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Reformation of the Ecclefiaftical Eftablishment in
France-Seizure of the Ecclefiaftical Poffeffions
-Suppreffion of Monaftic Inftitutions, &c.



on the Re

volution in

France, &c.

HE prefent ruling power has fhewn a difpo- Reflections fition only to plunder the church. It has punished all prelates, which is to favour the vicious, at least in point of reputation. It has made a degrading penfionary establishment, to which no man of liberal ideas, or liberal condition, will deftine his children. It must fettle into the lowest claffes of the people.-As with you the inferior clergy are not numerous enough for their duties; as these duties are, beyond measure, minute and toilfome; as you have left no middle claffes of clergy at their eafe, in future nothing of fcience




Mr. Burke. or erudition can exift in the Gallican church. To complete the project, without the leaft attention to the rights of patrons, the affembly has provided in future an elective clergy; an arrangement which will drive out of the clerical profeffion all men of fobriety; all who can pretend to independence in their function or their conduct; and which will throw the whole direction of the public mind into the hands of a fet of licentious, bold, crafty, factious, flattering wretches, of fuch condition and fuch habits of life as will make their contemptible penfions (in comparison of which the ftipend of an excifeman is lucrative and honourable) an object of low and illiberal intrigue. Thofe officers, whom they ftill call bifhops, are to be elected to a provision comparatively mean, through the fame arts (that is, electioneering arts), by men of all religious tenets that are known or can be invented. The new lawgivers have not afcertained any thing whatsoever concerning their qualifications, relative either to doctrine or to morals; no more than they have done with regard to the fubordinate clergy; nor does it appear but that both the higher and the lower may, at their difcretion, practife or preach any mode of religion or irreligion that they please. I do not yet fee what the jurifdiction of bishops over their fubordinates is to be; or whether they are to have any jurifdiction at all.

In fhort, Sir, it seems to me, that this new ecclefiaftical establishment is intended only to be temporary, and preparatory to the utter abolition,


under any of its forms, of the Chriftian religion, Mr.Burke. whenever the minds of men are prepared for this last stroke against it, by the accomplishment of the plan for bringing its minifters into univerfal contempt. They who will not believe, that the philofophical fanatics who guide in these matters, have long entertained fuch a defign, are utterly ignorant of their character and proceedings. These enthusiafts do not fcruple to avow their opinion, that a ftate can fubfift without any religion better than with one; and that they are able to fupply the place of any good which may be in it, by a project of their own-namely, by a fort of education. they have imagined, founded in a knowledge of the physical wants of men; progreffively carried to an enlightened felf-intereft, which, when well understood, they tell us will identify with an interest more enlarged and public. The scheme of this education has been long known. Of late they distinguish it (as they have got an entire new nomenclature of technical terms), by the name of a Civic Education.

I hope their partizans in England (to whom I rather attribute very inconfiderate conduct than the ultimate object in this deteftable defign) will fucceed neither in the pillage of the ecclefiaftics, nor in the introduction of a principle of popular election to our bishoprics and parochial cures. This, in the prefent condition of the world, would be the last corruption of the church; the utter ruin of the clerical character; the most dangerous fhock that

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Mr.Burke. that the ftate ever received through a mifunderstood arrangement of religion. I know well enough that the bishoprics and cures, under kingly and feignoral patronage, as now they are in England, and as they have been lately in France, are fometimes acquired by unworthy methods; but the other mode of ecclefiaftical canvas fubjects them infinitely more furely and more generally to all the evil arts of low ambition, which, operating on and through greater numbers, will produce mischief in proportion.

Those of you who have robbed the clergy, think that they shall easily reconcile their conduct to all protestant nations; because the clergy, whom they have thus plundered, degraded, and given over to mockery and fcorn, are of the Roman Catholic, that is, of their own pretended perfuafion. I have no doubt that fome miferable bigots will be found here as well as elsewhere, who hate fects and parties different from their own, more than they love the substance of religion; and who are more angry with those who differ from them in their particular plans and fyftems, than difpleafed with thofe who attack the foundation of our common hope. These men will write and speak on the fubject in the manner that is to be expected from their temper and character. Burnet fays, that when he was in France, in the year 1683, "the method which carried over the men of the "finest parts to popery was this-they brought "themselves to doubt of the whole Christian re


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