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WHY THOROGOOD WAS IMPRISONED.
oppressions of the consciences of good men; and still I paid my Church rates, although I received no advantages whatever from the institution I supported. I regarded this payment of Church rates rather as a civil duty.
"But after suffering a good many trials of feeling, at last I became satisfied it was wrong for me in any way to give my countenance to the Establishment, and I refused to pay five and sixpence Church rate. I was summoned before the Ecclesiastical Court to be tried, and, of course, condemned by my enemies; for in England, when the Church prosecutes a suit at law, you must know that they are both judge and jury. I thought and prayed over the matter, and concluded it was best for me to pay no attention to it.
"The result of it all was, that for contempt of Court, as it was called, I was thrown into this jail, the 16th of January, 1839, where I have remained ever since, and where I will remain till I die, rather than surrender the principle for which I am contending. That principle is no less than that for which Protestant reformers in all ages have contended; the very principle for which England broke away from her allegiance to Rome; for which Huss and Jerome, and ten thousand others, went to the stake; the same principle for which John Bunyan lay twelve years in Bedford Jail; the greatest, the dearest principle for which man ever contended-the high and sacred right of conscience.
"I cannot believe that I owe religious allegiance to any man: God is my only master. No man, or body of men, have a right to place any restrictions upon my religious liberty. The free exercise of conscience in matters of religion is a right which man can neither give nor take away. Religion is sacred to conscience; conscience is sacred to God, and all human interference is sacrilege. Religion is seated in the will; it is essentially voluntary; exaction either of profession or payment is destructive of it. To establish religion by law, is first to corrupt and then to destroy it. The Established Church is one of the greatest structures of wrong the world ever witnessed. Why, who does not see this? it is as plain to me as a self-evident truth.
HE other day Sir Robert Inglis, the zealous advocate of the High
him a few questions which perhaps he did not expect, for he was not exactly prepared for them. I said to Sir Robert: 'Is it not a wrong to refuse Dissenters interment in the national burial-grounds, except their
friends are willing to have the deceased Dissenter give the lie in his death to all he had said and done while living, which he would do if he consented to be buried with the forms of the Church? Is it not wrong to exclude him from the national schools and universities, except he conform to the Church? Is it not wrong to compel the Dissenter to contribute to support a Church which he conscientiously disapproves ? Is it not an act of oppression, the greater because it comes from the stronger and wealthier party, and because, too, he has to support his own Church?
"And is not his Church as dear to him; are not his Church privileges, his liberty of conscience, the religious rites and worship of his own Zion, the affection and comfort of his pastor, and wife, and children, all as dear to the Dissenter's heart as to the churchman are his? Do you not, sir, commit great wrong when you take from me those rights and privileges which you prize so dearly? If the golden rule is to be our standard of action, you cannot outrage it more palpably, than by throwing me into jail because I will not quietly give away my highest rights as a man and a Christian.
"Do I not suffer the greatest wrong, when any party seeks to prescribe to me in religion, either what I shall believe or how I shall express my faith? Has not compulsory payment produced nearly all the evils which the best friends of the Establishment acknowledge and lament? Has it not placed its ministry beyond the wholesome influence of the people? Has it not dishonored religion by making the Church the creature of the State? Has it not attracted the worldly, and the indolent, and the inefficient, to the Church as its ministers? Who does not know that the Prayer-book contains little besides the Mass-book translated into English? That the Pope offered to confirm it, if the Church of England would join that of Rome? That Episcopal clergymen of great reputation have declared such a union of the two Churches practicable? That the efficiency of Episcopal ordination is derived entirely through the Popish prelates? That at the accession of Elizabeth, 9,011 Catholic priests, out of 9,400, joined the Church of England? and who supposes that they gave up their Papacy by doing it? The Papists and Protestants worshipped together in the English Church until they were prevented by the Pope; and at the Reformation, Parliament transferred the entire powers exercised by the Pope in this country to Henry VIII. and his royal successors.'
"I spoke to Sir Robert about a good many other things. I thought I would tell him something that he would not be very apt to forget; and There was a trap laid in Lon
I expressed myself with great freedom.
don, by the High Church party the other day, and Sir Robert was sent
THE TRUE MARTYR SPIRIT.
down here, to spring it. My friends there had said, I was not comfortable here; and the Tories wished to get a confession from me, that I was. I had received intimation that I might expect certain persons down here, about the time of Sir Robert's visit, and I was on my guard when he
"He asked me, if I was not comfortable here. Said he, 'Mr. Thorogood, you scem to be surrounded by a good many conveniences and comforts.' 'No, sir,' I answered, ‘I am not comfortable, and never can be, so long as my liberty is taken away. You degrade a man; you trample on a man's highest rights, and then ask him, if he is not comfortable.""
"WELL, Mr. Thorogood, how long do you expect to remain here?"
