Sayfadaki görseller

and in addition to that influence, this effort of mine, in prospect of a general election, for which extraordinary provision has been made by democratic Dissent, may not prove altogether futile in guiding aright the conscientious Churchman and Constitutionalist, whenever and wherever his vote and interest shall be solicited.


FROM 1688 To 1832.


In his “Elements of Morality" (vol. ii., p. 233), Dr. Whewell thus briefly summarises the political listory of the Established Church and Dissent from the time of the Reformation downwards :-" The polity of an Established National Church was cast in such a forin that Dissenters were at first punished as such. This kind of polity was in England in 1688) soon succeeded by one in which toleration was granted to Dissenters, including liberty of worship under certain conditions ; but the exclusion of Dissenters from many offices in the State was continued as a protection to the Church of England. This exclusion has now, in a great measure, been abolished; yet still, the Church of England, by the possession of most of the property, dignities, and functions, which have in former times belonged to the Established Church, continues to be preserved as the Established Church."

On the first of these phases, the era of persecution, it is neither necessary, nor to my purpose, to comment. The times were out of joint. From the Reformation, and much more before the Reformation, up to the Revolution, persecution was fashionable ; and whether Romanism, the Church of England, or Dissent was uppermost, each by turns fell in with the ruling fashion only with too great alacrity.

It is the second period referred to, when Dissenters were excluded from many offices in the State, and extending from 1688 to 1830, or thereabouts, to which, first of all, I would bespeak attention.

That from the very origin of Dissent in England, there has lurked in its soil the germ of a Liberation Society, no one will be disposed to deny. But we know that during the golden age of the Commonwealth and the reign of the Saints, the ancestors of modern Presbyterians, Independents, and Baptists, so far from objecting to Church endowments, actually ejected several thousands of the Episcopalian clergy, and then entered in and took possession of the benefices themselves. And when those tolerant, enlightened sectaries sat on high, they carried their State Church


prejudices so far as, for the first and last time in our history, to enforce church rates by Act of Parliament, regardless altogether of the wishes or feelings of parishioners.

Neither in the matter of tithe did those “fathers of Nonconformity” exhibit any great amount of fastidiousness, except in their watchful provisions for punctual and true payment. The learned author of a work,* recently published, has set this question at rest for ever in the following lines :

“ Under the usurped government of Cromwell, and during the time when the Independents and Presbyterians were fighting for supremacy, neither party was averse from a continuance of the support of a civil establishment of religion, and both sets of 'godly ministers' kept a sharp look-out for tithes. In A.D. 1644, they got an ordinance made by the Lords and Commons assembled in Parliament, 'for the true payment of tithes and other such duties,

• “The Anti-State Church Association and the Anti-State Church League Unmasked, an Exposure of the Fallacies and Misrepresentations contained in Mr. E. Miall's "Title-Deeds of the Church of England to her Parochial Endowments.' By John Pulman, of the Middle Temple, Barrister. London : William Macintosh, 24, Paternoster Row.” Mr. Miall once boasted that by his work on TitleDeeds he had put the Church upon her defence. Mr. Pulman, in his Exposure, has not only put Mr. Miall on his defence, but convicted him on some of the gravest charges ever imputed to a literary criminal.


according to the laws and customs of the realm.' On the 9th of August, 1647, there was made 'an additional ordinance of the Lords and Commons for the true payment of tithes and other duties ;' and in the same year, another, 'for keeping in godly ministers placed in livings by authority of Parliament. In A.D. 1648, another ordinance was made in Parliament for the better payment of tithes and duties to the ministers of the city of London.' These godly ministers then hit upon an expedient to increase their incomes. On the 29th April, 1652, they succeeded in getting this resolution passed, 'That it be referred to the committee appointed to receive proposals for the better propagation of the Gospel, to take into speedy consideration how a competent and convenient maintenance for a godly and able ministry may be settled in lieu of tithes, and present their opinion thereon to the House; and that tithes shall be paid as formerly, until such maintenance be settled.''

Truly, those godly ministers, under the saintly unction of the Commonwealth, failed lamentably in their comprehension of the real nature of tithe. It never seems to have occurred to their spiritual minds that either church rates, or tithe, or glebe, or Easter“ duties," or parsonage houses, or churches, were “national property.” Otherwise, they plun

« ÖncekiDevam »