صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني



It often happens that Dissenters refuse to pay the taxes levied on them to support the Church, since they regard it as helping to uphold a worldly and corrupt institution. They then suffer distraint on property. Anything on which the officer can lay his hands, be it the last means of subsistence, the last comfort procured for a sick family, is taken. The distress thus caused is often very great, and such scenes are witnessed every day.

June, 1841, a man of the name of John Cockin suffered distraint on his property for refusing to pay 1s. 10d. for Easter offerings, in addition to his tithes. He declared that this was a tax never imposed on him before, and he would not pay it. The warrant for attaching his goods, process and all, swelled the amount to 118. 10d., which the magistrates took in dried bacon. This was done by the agent of the Vicar of Almondbury, Rev. Lewis Jones.

The claims of the Church are never outlawed, although not enforced for years before. Unless they can be shown to have been abolished before the year 1180, they can be enforced with the certainty of being collected. Thus any titheable property, that has been suffered to go exempt for a long period, can be subjected to the tax when the clergyman pleases. These clergymen cannot even pay for the washing of their own surplices-the poor Dissenting minister, himself, is equally subjected to all these taxes with his own people.*

them one morning, as a friend entered to solicit charity for a family in distress; what they had was freely given. After the person was gone, they spoke of the trials to their feelings they often experienced, of not being able to select for themselves the objects of their benevolence, rather than have those objects dictated by ecclesiastical law.

* Colton tells a story of a rector, who one morning made, what he professed to be, a friendly call upon a Dissenting clergyman who happened to reside in his own parish. The Dissenter was pleased to receive the call, since he hoped from the bland address of the rector, that he designed to open friendly inter course with him, which had never before been extended, although he had lived for years in his immediate neighborhood. The Dissenter showed him his grounds, and took great pleasure in displaying his little premises and giving





CTOBER 1, 1841: "The Norwich Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts," Lord Wodehouse in the chair, was broken up by a Chartist mob. As one of the clergy stepped forth to appease the tumult, he was hailed with the shout, "we want more bread and fewer priests."

In that shout was manifested the prevailing spirit of the mass of the English nation, towards an institution which, for ages, has over-shadowed the people with its magnificence and oppression. Everywhere in Christendom, the people are beginning to discover that they have long been robbed of the choicest gifts of heaven. That not only have they been made uncomplainingly to surrender the fruits of the earth to the tyrannical grasp of power, but that Christianity itself, the kindest and best provision heaven has ever made for the souls of men, has been turned into an instrument for his more complete degradation. The poor of England hate the Church of England. Its magnificent churches and cathedrals are left vacant, and while the

[ocr errors]

him a history of his improvements. There is about half an acre as you see," said the Dissenting minister; "half of it is ornamented, where I take pleasure with my thirteen children, and the other half furnishes vegetables to feed them. You would hardly believe it, but this little patch, under the culture of my own hands, goes a great way towards supplying the table of my numerous family.”

Indeed, sir. And how many years has it been so productive?" Some half a dozen or more." The vicar confessed himself greatly pleased, and having ascertained all he came there to know, withdrew, wishing his Dissenting brother a "good morning."

Now for the result! Immediately after, the rector's steward sent to the Dissenter's study a bill for tithes on the little garden of £6, or nearly $30 per year, for six years previous, and the same for the then current year, amounting in all to $200. The rector was a single man, and had a large salary. The Dissenting clergyman had a family of thirteen children, and a small congregation, who could afford him with the greatest economy but a slender support. But the tyranny of the English Church is such, there was no relief for the outraged man. To pay this large bill, swept away every comfort he had gathered around him, and reduced his cheerful family to want and sorrow. this is "Apostolical !"

And yet

[ocr errors]




jewelled priests minister at the altars, humble dissenting chapels are crowded. In the time of our Saviour the rich were the enemies of the Church-the poor now; the titled and the luxurious are its advocates and supporters, and the lower classes its antagonists.


It may be well to inquire into the cause of this growing hatred of the poor towards the Established Church; why it is that "more than one-half of the whole number of those who profess serious religion" (Dr. John Pye Smith) prefer to withdraw from the establishment, and worship within humble chapels, while they not only bear the burden of maintaining their own services, but are just as heavily taxed to support the Church of England as her own members. Why it is, that dissenters are continually and more rapidly increasing in power, wealth and influence; why it is, then, when the bishop dashes by with his gorgeous equipage, the starving wretch, as he shakes the dust of the chariot from his tattered garments, murmurs to himself," this splendor costs the sweat and toil and famine of me and my brethren." Why is all this?" "There is a reason for it somewhere." Christ came to the poor. The neglected multitude, the starving widow, the abandoned leper, were his associates. The haughty priests shook their mitred heads at him, and called him a friend of publicans and sinners. The elevation of the mass was the grand design of the Saviour and his religion he came to heal the broken-hearted-to preach deliverance to the captive. Ancient philosophers and heathen priests had passed unheeded by the lowly dwellings of the poor and forsaken, but the Son of God proclaimed himself the restorer, the comforter, the brother of all earth's neglected children. Feeling that their deliverer had at last come, they crowded around him, caught hold of his garments, pressed upon him in his retirement, and wept at his feet, as the Gospel with its new and abundant consolations was spoken in their ears.

