« ÖncekiDevam »
upon navigable rivers, or at markets and fairs, which many municipal corporations and even private individuals possess. No man can point to the act of the State by which they were created, and the reason is plain—they originated, like tithes, in the voluntary performance of a duty by the members of the Church, at a time when dissent did not exist;-what was at first a custom, of universally-recognized validity, became at last a settled legal obligation. Parliament never gave them, and does not give them now; it merely abstains from taking them away. Upon the whole, therefore, we see no reason to qualify our assertion, that the State does not now give, and has never given, to the Church of England, any considerable advantage in respect of property over any tolerated Dissenting sects; small grants of money may have been made, from time to time, both for Church purposes and for Dissenting purposes; but this does not affect the question. With respect to the assistance which the State is said to afford the Church by administering the laws of her internal economy in its courts of judicature, we suspect it will be found to be a kind of assistance which operates more by obstruction than in any other way, and which, so far as it is valuable, is equally, and upon precisely the same principles, afforded to every other religious community:
(5.) “Ifthese views are correct, and so far as they are felt or admitted to be correct, the groundlessness of that argument for Church extension by grants of public money, which rests upon the supposed necessity of carrying out the principle of an Established Church, will be made apparent. We believe this principle of Church extension to be, in fact, perfectly new in the history of the Church of England. To herself, to her own moral and spiritual power, and to the recognition of her claims by the consciences of individual men, not to any intervention of the State acting upon reasons of duty or public policy, has she owed the endowments which she now possesses, and the still greater wealth which has been taken from her. She is not rich because she is established, but established because she is rich-rich in the numbers and in the devotion of her children, and therefore rich also in all external means of influence, and able to provide for herself whatever more is wanting. To say that she cannot maintain her place or discharge her functions without being propped up and supported from without, at this advanced period of her existence, in a manner unknown before, is to abdicate her station, to confess that she has no right to be what she is. The State has frequently interfered to restrain the acquisition of property by the Church, but never yet, upon any considerable scale, to promote it. If Sir Robert Inglis would introduce a bill to remove some of these restraints, and to give more scope to the beneficence of private Churchmen, it might be a boon worth accepting, and one which could not equitably be refused; but when he endeavours to fix upon Parliament an obligation to take Church endowment into its own hands, we are entitled to ask him, in what part of the statute-book, or in what passage of English history, he finds precedent or warrant for such a proposition ?
(6.) “ To us it seems manifest, that the Church has some duties which the State cannot discharge for her, and that this of self-extension, or rather of selfcontinuation, is one of them. If she can perform this great work for herself, there is no pretence for throwing it upon the mixed community which now constitutes the nation. If she is not able, it can only be because she does not possess the hearts of her people, or has forgotten the way to claim from them what is her due. In either case, there can be no moral obligation upon the State to supply her lack of will, or to prop up an imbecility which, if it existed (as it most assuredly does not exist), would derogate in a high degree from her title to confidence and respect.
Such is the latest defence of the Voluntary System, newly coined and issued from the mint of Oxford. But all who have
* The Times, Aug. 17, 1811.
read Dr. Wardlaw's Lectures, and the publications of the Evangelical Voluntary Church Association (Sir Culling Smith, President), will admit that the reasonings of Messrs. Burnet, Wardlaw, and Pye Smith, have gained nothing in strength by their translation into the idiom of the Times. The identity, indeed, is complete, but the masters in the school of schism are not to be hastily equalled by the neophytes of Printing-house-square.
We have distinguished the clauses in this singular piece of highchurch-dissenting logic by the figures (1, 2, 3, &c.) -and will now offer a few brief remarks on each of these paragraphs.
(1.) Observe the miserable hesitation implied in the last sentence of this clause :-“We are far from saying, that, in a perfect “ state of society, this might not be the form which the religious “ duty of those who govern the nation would assume.”
