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dered the State most unmercifully. To the greatest luminaries of Nonconformity, indeed, we hesitate not to appeal as to friendly witnesses in favour of State churches.
With respect to Matthew Henry, I may ask, how comes it that his original exposition of Matt. xvii. 24—27, which turns upon the payment of “church duties,” is wholly omitted in some of the latest editions of his Commentary? If, again, the late Bicentenary Commemoration of 1862 reminded us of anything, it was this—that some 2000 Nonconformists in 1662 felt it to be a sore trial and grievance to have to vacate those benefices of the State Church into which they had been inducted on the eviction of the rightful occupants by the triple power of fanaticism, fraud, and force, during England's reign of terror. That the modern AntiState-Church Association, indeed, proceeds upon a totally different footing to the elder Nonconformists, --that the former are to be regarded, in fact, rather in the light of political Dissenters, and the latter simply as Nonconformists to the doctrine and discipline of the Church, on religious grounds,-is sufficiently clear from one of the earliest tracts of the British Anti-State-Church Association on
Organisation,” which proceeds thus:-“It has been suggested that this movement is premature. The most cursory glance at the history of Dissent will show that this effort could scarcely have been made at an earlier period, whilst it may be plausibly maintained that it could not have been much longer delayed, without a manifest want of faithfulness and zeal. The fathers of Nonconformity did not understand the principle at all; this was not the ground of all their secession. They were thrust out from the Establishment, because they could not conscientiously conform to its usages-not because they had any objection to State pay. They desired nothing so much as a national church, whose canons and constitutions should be so framed as to allow some latitude to the dictates of conscience. In such a Church they would have been content to live and die."
I believe, therefore, that previous to 1830, neither the thoughts nor the inclinations of Dissenters as a body ran upon the severance of Church and State. Their aims went no farther than the removal of civil disabilities—the repeal of what, from Dr. Whewell's words, we may term the Dissenters' Exclusion Bill. To protect both the Church and themselves from the machinations of Popery, Dissenters had supported the Test Acts. As soon as Popery was harmless, or fancied to be so, they began to agitate for the repeal of what appeared a useless and degrading Statute, not, however, to injure the Church, but to extend their own liberties. Such too was the complexion put upon their efforts by Dissenters themselves, up to the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, and the passing of the Emancipation Bill. Churchmen were assured that freedom of worship and opinion, combined with full toleration and civil privileges, was all Dissent coveted; and that instead of subverting and destroyirg, the aim and tendency of dissenting demands would be rather to strengthen and benefit the Established Church. Accordingly, from 1688 to 1830 the great subject of debate in matters eccle. siastical was the Test and Corporation Acts, passed in the reign of Charles II. And the line of argument adopted by those favourable to their repeal, leads to the conclusion that the object sought was an extension of the bounds of toleration.
It was in connection with the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts that we first hear of a dissenting organisation for political purposes. I refer to the “ Deputies appointed to protect the civil rights of Dissenters," which deputies were selected from every Presbyterian, Independent, and Baptist congregation in and within twelve miles of London. Originating in 1732, this organisation is still existing, composed of the self-same ingredients as in 1732, and
equally energetic in its mission. A great change indeed has come over its programme and policy, but it is still what it was 130 years ago, the faithful representative of the three denominations of “ orthodox Dissenters." The area of civil rights, according to dissenting theories, has been vastly extended since the first selection of Deputies in 1732. What are now demanded as such, were not found in the original category of the Deputies: but the successive changes that have occurred in the views and designs of political Dissent, can nowhere be more truthfully portrayed than in the history of that Association. In 1732, the Deputies limited their civil rights to the removal of disabilities. In 1832, just a century after, civil rights comprehended the separation of Church and State ; and since 1844, under the same term is included the political equality of every adult citizen. Confining, however, their exertions, in the first place, to the one object of abolishing civil disabilities, there can be no hesitation in attributing much of the success of 1828 and 1829 to the exertions of the Deputies. In the former year the Test and Corporation Acts were finally swept away, with the connivance if not complicity of the Wellington Ministry. “For the security of the predominancy of the Established Church," however, Sir Robert Peel insisted upon the following declaration being substituted for all persons holding office under the Crown, and for municipal functionaries.
“I, A. B., do solemnly and sincerely, in the presence of God, profess, testify, and declare, upon the true faith of a Christian, that I will never exercise any power, authority, or influence which I may possess by virtue of the office of
to injure or weaken the Protestant Church, as it is by law established in England, or to disturb the said Church, or the bishops and the clergy of the said Church, in the possession of any rights or privileges to which such Church, or the said bishops and clergy, are, or may be by law, entitled.”
This declaration I shall have occasion to notice hereafter. For the present, therefore, I am content to place on record Lord John Russell's view of it, in 1828, which was expressed as follows :-“ After deeply considering the declaration proposed by the Right Hon. Secretary, I feel bound to say that I do not find that it imposes any restraints on the religious liberty of individuals. It merely restrains them from exercising any influence which they may obtain by virtue of any office to which they may be appointed, to weaken the Established Church, or to subvert its legal rights and privileges. I, therefore, am 'of opinion, that it would be extremely unadvisable in me to propound or maintain any objection to