Imatges de pÓgina
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of the country would be on the whole conducive to the general influence of religion ; there is no scriptural prohibition of such an arrangement. Thus England stations bishops in the upper house of parliament. Scotland, on the contrary, deeming the conjunction of political functions with ecclesiastical injurious to religion, permits not such an admixture to the divines of her established church. Otherwise she would have claimed and received at the union of the two kingdoms her proportion of ecclesiastical peers. Observe, however, that the clergy in England form not a distinct body from their fellow-subjects. They are amenable to the same laws; they pay the same contribution to taxes; they suffer the same punishment for crimes. The property which they possess as clergymen, from the bishop to the curate, is the salary of an office; and the succession to it is open to any family in the kingdom.

But why are the clergy to have salaries ? Upon the scriptural principle of universal justice, that “the labourer is worthy of his reward;" that he who labours should live by his labour; that he who, in whatever occupation, employs his time and his talents for the benefit of others should receive from them an adequate retribution for his labour. Is not this general principle applicable to the ministers of religion? Jesus Christ himself has applied it to them : " The Lord hath ordained that they which preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel.” 1

But, although the clergy ought to be supported, why should not they be left, as in apostolical times, to the voluntary support of their congregations ? Because, in these days, voluntary support, it is to be

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feared, would too often be no support. Through the affectionate zeal of the Christians towards their pastors in early ages legal provisions were needless ; and if they had been necessary, they could not have been obtained from Pagan lawgivers.

At present, such affectionate zeal would be very rare.

Even by many of the English dissenters, whom the existence of an established church of another persuasion naturally stimulates to exertions in behalf of their own clergy, the inadequate and precarious payment of their ministers is lamented. The law, therefore, interposes with respect to the national church to prevent the many injurious effects as to religion, which would result from general poverty in the clergy; and the temptations to remedy that poverty by conciliating accommodation of doctrine and practice to the humour of wealthy subscribers.

But the revenues of the church are excessive! Extravagant revenues assigned to any established church undoubtedly tend to secularise the spirit of its ministers. And if those attached to our own establishment were such as in that point of view to be detrimental to religion; the nation, acting by its legislature, ought to reduce them, from whatever sources they might arise, and to apply the reduction to some object of public benefit. Calculate, then, the entire amount of the annual revenue of the church of England, and the number of the clergy, a number to be encreased with the encrease of the inhabitants of the land : compute what sum that income would produce, if equally divided, to each clergyman: consider the necessary expenses of a clerical education ; recollect that a clergyman is properly excluded from ordinary occupations and their profits; and you will not find the total amount of income assigned by the legis

lature to the church too large. But this revenue is divided unequally! When you reflect on the necessarily unequal extent of parishes; on the diversities between a dense and a widely scattered population; on the difference of the expenses of living in villages and in towns and cities, and on other circumstances affecting the relative condition of individual clergymen as such; an equality of income to all will not approve itself, I apprehend, to your sober judgement. as the wisest or the most equitable arrangement of distribution. But that the existing inequalities are in various ways highly detrimental to the genuine interests of religion ; and that a very ample proportion of the income, now annexed to the less useful offices in the church, ought to be appropriated to ameliorate the condition of great numbers of the parochial clergymen with scanty provision, is undeniable. Let us hope that such alterations will be speedily and efficaciously made by the legislature.

But tythes are an objectionable mode of paying the clergy! In reply to the assertion, it may be asked, what mode of payment would be wholly unobjectionable ? What, however, are your objections to tythes ? They impede agricultural improvements and the growth of corn; and they occasion dissensions between the clergy and their parishioners. The first objection assuredly is not without weight; though its weight may be over-rated. To the preference of pasturage over corn tythes in many cases will certainly contribute. But with respect to general improvements, it is not according to human nature that men should very frequently decline to improve their estates nine pounds a year, because another person would be entitled to the tenth pound. Even if the owner, by expending the same sum in another way, as in traffick or merchandise, could secure the tenth pound to himself; the satisfaction of improving his own permanent landed property would seem in most cases likely to turn the scale. The second objection is so forcible, that I have only to avow my sincere regret that some practicable means of providing for the clergy less objectionable than tythes have not been long ago devised and adopted. But in making this avowal, justice, not professional prejudice, requires me to express my conviction, that in by far the greater number of instances the dissensions, which we agree in deploring, arise from the selfish or ignorant opposition of those who are to pay tythes, not from exorbitancy in him who demands them. Of seven hundred suits on account of tythes brought by the clergy into the Court of Exchequer, from the year 1660 to 1713, six hundred were decided in their favour. 1 If a new search down to the present day were made into the records of the Exchequer, the result, I apprehend, would bear a testimony no less honourable. I take no credit for peculiar moderation in the clergy. The nature of the case speaks for itself. The clergyman, foreseeing that the interest of himself and of his family in the profits of his living terminates, at the latest, with his life; is much more likely to relinquish a just demand, through a dread of a contest, the expenses of which will fall upon himself, but the fruits of victory may soon go to his successor, than to appeal to the law in support of an unreasonable claim. And his usual inability to fight the purse of a wealthy lord of a manor, or that which is replenished by the combination of inferior proprietors, inculcates on him the same lesson: and inculcates it with the

See Archbishop Secker's Charges, p. 129.

greater efficacy, as he knows that his tythes will be withheld during the continuance of the contest.

But is it not invidious, is it not unjust, to take tythes from the property of dissenters, and to give them to clergymen of another persuasion ? A little explanation may convince

that there is no injustice nor invidious intention in the matter. In the first place, the tythes are not required from the dissenter as such: they are an outgoing from the land, or what amounts to the same thing, from the produce of the land, which he happens to possess. When he or his ancestor bought the land, he bought it proportionally cheaper, because it was subject to that outgoing. In the second place, whenever the legislature imposes a tax for the purpose of applying the money raised to an object which it deems of national utility, the tax must be imposed on the country at large, though many individuals may think the object to which it is to be applied useless or prejudicial. On no other principle could public measures be conducted. Were a land-tax imposed for the prosecution of a war, would you exempt the land of those who disapproved the war? Or if the legislature believed that the institution of a medical board would be of national utility, and should lay a general house-tax for its support; would it be unjust to require the tax from householders who should think unfavourably of the institution ? Were the legislature to prohibit those householders from employing any other than the established physician, the case would be very different. But if it leaves them, though necessarily subject to the general tax, at liberty to employ any physician of their own, they cannot complain of being invidiously or unjustly treated. The case of tythes is exactly parallel. The legislature, deeming the maintainance of a national church essential to the public good, and the only

you,

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