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member of ours surely, at this juncture, to make known, in all coinpanies and on all occasions where it can with propriety be done, that the Quaker is still opposed to the coercive maintenance of the Priest : that, however disposed to respect property, and bow to the authority of the Laws, we advance always a claim in Equity, to be released from this burden, and left to provide for our own Ministers (while in service) and to support our own Meeting-houses, in our own way. We might say something, were the occasion to arise during these discussions, of the expence of maintaining our own poor-some alleviation, certainly, of Parochial charges on the community where we reside : we might state that, besides educating all our children, we do what we are permitted to do, to help forward that good work in Society at large—but we shall do well to waive these grounds of petition, for our undoubted rights; and to ask, only, that Property may be liberated on equitable terms from present demands of this nature (founded, as we think, in the erroneous and superstitious views of foriner Legislatures) and Conscience, in matters between God and his creature man, in reference to his worship and service, freed froin every chain.

On the proposition of an individual, who has bestowed much of his time and thoughts on the subject, the Meeting entered into a very calm and serious deliberation on the question, whether the Legislature should now again, as in the two past years, be addressed by Petition, in support of our Testimony against Tithes ; but it was decided, that the present was not the desirable time for such a movement; and the Meeting for Sufferings was charged with a close attention to the subject, in its place. Let us hope, should Parliament incline to become possessed of the great body of evidence, deducible from our Records and froin the testimony of Individual sufferers, on the subject of the oppressive working in our case) of the State machine for carrying on a Ceremonial Religion in the land, that both this subordinate Meeting and our Members severally who may be called upon, will

very

cheerfully comply to the best of their power with the demand.

As to Tithe taken in kind, without warrant and without the necessary previous step (to make it legal) of the owner's surrender by

setting-forth ’ the tenth sheaf, it is found that no material variation, in this system of robbery, has resulted from the observations heretofore made, in Yearly Meeting, on the subject. The Claimant continues to enter the field, and to take from the grower, intimidated by the prospect of a suit or choosing the lesser evil of the two, what he deems already made his own by being merely severed from the soil. This is, at least, a violation of the rights of Englishmen, worthy the spontaneous pains of an English government to see into; and if possible without ruin to the parties, to repress.

The amount stated to be taken in this way, in 1834, was £737in 1835 it is £698: the variation is very small (and apparently only accidental) from year to year: See on this head Volume Second,

Not distraints alone, but even imprisonments appear now likely to

page 353–5.

result, from the refusal of the payment of Church-rates, by persons not members of our Religious Society. It is not probable, that these events, and the very frequent occurrence of defeats in Vestry on the proposal to lay a rate, will escape the notice of Parliament. Yet how desirable is it, that Equity--Christian doing as people would be done by-in matters competent to Parochial determination, should outrun such a prohibition of the practice as Parliament might (though it be doubtful whether it should) apply! And in the case of Tithes, where a real Legal property is mixed in the question with considerations (on the other side) of Conscience and Equity both, how desirable is it, again, that the mediation of persons well informed in the matter, and principled against spoliation under the name of redress, should interpose itself between an usurped rule over conscience, and the holding of property thus acquired, and the violence which inconsiderate or evilminded persons might be stirred up to exercise against the presumed authors of a National wrong!

Ed.

Art. II.-Spiritual Despotism : by the Author of the Natural History

of Enthusiasm. London: Holdsworth and Ball, 1835: 8vo.

pp. 500.

The purpose of this Work (which is ably and liberally written) seems to be to prove, that the corruptions which at present so loudly demand reform, in Church affairs in this country, are the result, not of the alliance between Church and State,' but of the operation, from the earliest ages of Christianity, of natural and obvious causes on the body of the Clergy, and on the · Church ’ itself.

Before I proceed to notice his arguments, I must observe that the author commonly employs the term Church in a Clerical sense, as denoting the Rulers and officers, without the people (a)—an acceptation which all who advocate Reform on sound principles have a right to reject; and the rejection of which would very much simplify the dispute, and hasten its final adjustment. He admits then that the

Church,' or clergy or hierarchy, as we find it at present established, is involved in a deep and anful lapse of depravation. He is not, however, for pulling down the edifice at once, and clearing away the rubbish, in order to proceed the better to build anew ; but for measures of reform

(a) The Candidate who lately stood (unsuccessfully) for the West Riding of Yorkshire, being questioned on this subject in a crowded Meeting of the Electors at Pontefract, admitted that the ' Protestant Church' which he was determined should be subjected to 'no spoliation, consisted of the Clergy and the people : but on being further asked, whether I, who put the question, (being one of the people called quakers) was of the people of this Protestant Church, he deliberately answered, “I think, certainly not. He was reminded however, that the alien he spoke thus to was constantly distrained on, for the support of that ministry, and of those edifices—though thus refused all benefit of the Fund, and denied to be of the flock. Ed.

