A SERMON PREACHED BEFORE THE SONS OF THE CLERGY, IN THE CATHEDRAL CHURCH OF St. PAUL, On FRIDAY May 6th, 1763. By THOMAS FRANCKLIN, M. A. Vicar of WARE in Hertfordshire, and MINISTER of Queen's-street Chapel, Lincoln's-inn-fields. TO WHICH IS ANNEXED, A LIST of the annual Amount of the Collection for this CHARITY, from the Year 1721.

LONDON: Printed for R. FRANCKLIN, in Russel-street, Covent-garden. MDCCLXIII.




JEREMIAH xlix. 11.‘Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive, and let thy widows trust in me.’

THE superintendency of divine providence over all the affairs of mankind, is a point so fully proved by experi­ence, that it is seldom called in question, but by the most thoughtless and abandoned. The great disposer of all things hath, in various parts of holy writ, graciously promised his kind interposition, to counteract the designs and oppressions of men; in a more especial manner hath he frequently declared to aid and protect those who stand most in need of his assistance; to be [Page 6] the father of the fatherless, and to defend the cause of the wi­dow; to deliver the poor that cry, and him that hath none to help him. On this comfortable assurance we may safely rely, un­der all our plagues, sorrows, and calamities; for God is not a man that he should lie, or the son of man that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it: hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

Leave thy fatherless children, says he, I will preserve them, and let thy widows trust in me.

Now, though these words were at first addressed to a parti­cular nation, the promise contained in them doth most certainly extend to all the sons of men, and may, I think, with the ut­most propriety, be applied to the occasion of this day's solemnity, when we are met to commemorate, support, and encourage an institution, raised up, and inspired by the providence of God, in favour of his chosen servants and ministers, the persecuted dis­ciples and followers of his beloved Son; who, as I shall endeavour in the following discourse more fully to prove, could not possibly have carried on the great task allotted them, without the mani­fest and frequent interposition of divine providence exerted in their favour.

THERE is not perhaps, upon the face of the earth, any order of men, much less the teachers and preachers of any religion, [Page 7] so poorly and so contemptuously treated as the regular and esta­blished clergy of the church of England: provided for in a man­ner so inadequate to their services, so unworthy of their dignity, so unsuitable to the use and importance of their profession: the little patrimony allotted to them, is so unequally divided, that whilst a few, a very few, are adorned, rewarded, loaded with dignities and preferments, all the rest are either confined within the pale of bare competency and subsistance; or, which is more generally the case, languishing in vile obscurity, and reduced to the utmost streights of penury and distress, obliged at the same time to contribute out of their scanty revenues, in as large a pro­portion to all the exigencies of the state, as those whose fortunes are entailed on their posterity.

IN a country where christianity, in its purest form, is universally professed; where the obligations, which the civil power lyeth un­der to the influence of religion, is every day acknowledged; where the church is so serviceable to the state, it is astonishing that the state should be so forgetful of the church; that it should have made no public parliamentary provision for the widows and or­phans of a body of men, to whom it is so greatly indebted for its safety and preservation.

[Page 8] THE clergy have withal the heavier cause of complaint, as they are perhaps almost the only persons, whose distresses have not at some time or other engaged the general attention. A kind and necessary relief hath, we know, been provided for the wi­dows of those who hazard their lives in the defence of their country; the state, no doubt, wisely considering, that those, who generously sacrificed their private happiness and comfort to the good and welfare of the community, had an incontestable right to public favour and protection; that, however warmly attached the gallant officer might be to his king and country, the ties of nature might still prevail; that deep care and anxiety for the interest and safety of a beloved wife might unnerve the strongest arm, and depress the bravest heart; that, on the other hand, the satisfaction of leaving her possessed of a moderate com­petency, might smooth the rugged paths of danger, and animate him in the pursuit of glory That assistance therefore, which, though imperfect, the legislature have here afforded, is noble and praise-worthy.

BUT, whilst those who fight the battles of earthly princes, and vindicate the cause of men, are thus beneficently and piously re­membered, the soldiers of Christ, the champions of the Lord of Hosts are neglected and forgotten: is there nothing due to those who guard the principles, and watch over the morals of a na­tion; nothing to the instructors of our youth, and the advocates [Page 9] of our religion; to them who check the progress of incroaching vice, and cherish the blossoms of rising virtue? In our army, must the generals alone enjoy all the honour and all the profit in our triumphs over atheism and infidelity, and no civic crown be given, as of old, to the private soldier, to him who defends with bravery the cause of his divine Master, bears the shield of faith, and fights the battles of the Almighty?

