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ART. VI.- A Letter to Lord John Russell, M.P., on the Abo

lition of Church-Rates, the Cost of Parliamentary Bishops, and the Appropriation of Cathedral and Episcopal Property. By Richard MOORSOM, Esq. 8vo. London: 1837.

Te have placed the title of Mr Moorsom's pamphlet at the

person who suggested the plan brought forward by the Government, for settling the question of Church-Rates, by providing another fund from which the expense of keeping in repair the churches of the Establishment might be supplied. He states his proposal very distinctly, and urges it with much ability. In some of his opinions we may not concur, but whoever approved of the Ministerial plan must give a general assent to his doctrine; for the two schemes differ not at all in principle, although there is a considerable diversity in the extent to which the principle should be carried. We shall afterwards give the outline of his plan in his own words.

Few questions, certainly, have occurred of late years more calculated to engage the feelings of the country than this of churchrates. Independently of its bearing upon the political contests of the day, and the consequent interest which it excited among the different parties that divide the people, it connected itself with the great question of an Established Church, and could hardly be discussed without bringing into the field alınost all the principles upon which that question must be decided. Indeed, considered in one point of view, the two questions are identical. Whoever denies that the State ought to support one sect in preference to all others, must deny that any portion of the public revenue, in whatever way raised-any portion of public property, from whatever source derived-ought to be applied towards repairing churches, or defraying the expense of such service. But it does not necessarily follow that he who maintains the expediency of a church establishment must also hold that those expenses should be defrayed by the State; because he may think it sufficient for the State to support the ministers, and leave the congregations to repair the churches. If, indeed, he argues that the provision already set apart for supporting the ministers is sufficient to repair the churches, we shall presently find that this view resolves itself into the support of the Church out of the public funds; and therefore he is plainly arguing as the advocate of an Establishment: but, on the other hand, by throwing any portion of the charge upon the members of the Established Church

exclusively, he is taking the opposite side of the question; and thus he cannot be said to hold as consistently by either doctrine as those do who, on the one side, maintain that the whole costs of the Establishment should be provided by the whole community, and, on the other side, hold that each sect should support its own church service. It is necessary that we should first state the facts connected with this subject, some of which are matter of dispute; but others, and those the most important, cannot be questioned at all.

The sum raised yearly by church-rates amounts to near L.600,000. This is expended in the repair of the fabric, in providing books, vestments, and other things necessary for the performance of the service, and in some things which are matters of accommodation and comfort, and some which are mere ornament and luxury, for those who frequent the church. It is not estimated that above L.250,000 a-year would be required for defraying all that part of the expenditure which is necessary—that is, for keeping the churches in repair, and decently performing the service. At present much of the expense is unnecessary, and that in two ways. First, there are many things paid for which ought not to be paid for at all, as ornaments of different kinds, and music beyond what is needful; secondly, there is so little control over the expenditure, so imperfect an audit of accounts, that much more is paid than the price of what is got for the

money. Those great abuses are almost entirely confined to the towns ; but they have been unquestionably the principal causes of the resistance to the rates.

Having mentioned Church Music, we must be allowed, in passing, to say a word or two on that subject. In this Presbyterian country there are objections to all instrumental music as part of the church service-objections of a religious nature, and into these we do not enter. But we think one consideration deserves the attention of our southern neighbours, and that in reforming their Establishment they would do well to bear it in mind. The great object is usually to make the congregation join in singing to the praise of God. This, indeed, is not only the thing in view upon religious grounds, but as a matter of taste and feeling; for nothing can be more sweet, or more touching, than the chant of a whole assembled congregation. Even when they d not sing in parts, but all sound the same notes, there is an effec produced by the concert which the finest singing of a few voices never can reach. Now, there is no more certain way of preventing the congregation from joining than to have a Band or Choir. All else become mere listeners : the artists only are the perform

But an organ alone has this effect, unless it is a very small and feeble one, little more than enough to give the pitch, or lo be a slight accompaniment; and then it is really useless, not to say somewhat ridiculous. There are obvious reasons, however, why it will always keep its place in the cathedrals and large churches of England. There are none to make us in Scotland regret having expelled it. The improvement of our sacred music deserves and has often received the attention of those intrusted with the superintendence of ecclesiastical matters amongst us. But they are not likely—even they who have of late become so fond of imitating the hierarchy across the Tweed, for which some appear to sigh-are not likely to risk the destruction of our simple vocal system by any attempt at restoring the organ.


