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an abuse drawn out of covetousness and sloth; for that men should live of the flock that they do not feed, or of the altar at which they do not serve, is a thing that can hardly receive just defence; and to exercise the office of a pastor, in matter of the word and doctrine, is a thing not warranted.'
• For Pluralities,' he says, “in case the number of able ministers were sufficient, and the value of benefices were sufficient, then pluralities were in no sort tolerable. But we must take heed, we desire not contraries. For to desire that every parish should be furnished with a sufficient preacher, and to desire that pluralities be forthwith taken away, is to desire things contrary; considering, “de facto," there are not sufficient preachers for every parish: whereunto add likewise, that there is not sufficient living and maintenance in many parishes to maintain a preacher; and it maketh the impossibility yet much the greater. The remedies, “in rerum natura,” are but three:union, permutation, and supply. Union of such benefices as have the living too small, and the parish not too great, and are adjacent. Permutation, to make benefices more compatible, though men be overruled to some loss in changing a better for a nearer. Supply, by stipendiary preachers, to be rewarded with some liberal stipends, to supply, as they may, such places which are unfurnished of sufficient pastors; as Queen Elizabeth, amongst other her gracious acts, did erect certain of them in Lancashire; towards which pensions, I see no reason but reading ministers, if they have rich benefices, should be charged.'
‘Touching Church-maintenance,'continues Bacon, it is well to be weighed what is “jure divino,” and what “jure positivo.” It is a constitution of the divine law, from which human laws cannot derogate, that those that serve at the altar, should live at the altar; that those which dispense spiritual things should reap temporal things; of which it is also an appendix, that the proportion of this maintenance be not small
or necessitous, but plentiful and liberal. So then, that all the places and offices of the church be provided of such a dotation, that they may be maintained, according to their several degrees, is a constitution permanent and perpetual; but for particularity of the endowment, whether it should consist of tithes, or lands, or pensions, or mixt, might make a question of convenience, but no question of precise necessity. Again, that the case of the church,“ de facto,” is such, that there is want in the church of patrimony, is confessed. For the principal places, namely, the bishops' livings, are, in some particulars, not sufficient; and therefore, enforced to be supplied by toleration of commendams, things of themselves unfit, and ever held of no good report. And as for the benefices and pastors' places, it is manifest that very many of them are very weak and penurious. . On the other side, that there was a time when the church was rather burdened with superfluity, than with
lack, that is likewise apparent; but it is long since; so as the fault was in others, the want redoundeth unto us. Again, that it were to be wished that impropriations were returned to the church, as the most proper and natural endowments thereof, is a thing likewise wherein men's judgments will not much vary. Nevertheless, that it is an impossibility to proceed now, either to their resumption or redemption, is as plain on the other side. For men are stated in them by the highest assurance of the kingdom, which is, act of parliament; and the value of them amounteth much above ten subsidies, and the restitution must of necessity pass their hands, in whose hands they are now in possession or interest.'
* But of these things which are manifestly true, to infer and ground some conclusions : First, in mine own opinion and sense, I must confess, let me speak it with reverence, that all the parliaments since 27 and 31 of Henry VIII., who gave away impropriations
from the church, seem to me to stand in a sort obnoxious, and obliged to God in conscience, to do somewhat for the church, to reduce the patrimony thereof to a competency. For since they have debarred Christ's wife of a great part of her dowry, it were reason they made her a competent jointure. Next to say, that impropriations should be only charged, that carrieth neither possibility nor reason. Not possibility, for the reasons touched before: not reason, because if it be conceived, that if any other person be charged, it should be a re-charge, or double charge, inasmuch as he payeth tithes already, that is a thing mistaken. For it must be remembered, that as the realm gave tithes to the church, so the realm since again hath given tithes away from the church unto the king, as they may give their eighth sheaf or ninth sheaf. And, therefore, the first gift being evacuated, it cannot go in defeasance or discharge of that perpetual bond, wherewith men are bound to