as to this World and another. And I believe 'tis as certain and true that no Bishop of the Church of Eng­land as now established did ever as­sume such a sort of Authority. If any Prelate had a faculty of loosing Men from the obligations to their People, I doubt not but he might have as much Custom amongst some of your Friends, [Page 12] as 'tis usually said that Priest might have who could procure a Commission for unmarrying People. And for ought I could ever yet learn, any Priest may as well and legally do the latter, as a Bishop the former.

The Notion of transferring the Charge from the Incumbent to the Curate is new, and, I hope, your own. I do believe that 'twas never heard of in General Council, Parliament, or Convocation. And if you have no better thoughts to communicate to that Reverend Body last mentioned, I hope you will never have the Vote of an honest Clergyman to sit in it. But when you write again, pray let us know by what Instruments, Letters, or Faculties a Bishop doth, or can release an Incumbent wholly from his charge, or in what Court such Letters Dispensatory can be procured. For I believe I know some who would give money for them: tho' I do not imagine any good Man would. For I do not think that any Humane Power can take off that obligation which every Minister hath upon him of per­sonal Labour amongst his People.

[Page 13]I shall reduce what I have to say on this subject, to these following Pro­positions.

I. Tho' Plurality of Benefices be not in it self contrary to the Law of God; yet for any one to take on himself such Charges as he cannot, or will not perform, is.

II. Tho' Curates may be used for the more full, and perfect discharge of Duty; yet the whole Care of the people is not intrusted with them.

III. Tho' perpetual Local Residence be not injoined by God; yet to live so near the Cure, and to be actually resident, so far forth as effectually to answer all the ends of the Mini­stry, is.

IV. Vicars by reason of their Oaths are obliged to Local Residence, un­less they be dispensed with by the Bishop

[Page 14]I. Tho' Plurality of Benefices be not in it self contrary to the Law of God; yet for any one to take on himself such Charges, as he cannot, or will not perform, is. It cannot in­deed with any appearance of Truth be asserted, that 'tis unlawful to serve or have more Benefices than one. The Scriptures do neither in express Terms, nor by any Consequence fairly to be drawn from them, prohibit it. And thus far we are agreed (I say) as to the Conclusion, tho' not as to the Premises. For one of the arguments by which you would prove this, is a meer Cavill: I mean that pag. 37 &c. where you undertake to conclude the Lawfulness of Pluralities from the Authority, and Example of the primitive Church; and that 'tis lawful to hold two Bishopricks, because some Primi­tive Bishops presided over two several Cities. Now did ever any one in his right Wits assert the Bounds, and Li­mits of Dioceses and Parishes to be fixed by a Jus Divinum? Do not you frequently throughout your Book sup­pose [Page 15] them to be constituted, and de­termined by Laws Humane, and Ec­clesiastical? And if it be left to men to bound out the precincts, why may they not alter, unite and divide them as they please? The Primitive Ex­amples you your self answer, and prove them to be of no force by the Canon which you quote; part of which says, Civitates praedictae nun­quam proprios Episcopos habuerunt. For if those Cities were never two distinct Dioceses, then he who held them could not be a Dualist even accor­ding to your own argument, unless you take it for granted, That a Chri­stian City, qua talis, be a Bishop's See, which I am sure you will never be able to prove. Some of our present Dioceses do indeed contain such an extent of Land, as formerly made two: but how came they of old to be two, was it not meerly from hu­mane Authority? and why may not things be altered by the same Power they were at first constituted? And therefore I am asham'd to hear you trifle and cry out Pag. 39. No humane [Page 16] Authority can make that lawful, which God and the Nature of things have made unlawful. Whoever said that God and the nature of things divided Dioceses, and Parishes? And what Child's play is it to talk as you do, Pag. 42. where you would prove the lawful­ness of Pluralities from the lawfulness of one that is Bishop of one Diocese, to undertake the Administration of another, during its vacancy, or the incapacity of him to whom it belongs? I will only observe that you make the Bishop of Sarum to lead the Van in both Cases, and look upon it not as an argument, but a Jest ad hominem. It ill becomes one who pretends so great a Reverence and Tenderness for the Order, as you do, always to be aiming at a Bishop, and studying to expose him; tho hi­therto, God be thanked, you have exposed your self most of all. But if you do not take more care of your self, you will become one of the Traditors before you are a­ware of it.

[Page 17]And yet, as I said, though I agree not with you in this medium, yet thus far I agree with you in the Conclusion, That Plurality is not in it self against the Divine Law: and considering the Poverty of some Churches, 'tis absolutely necessary: and some men may better merit, and serve two, than others one; and therefore in God's Name let them have 'em. Yet,

No Man ought to have more Souls committed to his Charge than he can or will watch over. This doth evidently appear, both from the Law of Nature, and the Gospel, what­ever you pretend to the contrary. For I think it will be needless to prove that by them both we are ob­lig'd to perform our promises, and execute the several Offices we under­take: and unless you have forgot­ten your Vows, and Engagements plighted to God, and his People, at your Ordination, you cannot but know that 'tis the Vow and Office of a Presbyter of the Church of [Page 18] England, to watch over and instruct the People committed to his charge. And he who shall say, that he is not obliged to serve in the Church com­mitted to his charge, doth in effect renounce his Orders in the Church of England. And he who shall fur­ther assert, That he is not obliged by the Vows and Promises which he hath made (if they are not unlaw­ful) doth in consequence renounce the Christian, and even Natural Re­ligion. And he who undertakes any Engagements which he knows he cannot perform, or makes any Vows he resolves not to fulfill, in ta­king of them, he doth worse than break them. So that he who accepts so many, or great Benefices, as he cannot or will not look after, trans­gresses the Law of Christ and Na­ture too. But there are two things pretended in this Case. 1. The Dis­pensation of the Bishop. To which I answer, That there is no Dispensa­tion to be had for perpetual Non-residence, and neglect of the People. Tho' I must confess the Dispensations [Page 19] are larger than a good man would wish for; yet they will not come up to your purpose. You often indeed call upon the Bishops to execute the Discipline of the Church, and to make Incumbents perform the Terms and Conditions of their Dispensati­on, that is, to Preach Thirteen times a Year in each Church, and to re­side two Months, which is too little in all conscience: and yet as little as it is, I do not doubt but if the good Bishops should take you at your word, and send you and your Bre­thren to labour amongst your Ru­sticks, you would think your selves severely handled, and look on it as a harder imposition, than that which the Parliament lays upon you, and be ready to cry out of an ele­venth Persecution.

I should look on that Pluralist to have something of Conscience, who having gotten two of the best Li­vings in Thirty Miles distance, should do at least what the Canon, and his Dispensation requires of him. 'Tis [Page 20] but a low pitch of vertue to be just so good as the Law of Man would have us; and yet it were well, if such as you defend (especially your dear self) could do but this. Your Dispensations, which you now plead in your own defence, shall hereafter rise up in Judgment against you. For I know many Pluralists, (and I believe, Sir, you know one at least) who Preach not half so often, and reside not half so much upon both their Livings, as they ought to do in each. And yet after all, if the Dispensation were as full as you could desire, it would certainly be invalid, as tending to the Breach of Vows, which no Christian Bishop can pre­tend to without usurping a Papal Power. He who shall undertake to annull a Minister's Vows of feeding the People committed to his charge, may by the same Authority dispense with my Oath of Allegiance, or with those Natural duties which I owe to my Parents or Children.

