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.In and about
L 0 N D 0 N:.
And a modest: Plea for their Rights
In a Letter to a Right Reverend Prelate.
Nos omnes, strenui, honi, nobiles at que ignobiles, vulgus fumus,
IB * ''*
Printed for J. Roberts, at the Oxford-Arms in Wafwid-
T is the peculiar Happiness of out civil Constitution, that the Rights and Properties of Men among us, are so settled and secured by Law, as to leave no room for Diffidence or Fear ; where the highest are not exempted from Justice, nor the lowest under any Discouragement to complain. A Complaint from the meanest Subject, express'd in Terms of Duty and Respect, finds Admittance even to the Throne*of our Sovereign, and oftentimes a gracious Antver thence : And it would be a fad Defect in the Constitution of our Church, if the like Balance were not preserved in it; if there were any Partiality in its Decrees, any Inequality in its Administrations, any Inclination or Contrivance in its Governours, to favour
B and and indulge only one Set of Men, to the utter impoverishing and enslaving of the rest; if the greatest, in short, had any Toleration to do wrong; or the meanest Clergyman among us aay Coertion upon him, or any Apprehensions of Danger in suing for Redress.
The Language of our Church in all her Canons and Constitutions, I am sure, breathes nothing but Justice and Equity; makes no Distinction between Man and Man, nor any Discrimination upon Point of our different Circumstances. And for the little I know of the christian Temper of our most excellent Bishops, I cannot but persuade myself, that they bear ali Tim. v. ways in Mind that awful Charge given them 21. before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the efect Angels, that they observe these Rules of the Church, without preferring one before another, doing nothing by Partiality. Consequently, I must believe, that as they are indeed the common Fathers of us all, their Care extends to the Benefit, and their Ears are open to the Complaints of all; that Grievances in the Church (however they come to creep in) will never be tolerated long, after they are once detected and laid bare; and that a Representation of these Grievances, attended, as it should, with all Humility and due Respect, cannot but be deemed an acceptable Service, where it gives them an Opportunity of correcting what they find amiss, and of clearing their own Character from the Imputation of any criminal Connivance.
I Was going to call it a Service, my Lord, that merited some Reward, from the Consideration of what Encouragement is usually given to Discoveries of a lower Nature, where the civil Power is any way abus'd, or the Crown defrauded in any part of its Revenue ; fed mihi faff if ama fat est. To ease the weary Shoulder, and relieve the impotent and weak, is an Attempt so agreeable to the kindly Propensions of human Nature, as to need no other Motive. Whether it be attended with Success or no, depends in a great Measure upon the Choice of the Person whose Interest and Assistance we implore. I mean it a Compliment to your Lordship's Justice and Honour therefore, and a Declaration of the great Esteem I have for that Humility and Meekness, that Kindness and Condescension, that univerfal Love and Impartiality of Affection, wherewith you embrace your whole Clergy; that I make it my Option, out of all the facred College of Bishops, to lay before you a Specimen of such Miseries as press hard upon us, and force us to complain: Before you, who once adorn'd an inferior Station in the Church yourself, and through the several Offices of Religion, ascended gradually to the Top of the highest Order but so ascended, as not to forget the Condition of those that are left at the lowest Distance beneath you : Before you, who have had long Experience,and made great Inspection into the State of other Churches; where the sorry Provision for the Maintenance of their Clergy, encourages none but the Refuse of the People, * the Sons of peasants, and the meanest Burghers, to undertake the facred Function and consequently disgrace it: Before you, who have the Care and Superintendency of a Diocese, which as it is a Place of greatest Resort, happens at this time to be a Scene where more Objects of extreme Wretchedness among the inferior Clergy* and more Instances of Injustice and Oppression among the Superior, are daily