We unhesitatingly defy the Times, or any other reasoner, to prove that “the religious duty of those who govern the nation” is in any one respect different at the present moment from what it would be “in a perfect state of society.” In fact, this whole passage is a good specimen of what is vulgarly called “twaddle ;" and which consists, generally, of a certain number of customary phrases, strung together so as to look like reasoning.
(2) Here we have a strange collection of obscurities; out of which we can only gather, that the writer deems no Church to be properly and truly established, so long as any kind of dissent from it is even so much as tolerated! But not the slightest reason is adduced, why the usual acceptation of the term should be thus limited. The common sense of every man will tell him, that if the sovereign lately set over Greece, had chosen, within the limits of his regal power, to have organized and set up a National Church in that country, embracing and absorbing the priesthood already therein existing; providing for, locating, and endowing the whole, it would have been perfectly correct to style this “the Established Church ;” although no attempt had been made to force all persons to belong to it; nor any penal statutes enacted, to punish seceders. Merely to tell us, that in the reign of Elizabeth, the phrase "Established Church” meant something more arrogant and intolerant than it does now, is saying nothing. Half the words in the language have suffered some change in their acceptation since that period. But we are quite competent to determine upon the proper meaning of a plain and distinct expression, such as “the Established Church,” without poring over the black-letter tomes of the Tudor times.
(3) We have next the old plea, putting forward “the Church” as one great corporation, possessed of certain lands, &c. But this
is fiction, not fact. There is no such corporation ; neither is there a foot of land, or a penny of rent-charge, in all England, which has been given or bequeathed to “the Church of England,” as one great corporation, or aggregate body. Tithes were set apart, ten centuries since, for the maintenance of a Christian ministry. Lands have been given or bequeathed for the same purpose. But the revenues being thus provided, the Legislature has always taken upon itself to prescribe the sort of persons who were to enjoy those
An Act of Parliament determines this question, and has determined it, for centuries past, and up to the present moment. An Act of Parliament changed all the conditions on which these were endowments were held, in the days of Edward the Sixth. Another Act of Parliament again changed those conditions, in Mary's reign; and a third Act of Parliament realtered them, in the time of Elizabeth. A fourth change of this kind took place in Charles the First's reign, and another in Charles the Second's. In our own days no year passes without legislative interference of some kind. During sixteen years, at the opening of the present century, in annual votes of £100,000,-Parliament granted no less than £1,600,000 for the enlargement of small livings. In 1833 Parliament remodelled the Irish Church; suppressing ten bishoprics. In 1835 Parliament dealt in a similar way with the English Establishment, altering the limits and revenues of nearly every See in England. What childishness, then, is it to attempt to represent the Church as a wholly separate and independent body from the State ;-a body which is at liberty to resist the least interference of Parliament in its concerns. Dr. Wardlaw, indeed, and our dissenting controversialists, are fond of arguing that it ought to be so ; but it is left to the ultra-Laudians to assert and maintain that it actually is so.
(4) The notorious fact of the existence of a levy like that of Church-rates, made by law, and wholly depending upon the law for its very existence, is an obvious difficulty in this writer's way. He endeavours to escape from it by saying, that Church-rates
originated, like tithes, in the voluntary performance of a duty “ by the members of the Church, at a time when dissent did not “ exist ;—what was at first a custom, of universally-recognized “ validity, became at last a settled legal obligation."
Yes, but how came a “voluntary act to be changed into “a
legal obligation ?” Simply because both the law-makers—the two houses of Parliament; and the law-expounders--the judges of the courts of law—always looked upon the Church as a National Establishment; as an Institution belonging to, and founded and supported by, the State. Imagine some really independent body,
coming either before the legislature or the courts, to represent that certain persons who, by a “ voluntary act,” had been accustomed to repair their chapels, now refused to do so; and requesting that this previously voluntary practice might be turned into a “ legal “ obligation." What doubt could exist, that the legislature would refuse such an application ?