[Page 21]But some have answered, That these Vows and Promises are to be taken in a legal sence, and are qualified by those words, according to the Order of this Church of England: so that he who takes no more Liberty than the Canons of this Church allow, cannot justly be accused for violation of his Faith.

But 1st. The Church allows no such liberty as that of perpetual Non-residence, and neglect of labour, as is already proved.

2dly, These words do not at all affect our obligation to personal la­bour, and therefore cannot in the least mitigate or abate it. And that this may appear, I will set down the whole Question, of which these words are part. Do you think in your heart that you be truly called, according to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Order of this Church of England, to the Order, and Ministry of Priest­hood? And I need only set them down, to shew that they do not at [Page 22] all concern the present Controversie. And 'tis the only instance of mode­sty, which you have given us in your whole Book, that you have not so much as mentioned this Argument, as some miscall it. But

Further, another plea whereby you endeavour to wash off the Clergy­mans obligation to labour among his People, and which seems to be the [...], the fundamental Error of your whole Book, is, that Mini­sters are not ordained to one Diocese, or Parish, but to the Catholick Church, Pag. 43. & passim. Tho' you acknow­ledge so much of the truth, viz. That good order and discipline do require that the exercise of their Office be confined to some certain limits, and place, as will determine every good man against the Conclusion you would draw from it. For if he who sits not down on his Cures, and will not confine the exercise of his Office to the Church, or Churches intrusted with him, do break discipline, and good order; 'tis plain that he is guil­ty [Page 23] of a great crime. But I shall further shew that this Notion of a Minister's being ordained not to this or that Parish or Diocese, but to the Univer­sal Church, is false. Not but that upon occasion he may exercise his Function in any part of the Church, and upon whatever shore he is cast, he ought not to be re-ordained: but that when he enters into Orders, he is design'd for the service of some particular Church, or Diocese, more than of the whole.

As for the Church of England, she ordains none (except in one or two special Cases, which cannot break a rule) fine certo Titulo. And in the Office for ordering of Priests,Can. 33. among other questions asked by the Bishop, this is one, Will you maintain and set forward Quietness, Peace and Love amongst all Christian people, and espe­cially among them that are, or shall be committed to your charge? And your self I presume have made an­swer to it in the words of the Office, I will do so, the Lord being my Helper. [Page 24] Now in this question, other Christi­an People are contradistinguished to those of your Cure, and in the an­swer you oblige your self to prosecute your duty more especially amongst the latter.

But you that would be called the true Sons of the Church of England, write and act as if you were so much her fondlings, as that you had a particular priviledge of contradicting her. You can be very severe upon your Brethren of the Clergy who mu­tilate or disuse her Ceremonies: but think it no fault in your selves almost, or altogether to lay aside the exer­cise of your Functions, at least in such places as the Canons and Consti­tutions of the Church do peculiarly require your labours. I know no labouring Clergy of our Church who do mutilate or disuse her Ceremonies: but if I did, I should think them more excusable who do something of their duty, than they who wholly neglect it. And, Sir, 'Tis such as these that betray her Cause, that open the mouths [Page 25] of her Adversaries, and give just oc­casion of scandal: And let me tell you, That you are partaker of these mens sins, by pretending to justify them.

And, take my word for it, the Church is very little beholden to you for your doing so: especially since you have made bold with her, for a little arguments sake, so far as to contradict her Offices and Canons. But alas! Canons and Rubricks, and such like things were not made for Authors, and Grand Pluralists. They are so far from being obliged to o­bey them, that one would think they never read, or at least remembred them. Otherwise how could any one who did not think himself above Ca­nons, confidently assert, That Priests are not ordained to this or that Parish; but to serve the Church of God in general, when the Church has solemn­ly decreed, That they are, or ought to be ordained to some particular Cure, and obliges them there more especially to prosecute their Office.

[Page 26]And even in the Primitive and A­postolical Churches Men were not or­dained so much for the service of the whole, as of one particular Diocese. The Apostles themselves were indeed Catholick Bishops in the largest sence, and had a Commission to teach all Nations, and had every one of them the care of all the Churches. But tho' they did not themselves sit down, and take up their Residence in any parti­cular Diocese: yet they constituted distinct and setled Governours for e­very Church as soon as it was raised. Thus St. Timothy was created Bishop of Ephesus, Titus of Crete; Linus, or Cletus, or both, of Rome even during the Apostles lives.

And as Bishops were then design'd for every particular Diocese; so as the Number of the Christians grew, 'twas absolutely necessary that they should have Presbyters subservient to them. And 'tis evident that those Presbyters did not only live in sub­jection to the Bishops of those di­stinct Dioceses to which they were [Page 27] ordained, so long as themselves thought fit; but were obliged not to leave them without the consent of the Di­ocesan. And when the Levity of some prompted them to break this stand­ing Custome of the Church, there were Canons made to confine all Bishops and Presbyters to the Service of that Diocese to which they were first ordained. And there is only this difference between the Primitive Plat­form, and our own, viz. That in the former Presbyters were ordained not for the Service of one particular Congregation, but of the whole Dio­cese, to serve the Bishop in the more full and perfect discharge of his Of­fice, to be sent to such parts of the Diocese, and for such a time as the Bishop thought fit: whereas by our Constitution every Presbyter has his particular Allotment, and his di­stinct Dividend in the endowments, and labours of the Church. But they were no more designed for the Service of the Church at large in those days, than they are now.

[Page 28]If we enquire why every particu­lar Presbyter had not his distinct Cure allotted him in the primitive Church, we must needs allow it to be its in­fant and unsetled State: So that when the Empire came into the Church, and Christianity began to be the Religion of Rome and Greece, all Churches soon fell into a Parochial Division. And that so early, that at the Council of Chalcedon it seems to have been a ge­neral Establishment, for there it is pro­vided, that No one shall be ordained a Priest or Deacon at large ( [...]) to be at his own Liberty, but should be assigned particularly ( [...]) to some Church either in the City or in a Village, Can. 6. or Martyrdome, or Mo­nastery. I know you are not willing to allow Parish-Priests or Churches to have been generally constituted at this time; but I think this is a bet­ter Authority for it, than you can pro­duce against it. It could not indeed be so early in our Church, which was then under a Cloud, Barbarism and Infidelity generally prevailing in these Islands.

[Page 29]Now briefly to recapitulate what hath been said on this Head. Since the Ministry is an Office, and there­fore duly to be executed; since the Church in all Ages hath con­fined the Exercise of this Office chiefly to the Diocese, or Parish to which Ministers are ordained, or instituted; since the Church of England in particular exacts of them whom she ordains, solemn Vows, and promises to instruct, and teach the People committed to their charge, to give wholsom Exhortations both to the sick and whole within their Cures, to administer Christian Doctrines, and Sacraments to them, to drive a­way all erroneous and strange Doctrine, to maintain peace and love as much as in them lyeth amongst their Parishi­oners. Since this cannot be done without personal care, and labour, and since the Church requires it at their hands, and neither doth nor can dispence with their Neglect; it necessarily follows, that they who undertake such Cures as they [Page 30] are not able to discharge, or so many Churches as they cannot du­ly watch over, do in undertaking them, grosly sin: And that they who have promised and are able to perform, but will not, do violate their Faith made solemnly to God and his People.

