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Church, threatening to overwhelm it in utter ruin. A body (if we may so designate a dissentient mass of parties of various persuasions) of politico-religionists, too self-sufficient to submit to the Church's authority, too covetous to view without envy her revenues, and either too ignorant to see, or too obstinate to feel, the wickedness of their unhallowed designs, have joined themselves in array to effect her total destruction. And hence it is that one of the commonest outcries of the radical malcontents and sectarians of the present dayif a sectarian is essentially anything but a radical malcontent—is that raised against the existing connexion between Church and State. They would have these two incongruities (they tell us) dissevered from each other. Now we will answer for it, that if you ask a hundred of these worthies, separately, the simple question why? hardly one of them will be enabled to give a satisfactory answer. They never for a moment consider, that, after all, the State does very little for the Church-not a thousandth part of what the Church does for the State. It certainly confers upon it authority to enforce the due observance of its own rites and ceremonies. It unquestionably secures to it-or rather, perhaps, in these days of sacrilege, professes to secure, its own revenues; in which respect it does no more, indeed rather less, than afford the protection which it refuses not to extend to the meanest of the people. It undoubtedly gives its representatives a seat in the upper House of legislature. But is the right of representation an exclusive privilege of the Church ? The fact is, none of these points are, or can be, really objected to: they are only made the grounds of false and malignant cavil. Delighted with the prospect of a new religion, and actuated for the most part by that virulent spirit of spurious liberalism, which is now, unhappily for the nation, so widely prevalent, vast bodies of these misguided people have entered the lists of blind and unmeaning opposition to the Church, from which they have voluntarily excommunicated themselves, and deserted to the apostate ranks of the enemy: and having now obtained, by the short-sighted policy of the legislature, an equal right to participate in all the offices of the crown, and thereby gradually gained sufficient influence to ensure, in many places, the return of their own creatures to Parliament, they have eventually secured a powerful party in the Commons, who, knowing well to whom they are indebted for their places, are incessantly engaged in forwarding the interests of the dissenters, and have already succeeded in removing much of what that ever discontented and factious body call, with true sectarian cant, “ their grievances.” Despicable as are the paltry sects individually, in comparison with the great body of Churchmen, yet, leagued with the dissenting papists and with each other, though differing among themselves frequently in more serious points than they respectively differ from the Church, they form a strong offensive phalanx, which nothing but the firmness, unanimity, and activity of Churchmen can hope to resist. Now that the Reform bill has wrested the representation of the country from the respectable and intelligent, and conferred it upon the rabble multitude, who neither know what they want nor understand what is their interest, the position of Churchmen has become
peculiarly difficult. Nine-tenths of the dissenters are reformers ;* deny it who can.
Of course, the Church is to be the first subject to try “ reform" experiments upon. It is positively preposterous that such men should have a voice in any matter relative to Church affairs. Of course they would have it down altogether. It has been truly remarked, that “the question now is, not whether the Established Church will tolerate dissenters, but whether dissenters will tolerate an Established Church.”
To let sectarians say whether the Church shall stand or not on her present footing, is to allow schoolboys to decide whether their master shall flog them or not. The State, fully believing the Church, and the Church alone, to be the one true form of religion, and not yet daring to pronounce schism no crime, when the Bible distinctly asserted it to be such, continued, at the Reformation, to extend to her, in her purer constitution, its peculiar protection, and required that every man, instead of building a religion for himself, should acquiesce in her authority. It is the disavowal of the Church's authority which has caused all the mischief. The papist's doctrine of infallibility has so scared Protestants, that they begin now-a-days to think their own Church has no authority at all; thus running into a false and most pernicious extreme, which the Reformers, and even the founders of some dissenting sects, never dreamt of. Now, however, it would almost seem that the State, or rather the ministry who misconduct it, repents, without yet daring to avow it, of the patronage which was extended exclusively to the Church. They are now acting a part characterised by the grossest inconsistency. They support, and yet discourage-assist, and yet depress—exalt, and yet degrade, the National Church. What strange conduct is this! If the State professes to support one particular form of religion, because it considers it the best (to take the very lowest grounds), why patronize and encourage other, and those rival, if not opposing, forms, which it must, if consistent, necessarily deem worse? If it no longer consider it best, why support it still? If it deem it only as good, why give it the preference? The last is probably the real feeling of the present ministry: but take the case as you will, their conduct displays manifest inconsistency. Unquestionably, the majority of the sects now existing have arisen since the Church, in its present form, was taken under the then fostering wing of State protection. That any one of these sects, distinctively, is the only true religion, none but the members of it would be insane enough to aver. The State certainly is not desirous to elevate any one of them above the rest ;-indeed it is this very principle of exclusiveness which offends the present votaries of what is called religious equality. Have we then to fear that the State protection (such as it is) will soon be withdrawn from the National Church?