If the religion of Jesus Christ hath any thing in it sacred or re­spectable; if it has a right to command deference and veneration from those who profess and embrace it, surely the preachers and teachers of that religion, the ministers and dispensers of God's holy word and sacraments, have a title to some regard and esteem amongst men; if they perform their duty, as worthy and conscientious ser­vants, for their master's sake, they deserve some degree of respect, some regard for their welfare, some compassion for their misfor­tunes, some relief of their necessities. But it is too truly and univer­sally observed, that the clergy have of late years fallen into most undeserved neglect and contempt; even the poor tribute of external respect, formerly paid to their character and function, is with­drawn from them, and the sacred order itself treated by too many as an object of ridicule: a conduct, partly owing to the low and indigent state of many of our unfortunate brethren, and partly, I believe, to the dangerous influence acquired over the minds of the multitude by our new sectaries and enthusiasts, [Page 10] who make it their chief business to inspire their followers with an utter abhorrence and contempt of us.

To describe the miseries and distresses that attend the lower part of the clergy, would present a picture to your eyes too gloomy and terrible to behold. Let us then, the better to illustrate and confirm the melancholy truth before asserted, select one from the middle rank, one of those happy few, whom some lucky incident, the favour of some powerful friend, or the beneficence of some kind relation hath advanced to what is generally termed a good living *; let us suppose him possessed of a moderate income, and blessed in the comforts and conveniences of life; even this much envied station, which so many look up to with an eye of hopeless de­sire, is by no means so eligible as we may be at first inclined to think it. Excluded by the nature of his function, by laws and statutes, which he is bound to obey, from all farther views of interest or advantage in any other profession; shut out from every other avenue to riches and independency, and confined to the narrow path which he is obliged to tread in; defrauded, perhaps, of half his scanty pittance, by perverse and litigious men, and compelled either to sacrifice a part of his legal rights, [Page 11] or the whole of his much dearer peace and tranquillity, obliged to act in all things agreeably to his rank and character; to main­tain in his habit, appearance, and conversation, the decency and dignity of his profession, to live with some degree of taste and elegance suitable to his education and connections, and to join his richer brethren in all the acts of charity, hospitality, and be­neficence required of him; his family and expences increasing, his means to support them at best continuing the same, perhaps every year diminishing; unable to guard against arts which he is incapable of practising, or to struggle with difficulties which he has never experienced; he sinks by slow and insensible degrees into poverty, despondency, and despair; scoffed at, despised, and trampled on by every other order of men, and, which is still more grating, it may be, treated with contempt, insolence, and op­pression, by the superiors of his own.

IF to all these bitter and galling calamities, he adds also the melancholy reflection, that those who are nearest and dearest to him, the wife of his bosom, and the children of his loins, hang but on the slender thread of his life, and depend on that alone for their maintainance and support; that the moment it shall please the Almighty to take him hence, they must change the pleasing scene of domestic happiness and comfort; all the conveniencies of moderate competency, for a distressful state of penury and de­pendance; [Page 12] every misfortune heightened by their reflections on lost happiness; every sorrow embittered by the cruel remem­brance of past felicity. Under these gloomy and dreadful ap­prehensions, what shall support him in his labours, what shall animate him in the chearful exercise of his function, remove his fears, and lessen his affliction, but the firm confidence in, and re­liance on, his divine master, whose eyes are ever watchful to guard and protect his sons and servants; who hath promised to be a fa­ther to the fatherless, and to defend the cause of his widow: were it not indeed for this comfortable assurance, he must inevitably sink beneath the weight of his misfortunes.

To mitigate the rigor of these distresses, to soften the pressure of these calamities, is the business which has this day called us together. Thanks be to God, the defects of the whole com­munity have been supplied by the generosity of individuals, and the evils arising from public parsimony in a great measure re­moved by private beneficence.

AMONGST all the fair daughters of charity that adorn this bene­volent nation, and shine forth as the polished corners of the temple, there is not one whose charms are more striking, whose beauties are more attractive, than the noble and excellent institution which we are this day met to encourage and support. A design, which, in spite of all the attempts that have been made to sub­vert, [Page 13] and all the arts which have been practiced to undermine and destroy it, hath hitherto answered the warmest wishes of its friends, and defeated the malice of its enemies: like that reli­gion whose cause it espouses, and whose ministers it relieves, it is built upon a rock, even the rock of Christ, and can never fail.

THE excellent charity now under our consideration doth naturally address itself to three orders of men, namely, the laity, the superior, and the inferior clergy; what claim it may with justice lay to protection and support from each of them, will perhaps appear more evident from the following conside­rations.