And what I have now said con­cludes against you in two points.

First, According to your Hy­pothesis there are no bounds set to Pluralities by the Law of God (tho' the Church be so severe as to stint you to two) but that a Man may have as many as he can get, and have served by Curates. Your Reason against Pluralities be­ing unlawful is, That there is no mention made of Parish-Priests, or Churches, in Holy Scripture, and therefore there can be no directions concerning them, pag. 17. Now af­ter this way of arguing it follows, That he who shall procure a 100 Benefices or ten times more, doth not transgress the Divine Law. [Page 31] And therefore Bogo de Clare and Adam de Straton pag. 143. are clear­ly brought off from trespassing a­gainst the divine Law, though the latter had 23 Benefices in one Pro­vince, and the other you know not how many in both. For you tell us plainly pag. 141, 142. That whereas Arch-Bishop Pecham inveigh'd against Plurality of Benefices as a mortal sin, he proceeded upon a false Principle. ('Tis pity you did not live in those days, for I verily be­lieve that you might have saved this honest Adam the 30000 Marks and upwards which Edward the first fined him for Corruption in the Exchequer, (if it were the same man, as probably it was) I am sure you might as easily have proved that taking of Bribes was no Mortal Sin, as that such enormous Pluralities were not so.) And pag. 195. having fairly reckoned up all the faults of Extravagant and Irregular Pluralists, yet you cannot find in your heart to call them directly sinful, but on­ly matter of great Inconvenience to [Page 32] the Church, and Scandal to Religion. And every one knows that a thing may be Inconvenient, and Scan­dalous, and yet have no intrinsic evil in it. Especially if the Scandal be only taken, and not given. O how sweetly do you treat your Bre­thren the Non-Resident Pluralists. One of these may break all the Ten Commandments with less re­proof from you, than a poor in­dustrious Clergy-man omit a Cere­mony. He that doth the latter is in your language a Traditor, an Infidel, or (which with you perhaps is worse) a Puritan; but the other, tho' he behave himself as though he cared not for the Souls of his People, tho' he think himself wholly disburthened of the Cure of Souls (as you had already taught them to do) by delegating it to a Curate, tho' he put no bounds to the desire of Pluralities, tho he neglect Alms, and Hospitality, and suffer his houses to be dilapidated, pag. 193. And tho' he do half a hundred more such ugly tricks, all this is only inconve­nient and offensive.

[Page 33]Now upon this Supposition, viz. That Pluralities, though never so numerous, are not contrary to the Divine Law, there needs but one metropolitan Bishop in all Chri­stendom, (a Pope you may call him if you please) so that he maintain a great Army of Stipen­diary Suffragans, and (which is a Doctrine which I think the World never heard of before) but one incumbent Presbyter under him maintaining Legions of Curates in every Kingdom. For if it be not a mortal sin to have 23 Benefices, how do you prove it so to have as many hundred, or thousand. 'T would indeed be Scandalous, i. e. weak Brethren might take offence at it. But you will say 'tis pity such a Constitution should be sinful. Oh! what a rare Author would such a brave fellow as this Universal Pres­byter make? he might write a whole Vatican full of Books, and gratify you perhaps so far as to enable you to continue writing lit­tle [Page 34] Defences, and to make such wonderful discoveries as you have lately, in acquainting the World how many Children Bishop O. had, for starting the project.

But I am afraid you will be an­gry with me for spoiling this new invention, as I think I have ef­fectually done. For if every one who is instituted in a Living be oblig'd personally to take care of it; then he, who undertakes more or greater Cures than he is capable of looking after, sins in doing of it.

But another ill consequence of your Hypothesis is, That Livings may be held at never so great a di­stance. So that for ought appears in your Book to the contrary, nay by what is there asserted, it is lawful jure Divino for a Man to hold 3 or more Benefices, where­of one we will suppose situate in Britaine, the second in Japan, and the third in Peru, (and I fancy you [Page 35] would chuse a Golden one) why may they not be 30 Degrees di­stant as well as 30 Miles accord­ing to your way of arguing, For­asmuch as the Livings cannot per­sonally be supplied in any sence pag. 28. But if it be true which I have laid down, viz. That 'tis un­lawful to take two Benefices or more, which you cannot perso­nally, and very frequently supply; if it be necessary that he who hath solemnly accepted the charge of any people, be by his Office, and other additional obligations tyed to watch over their Souls, to deliver to them the whole Coun­cil of God, and to be ready on all occasions to preserve them from Error, and Discord, and the like Spiritual Evils; then it clearly fol­lows that 'tis contrary to the Law of God to take the charge of two or more livings so far distant from each other, that it shall be mo­rally impossible for him in any mea­sure personally to supply them both. The Church indeed allows of 30 Miles [Page 36] distance, tho' the Canons of 1571. permit but 26. But I do not think it an argument of an affectionate and ingenuous Son to stretch the favours of his indulgent Mother, or to run to the utmost bounds which she hath set him. 'Tis as difficult for a Man to determine the precise distance, which is lawful, as to prescribe the number of Glasses which any Man may drink, without exceeding the rules of Temperance. And yet I dare say you will agree with me that 30 together are too many for one who designs to keep himself sober: And so without doubt is 30 Miles distance of Church­es too great for that Man who in­tends conscientiously to discharge his Office. And this is certainly true generally speaking. But con­sidering the great strength of some mens Brains or Bodies; I will not determine that this number is ab­solutely excessive, and unlawful in either Cases. Tho' I think I may with decency enough say that the Church allows this great distance, [Page 37] only for the hardness of some mens hearts.

'Tis the safest way in such cases to take care that you do not make use of that Liberty which the Church hath given you for an occasion to the flesh, to Covetousness, and fil­thy Lucre. But I proceed to shew that,

II. Tho' Curates may be u­sed, yet the whole care of the people is not intrusted with them. I am so far from thinking it un­lawful to keep a Curate, that I rather judge it commendable, where the Living will bear one, and the people are any thing numerous. For though a man have no greater a charge than that he himself may serve the necessities of; yet he may not so well answer all the conveni­ences, and reasonable desires of the people in his own person. There are many Incumbents, who may fulfill their Ministry by their own labour, at least so far as to keep [Page 38] themselves free from the bloud of the People, and yet might discharge their trust much more to the e­dification, and satisfaction of the people, and their own Consciences by the assistance of another. And there is no reason to think that it is more unlawful for a Clergyman than for any other Officer, or Work­man, to have an Assistant. And it would be of excellent use to the Church, if such as are designed for Incumbents were all for some time trained up under the care of grave and experienced Clergy-men, that by practising under them, act­ing by their directions, and influ­enced by their example, they might be better versed in so great a bu­siness, than young Incumbents usu­ally are.

