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the voice of opposition and the outcry of indignant and outraged virtue , by boisterous clamour and storms of abuse—since these things have been apparent , the mitre placed on the head of the dexterous and unscrupulous polemic , or the spiritual politician
making a gain of godliness—laymen have been disgusted with a study which was associated with meanness and sycophancy , which brought no honour , —and would , if attended with any valuable results , if it led to the discovery of new views or to deviations from established formularies , bring certain disqualification and disesteem .
* The worldliness and indifference of thy clergy have led to yet worse results : they have , as was natural , created a congenial worldliness and indifference in the people . Thousands frequent thy churches , not because they feel the value of religion , but because the voice of custom , of fashion , of decency , is too powerful for their indifference . And others , in numbers painfully great , whom thou by thy abuses hast converted to infidelity , or filled with
doubts , or rendered sceptical , or caused to throw away religion altogether , find it convenient with the actual observances of society , to take shelter under thy wide-spread mantle , where , if they sleep , thy voice disturbs not their slumbers ; if they sin , thou givest thyself no concern , and art anxious only to make them as tributary as circumstances will allow to the increase of thy goods . ' Yes , to the establishment are ascribable most of the
indifference and infidelity which prevail throughout the land . It is but too true , that the labouring classes are ignorant and vicious ; the intelligent classes , indifferent , sceptical , and irreligious . And what wonder ! Men have been all but wholly neglected by those whose business it Was to give them education : neglected in private , neglected in public ; in private treated with the loftiness and
distance which unmerited privileges engender ; m public supplied with food distasteful , if not pernicious . In how many of thy churches is the solemn worship of Almighty God but a formal pomp , a frigid , heartless ceremonial , or , worse still , a hypocritical mockery . O , it offends the soul , it rouses the indignation of virtue , to witness the insult which is thus offered at once to God and man , by those whose sole business seems to be to get through at
the least cost that by which they get their bread ; to be present at a sermon which you might consider yourself fortunate to hear , did it prove when heard to contain anything worthy of attention . Yes , even the discourses of thy dignitaries are poor in matter , and tame in manner , and would scarcely be tolerated but for the recommendation they receive from the station of the preacher . What a contrast between the actual state of the church , and those
apostles from whom it pretends to derive its authority ! Where is the evidence of that derivation ? In the obscurities- —the falsifications of history ? How much better were it in a moral resemblance—this all could feel , this all would allow . To establish the
Question between the tfation and the Church . 105
No . 62 . *
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Feb. 2, 1832, page 105, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct1806/page/33/