THERE was a time, when the secular interests of the clergy and laity of this kingdom were entirely separate, and distinct from each other: in the days of popery and superstition, the clergy received great and manifold advantages from the commu­nity, and returned nothing to it; that celibacy, which brought shame and disgrace on themselves, was attended also with the most pernicious effects to society.

BY the reformation, this wall was broken down; the holy insti­tution of marriage, which had been long with-held, and was now restored to the ministers of the gospel, opened a social intercourse and free communication between them, which was soon produc­tive of the greatest benefits and advantages to the common-weal. [Page 14] The clergy, notwithstanding, who by their labours and assi­duity in the cause of truth, had been the chief instruments in perfecting that noble and salutary work, were themselves (with respect to temporal affairs) the least gainers by it; they, who had freed others, continued still in a state of bondage, and groaning beneath the yoke of penury and oppression; the lands and reve­nues which had been unjustly wrested from them, instead of be­ing restored, were lavished away by a licentious and despotic so­vereign, amongst his greedy courtiers and dependents, and the clergy left from that time, even unto this day, the sad and re­proachful monuments of public ingratitude.

YOU, my brethren of the laity, received the benefits of the reformation, whilst they, and they alone, who had best deserved the reward, were unjustly and uncharitably deprived of it: on you, therefore, it is in some measure incumbent to repair the injury, and as you contributed to our poverty, to relieve the in­conveniencies and distresses arising from it.

TO those amongst the laity, who are descended from the clergy, I am satisfied, it is needless to add any exhortation: their noble and liberal contributions, their unwearied pains and assi­duity, their chearful acceptance of that expensive office, which they so readily every year take upon them, with their constant appearance at this solemnity, do most abundantly testify their [Page 15] good-will, tenderness, and affection towards us. So far are they from being ashamed of their birth and origin, that they openly and zealously proclaim it, standing forth with joy and alacrity in the defence and support of their distressed and unfortunate bre­thren. There are indeed amongst them so many of high rank and fortune, that a partial observer might be almost tempted to doubt the truth of what hath been before advanced, and to ima­gine, that the sons of the clergy, far from being the most indi­gent and oppressed, are the richest and happiest of men; but this would, notwithstanding, be a false and ill-grounded conclusion; as most of those, whose *ample fortunes enable them so generously to contribute to this charity, are not indebted to the church for their affluence, not to the ecclesiastical preferments of their fa­thers, but either to their family estates and possessions▪ or to their own industry and success in more lucrative professions.

THE superior clergy of the church of England, enjoy many and great temporal advantages; some of them bear a part in the le­gislature of the kingdom; others, by their rank and dignity, their fortunes and preferments, are enabled to associate with, and con­sequently, in some measure, to influence and direct the rich and [Page 16] great. Honour and respect, ease and affluence, all the good, and all the desirable things of this life are in their possession; but of all their valuable pre-eminences, doubtless the most to be envied, is their extensive power of doing good, the power of assisting and relieving their indigent and distressed brethren.

A GENEROUS contribution towards the support and encourage­ment of this peculiar branch of christian charity, may be consi­dered in others as an act of kindness, humanity, and benevolence, but with regard to them it is certainly a debt; a debt of honour, a debt of gratitude, a debt of piety, which they are bound by the most sacred ties, punctually, faithfully, and religiously to perform.

WHEN indeed they consider, as no doubt they do, and must consider, that the more is given, the more will be required; that whilst their fellow-servants (for fellow-servants we all are, and fellow-labourers we ought to be) are toiling in the vineyard of Christ, and bearing the heat and burthen of the day, their happier lot has exempted them from all the bitter hardships and cruel in­dignities incident to their profession; indignities which few know or attend to, but those who feel and experience them:—that while their distressed brethren, the inferior part of the clergy, are lamenting their unfortunate condition, and trembling at the melancholy prospect of future miseries, they are looking [Page 17] forward towards the honours, and dignities, the riches, afflu­ence and happiness of their posterity. With what grateful hearts should they acknowledge the goodness of that divine Be­ing, who hath cast their lot into so fair a ground, and given them such a goodly heritage: doubtless, in proportion to their advantages, should be their benevolence, in proportion to their abundance, should be their generosity.