But yet I am far from thinking that the whole care of the people is or ought to be intrusted with Curates. 'Tis plain it is not in our Church: because no Incumbent is or can be acquitted from that obli­gation, [Page 39] which he voluntarily took up­on himself of caring for, and feed­ing the Souls of his people; and therefore is obliged to do it, not­withstanding he have a Curate to help him. I have before shewed that your Notion of transferring the obligation from the Incumbent to the Curate is groundless. And in all the forms of Licences to serve a Cure which I have seen, there is not any thing contained, that implies the Curate to have the sole Care of the people. 'Tis true in­deed, in such Churches as have no Ecclesiastical person incumbent on them by reason of all the Tithes being impropriated, either the Cu­rate must do all, or else it cannot be done. But I know you look on this as an odious case, and la­ment the condition of such Church­es as much as any Clergyman in England. From anomalies nothing can be proved, or brought into a Rule. I doubt not but there are many learned, and pious Curates in the Church, who do as much for [Page 40] the People as if they were their Rectors, or Vicars; and 'tis pity they are not. I do not speak this to discourage their honest labours, but only to shew the neglect of those who employ them. And the generality of Curates cannot but know that the great, and primary charge belongs to the Incumbent: and cannot think it reasonable that for a third, or perhaps a sixth, or tenth part of the Profits, he is obliged to do so much as the Rector, or Vicar, for the whole: on the contrary the In­cumbent, if we may judge of all by you, thinks that if he pay for serving the Cure, he himself is disburdened of all obligations. And so the Parish has the name of two Ministers, but in effect not one.

In case of Age or Sickness, or any other necessary disability to perform all the duty required of an Incumbent, 'tis to be sure suf­ficient to do what in him lyeth, as [Page 41] the Office of Ordination express­eth it. He must then be forced to make use of anothers Mouth and Hands to Preach, and pray and deliver Sacraments to the People. And yet it will be some satisfacti­on to a Consciencious Pastor, if he be able to direct his Curate, and to see that he do that which now he himself cannot, and to take care that his people want nothing that is necessary, or pro­per for their Souls health. And 'twere well if some Incumbents would do but thus much even during their health, and strength, tho I don't think that this is suffi­cient to acquit such before God.

And this brings me to the case of Deacon-Incumbents. For you say p. 136. that to manifest more fully that 'twas never the design in the first Institution of Parochial Cures that they should in all cases be sup­plied by the Incumbent in person, I will add this observation, That from the beginning of Parochial Cures [Page 42] Deacons were admitted to possess them, altho it were notorious that they could not execute the Office per­sonally: Since they could neither ab­solve penitents, nor celebrate the Sa­crament of the Eucharist. I do not think you have proved what you say, namely that from the begin­ning of Parochial Cures, Deacons were admitted to possess them. The first Authority which you pro­duce for it in the Gallican Church, is in the year 744. Whereas this Parochial division was long before in­troduced in France, namely, at fur­thest in the year 630, if we may be­lieve what you say Pag. 84. Cor­ruptions may be introduced in 114 years. And if I were disposed to be troublesome, I might very well deny either the Canon, or Ca­pitular which you quote, Pag. 137, to prove that Deacons were then al­lowed of for Incumbents: but let it be so, you shall for this one time have your will. Deacons have formerly been allowed to be Incumbents, and perhaps from the [Page 43] first beginning of Parochial Churches; therefore it follows, say you, that the Church never design­ed that Cures in all Cases should be supplied by the Incumbents. But doth it from thence follow, that he is not obliged to do any thing? Because he could not absolve, and celebrate the Eucha­rist, doth it from thence follow, that he had no obligation to Bap­tize the Children, visit, and anoint the Sick, carry the consecrated Elements to them? give them oc­casional advice, Catechise them in the Principles of Religion, and do those things which daily were re­quired in every Parish, and what, if he made use of an Assistant to do the rest, so long as he did not think himself disburdened of doing what he could? A Minister disabled in his Hands by the Gout or Palsy, may without question make use of another to administer the Sacraments to his People, and yet by his diligence in other duties deserve a double proportion of [Page 44] Honour, and Maintenance. How­ever this case of Deacon-Incum­bents doth not at all serve the purpose of the Clergy of the now Church of England. For 'tis plain that the allowance of them was lookt upon as a Corruption by the Church and State; and therefore it hath been reformed by the Act of Uniformity. And if the former permission of it were an argument that the Church did not then re­quire Incumbents personally to supply their Cures; then the pre­sent prohibition doth as strongly prove that now she doth. And to what end are all Incumbents obli­ged to be in Priests Orders, but only that they may be capable of performing all Holy Offices in their Cures, unless by natural infirmities disabled? I have particularly con­sidered the force of this allegati­on: because it looks the most like an argument of any thing in your Book. But,

[Page 45]III. Though perpetual local Re­sidence be not required by the Law of God, yet to live so near the Cure, and to be actually resident so far forth as to answer all the ends of the Ministry, is I am so far of your mind, as that God and Nature have made no particular Laws to appoint on what spot of ground the Minister's house shall stand: but yet, 'tis absolutely re­quired that he should watch over the flock; and therefore it neces­sarily follows, that he must be so much amongst them, and dwell so near them, as that he may effectually perform this duty. 'Tis a thing high­ly proper perpetually to reside, where it can be done with any tolerable safety, or accommodation. He that doth so may have more frequent opportunities of doing good, and may more easily, and throughly dis­charge his Conscience: and some Cures cannot be faithfully served but by resident Ministers, by rea­son of the multitude of Parishioners, and their daily occasions. And in [Page 46] such cases 'tis without doubt as necessary that the Minister should reside, as it is that he should per­form his duty, and vows. How­ever, so near all ought to dwell, and so often to be with their Pa­rishioners, as that no Soul may be in danger of perishing, no ne­cessary duty neglected through their absence. And indeed gene­rally speaking, dwelling in the Pa­rish where a man is beneficed is so very requisite, that it were very much to be desired that those Incum­bents who have not an important excuse to the contrary, were forced to legal, and local residence.

When I speak of residence and dwelling in the Parish, I mean it in the same sense that any plain Eng­lishman will take it, viz making it the place of abode, and rambling abroad as little as may be, or as is consistent with the greater business, which every Minister hath lying up­on his hands. I say this, to re­mind you of your little banters, [Page 47] Pag. 26. &c. Suppose, say you, the Incumbent lives not here, (viz. with­in the bounds of his Parish) but 100 yards further, &c. and Pag. 27. If ten distance miles be allowed, why not 20 or 30? You might have added 100, or 1000. For your argument is indefinite, and pleads for 10000 miles distance as well as ten. The case of the Spanish Bishops is so re­markable, that I must mention it again. Pag. 24. You ask them whe­ther the Residence, which they asserted to be of Divine Right, included the whole year, or only part of it. If Residence of the whole year were required by the Law of God, by what warrant did they appear in that place (viz. Trent) out of their Dioceses, or, &c. If on­ly partial residence were required, who should define how much God would accept it, might have been alledged— that since God himself had revealed nothing as to this matter, it is an evi­dent Argument he intended no such obligation. Has God revealed no­thing as to this matter? Yes he has revealed this, that you must give an [Page 48] account of the people. Heb. 13.17. And no man can give an account of all, and therefore by People must be meant those who are pe­culiarly committed to your Charge: he hath told you by the Apostle, that you must take heed to the Flock, and be instant in season, and out of season; and this you cannot do, if you live too far distant from them. God hath been pleased in this, and many other particulars, only to give you the general heads of your duty. He commands us to be sober, to avoid Covetousness, and worldly Cares; to pray often, &c. without prescribing the nice quantity of liquor, or meat, that we may use; without stinting men to a certain number of hours, or tale of Prayers: and yet there certainly are quantities and hours, which if we do not observe, we transgress these duties. So 'tis in the case before us, God hath on­ly commanded Ministers in general terms to be very instant, and urgent to oversee, and take care of the [Page 49] People, without telling us how far, or how long they may be absent from them. And yet with all your little Sophistry you will never be able to wipe off the force of these Laws.

