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" doubts. While the church appears "to be more affiduous to defend its "emoluments, than to promote the "falvation of its members, no wonder "if we reject its meagre doctrines. "The character of the gentleman and "the divine are not often feen in "unifon. If I had early poffeffed the opportunity of contemplating the happy mixture, religion would have appeared to me more attractive from "the reflected beauty of its minifters;
but, instead of lamenting what is paft, let me, by propitiating your candour, improve my prefent happy acquaint"ance."
Religion," faid Mr. Evans, returning Fitzofborne's bow, " cannot really fuffer by the mifconduct of its "officials in the opinion of any well
difpofed, confiderate mind. Our at"tendance at the altar does not remove
"us from human temptations; and "with respect to the fault to which
you allude, a too great pertinacity "refpecting our temporal rights, can"dour will remember that our pof"feffions are not hereditary. Moft of "us have united ourselves to fociety
by the ftrong ties of hufband and "father; and the ftudy of thofe divine precepts which were meant to enlarge "the focial affections may, by the in"firmity of human nature, which mixes "error with our faireft aims,' fome"times extend to a culpable folicitude " for the fortunes of thofe dear connec"tions, and abate the reliance which a "Chriftian ought to place in the direc"tion and fupport of the friend of the "friendless."
"I admit that your apology has weight," refumed Fitzofborne ; " but "what will you fay of that avidity for
"field sports and love of diffipation "which fo ftrongly characterize the "divines of this age, and which you, fir, condemn by your own ex"ample ?"
"I blame every particular inftance," replied Mr Evans, "without admit
ting the cenfure to be determinate against the whole order. We are "marked by our habits from the reft
of fociety; and the fox-hunting "parfon,' or the infignificant Bob Jerome,' is pointed out to fatire, "while the pale ftudent, who confumes "his health over the midnight lamp in "the most important researches, or "the laborious inftructor of his village "flock, are prevented by their obfcu
rity from counterpoizing the weight "of public odium by their useful unobtrusive virtues: but, granting the general conduct of the clergy to be
"as bad as their flanderers intimate, "the fervice to which we are confe"crated partakes not of our depra<s vity."
"Perhaps not in minds endued with "ftrong powers of reflection," returned Fitzofborne: " but as the chriftian fyftem feems beft adapted for the "lower orders of fociety, it is much "to be lamented, that any thing should impede its progrefs where it has "the best chance of fuccefs. Perhaps "the rules by which I would eftimate "the conduct of its minifters are too ftrict, and though, unhappily, my own principles have inclined to deifm, "I have candour enough to regret, " that while law and phyfic are per"mitted to escape uncontaminated by "the knavery of pettifoggers or the ignorance of empirics, divinity imposes perfection upon its ftudents.
But our converfttion is likely to be interrupted. Permit me to fay, that "I fhall renew it with pleafure. I am "a novice at compliment, and shall "therefore only obferve in my abrupt "manner, that if the caufe you fupport were always as ably defended "both in the pulpit and in fociety, infidelity would be deprived of one of "its most powerful weapons."
Every one has his weak fide. Though the cup of undifguifed flattery would have been rejected with difdain, yet when tempered by apparent moderation, and a wifh for conviction, it became tolerably palatable. Mr. Evans, indeed, ftill felt the propriety of hinting the dangerous tendency of Fitzofborne's principles to lady Monteith; but he thought it just to qualify his cenfures with many expreffions of refpect for his character,, and admiration of his abilities.