TO the inferior clergy, I have only to add, that the cause, which we are here pleading, is peculiarly their own, and that it would be highly unreasonable in them to expect, that others will aid or assist those who will not help themselves. If they cast their bread on these waters, they may find it again after many days. Such indeed is the uncertainty of all human blessings, so va­rious are the changes and chances of human life, that thousands, who are not now in that state or condition, which can entitle them to a part or portion of this charity, who now give freely, without the least distant prospect of receiving, may yet one day be indebted to it for the preservation of those who shall here­after be dear unto them, of widows yet unseen, and children yet unborn.

BUT those, to whom I am now addressing myself, are too well acquainted with the difficulties and disappointments, the sorrows and distresses, all the dangers which accompany their [Page 18] spiritual warfare, not to make use of every method in their power, to lighten, if possible, the general burden. Those, who have smarted beneath the rod of affliction, are seldom insensible to the miseries of others; they have hearts ever ready to com­passionate, hands ever open to relieve the distresses of their fel­low-creatures.

FROM the pious designs and zealous endeavours of these men, the charity I am here recommending is indebted for its origin and foundation; to this they have always chearfully contri­buted, in proportion to their several abilities: these little rivulets have, from time to time, supplied and replenished that large and copious stream which glideth through our fertile soil, blesseth our earth with increase, and watereth the furrows thereof.

TO conclude therefore by an earnest exhortation to this whole assembly;

AS we have begun, let us endeavour to perfect this labour of love: let us remember, that those, whose cause we are now pleading, were stewards and dispensers of the mysteries of God, and that their names are worthy to be had in remembrance. Let us remember, that whilst upon earth, their prayers were sent up to God for our welfare, their faculties dedicated to our service, their hours employed in the pious endeavours to promote our true happiness, and ensure our everlasting salvation. Many [Page 19] of those, whose widows and children now solicit our bounty, were themselves kind and constant contributors to this charity: in proportion to their abilities, they threw in their mite, not grudgingly, or of necessity, but as chearful givers.—What they bestowed on others, they have doubtless a right, when they stand in need of it, to demand for themselves: he that hath pity upon the poor, lendeth unto the Lord, and look, what he layeth out, it shall be paid him again.—Let us imagine, the parents of those orphans, the widows of those husbands, for whom we are now soliciting, still present before us; let us imagine them with their last breath, bequeathing to us the dear pledges of their love, and the objects of their affection, imploring us, by all the tender ties of humanity and compassion, by our enjoyment of present bliss, and all our hopes of future happiness, to visit the fa­therless and widow in their affliction, to relieve their necessities, mitigate their sorrows, and alleviate, if possible, their terrible misfortunes.

CONSIDERABLE as the subscriptions have been to this excel­lent institution, they are still found insufficient. This noble cha­rity, which, like an aged and venerable oak, spreads its luxuriant branches on every side, wide and extensive as it is, cannot cover all those who fly to it for shelter.

[Page 20] LET us then strive, my brethren, by every method in our power, to render it more useful and more effectual, that it may relieve every object worthy of its protection, and answer every end designed by its pious and worthy sounders; till finished to the highest degree of human perfection, it shall imitate the ex­ample, and adopt the words of the great Creator of all things, and say unto the ambassadors of Christ, in the words of my text, Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive, and let thy widows trust in me.



Page 8, Line 17, for have, read hath.

A LIST of the annual Amount of this Charity, as compleat as could be procured, commencing in the Year 1721. By which will be perceived, how much in general the Charity has increased from the Approbation and Bounty of the Public, and which, it is hoped, it will continue to do, so as to equal the Wants of those whom it was calculated to provide for.


N. B. The whole Money, collected on this Occasion, is disposed of by the Stewards within the Year, in placing out the Chil­dren of poor Clergymen Apprentices: Whereby Sixty were provided for in the Course of the last Year.

Lately Published, by R. FRANCKLIN, in Russel-street, Covent-garden,

THE Tragedies of Sophocles, in two vols. 4to. translated from the Greek, by the Rev. Thomas Francklin, late Greek Profes­sor in the University of Cambridge.

Also by the same Hand,

  • I. Translation, a Poem.
  • II. The Epistles of Phalaris, translated from the Greek; to which are added, some select Epistles of the most eminent Greek Authors.
  • III. A Sermon preached at St. Peter's, Cornhill, on the Sunday after the Fire.
  • IV. A Sermon preached before the Trustees for establishing the Colony of Georgia.
  • V. A Sermon preached at St. George's, Bloomsbury, occasioned by the Death of the Rev. Mr. Sturges.
  • VI. A Sermon preached on the Fast-day, 1758.
  • VII. A Sermon preached before the Governors of the Middlesex Hospital.
  • VIII. A Sermon, occasioned by the Death of his late Majesty.

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