But you have passed, or repor­ted a Jest in the beginning of your Book,Pag. 20. which puts me in mind of a parallel Instance. A man is ob­liged to take care of his own, and to dwell with his Wife, and that by the Law of God: but yet, if you were a married man, and had caught a she Tartar, whom you would be willing to shake off; you might according to your way of arguing, make this Dilemma: If a man be obliged to dwell with his Wife, and reside with his Fa­mily, he is either obliged to dwell in the same House or Room with them, and that perpetually, and without any intermission; or else at a small distance, and only part of his time: if the former be true, then he must never be from [Page 50] home, tho upon the most necessary occasions, or even to make provi­sion for his Family: but if he may live the next wall to them, and be sometimes out for a day or a week, then why not altogether? For to use your own words, since God him­self has revealed nothing as to this matter, (i. e. the precise time or space of being without Wives) 'tis an evi­dent argument, he intended no such obligation, and so you might get rid of your Wife without the for­mality of a Process, or appealing to the Ecclesiastical Consistory. Is not this pretty Tattle, and is not yours just the same? For your ar­gument against the necessity of par­tial residence runs thus. If a Mi­nister may be absent sometimes, as suppose to go to Convocation, or to buy Books at London; why may he not as well be absent the whole year? if he may dwell Ten Yards out of his Parish, why not as many, or three times as many Miles? So that the Conventicle-Preacher when he would have proved Resi­dence [Page 51] to be Jure Divino from those words, Abraham begat Isaac, Mat. 1.2. might not argue so much at random, as you your self do.

And pray observe that you have proved more than (I hope) you designed, if you have proved any thing at all. For if neither Bishops nor Incumbent Presbyters be obli­ged to be resident in their Charges any part of the year, pray who shall look after them? what stipen diary Curates? Why the Scriptures make no more mention of them, than of Parochial Constables, as you your self speak. And therefore, according to your way of talk, there is no Provision made by the Law of God for the Cure of Souls. You ought by all means to have shewed who they are who are Jure Divino ob­liged to take care of the People, before you had dismiss'd the Bishops Incumbent Presbyters from that Service.

[Page 52]But that which you chiefly la­bour at, and in proof of which half your Book was written, is to shew that serving Cures by a Proxy, and leaving all (but the Tithes) to the Curate, is not contrary to the first design of Parochial Endow­ments. And, in order to this, you present us with a long History of the first Institution of Parochial Churches, which is the best part of your Book, and therefore least to your purpose. And to what end you tell us this Tale of about 100 pages long I can't Divine. For I do not be­lieve that one single Consequence can be drawn from this relation of yours which favours your con­ceits of unlimited Plurality, and Total Non-residence. You wisely excuse your self pag. 115. from framing the particular deductions, lest you should seem to question, or injure the Judgment of your Reader. A man would rather think that you put this task upon your Reader, be­cause it was too hard for your self. The chief Heads I shall mention, [Page 53] and shew how they make for you. pag. 58. You tell us 'twas long e'er Parish-Churches were instituted, longer before they were endowed. What, would you infer from hence, that when they were instituted, and en­dowed, the particular persons de­sign'd, and collated to them, were not obliged to serve, and officiate in them? Nothing else will serve your turn, and yet no such conclu­sion can be drawn from these pre­mises. What tho the office of a Parochial Priest be new? yet an Office it is, and must faithfully be discharged, or else those that have it conferred on them, render them­selves obnoxious both to the Laws of God and Man, especially if any supervening obligations of vows, and promises require it of us. Any alteration in the Circumstances of affairs, any new Commands of Superiors (if they be not unlaw­ful) may lay new tyes upon our Consciences.

[Page 54] Ibid.You tell us, that all Oblations made at these Churches were at first trans­mitted to the Bishop, who generally di­vided them into four parts, took one for his own maintenance, assigned an­other to the Clergy, a third to repair the Edifices, and a fourth to the Poor. Now if you could prove that the Bishop having all at his disposal, al­lowed him a dividend who did not Preach or labour, this would be for your purpose; or if you had shewed that tho a Priest neglected the Business, or People to whom he was sent, and never came near the Church to which he was com­manded, had yet his share in the Dividend, this would look your way. I am perswaded 'tis as easie to prove the unlawfulness of Non-residence from the first of Genesis, as to conclude the non-necessity of it from such premisses as these.

But further you assert, pag. 59. that the first and general design of endowing Parochial Churches was, that a competent number of Clergy might [Page 55] be maintained, who under the Bishop should supply the whole Diocese: But if so, what need these endowments be fixed to these Parochial Churches? why were they not rather bestowed on the Bishop, or the Mother Ca­thedral Church? The end which you pretend had been altogether as well served by this means, viz. the maintaining a competent number of Clergy to serve the Diocese in sa­cred matters. It sounds very odly and improbably, that our Ancestors endowed one particular Parochial Church, that so by this endowment, some Clergy-man might be enabled to serve in other parts of the Dio­cese. Any one who had not a mind to impose on himself, or others, would rather think, that when an Estate was settled on any particular Church, the design of the Donor chiefly was that he who served in it should have the profit of it: unless we ima­gine those Pious Men to have had such tricks in their Heads as those in the beginning of our late Confu­sions, who pretending a zeal for the [Page 56] Revenues of the Church, founded Lectures in the City out of Impro­priations purchased in the remotest parts of the Kingdom. But before I dismiss this point, let me observe to you that by your own confessi­on, the Endowments of Parochial Churches were only designed to maintain the Clergy who were em­ployed in that Diocese, whereof the Church so endowed was a Mem­ber: and therefore this (if true) would not justifie those, who being Beneficed in one Diocese, bestow their labour, or live lazily in another.

The second design, you say, was to provide for the Convenience of every particular Parish, and you might as well have call'd this the first rea­son: this you say was permitted to the direction of the Bishop to alter it at discretion. And you do not tell us upon what grounds you say this, I suppose it was only to introduce what follows, viz. pag. 61. if it be more for the good of the Diocese [Page 57] or Church in general, That any Pres­byter should retain Plurality of Benefi­ces, or be Non-resident at one or both of them, then it's more consonant to the first design of Endowments, That such Plurality should be allowed, and Non-residence dispensed with, than otherwise; but you ought to have proved that Bishops pretended to any such pow­er as that of Dispensations, when Parish-Churches were first endow­ed, or that the Founders did dream of a thing, which was not in use till long after. We have only your Ipse dixit for this whole matter; beside, what you writ over Night, you contradict next Morning, as you shall hear by and by. Farther I look upon that which you call the good of the Diocese, or Church in general, to be no more than the enriching and easing some few of the Clergy. 'Tis surely most for the good of the Diocese, and whole Church, that such Clergymen as are most able to do good, should be dispersed amongst the several parts, and Regions of it. And whate­ver [Page 58] was the design of the Clergy in receiving these endowments, there is no Question to be made, but the Thanes or great Men who were the givers of them, (and by whose intentions we are to be determined in this matter) respected chiefly the convenience of those Parishes, where they erected Churches. The whole Diocese was in some measure provided for before out of the common Stock or Treasury: And therefore the main end that Founders could propose in setling Estates upon particular Parish-Churches, could not be any other than the constant Supply thereof in Divine things.