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which shall preserve, to the present Establishment, its Episcopal constitution and its rule; tempering the latter with a large admixture of popular influence; and bringing it, thus, to a form more nearly resembling that of our own mixed Civil government.

“ The religious interests of the British empire are very unlikely much longer to repose where hitherto they have rested : the powers of change that are awake must be met and directed. Nor is it possible that a greater stake should be at hazard among any people; for the welfare of Britain, momentous as we must think it, is not all that is in question, since, with the religious andcivil well-being of our own country the moral and spiritual renovation of all countries is involved. No national vanity is implied in saying so; for none can look at the course of events during the last forty years, or anticipate those almost certain movements of the moral world which await us, without confessing that the brightest and the fondest hopes we entertain, on behalf of mankind at large, hang upon the auspicious or the ominous aspect of English Christianity.

“ In truth it has been the fate—we should rather say the glory, of the British people, in the course of their history, to have furnished practical solutions of the chief questions of pulitical science, for the benefit of the civilized community. Nor have these problems been worked at small cost. Let it be granted that, as the forerunners of civilization in foreign adventure and conquest, or as discoverers on the peaceful paths of philosophy, or as masters of mechanic improvement and trade, the British laurels have been won with immense and immediate advantage to ourselves. But in teaching our neighbours the principles of civil and religious liberty, we have at once purchased our honours dearly, and reaped the fruits, if not sparingly, yet incompletely; or as if with a secret repugnance.

Nothing seems more probable than that now, once again, England-the arena of Europe and theatre of the world, should attract all eyes while she brings about an amended adjustment of her religious polity. Hitherto no country of the old continent, or of the new, has placed its church establishments on a foundation we can approve; nor are we by any means agreed in approving our own. We are called upon, therefore, to exert afresh our ancient prerogative; and to furnish, for the imitation of mankind, the model of a national Christian constitution."

In contemplating the obstacles to such an undertaking, the author admits, along with the interests and the prejudices of parties mutually opposed, nay now marshalled in open hostility to each other, the existence almost in the consolidated form of a distinct faction, of an infidel and atheistic party:'

“ Political tendencies, irreligious instincts, the prospect of a triumph over things and persons held sacred, the hope of seeing Christianity, in one of her principal forms, levelled with the dust and exposed to shame; indefinite expectations of booty, and a belief that, notwithstanding the zeal of the sects, religion altogether would not long survive the overthrow of a learned and respectable hierarchy, interested in its support; these, and other kindred motives, impel many, as well among the vulgar as the educated, to mix in a controversy foreign to their habits of thinking, and into which they bring no preparation, either of knowledge or of sentiment, that might lead them to a sound conclusion.”

“ It is a common occurrence, for perverse intentions to bring into conjunction the most opposite parties; and so it is now that, in decrying, or in denouncing, or in silently obstructing the necessary revision of our church polity, the enemies of all religion, and its zealous and inost sincere friends the Dissenters, and the interested favourers of corruption within the church, are found conspiring (though not in conspiracy) to prevent the public good; each having his private reason for wishing to avert what simple-minded and enlightened men most fervently desire.' This is indeed an alarming view of our position-I say our, as willingly classing myself with those who would desire, above all things connected with the welfare of our Country, to see Christian doctrine preserved, and Christian discipline restored. This is not the interest of the libertine, or of the person wholly intent on his gain, and little solicitous about the means of acquisition: or of any mere outward and superstitious worshipper, be his taste what it may-in short of practical unbelievers in whatsoever form. A corrupt priesthood with its formal service would much better suit such characters, than the real power and searching influence of the Christian faith, brought over their daily practice in a sound Church-discipline, in the manner that has been used (for instance) among' Friends.' But even the check of an Establishment, light as it now is, upon their corrupt and careless living, they would willingly dispense with ; and be rid at once of the expence and inconvenience of maintaining it—were it not that Christianity is considered a useful engine of State, and a means of keeping the common people in some sort of order. I would willingly hope that it is only this practical atheism (as our ruling elder Joseph Gurney Bevan, I remember, used to call it) this evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the Living God’ rather than denying Him, that the author has in view, when he recognizes an Infidel party: and, taken in this sense, the numbers and influence of such persons are considerable, and the danger from them to the Church (properly so called) alarmingly great. Church power is viewed in this work under three different aspects.