All this is felt by the despised and depressed classes, and if they have read their Bible, or heard its truth preached, how can they help contrasting "The MAN of sorrows," "The FRIEND



of the poor," as he wandered in poverty through the valleys of Canaan, seeking out the dwellings of the suffering, satisfied with the shelter that covered them from the storm, if he could pour light and consolation into their souls-with the proud prelate, who rolls up in his stately coach to the House of Lords to vote against reform, or to the doors of the massive cathedral, where, once a year, he tells the few noble hearers gathered there from the fox-chase, that the Dissenters are very great sinners-that the Corn Laws are a great blessing to the country, particularly to the poor; and that he (the speaker) can trace back the office of bishop in one unbroken chain to the chair of St. Peter. It would be strange if the poor should not institute the comparison-it would be still stranger if they should see much resemblance between the carpenter's son with his twelve fishermen, and the Primate of all England with his princely bishops.*

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

* To the poor of England, as the depressed and neglected multitude, the Established Church does not preach the Gospel. Within its pale little provision is made for them. They feel this, and they feel it deeply. So apparent is all this to casual observers, that foreigners often speak of the absence of the poor from the churches. In M. Leon Faucher's Etudes sur l'Angleterre, the author, a late minister of State in France, says: "Place yourself on Sunday, in the midst of Bridgate Street in Leeds, of Mosely Street in Manchester, of Lord Street, or Dale Street, in Liverpool; what are the families whom you see, walking to the churches silently and gravely? It is not possible to deceive oneself; they belong almost exclusively to the middle classes. The operatives remain on their doorsteps, where they collect in groups, until the services in the churches being concluded, the taverns will open. Religion is presented to them with so sombre an aspect and with such hard features-she affects so well not to appeal either to the senses, or to the imagination, or to the heart-that it ought not to be a matter of surprise if she remain the patrimony and the privilege of the rich."

Mr. Kay, in speaking of the neglect of the religious education of the poor, says: We want a class of clergy who could enter daily into the lowest haunts without disgust, and with whom the poor could converse daily without shyness or fear, and to whom they might relate their troubles without difficulty, and with a certainty of being understood and of meeting with sympathy.

"The greatest part of the poor of our towns are now never visited by a religious minister, or are visited so seldom, that the minister always enters as a





YHRISTIANITY is the purest democracy on earth. Man as a living soul, and not as a noble or a king, receives its attention. It seeks the greatest happiness of the greatest num

stranger. Even when the poor man is visited by a clergyman, it is by a man of so strangely different a rank of life, that the poor man knows his clergyman cannot comprehend his peculiar wants or difficulties. The clergyman is, therefore, received with shyness, and with the constraint which the visit of a great and wealthy man always inspires in the house of a poor and humble one. As the operatives in Lancashire are in the habit of saying, “there is no Church in England for the poor; there is only a Church for the rich."

"How seldom, too, in the course of a year, are the poor of the cellars, garrets, or lodging-houses of the towns, visited by any religious minister! How often are these poor creatures never visited at all! And yet, how else is religion to be spread among the masses of our town poor? Sermons will not do it. Constant personal intercourse between the ministers of the Church and the poor can alone succeed in effecting this result. That intercourse under the existing state of things is often quite impossible. The number of clergy is too small. The social rank of the clergy is too much removed above that of the poor. Another class of clergy is required. Most of the town churches, too, are virtually closed to the poor. Go into the churches and see how little room is reserved for the poor. It is as if the churches were built exclusively for the rich; and as if the English Church thought it was of much less importance, that the poor should enjoy the consolations of religious worship, than that the rich should do so. In the Roman churches, there are no closed pews and reserved places. In their churches all men are treated as equals in the sight of their God. In the Roman churches, the poor are welcomed with an eagerness, which seems to say-the church was meant especially for such as you; and in the Roman Church, many of the priests are chosen from the body of the poor, in order that the ministers of religious consolation may be able the better to understand the religious wants of their poor brethren.*


Let the English Church take warning. In these democratic days we want In illustration of this, I quote from the Roman Catholic Directory for 1865, to show how rapidly the Catholic Church is gaining in Great Britain.

"The issue of the Roman Catholic Directory for 1965, under the authority of the late Cardinal Wiseman, gives a concise view of the progress of the Church of Rome in England and Scotland during the past year, and especially its progress in London. The ecclesiastical staff immediately under Cardinal Wiseman, numbers no fewer than one thousand, three bundred and thirty eight priests (including seventeen bishops) for England, and one hundred and eightythree priests for Scotland, (including four bishops) making a total for Great Britain of one thousand, five hundred and twenty-one priests. There is thus an increase during the year of no fewer than seventy-one priests in England, and five in Scotland-in all, seventy-six. In Eng

« السابقةمتابعة »