(5.) In the next paragraph we meet with the same fallacy which impliedly runs through the whole,--explicitly and broadly put
Aid from the State is denominated aid “from without.” Now this is the very same false principle against which we have constantly to contend, in all our controversies with the Dissenters.
Dr. Wardlaw and the writer in the Times are alike unable to imagine, or unwilling to discern the possibility of, such a thing as a Christian community; a community acting on the same princi. ples as Abraham amidst his family, and David, and Solomon, and Jehoshaphat, among their people. We wish not to invent or to imagine any thing new; we desire merely to open the Bible, and read its lessons with the simplicity of entire obedience. To advert only to the last-named instance, “Jehoshaphat, in the third
year of his reign, sent his princes, and with them he sent Levites, “... and with them Elishama and Jehoram, priests. And they “ taught in Judah, and had the book of the law of the Lord with “them, and went about throughout all the cities of Judah, and “ taught the people. And the fear of the Lord fell upon all “the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah, so " that they made no war against Jehoshaphat.”-(2 Chron. xvii. 7—10.) It is in this spirit that Christian rulers and legislators ought now to act ; and in so acting they might assuredly expect the same blessings which were poured out upon Jehoshaphat and Judah.
(6.) But, lastly, we are gravely told, that the duty of providing religious instruction for the people is one" which the State cannot “ discharge for the Church ;” which the Church must perform for herself, and which, “if she is not able, there can be no moral “ obligation on the State to supply her deficiency.!” And thus, according to the Times, and the whole ultra-Laudian party, the Legislature is to be plainly told, that Church Extension is no affair of their's; it is a duty which the State cannot take upon itself; but which must and ought to be left to the Church's own efforts. And this is the position now adopted by those who assume to themselves to be the best and soundest members of the Church!
These most absurd assertions would merely provoke a smile, were it not for the peculiar and disastrous influence they exert at this critical moment.
As we have already remarked, the matter had been already argued; the public expression of the Church's wish had been given ; a Conservative government had been called to the helm, and nothing seemed wanting, but the formal accomplishment of the whole design ; when suddenly up rises this strange and unlooked-for opposition, from the very centre of the Church and Conservative party.
The main allegations, to all practical purposes, of this opposing article, are—that the duty belongs to the Church, not to the State; that the Church is able to discharge it; and that the State is neither able nor in the least degree responsible for its discharge.
Now we propose to test all these assertions, or rather assumptions, by exhibiting one single case, which has occurred at our own doors. Let us look to the spiritual destitution of the Metropolis itself—the seat of England's first bishopric—the centre of wealth, and religious profession, and Church power.
What has the Church been doing, for the last hundred years, to discharge this great duty, which the ultra-Laudians tell us belongs to her, and to her alone?
In the year 1700 the population of the metropolis amounted to only 674,350; yet, even then, complaints were heard of the insufficiency of church-room and clergy. No one, at that period, advanced the notion now put forward,—that this was a matter belonging to the Church herself; and in which the State neither could, nor ought to attempt to assist her. A resolution was adopted,—and adopted by the government,—to build, at once, fifty new churches in the outer parishes of London and Westminster. This good intention suffered, we believe, the usual fate of such resolves; and was never carried even half-way towards accomplishment. The effort, however, which was actually made, and to which we owe some ten or twelve large churches, such as St. George's, Bloomsbury, St. George the Martyr, &c., clearly establishes one fact, that the State, even in the palmy days of high-church Queen Anne, never dreamt of casting the duty of “extension " upon the Church herself.
Pass we on to the opening of the next century. In 1800, the population of the Metropolis had grown to 900,000, and in 1811 to 1,050,000. But had the Church, in all this century, ever once recognized this duty, which, the Times asserts, belongs to her, and can be discharged by her, and by her alone? Not in the least. We beg these new high-church “Voluntaries” to point out to us a single proof, that the Church, in all these hundred years, ever once imagined that the duty of providing new churches and new pastors for the 400,000 people who had been added to the London