-that in fact it will no longer be a National Church? We say, to fear, because, though in many respects such a withdrawal would be
* This singular fact, we suppose, is but “a coincidence.” Their motives are purely “conscientious,” and quite independent of political opinions. For our own part, we wait till this “coincidence” is explained, before we believe in the "consciences” of the pious dissenters.
absolutely advantageous to us, yet it would probably involve the alienation of its revenues, to preserve and enforce the payment of which to its rightful possessors seems the chief object of State protection. Late events have fully shewn in what light the Government chooses now to view ecclesiastical property. It has either decided from the grossest ignorance, or pretended, with the most wilful audacity, that the State which secures, must therefore be the owner of, property : that if it protects, it must likewise interfere ; that the power which never gave, is authorised to take away. Were her own legitimate property permanently secured to the Church, as their estates are to the aristocracy, and indeed private possessions to every individual ; were her own Parliament, the Convocation, restored, and certain vexatious laws repealed, which were enacted for the sole purpose of hampering her independence, and restricting her privileges; the Church would gladly throw off the State yoke ;-of this dissenters may be assured. And what would be the consequence? Why, she would then become, as of old, superior to the State. The Church was originally subjected to the State, that the State might not be subjected to the Church. And the ire of dissenters would be ten times increased at her supremacy and their own insignificance. Thus if the chief ground of complaint against the Church, namely, its connexion with the State, were removed, so far from satisfying dissenters, it would excite their bile to a ten-fold degree.
The present ministry, however, instead of being inclined to exalt, are using the most insidious means to degrade and undermine the influence of the Church. Their hidden treachery is more to be dreaded by far than the open warfare of the Radicals, because they play upon the credulity of the people, and “conceal their poison in a honied cake.” They feel that the nation is not yet prepared to yield without a struggle the source of all its prosperity, and the main-spring of the very constitution; and, knowing that it is at present vain to attempt her overthrow, they are bringing the most insidious machinations to bear against her. Their object seems evidently to be to bring about such times, and pave the way for such a state of popular feeling, as may render her destruction, or at least degradation, a comparatively safe and easy undertaking: to take her out-works by storm, and then attack the unprotected fabric itself. This object has, in great measure, already been effected, by acts, tending to exalt and foster, as the rivals of the Church, the papists* and dissenters; by those useless and execrable measures, the New Marriage and the
* Can Englishmen still sit in sottish indifference, year after year, under such a ministry as the present, when they know, as they surely must, that in the Canadas and others of our colonies, the Government grants more by three or four times to the Popish bishops and priests than to the Protestant Bishops and Clergy? That most of the offices of trust and importance in Ireland are filled, by command of O'Connell, with perjured papists? That many of the nobles in daily attendance on the Queen are papists? That our Bishops are all but excluded from the presence of royalty ? That Government has withdrawn from our Church abroad the annual grant which it continues to the Popish sink of iniquity at Maynooth? Yes; Englishmen know all this-yet, "somehow," the ministry are still in office! But every dog has his day.
Registration Acts ;* by the total suppression, or rather confiscation, of some Bishoprics; the spoliation of others; the attempted appointment (in most instances signally frustrated by Heaven) of “ liberal Bishops, and other Dignitaries--which is, in fact, putting rotten pillars to support the fabric; by endeavouring to foist on the nation the antichurch Education scheme, and Church Discipline Bill; by the Ecclesiastical Commission, and its nefarious results; as well as by proposing to plunder and alienate cathedral property. What! can people really think, as they say, that the Whigs are the true friends of the Church Why, every reflecting person must see, that all these measures tend more or less directly to diminish the influence of the clergy, to shake the belief of the people in their divine authority, and to raise up
the unauthorised pretenders of various sects to a level with them. And what must be the evident result of such a state of things ? People will soon find it an actual advantage to be dissenters; they will have no Church-rates,+ or no tithes to pay, or some such “grievances removed ; every one of “no particular religion” will join the cheapest party, as a matter of course ; dissenters will out-number Churchmen; and we shall have our churches desecrated (according to Lord Fitzwilliam's wish) by sectarian preachers mounting our pulpits, and gainsaying every word of what the Clergy have said an hour before : in short, England will become altera Hibernia, from the “liberal," but most abominable Whig policy of encouraging religious differences. We
may here remark the very common confusion, or rather mis. take, made between toleration and patronage. Although we may tolerate, it is yet our duty to oppose dissent, if we consider it altogether sinful and unjustifiable. But does it necessarily follow, that because we tolerate, we should also run into the opposite extreme of patronising it? Our Whig-radical ministry, who would do nothing against the Church by halves, if they could help it, have evidently fallen into this dangerous fallacy. They unquestionably do openly and avowedly patronise and encourage dissent. Let them, however, bear in mind this incontrovertible fact that a Government, in encouraging dissent, is in effect encouraging every kind of enmity, hatred, and discord in the nation : that it is perhaps even sowing the seeds of bloodshed and revolution, caused by the total want of that harmony between man and man, which would exist under the bonds of one catholic Church. Surely no one can be blind to the fact, that the sects are far more intolerant towards each other than the Church is towards thein; and
It has lately turned out, that only about one-half as many births have been registered in the Metropolis, by this facetious Act, as deaths; whereas every one knows the population is rapidly increasing! But, like all these new-fangled absurdities, we are told “the Act has not had time to work yet!"