And to make what I say more plain, you tell us that Bishops en­dowed some parochial Churches for the convenience of their Tenants. Pag. 90. Now how can it be reconciled to com­mon Sence, viz. That Bishops had this primary design in erecting, and endowing these Churches, not that the Parishes so endowed might [Page 59] have a Priest constantly attending, so much as that the whole Diocese might be supplied with a compe­tent Number of Clergymen; when whatever he gave, according to your Notion, belonged before to the common Stock of the Diocese: and so the design of maintaining a competent Number of Clergy was as well served before this Endow­ment, as afterward.

The sum of what need be said on this matter is, That whatever meaning the Bishop and Clergy had in accepting these Endowments (which yet I believe were very honest, and far otherwise than you would have us think) for certain those who gave them did chiefly intend the good and convenience of that Parish, where they setled a Maintenance. And all Rules of Gratitude and Piety oblige us to apply all Endowments according to the Will of the Donours. And at first they could not so much as suspect, that their designs should [Page 60] be eluded. Forasmuch as in that age the Notion of serving a Cure by Proxy was not started. And that that this was their first Intention, you your self after having made a great stir, and bustle, do at last humbly acknowledge; For pag. 85, 86, 87. You tell us that Par­ish-Priests and Churches were not ge­nerally settled till the Bishops con­sented that the whole Revenue of the Endowment were perpetually annexed to the Church of that Clerk who re­ceived it, i. e. in plain English, till the Incumbent might have the E­state belonging to the Church in which he served; and not only so, but before these great Men could generally be brought to settle their Endowments, Parish-Priests were forbid to quit their Cures without the leave of their Diocesan. pag. 88. Now what is the reason that these good men would not part with their worldly goods to encrease the common Treasure of the Diocese, since as you tell us, pag. 59. the first and general design of these endow­ments [Page 61] was to maintain a competent number of Clergy to serve the Dio­cese? what made them so shy, and backward in their Benefactions, till they were assured the Incumbent should have all, and that he who ministred should have the Endow­ments, & that those who were at first instituted on a Benefice should not easily be dismissed from it? Truth will out, and after all your forced stuffe and whipt Creame, you can't forbear to contradict your self, and in effect to give up your Cause.

Formerly, that is before the 8th Century (as you tell us) all Oblations, and Profits were at the disposal of the Bishop, so that no one who gave any thing to the officiating Minister, or endowed a Church, could be sure that he who laboured should have the Penny: and besides, Clergy-men were light and uncon­stant, and often forsook their Cures, and no one would stay at a Church any longer than he thought fit, but [Page 62] pag. 85. Before the year 800, these two reasons, which chiefly discouraged the Erection and Endowment of Pa­rish-Churches were taken away. But suppose these well-meaning Gen­tlemen had foreseen any such things, as perpetual Non-residence, and serving Cures by Substitutes, would not this have stopt their Charity? For by this means it is again brought about, That the particu­lar Endowments of any Parish do only increase the Common Treasure of the Diocese, or some particular men sometimes in, sometimes out of it; and the Church is no bet­ter served than if it had no more than a bare Competence for the Curate. Why should not the old Thanes be as well satisfied in ha­ing the Revenues of the Church at the absolute disposal of the Diocesan, as of one, who was to do little or nothing for it, and seldom see the Parishioners, but when he came to poll them? So that those who were the best Be­nefactors [Page 63] to the Church, and to whose Piety under God the Clergy owe their present Subsistence, were in no one thing more abused than by the Permission of enormous Pluralities, and idle Incumbents.

For the time to come you had better keep your Antiquities in your Common Place-Book, than gratifie your itch in vending of them, when they so little serve your purpose, that they do the quite contrary. And I believe on reading over what you had writ, you were sensible of it, and there­fore seem willing to compound the matter, pag. 152, as supposing that in 1100 years time the circum­stances of things may be altered. But then what need all this Pother about the first Institution, and En­dowment of Parochial Churches? Whether personal l [...]bour were re­quired in the old Gallick, or Eng­lish-Saxonick Church, or not? 'tis certain now it is.

[Page 64]You are indeed so inconsistent and unresolved in this whole mat­ter, That 'twill be a very difficult thing to reconcile Anthony to Har­mer. Pag. 73. You tell us, in the se­venth Century, there were none but Itinerant Preachers: nay, in the 8th Century, or the year 731 there were no other but Pluralist Clergymen, who had not the care of any particular Parish; but executed their Office in this or that, or all the Churches of the Diocese, as the Bi­shop should direct them, pag. 74. and yet before you had writ three Pages more, you were quite of an­other mind, for you tell us that about the year 700, Oratories and Churches were erected and endowed with pe­culiar Maintenance for the Incumbent, which should there reside, and exe­cute the holy Function. pag. 77. And you say the reason why before the year 800, Parochial divisions were not generally received was, because Incumbents thro' levity would often [Page 65] quit their Churches. pag. 85. So that sometimes there were none but Itinerants, before the 8th Century; at other times you tell us there were notwithstanding this, Incumbents too, who were con­stantly to reside: or when you have a mind to it there were In­cumbents: but when you think it for your purpose, you can pre­sently annihilate them again. Nay, do but put your two great impedi­ments of the Parochial Settlement together, and they will break one another in pieces. For the first was, that the Bishop had the Disposi­tion of all the Oblations, and Pro­fits. The second was, that Presbyters would leave their Churches in hopes of getting richer. pag. 85, 87. But now if all were at the Bishop's dis­posal, and he that officiated had not the Estate, wherefore should he desire a richer Church? If some Churches were richer to the Pres­byter than other, how was all at the Bishop's disposal? When you [Page 66] have reconciled your self to your self, and let me know, where I may find you, you may hear further from me. You have here asserted I can't tell what, but I am sure palpable contradi­ctions.

However you have sufficiently cleared these two points, viz. That before Parochial Endowments were compleated, the Bishop pag. 85, 86. condescended to part with his right of disposing the Ecclesiasti­cal Revenues; because otherwise the Laymen would not condescend to Endow any more Churches; and, That all Parish-Priests were forbid to quit their Cures without the leave of their Diocesan, and it was ordered that at their Institution, or before their Ordination, the Clergy should promise to remain at that place to which they were ordained, pag. 88, 89, which is contrary enough to what you undertook to prove, That [Page 67] Plurality (by which you mean holding any number of Benefices, tho' at never so great a distance) is not contrary to the first design of Parochial Endowments. But hi­therto you have only talked like a man that wanted to be drove to his Church, where he is Incum­bent; but under the next Head you Discourse after so lewd a man­ner, as that you deserve to be lasht out of it, as shall presently ap­pear.

