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Part 3u

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January 1, 2015

227 The church benefices cannot be very big if they are all nearly equal.

This mediocrity of benefice may be carried too far but has very agreeable effects. Only the most exemplary morals can give dignity to a man of small fortune. Levity and vanity render him ridiculous.

They are as ruinous to him as they are to common people. He must follow the moral system respected by the common people. The common people look upon him with the kindness that we naturally regard to someone of the same condition but who, we think, should be higher. Their kindness naturally provokes his kindness.

He becomes:

  • careful to instruct them, and
  • attentive to assist them.

He does not even despise the prejudices of people who are favourable to him. He never treats them with the arrogance of the proud dignitaries of well-endowed churches. The presbyterian clergy have more influence over the common people than perhaps that of any established church.

Common people convert completely without persecution only in presbyterian countries.

228 In countries where church benefices are very moderate, a university position is generally better than a church position.

In this case, the universities can choose their members from all the country’s churchmen. The churchmen are the most numerous class of men of letters. On the contrary, where church benefices are very big, the church naturally draws their eminent men of letters from the universities.

Those men find some patron to give them honour through church preferment. Where church benefices are very moderate, universities are filled with the most eminent men of letters of the country.

Where benefices are big, universities have a few eminent men. They are likely to be drained away from universities before acquiring useful experience and knowledge.

Father Porrée was a Jesuit of no great eminence in the republic of letters.

Voltaire observes that he was the only professor in France whose works were worth reading. France has produced so many eminent men of letters. It is strange that none have been a university professor. The famous Gassendi was a professor in the university of Aix. When his genius was recognized, he was told that he could easily find in the church= a more quiet and comfortable subsistence, and a better situation for pursuing his studies. He immediately followed this advice. Voltaire’s observation may be applied to France and all Roman Catholic countries.

We very rarely find in any of them an eminent man of letters who is a professor in a university, except in law and physics. The Church is not so likely to draw from those professions. After the Church of Rome, the Church of England is the richest and best endowed in Christendom. In England, the Church is continually draining the universities of all their best members. An old college tutor who is an eminent man of letters, is as rarely found there as in any Roman catholic country. On the contrary, in Protestant countries like Switzerland, Germany, Holland, Scotland, Sweden, and Denmark, the most eminent men of letters have been university professors.

In those countries, the universities are continually draining the church of all its most eminent men of letters.

229 In Greece and Rome, the following were public or private teachers of philosophy or rhetoric:

  • poets,
  • a few orators,
  • a few historians,
  • the far greater part of the other eminent men of letters.

This is true from the days of=

  • Lysias and Isocrates,
  • Plato and Aristotle,
  • Plutarch and Epictetus, and
  • Suetonius and Quintilian.

In reality, imposing the need to teach any science annually is the most effective method for making anyone master it completely.

He becomes well acquainted with it by being obliged to go every year over the same subject. If he makes a hasty opinion in one year, he can correct it in the following year through the course of his lectures. To be a teacher of science is certainly the natural employment of a mere man of letters.

Science education can best make him a man of solid learning and knowledge. The mediocity of church benefices naturally draws most men of letters. It makes them most useful to the public. It gives them the best education they are capable of receiving. It renders their learning as solid and as useful as possible.

230 The revenue of every church, except those from lands or manors, is part of the state’s general revenue.

It is diverted from the state’s defence. For example, the tithe is a real land-tax. It prevents the proprietors of land from contributing more towards the state’s defence. The rent of land is the sole or the principal fund from which the state exigencies must be ultimately supplied. The more of this fund that is given to the church, the less can be spared to the state. It may be laid down as a maxim that, all other things equal, the richer the church, the poorer the the sovereign or the people must be and the less the state can defend itself.

In protestant countries, particularly in Switzerland, the Catholic Church’s revenue was sufficient to:

  • give competent salaries to their clergy, and
  • defray all the other state expences.

The magistrates of the powerful canton of Berne accumulated a very large savings from this fund.

Part of it is deposited in a public treasury. Part of it is placed at interest in the public funds of the indebted European nations, chiefly of France and Great Britain. I do not know how much the church of any other protestant country costs the state. In 1755, the whole revenue of the clergy of the Church of Scotland was estimated at only £68,514 which included:

  • their glebe or church lands, and
  • the rent of their manses or dwelling-houses.

This very moderate revenue affords a decent subsistence to 944 ministers. The church’s whole expence cannot exceed £80,000-85,000 a year. It includes the cost for the building and repair of churches and of the manses of ministers. The most opulent church in Christendom does not maintain the following better than this very poorly endowed Church of Scotland:

  • the uniformity of faith,
  • the fervour of devotion, and
  • the spirit of order, regularity, and austere morals in the people.

All the good civil and religious effects of an established church are produced by the Church of Scotland as completely as any other.

Most of the protestant churches of Switzerland are not better endowed than the church of Scotland. They produce more of those effects.

Everyone there profess themselves to be of the established church. If a person professes himself to be of any other, the law obliges him to leave the canton. Such an oppressive law, could only have been executed in those free countries from the diligence of the clergy in converting the people to the established church. In some parts of Switzerland where the conversion was incomplete, both religions are tolerated and established by law.

231 The proper performance of every service requires that its pay be proportional to the nature of the service.

If any service is very underpaid, it will suffer from the incapacity of those employed in it. If it is very much overpaid, it will suffer more from negligence and idleness.

A man of a large revenue of whatever profession thinks that he should:

  • live like other men of large revenues,
  • spend most his time in festivity, vanity, and dissipation.

But in a clergyman, this thinking:

  • consumes the time set aside for his duties,
  • destroys that sanctity of character in the eyes of the common people, which enables him to perform those duties with authority.


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