If the Church, in relation to the State' be co-ordinate and irresponsible, a counterpoise exists fraught with anxiety, and tending always to change. If it be subservient and obsequious, whatsoever renders Religion efficacious or venerable is compromised. If it be transcendent and supreme, a country is converted into one vast dungeon of Ghostly cruelty, of which the chief magistrate is only the gaoler.'

“It is an obvious fact, that Fear holds the first place among the passions excited by the idea of unseen power. Fear has at once a more extensive operation, and a stronger power, where it does operate, than any other religious emotion. Hence it will be generally true, that the religion which, in its doctrines and usages, is the inost superstitious, will be the one that throws the greatest authority into the hands of the Clergy. Other kinds of religious excitement affect certain tempers only ; but there are very few minds that, while a dark superstition prevails around them, can entirely free themselves from its terrors. The most profane and the most sceptical, the rudest and the most philosophic spirits, have been seen at times subdued by religious fears, and so yielding themselves to the guidance of the priest. As well the mummeries, as the solemnities of an elaborate superstition, subserve the purposes of spiritual domination; and thus the sacerdotal body has held the people fast, at once by the brazen chains of invisible vengeance, and by the cobwebs of frivolous ceremony.

“ An enthusiastic religion, or a fanatical one, may also become a fit engine of ghostly tyranny; but yet in a far less complete manner

. Superstition enfeebles its victims; Enthusiasm, and still more Fanaticism, imparts to them a factitious strength ; and therefore the priest has something personally to fear, in availing himself of the force they yield. The fanaticism of the people can promote his ends only so long as he has the skill to direct it: his skill failing, it may rend himself.—And hence it has happened, that the leaders of enthusiastic sects have almost always become proficients in that sort of guile, which their difficult and perilous position demands."

The author does not adınit, that the voluntary contributions of the people would now form the best resource for a Clergy: this was the method by which the Papacy attained its enormous wealth. (b)

" If we wish to see what is now vauntingly termed, the Voluntary Principle, fully evolved and ripened under a summer heat, we have only to turn to the Papacy

-the produce of the voluntary principle, with its spiritual debauchery and its tyranny, its lying miracles, its lying mendicity, its lying sanctity, such as we find it in the tenth century: the Gospel utterly darkened, the civil authority trampled in the dust, the people bound in fetters of fear and ignorance, and the clergy transmuted into swine, or into wolves: these were the fruits of that system, which leaves the priest to set his own price upon the spiritual goods he dispenses among the people."

“In truth, what is called voluntary is often, in the worst sense, compulsory ; while what, in common parlance, we term compulsory, is, in a rational and good sense, voluntary. Phrases caught at and appropriated without thought, in the heat of controversy, more often than not convey some gross misapprehensions of simple facts: it is thus in the present instance. The voluntary principle as the source of clerical maintenance, in order to deserve the name, and to be sound and safe, must take its course under very peculiar and well-guarded conditions; or it will inevitably either grind the ministers of religion, or bring upon the people the worst sort of compulsion. On the other hand, the compulsory system, as it is insidiously called, needs only to be conformed, in its mode of operation, to the anulogy of good government in civil affairs, and we can wish for nothing more free or just.”

“ No motive, that has hitherto been brought to bear upon human nature, has availed to make the rich liberal after the proportion of the poor. It hence follows that, if the support of the ministers of religion were left entirely to the spontaneous feelings of the people, no equitable proportion of ability would be observed between the wealthy and indigent. If the spiritual wants of a country are to be fully supplied, a burden beyond endurance, and fatal to the general prosperity, would be thrown upon the middle classes, and upon the poor. It would be the noble-spirited artizan, the liberal shopkeeper, the generous yeoman, who would raise the minister's fund ; while just gold enough to save appearances—a pepper-corn contribution, would be all that would come from the heaps of the opulent. In the present state of public sentiment, or in any state which the world or the Church has hitherto exhibited, or seems likely to exhibit, nothing less than an impost not to be evaded, and which should in a fair manner dive into the rich man's bags, will avail to throw the maintenance of the clergy, in any just proportion, upon the public wealth ; or prevent its falling, with a ruinous pressure, upon the industrious and the poor.”

He is still of opinion that, this necessary fund once provided, the support of Missions, of every kind of voluntary exertion for the propagation of religious truth and its charitable consequences, might be very safely left to the spontaneous liberality of the people.

“ The want of ingenuousness, and of intelligence, too, that marks the present advocacy of the voluntary principle, tends to bring into discredit a mighty engine of Christian benevolence ; indeed, the only engine that can be relied upon for

(b) In ages (it should be added though) successively involved in deeper and deeper shades of superstitious ignorance; and no more to be compared with the present, than is the light of a Polar winter with the noonday between the Tropics! Ed.

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