IV. Vicars are by their Oaths obliged to local residence, unless they be dispensed with. For if they be, they are obliged no more than Rectors. The Oath of Re­sidence injoined to be taken by Vicars at their Institution is, You shall Swear to reside on your Vica­rage of N. unless you shall be dis­pensed with to the contrary; so that he who is dispensed with, is not by virtue of this Oath tyed to re­sidence. [Page 68] But to be so far resident as effectually to answer all the design, and ends of the Mini­stry, is a thing in it self necessary, whether this Oath be taken or not, and therefore can't be dis­pensed. The Law by residence never means any thing else but living in the Parish where you are beneficed. Now tho' this be not always absolutely necessary, yet 'tis necessary for that person who ha­ving sworn thus to do, except he be dispensed with, is not dispen­sed withall.

And every one who knows any thing of an Oath hath therefore just cause to wonder at that bra­sen, and wicked assertion of yours, pag. 116, 117. viz. Vicars can't in conscience be impleaded of Perjury against their Oath of Residence, who being Non-resident, maintain Curates constantly residing. How! not they guilty of Perjury, who having [Page 69] sworn residence do not reside! In God's Name, who then can be guilty of that Sin? If indeed you had said that Vicars having the Bishop's Dispensation are not forsworn if they are Non-resi­dent, you had said truth. But the necessity of a Dispensation you nei­ther suppose nor allow of. For your reason is only this, ibidem. The Law is best interpreted by its known design, and that the known design of this Canon was that no Parochi­al Church should be destitute of the presence of a Priest, which must needs have happened, if Vicars had been per­mitted to be Non-resident, because they had but just enough to maintain themselves: and the Canon makes no provision for Vicars, able to maintain a Curate; because then there were none such. Now in all this the necessity of the Bishop's Dispensation is not so much as intimated or imply'd, which yet is the only thing that can save Non-resident Vicars from down right Perjury.Vid. Bp. o [...] and W's. Charge. And all that you [Page 70] say to palliate it, is but meer stuff, and Sham.

You tell us that when this Ca­non was made, there were no Vi­cars able to maintain Curates: but for this we have only your bare word, and many probabili­ties to the contrary. 'Tis acknow­ledged that in the time of Ste­phen Langton Archbishop of Can­terbury, Five Marks were determi­ned to be a competent allowance for a Vicar. But many Vicarages had been erected long before this time, and those who had them were ab origine obliged to Resi­dence. And though there may some few instances be produced of Vicarages, which were not a­bove this value, yet this doth by no means prove that there were none which had better mainte­nance.

[Page 71]Further, though the Law may best be interpreted by the known design of it, yet no plain, ex­press, literal injunctions of any Law are disannulled by pretending that from the design of the Law no such Conclusions can be drawn. The design of the Law may give us light in some parti­culars, which would otherwise be obscure, and difficult: or may serve to explain the meaning of any Oath, by it ordered to be taken. But this sure is the first time, that the intention of the Law was urged as a reason, why an Oath prescribed by it, should be of no validity. And further it is plain that the design of that Canon, by which it was in­joyned, was not only to secure the constant presence of a Priest in every Parish, but that the Vi­car himself should be constantly present. This appears from the Oath it self. For all Incumbents [Page 72] whether Rectors or Vicars, if ab­sent, must maintain a Curate whether they will or no, and whether the Revenue be small or great: and if this had been the only design, Rectors would have been injoyned to take it as well as Vicars. And yet Rectors, tho their Benefices were not above Five Marks per annum value, were never obliged to take this Oath. And I conceive the true reason of Vicars being sworn to Resi­dence, was that old rule, Vica­rius non habet Vicarium, a Curate (for such were all Vicars origi­nally) is not allowed to have a Curate. And though the reason of this Canon now ceases, since Vicars are properly Incumbents, yet the Canon it self remains in force, or else all our Bishops, and Vicars General are mista­ken.

[Page 73]Some indeed are of opinion that Desuetude, & Remotio cansae when they meet together are suf­ficient to abrogate any Law. But so long as it is daily exe­cuted, no one must say that 'tis abolished, tho the occasion of it seemeth to be taken away. You indeed seem to argue as if you thought the Canon it self anti­quated. But no Subject of any Society must take the Liberty of interpreting away Laws, which he sees his Governours daily to exercise, upon pretence that the reason of them ceases. That the Law was at first made to oblige Vicars to actual Residence, you your self acknowledge, and the Law remaining the same, 'tis not in the Power of any single Cler­gyman though he be a Pluralist, nay though he were Universal In­cumbent of all the Benefices in Christendom, to alter the sense and first intention of it. And residence by a Curate is such a [Page 74] Residence as neither Law nor com­mon sense admits of.

Thus you see the Canon is in force, and therefore to be obeyed whether enforced with an Oath or not. And whether the Canon be in force or otherwise, yet I am sure the Oath is with all such as have taken it, and have any Con­science at all. A man who hath upon Oath promised to do any thing, is obliged without all con­troversie to perform it, whether it were a Canonical Oath, or not, unless the thing he promised were sinful. And indeed you act, and talk, as if you thought Residence to be so.

Thus, Sir, I have endeavoured truly to state the Case of Plurali­ty and Non-residence. And tho' I have not done it with so much Art and Cunning, as you; yet I [Page 75] am satisfied that I have placed it up­on a better foundation, and used much more impartiality than you, though I have written some things with a just resentment. But be­fore I part with you, I must take leave to reflect on some passages in your Book, which I have not yet touch'd upon.

You say, pag. 134. Certainly it conduceth more to the Interest, Ho­nour, and support of Religion in ge­neral, and the good of the whole Diocese in particular, that ten or more Prebendaries, Persons of extraordinary merit, should con­stantly attend at the Cathedral Church, seated in the chief City of the Diocese, to see the Wor­ship of God performed with de­cent solemnity, to instruct the Inhabitants of a Populous City, and to advise the Bishop upon all occasions; than that ten little Country Villages should be sup­plied [Page 76] by the constant personal attendance of the Incumbents of their Churches. This may all be very well allowed, except the sup­position that these extraordinary persons must needs be Incumbents of Country Churches. For why should these excellent men, who are capable of doing more good elsewhere encumber themselves with Rectories, or Vicarages so far remote from the Cathedral, that they cannot attend them both? It is very requisite that City-Churches should be supplied by the most able, and Eminent of the Clergy: But then why do these great men usually decline City Cures? For 'tis not the Dean and Chapter, but the In­cumbents of the several Parish-Churches, who are generally in­terested in the Cure of Souls in Cities. By supplying the City Churches they might indeed do great service to Religion: But this is not to be effected by on­ly [Page 77] officiating, and that rarely in the Cathedral. If you object that the Livings in lesser Ci­ties are usually very mean, and unworthy of such deserving men; it may be answered that their Prebends would make good a­mends for that, generally speak­ing. And though Country-Livings are oftentimes of greater value, yet it must be considered that when the Curate is paid, the re­mainder will very little exceed the usual allowance of a City-Mini­ster. And I do not know any one thing wherein the High-Court of Parliament could do a great­er Benefit to the Church, than in annexing a Church or two of the Neighbouring City to eve­ry Prebend of the Cathedral, and indispensably obliging the Cler­gymen who injoyed them to per­form personal Service in them. For I cannot believe that facti­on could lead Captive so great [Page 78] numbers of men in these popu­lous Cities, if such deserving men, as many Dignitaries are, did but bestir themselves, and do their best in countermining the designs of our adversaries by their Zeal, and industry in watching over the People. And if we look into such places, we shall find very little sign of care and pains that hath been used by the Clergy in retaining or redu­cing men to the sober principles of the Church of England; for Dissenters are scarce any where more numerous than in these Cities. And though I know se­veral other reasons may be gi­ven for it, yet I cannot help believing that one great occasion of it is, that such Parish-Church­es are not generally served by the ablest men, and oftentimes by good Choristers rather than good Ministers. A good Song or Antheme may render a man [Page 79] very agreeable company, and a good neighbour; but such per­sons cannot usually compose them­selves to that seriousness of mind, and earnestness of Piety, and Study, as to make themselves successful in their labours in po­pulous and censorious Cities. I shall not take further notice of those particular good designs, which our reformers had in con­tinuing these Corporations: you reckon them up well enough, and I wish you could say that these great ends were served by them at this time. And till they are, I am sure that they had bet­ter be doing good in their Ru­ral Benefices, if they have any, than spend their time in the Cathedral in doing nothing at all, or at most, in only seeing Di­vine Worship perform'd with de­cent Solemnity. That nothing can excuse them from personal labours in their Cures, but some [Page 80] invincible Necessity, I have alrea­dy show'd, and few of them think themselves obliged to re­side in the Cathedral above two months in the year, or there­abouts. And for the remaining part of their time I do not know where they can better be dispo­sed of than amongst their Parishi­oners.