t. We cannot help remarking, that the extraordinary ignorance prevailing on this subject must surely be wilfully encouraged by dissenting teachers. As if a territorial tax could possibly have any imaginable connexion with religious opinions! As well might a person object to paying taxes because he couldn't « conscientiously” help to maintain an army, on the grounds that bloodshed was wrong! These hypocrites can set the law of the land at open defiance,without hurting their tender “consciences.” It is deeply grievous to see some of the noblest Churches in the land (instance those of Hull, Boston, Selby, and Darlington) falling to ruin because a crew of dissenting rebels choose to talk lies about their consciences !
November 1839,--VOL. 1.-NO. III.
every one must be aware, that nothing is productive of more deadly feuds than difference on religious subjects. Controversy often engenders hatred : and accordingly we find, by actual experience, that by encouraging Popery in Ireland, we are bringing fire and sword over the land. That most intolerant of the sects, the Papists, persecutes the unhappy Church with the most unremitting hatred ; and no one can be ignorant of the atrocious doings of the canting and hypocritical Puritans in times past.
The absolute necessity for an authorised (i.e. established) Church, is forcibly shewn by a fact, the weight of which dissenters must be dull indeed not to see and feel,- viz. that even with an established Church the comparatively limited number of apostates therefrom (including the almost countless host of Brownists, Higginites, Bugginites, and Co.) already compose little short of fifty different and differing sub-sects ;* although these same dissenters are the very people who, with inimitable consistency, are always talking about the virtue of that christian unity which they themselves violate by their unjustifiable secession! Now a statement of this fact alone would be a sufficient answer to the cavils made by dissenters against the union of Church and State, because it is a fact that speaks for itself: it shews incontestibly what would be the case if every man were free to set up a religion for himself, according to his own whim and caprice—the mistaken principle which the votaries of what is called “religious liberty" maintain. It is very evident that Heaven never could have intended such an absurd anarchy in religion to exist; and surely it was to prevent this that it has preserved to us, through all ages, one true Church, in whose authority all should contentedly and thankfully acquiesce. To obey those who can and will teach aright, is a salutary thraldom, if such it is to be deemed. Is it not absolutely against common sense to presume, as dissenters now do, to set up the private judgment of an individual, and that one generally illiterate and uninformed, against the combined learning, piety, and wisdom of the Bishops and Divines of the catholic Church in all ages ? Now that this mania for “religious liberty," which it is impossible to justify from Scripture, has possessed the nation, we find sect after sect joyfully springing into ephemeral existence, wherever a Brown or a Stubbs chooses blasphemously to declare himself “enlightened," and authorised by Heaven to preach! Then, commencing before his rabble hearers (what do they know about the divine right of Bishops or Church government ?) a solemn rhodomontade against tithes and episcopacy, he soon works them into a spirit of religious rebellion, and persuades them that they have hitherto been taken in by the “pretensions of the old Hag,” and now at length picked up a true prophet in the streets, in the shape of his unworthy self, the said Brown or Stubbs! Thus, it seems, they are contented to have it said, “ Christ and his Apostles founded your Church, but STUBBS founded ours !"
Dissenters say, that there would be less division in Christendom were there no Established Church. This is not only false, but
absurd. It is curious to observe how rapidly various sects sprung up as soon as England was emancipated from the ancient authority of Rome. As early as 1540 there were Anabaptists, Antinomi. ans, Davidians, Predestinarians, Arians, Unitarians, with other more ancient sects.