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pledge on the part of the donor that he will himself endeavour to practise what he inculcates upon others. To make the poor better, their benefactors must be better themselves; for in vain will the agents of charity enforce the wisest lessons of religion and the purest code of morals, if at the close of their instructions the objects of their solicitude can fairly retort, “ What do ye more than others ?” “ • Physician, heal thyself.” To the frequent absence of a truly Christian example in many who assume to themselves the office of benefactors and instructors, must be principally ascribed the idea so current among the poor, thatthe various efforts employed for their benefit are merely subtle schemes of worldly policy, contrived either for secular or ecclesiastical purposes. If they find the cause of religious charitable institutions warmly taken up by mere party-men who have obviously little or no respect for religion themselves, is it not too probable that they will suspect the existence of an underplot, the very supposition of which will mar the whole course of the proceeding? If they see persons who were wholly apathetic as respected the education and spiritual welfare of their poorer neighbours suddenly goaded into an overbearing and intemperate zeal by a spirit of rivalry, or ambition, or ostentation, is it possible that they
can respect, or be duly benefited by, such exertions? The very contrary is the case. An exemplary life, a Christian temper, an unsuspected disinterestedness, are therefore absolutely essential to give to charity, and particularly to religious charity, its due effect.
v. Use of Patronage, Wealth, and Influence.
We have thus incidentally entrenched upon the last method specified, by which every welldisposed layman may promote religion and church principles; namely, by an enlightened and conscientious use of his patronage, wealth, and influence. This part of the subject has, in truth, reference to all that has before been mentioned; though it appeared desirable to urge it more specifically, on account of its vast importance, and with a view to introduce a few particular instances in which Wealth, Influence, and Patronage may be employed with peculiar advantage to promote the great objects under consideration. It would be impracticable to detail all the ways in which a layman possessing any of these “ talents,” may use them for the glory of God and the good of mankind; but a few practicable hints, with a particular reference to the existing circumstances of society, will not be misplaced in the present sum
1. PATRONAGE. The importance of this powerful engine of usefulness will be allowed by the most superficial observer. The right of presentation to offices of trust or emolument in church and state, if always conscientiously em. ployed for the purpose of placing in every station the person best qualified to discharge its obligations, would soon effect the most beneficial changes in the civil and ecclesiastical aspect of the country. But such a high degree of disinterested virtue is not to be generally hoped for in a fallen world ; and by too peremptorily insisting upon this abstract duty, many moral casuists may have defeated their own object. There is, however, a lower degree of this virtue which is quite indispensable to common rectitude of principle; namely, that if a patron do not select for an office the person of all others best qualified to discharge its duties, he should at least not put in any one who is evidently incompetent. It would be demanding a much higher species of sacrifice than even the more virtuous part of mankind are likely always to exhibit, to expect them wholly to forego the claims of friendship, consanguinity, and gratitude, in their application of patronage; but it certainly is not more than the lowest ideas of Christian responsibility require, that they should not be so far swayed by these
considerations as to overlook the character and qualifications of the candidate. If they will not go far out of their way to choose the best, they must at least summon fortitude enough to refuse the worst. The case is peculiarly strong as applied to ecclesiastical preferments; not only because the pastoral office is more sacred than any secular function, but because the facility with which patronage may be procured, and the ease with which it may be bestowed upon unsuitable persons without a possibility of preventing their admission to office, is greater in this than in most other departments of life. These facilities ought to render ecclesiastical patrons doubly jealous over themselves in the exercise of their prerogative. It is readily allowed, that surrounded as almost every patron finds himself by eager expectants, and pressed upon by demands which he neither knows how to satisfy nor to silence, it is not always to be expected, however much it were to be wished, that he should very diligently look out for more worthy objects than those with whom he happens to be thrown in contact, provided their character and efficiency are passably fair. But surely it requires no more than an ordinary share of common principle to refuse where compliance would be obviously base, and to shew, that, strong as may be other claims,
the imperious demands of conscience and inte. grity are stronger still. Even the irreligious would know how to applaud rather than censure this sacrifice to virtue ; and were nothing more than this effected, a considerable point would be gained. We should at all events be freed from the disgrace and evil of having public, and especially ecclesiastical, offices supplied by wholly incompetent persons—by persons whose character, conduct, or talents, would not bear that ordinary degree of scrutiny to which they must of necessity be exposed.
But in official patrons of all kinds, and especially in those who have the disposal of the more responsible departments of ecclesiastical preferment, a still higher degree of Christian principle is demanded. A private patron may without much injury to society, and perhaps without any sacrifice of principle, bestow a living on a friend, or relation, or dependent, who is passably, though not eminently, qualified for it; we must allow something, olol vuv Botol Elolv, for the operation of secondary motives and considerations. But official patrons are placed on higher ground; they are the public almoners; and though, where other circumstances are similar, they may doubtless lawfully allow minor claims to operate, yet it would be a gross dereliction of duty, and an abandon