Another passage is pag. 138, 139. It is more for the Interest of the Church, and Religion in ge­neral, that men of eminent Learn­ing should attend in the Courts of Princes, &c. This may very well be allowed of; but doth it from thence follow that these men must undertake other char­ges inconsistent with this at­tendance? But if you hereby mean the King's Chaplains; I do not think that the time of their attendance will be any [Page 81] great impediment to the Cure of Souls elsewhere. And if these eminent men vouchsafe to take on them the charge of a few Rusticks, (as you in contempt call them who should be your care, and Crown) surely they will not think it below them­selves to take care of them too. What tho' they may learn as much as they are capable of from the meanest Curate? Yet it may be well supposed that such great and good men as you speak of, may have a greater Influence over them, that what they say may make more im­pression, may be received with a more attentive mind, and fall with a greater weight; and by doing more good amongst them than a poor Curate can; they may more effectually win and reconcile them to their Duty. And they may do this, and yet not be wanting to their Prince [Page 82] at the stated times and courses of attendance. But if they affect to be at Court, when they have no business there, but their own, and when that is nothing else but to solicite for preferment, to wrig­gle into the favour of great men, to injoy better company, or in­dulge their Genius more than they can amongst their Rusticks; it must be acknowledged that this will be a great hinderance to the serving their Cures, and do­ing their real business. And is it not pity that men should not be dispensed with for thus pro­secuting the good of the Church elsewhere?

As for Noblemen's Chaplains, who being beneficed, do actually attend, the number of them is so small, that you might have sav'd your self the trouble of a­pologising for them. If they have [Page 83] Benefices or Cures, they are ge­nerally so near their Lords Hou­ses, that they may attend both together. And Noblemen gene­rally are unwilling to take men off from the business of their Cures, and make more consci­ence of being the occasion of Ministers not residing, than per­haps you would have them. You give us some Instances of Great Men, and Honourable Per­sonages, who retained Domestick Chaplains in times of old:Pag. 138. but you are at a loss it seems in that which you ought to have pro­ved, viz. That any of these Do­mesticks had charges elsewhere. And till you can shew this, you say nothing to the purpose.

You plead likewise for Arch­bishops and Bishops having Chap­lains in their Houses, pag. 139. And sure no good-natur'd man [Page 84] would abate them that Privilege: But that they are so necessary to be subservient to them in the Go­vernment of the Church is a new Notion. I believe the Prebenda­ries, and experienced Clergymen of the Diocese might do the Bishops better Service in this par­ticular. You have found out an Office for them; which the Ca­nons, and Constitutions of the Church never gave them. As for the governing of the Church, 'tis to be hoped that every Dio­cese affords men better qualified to assist the Bishop in it than his Chaplains, who are just come from ruling Lads in the Universities, and who themselves sometimes are hardly of age to be Church­wardens.

But tho' Bishops ought to be allowed Chaplains, yet it doth not necessarily follow that they [Page 85] ought to continue in their at­tendance, after they are well beneficed. Prelates are generally in a Capacity to confer or pro­cure Benefices for their Dome­sticks so near their Houses, that they may in some measure at­tend both together. And if they cannot do this, yet they have usually either Prebends (though the Archbishop have but three, pag. 18. as you seem with some concern to observe) or sine Cures to gratifie their Chaplains with, which, one would think, might suffice, till they could with convenience dismiss them. A lit­tle care and resolution might soon take off this objection.

Now I suppose by this time you have put me down, if you know my Name, for one of the Traditors. And I thank you for providing me such excellent com­pany. [Page 86] For it seems Archbishop Williams was one of them, pag. 12. and the present Bishop, of Salisbury is in your account a notorious one, nay, and the Archbishop himself must come in­to the number for Licensing his Book,V. Bp. of S's. Pastoral Care pag. 250. and encouraging the Au­thor to write it. But let me tell you, Sir, that I neither un­derstand your manners, nor wit, in fixing such an odious Cha­racter upon so deservedly great men: Nor can I see how the compellation fits them. For, I never heard that they, or a­ny other of the Clergy, whom you are so severe upon, ever resigned their Bibles, or renoun­ced their Religion, as the Traditors of old did: Nay, they have given greater demon­strations of their Courage, and Zeal in maintaining them, than ever can be expected from you: So that I cannot make Sence of [Page 87] the expression, unless you take it for granted that the permission of Pluralities, and Non-residence, be as necessary to Religion, as the old and New Testament. You say, they betray the Outguards of Religion: I know not what you mean by the Outguards: But I am sure enormous Plurality, and neglect of Cures cannot justly be so called. This is rather the Breach at which Seducers enter in. For if the most Eminent of the Clergy would once in earnest set about their proper business, I should not doubt, but that Schism and Confusion would gradually lessen, and perhaps at last alto­gether disappear.

Your charity runs high, when you say, you will not lay the im­putation of Infidelity upon all An­tipluralists, pag. 12. because some, you hope, acted upon a mistaken zeal, [Page 88] and false prejudices: But it should seem as for the rest you cannot abate them an Inch of this Charge. So that all are Infidels with you, who do not believe the Lawful­ness, and Convenience of Plura­lities, and Non-residence, unless invincible ignorance excuse them. Now this is an Article which the Church of Rome hath not yet got into her Creed, but proba­bly they will put it into the next Edition, especially since you have silenced the Spanish Bishops, who were the main opposers of it.

The bitterness of your stile, and your unchristian way of wri­ting would provoke a man to re­tort the accusation, and throw back the ill language upon your self, and your Brethren: But in meer pity to you I for­bear, as knowing that Grand [Page 89] and Non-resident Pluralists are the most unfit men in the World to undergo such severe Penances as were of old inflicted on the Tra­itors.

Your, &c.
FINIS.

This keyboarded and encoded edition of the work described above is co-owned by the institutions providing financial support to the Text Creation Partnership. Searching, reading, printing, or downloading EEBO-TCP texts is reserved for the authorized users of these project partner institutions. Permission must be granted for subsequent distribution, in print or electronically, of this EEBO-TCP Phase II text, in whole or in part.