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And it was because the principles and the policy of the Conservatives interposed an insuperable barrier to the designs of Dissent, that, from first to last, Dissent was opposed constantly, and without intermission, to Conservatism. As the result of events between 1832 and 1844, by debates and divisions in Parliament; by organisations with-: out, acting in concert; by kindred agitations in the country; by the concordant testimony of its press—the Eclectic Review, and the Patriot and Nonconformist newspapers—; by a participation in the same dark, ulterior counsels; by harbouring the same suspicions and mutual sympathies; by a common hostility to the British Constitution, though at first with somewhat different and distinct fields of action,—the Democrats assailing the civil, and Dissenters the ecclesiastical institutions ; lastly, by a communion of struggles and risks encountered, Dissent became identified with, if not allied to, Democracy; and the British Anti-StateChurch Association, in 1844, established that alliance, if it were not contracted before. To sum up all, as at the conclusion of the former chapter, toleration was admitted to be complete, but Dis. senters began to insist upon the perfect equality of all religious sects; so, at the close of 1843, we find Dissenters asserting a new claim to the perfect
equality of all mankind; in civil rights. Thus wrote the Nonconformist in its first number for 1844 :
These two truths—the equal rights of man in political affairs, and the exclusive responsibility of man to God in spiritual affairs — will be the pole star by whose clear light we shall pursue our career.”
FROM 1844 to 1859.
DISSENT BOTH IDENTIFIED WITH, AND ALLIED TO, DEMOCRACY.
The course of events, and the obligation of a pledge, have now brought me to a standpoint whence we can best command a view of that Association which, in 1844, united in unholy wedlock the two powers of Dissent and Radicalism, the representatives of the democratic principle in civil and in ecclesiastical matters, in the State and in the Church. But for the origin of that Association, a complete insight into its principles and objects, and thorough appreciation of its policy, it will be necessary to revert to the source whence it sprang. That was none other than the Nonconformist newspaper, which, as I have before intimated, was started in the spring of 1811. Most Churchmen have heard something of the Nonconformist SketchBook, but few have either seen or heard of a series of publications known as the Complete Suffrage Tracts. Both the Sketch and the Tracts, however, may claim one and the same parentage. Both appeared originally, side by side, in the pages of the Nonconformist, and contemporaneously, during the years 1841 and 1842. As indicated by their respective titles, the Sketch-Book treats of ecclesiastical matters chiefly; and the Suffrage Tracts, for the most part, of purely political questions.
As specimens of the Sketch-Book, space forbids to quote beyond what is necessary to my purpose; but nothing is more apt or pertinent than Mr. Miall's contrast between State churches and Democracy ; his identification of the Established Church with the aristocratic principle, in opposition to Dissent and the democratic principle. Here, then, I present my readers with certain chief articles of Mr. Miall's creed, in their pure unadulterated essence :
“An image carved with marvellous cunning, tricked out in solemn vestments; a part woven by human fancy, a part stolen from the chest of truth
-an image, we repeat, an outside semblance, a counterfeit of life, not God-created, but made by the hands of man; empty, without heart, destitute of any well-spring of vitality–has been placed by aristocratic legislation in the throne of Christianity.” Page 27. * .
“Men talk of the amazing,
the all but irresistible, power of the aristocracy. The power of the aristocracy! Let Dissenters dare to look it in the face, and it will cease to be frightful." Page 32. ** "The Establishment, be it borne in mind, is backed with the affections of few but those directly or remotely interested in its wealth. Upon the great mass of the people it has no hold. The millions would hail separation as an act of justice towards themselves. The power of the aristocracy would find no fulcrum there.” Page 33. * *
“A great aristocratic imposture.” Page 34. The whole system is looked at as an engine admirably adapted to work out the purposes of an aristocracy.” Page 54. * * “The real ‘lion in the way' is the aristocracy. The State Church is pecu
. liarly theirs." Page 61. ** “ The State Church constitutes the solid buttress of aristocratic influ. ence." Page 65. **
“Our present object is simply to exhibit the Church as a piece of political machinery, plied by the aristocracy for their selfish purposes.” Page 66.
“ The Established Church may constitute a very efficient arrangement for promoting aristocratic ends, but how it is adapted to serve Christianity, requires more ingenuity than we profess to discover. As a system for pensioning off supernumerary members of lordly houses, it may be considered