"That, sir, is a question I cannot answer. My friends in Parliament are constantly bringing the matter before the House; they are laboring manfully and zealously in my cause, and keep me advised of all their proceedings. I receive scores of papers and pamphlets on the subject. They will do all they can; but I do not expect relief for a good while. For if the Church party should give up, and consent to my liberation, they would abandon the whole question: they would never be able to heal the wound such a decision would inflict upon the Establishment.
"They are right in saying, 'The question is not whether we shall let an honest and worthy man go out of his prison and enjoy his freedom;' for they all would be glad, undoubtedly, to see me liberated; but the question is, 'Shall we surrender the rights of the Church? Shall we concede the great question of Church-rates tithes, and government patronage? If we let this man go, we must give up the Church; and the consequence of it would be, a dissolution of the union of Church and State.'
'It has always happened, I believe, that every great question which has ever yet been disposed of, has been settled in this way. Nothing has pained me so much as to see how insensible the great mass of the Dissenters are, to the infinite importance of this question. Why, sir, multitudes of them have come to me, and besought me to give it up; they said, 'Why, John, you are only one man!' So was Luther only one man; and suppose he had given up.
Look back on the history of the world, and you will find that one man has worked a revolution. One man is enough to start a reform; but he must have help to carry it on. Oh! brethren, I say to them, if you would all come along with me; if the millions of English Dissenters
A SUBLIME SPECTACLE.
237 would take the same stand that I have, what a spectacle would be presented! Why, we would gain our cause at once. To assert our rights would be, to secure them; it would be a pretty sight, surely, to see half the people of England in jail! Oh! would to God the faint-hearted and policy-bewitched Dissenters would go along with me. I want to see no violence; none is needed. We could dissolve the Unholy Alliance of the cross and the throne, as peaceably as we effected the revolution of 1688. "It is a mystery which I cannot unravel, why the Dissenters submit to these abuses. They will get up great meetings; they will make enthusiastic speeches; they will write flaming pieces about the corruptions of the Church; they will clamor violently about rights of conscience, and yet not a soul of them has the courage to take the stand that poor, ignorant John Thorogood, the shoemaker, has. But they will have to do it before they ever get their liberty."
While he was speaking, his wife came into the room. said he, "I want to introduce you to Mr. He lives in the United States, that blessed land, where there is no Established Church, no Church-rates or tithes, except what a man is willing to tax himself."
She is a very neat, pretty woman, and worthy to be the wife of John Thorogood. I asked her if she was not almost discouraged and disheartened.
"Oh! no, sir; far from it," she answered. "I was at first of a mind that my husband should pay the five and sixpence, and not go to jail; and it came very hard not to have him at home with us, nights; and I thought I could not bear up under it. But he talked to me a good deal; and we prayed about it; and at last, I could agree with him; and I feel now, that I would rather see John Thorogood die, than to give up his religion. He don't need any cheering up; his courage is as strong as it can well be. But if he ever gets down-hearted, I can raise his spirits for him. No, sir, he shan't give it up now. It's cost too much already, to have nothing come of it. I can come and stay with him from morning until nine o'clock in the evening; and the children can come too. We have a good many kind attentions from friends and strangers, and we are working for liberty of conscience for all England. No, sir, we can't give up."
was a sublime spectacle, to see two humble, simple-hearted Christians taking such a lofty stand: a spectacle which may challenge the admiration of the world. If I were an Englishman, I think I should be more proud of that sight, than of the glorious structure which they call St. Paul's Cathedral.
THE DAYLIGHT BREAKING.
John Thorogood has all the elements of a reformer. If his learning and rank corresponded with his resolution, he would work such a revolution in England, as it is to be feared will be effected now only by violence. But, so long as idolatry of rank prevails so exclusively among all classes, it is out of the question; “It would be in bad taste” to let a man who has moved in John Thorogood's humble sphere, lead on a great reform. I must confess that I have seen no spectacle on this side of the water, which has so excited my surprise and indignation, as this. Let the world, who have so long dreaded the power of the English government, and admired its philanthropy in breaking the chains of negro slavery, and its zeal in sending missionaries to barbarous climes to tell the glory of the Saviour's love, contemplate the British lion with his paws upon John Thorogood, in Chelmsford Jail.
break over the gray battleThe tramp of the gathering
UT daylight is beginning to ments of this Feudal castle. host comes on the listening ear of prayer and hope; and soon -yea, those now living shall see it-the gloomy turrets of the Prison House of God's Poor shall reel to the shock of the Reformers, and the worn and weary prisoners shall come forth to bathe in the sparkling ocean of divine light and love, which is yet to roll round all the world.
What a vision of beauty and splendor will dear Old England then unfold to the gaze of nations-when "her officers shall be peace, and her exactors righteousness”—when her redeemed millions "shall call her walls Salvation, and her gates Praise !"