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النشر الإلكتروني

216

AMOUNT OF REVENUES NEVER KNOWN.

be adduced from the ex-parte and deceptive character of that report and all others from the same source.*

Mr. Colton's estimate of the Church revenue, thirty years since, exceeded $40,000,000.

A respectable authority in England a few years ago, exhibited a table of facts showing that the administration of the Church of England to its hearers, costs as much as the administration of all other forms of Christianity in all parts of the civilized world, to over two hundred millions of Christians.

Again, I ask the question, who need be told that this prodigious amount is paid by the people and not by the aristocracy?

*Not long after the passage of the Reform Bill, an investigation into the condition and revenue of the Church was so loudly demanded by the people, that a commission on church revenues was appointed by the king to inquire into the matter, and present their report. The king being the head of the church was the last person in the kingdom who should have had anything to do in the appointment of this commission; this was proved by the result-for there was not a man on that commission who was not deeply interested in concealing from the people the real amount of church revenue. Their report was subjected to the severest scrutiny, and all parties were satisfied that they kept back everything they were not compelled to disclose. And yet this report, dated June 16, 1835, stated that the permanent gross annual revenue of the Church on the average of the three years ending 1831, was £3,750,000, or $18,187,500.

But this estimate, as the report acknowledges, did not embrace the vast sums derived from glebes, fines paid on the renewal of leases of bishops' and other lands, church rates, Easter offerings, fees on marriages, births and burials, and grants of Parliament for Church extension, which must have vastly swelled the aggregate. No certain knowledge of the amount of Church revenues can be derived from a report thus made out; not because the King's commission did not tell the truth, but because they only told a part of it. "This Report is incomplete," say the commissioners, "in that it does not embrace all the items which would be considered in a complete table of the revenue." So it appears; for instance: the entire annual revenue of all the arch-episcopal and episcopal sees of England and Wales, according to the Report, is less than $900,000, while the London Times, which is usually not far from the truth in such matters, said in 1835, that the annual income of the Bishop of London was $100,000, independent of fines imposed for the renewal of leases, which occasionally happened to amount to a hundred thousand pounds at a single windfall," as it is called, and that "the income of the Bishop of London will soon be sixty thousand pounds, or three hundred thousand dollars per annum,

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ARISTOCRACY OF THE CHURCH.

217

The poor man who raises ten bushels of wheat, must give one of them, or its equivalent, towards the revenue of a proud priest he never sets eyes on. A tenth of the gross income of the people goes into the pockets of the clergy.

Captain Ross, a Tory, in Parliament said, to the evident uneasiness of his friends, that one-fifth of the rent of the country went to the clergy. For it must be remembered that the tithe is a tenth of the gross income without any allowance for the expense of cultivation. If the poor man has any thing left, after being thus fleeced by his shepherd, and a child dies, he must pay the curate a burial fee, and last of all a fee for the privilege of erecting a tomb-stone over the ashes of his dead.

While his earnings are thus taken from him, how does the prelate expend his income? In building palaces, and rivaling the luxury and magnificence of princes. This is the extortion of the clergy.

III.

RISTOCRACY is its twin sister.

A

The Bishops are exofficio members of the House of Lords, bear titles, use worldly civil power, and mingle actively in the affairs of the state, as peers of the realm-"It is no uncommon spectacle," says an English writer, " to see the Lord Bishops hurrying down to the House of Lords on what is called 'a field day,' to vote down the liberties of the people." As aristocrats of the land, they are every day becoming more and more opulent, while distress is overwhelming all the lower, and many of the middle. classes. One and all, they were firm advocates of the Corn Laws, which were urging the people into famine and revolution. They are allied in their interests to the land owners, whose wealth increased just in proportion as bread was taxed into starvation prices. They resisted all propositions to make the necessaries of life cheap, for the splendor of their equipagesthe magnificence of their dwellings and pleasure-grounds depended upon keeping bread at a high price-for a tenth of the

218

A MITRE-HUNTING PRIESTHOOD.

produce of the soil coming into their pockets, it matters very much that wheat shall be made to sell for 80s. a quarter, and not 408.--for the difference in price will double their income. Thus it becomes the interest of thirteen thousand clergymen to bring all their influence to support the aristocracy of the Empire and we find the whole weight of the Established Church thrown into the scale of oppressive legislation. How wide asunder from the benevolence of the Gospel, is the organization of a church whose interests are so violently at war with the good of the people! We confess that in searching for anything apostolic in the practice of the Established Church, we meet with poor success. Thus to sustain its princely dignity, and continue its extortion in the midst of general distress, it must resort to oppression.

IV.

('

PPRESSION.-The whole system of tithes and Church rates is one of oppression. The London Times of July 25th, 1831, said: "If venality be imputed to any class of Englishmen, look not to the columns of a newspaper for your proofs, look to the Red Book, to the Reports of Parliament, to the list of pensions and sinecures, to colonial functionaries, to mercenary lords, to pamphleteering, jobbing, mitre-hunting dignitaries of the Church, to the innumerable tribe of vermin bred within the folds of that poisonous mantle which has wrapped for ages and gradually numbed the Herculean power of England." Two years after, the same paper said: "The Church of Ireland is finally one which has for centuries, in any measure of severity, of exaction, of oppression, signalized itself by more than concurrence with the tyrannical spirit of the civil government. It is felt at once to be a weight upon the country, and a degradation."

The Church arrogates to herself the control of the Universities, where a son of a Dissenter is forbidden to enter; because he cannot subscribe to the Thirty-nine Articles, he must be shut

INHUMANITY OF THE CHURCH.

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out of the highways of learning. The Church takes the property and the education of the land under her own control. Not satisfied with this, she claims the receptacles of the dead. A Dissenting minister is forbidden to perform the funeral rites over his own dead in the consecrated burying ground. The child that has been baptized, educated, brought to the truth by a Dissenting minister, grown up under his care, been consoled by him in sickness, and cheered by him in the last fearful hour, must die with the certainty that he will be interred by a stranger, if he wishes to sleep in the old burying-ground where his fathers rest; or (if no Dissenting burial place is near), be buried on the world's wide common by his own minister. If his friends will consent to have the hours of his bereavement embittered by the presence of one who insulted and wronged their dead while living, and treats them in their distress with scorn, then, indeed, they can bury their loved and lost one in the old churchyard. But if, as it often happens, the clergyman of the parish is a fox-hunting, wine-drinking, godless man, and the Dissenter, under the keen sense of oppression and insult, under the deeper consciousness of the man's unworthiness and heartlessness, refuses to have him minister at the burial of his child, if he would have him rest with the ashes of his ancestors

-"with pious sacrilege," a grave he must steal. And if the minister who has prayed with him-bound up his broken heart, and spoken the words of truth and earnestness to him, perform the service over the stolen burial, he is compelled to do it standing without the paling of the churchyard, while the suf fering friends listen from within. And this is the charity of the Church of Christ-these the shepherds of the flock, whose office it is, like their Great Master, "not to break the already bruised reed!" This is Christianity! The wild Indian of the wood has more humanity; the savage of the desert shows more sympathy for bereaved men. They will not invade the dead; even the jackals wait till the living have retired to their dwellings; but not so with this Church of Christ-it casts out the dead before they are interred, in the very face of the

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BENEVOLENCE OF DISSENTERS.

living, if they have not subscribed to the Thirty-nine Articles.

V.

D

pay to

ISSENTERS are obliged to sustain their own churches and clergy, and just as much to the Established Church as its own members. Hence, to obey both his conscience and the government, the Dissenter must first pay a tenth of his entire income to the establishment, besides being called on frequently for Church rates, which are taxes ostensibly levied for keeping churches in repair and erecting new ones, to the extent of several millions per annum; and finally, he must erect his own chapel and support his own minister. It is no small compliment to the Dissenters to say, that in addition to all these expenses, they raise more to support missionaries abroad, and benevolent enterprises at home, than the churchmen of England. The author of the Natural History of Enthusiasm, passes upon them the following just tribute of admiration: "The sums yearly raised by Dissenters for benevolent objects, reflect a lustre upon England brighter than all the glory of her arms!"*

*I might here record many instances of generosity among Dissenters, illustrating this remark; I will allude to only one. I was told by two highly respectable maiden ladies, in Liverpool, that the various sums they were required to pay annually to the Church and State, amounted to $123; no inconsiderable part of this sum going into the pockets of the clergymen of the church, from whose ministrations they received not the least advantage, since they attended a Unitarian chapel. To me this seemed the more oppressive, for every shilling they were thus taxed for the Church, left them one shilling less to pay to their own minister, who devoted himself with great fidelity to his congregation. These ladies had long maintained themselves by keeping one of the most genteel boarding-houses in the upper part of the town; and although their means could not be supposed to be so ample as to admit of any large offerings to the cause of benevolence, yet I had occasion to know, that the poor who came every day to their door, were not frowned empty away; and that they contributed gener. ously to the support of their own minister. All this was done with a Christian spirit, inspiring two sisters, who stand alone in the world, to deny themselves, that they may know the luxury of doing good to others. I was sitting with

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