The sums levied for these expenses of church repair and service, are raised in each parish by the votes of the parishioners, in vestry assembled. When a rate is thus voted, it may be collected by the parish officers, and the law will compel payment: of this there is no doubt. But whether or not the parish can be compelled to make a rale, is a question at present in dispute among the lawyers of Westminster Hall. Into this controversy it is quite unnecessary to enter; because it is admitted on all bands that the remedy is so doubtful, and so full of difficulty, as to have deterred those interested from having recourse to it. Rales have been repeatedly refused; and no application has been made to any of the courts in order to coerce the vestry, or to arm the churchwardens with power to levy at once. This indicates a full persuasion on the part of those interested, and of their legal advisers, either that such an application to the courts would be in vain, or that if it were granted, and the process issued, the resistance would be insuperable. This, in fact, is the practical considerationwhat are the kind of places where the rate is refused ? Not country parishes, but large and populous towns. Take one instance. In Manchester a rate was relused, after five days' poll, by a majority of 11,000 to about 4000 of the vestry. A scrutiny was demanded, and the majority was found to be in favour of the rate. But no attempt was made to levy it, although there is no question at all that the law would have compelled the inhabitants to pay. This happened in 1834, and the same thing took place the

year besore. Now, is the church-wardens did not venture to enforce the rate laid by the vestry when the law was clearly with them, and its process was at their service, it is quite clear that had the majority been against them, they never would have dreamt of applying to the courts; because, after undergoing all the expense of the litigation, and running all the risk of failing, they would only have been in the position of obtaining a remedy which they could not venture to use. No one, indeed, doubts

that, were any attempt made to enforce a rale to which there was a general repugnance, so many persons would suffer their goods to be seized that no sale could be effected, and the whole operation would become impracticable.

We may, therefore, assume that some change in the law is absolutely necessary, in order to enforce the payment of the rate; and it seems equally clear, that unless all men's minds are brought to regard the subject with more favour than it now: generally finds, no law can be executed, even were it possible for any to be passed, which shall force those to pay for the repair and the service of the churches, who do not agree with the Establishment in their religious opinions. The question has become one of conscience among all, or nearly all, the Dissenters. They care not for the amount demanded, be it ever so trifling; they regard the payment as a violence done to their religious principles and feelings; as such, they seek to be protected against it; and, as such, they are prepared to offer it the passive resistance of suffering payment to be enforced by a process which cannot, in most cases, be executed with effect.

This is so decisive that there hardly seems any occasion for entering into further details upon this part of the question. Yet it

may be well to mention one or two particulars in illustration of the necessity for some other change in the law, than merely removing the doubts which exist, whether or not church-rates may be compulsorily levied. No one has been bold enough to recommend that the vestry should be passed by entirely, and the church-wardens authorized to lay a rate at once, and levy it without any interposition of the parishioners. Then yearly contention is quite inevitable, and scenes of necessity take place utterly destructive of all harmony in the community; nay, grossly outraging the religious feelings of its members. It appears that in Sheffield this contention began twenty years ago. Attempts were made annually to obtain a vote of the vestry. As osten as the meeting was called, a violent struggle ensued, and an adjournment was carried. In 1822 there was a scene of personal violence, occasioned by the contest which party should occupy the chair of the meeting, and the rate was refused. In 1824, tired of only postponing the question, and thus getting rid of it rather than deciding it, the opponents of the rate carried a resolution against it, on the ground of its injustice.' Since that time no attempt has been made to obtain the rate; and thus all this violence, and all these unseemly conflicts, have ended in its extinction. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, who stated this fact in the House of Commons, mentioned also the case of a parish in Yorkshire, where a rate of 2s. 9d. being laid, a gentleman




disputed its legality, carried the question into court, had a decision against him, and paid L.250 costs; but no rate has ever been granted in that parish since. It is, however, from Lord Stanley, rather than from Mr Rice, that we choose to borrow the language in which such things may fitly be described :—Suppose' (said that noble Lord, in 1834, with equal eloquence and truth) that

year after year the Church should be triumphant in maintaining the payment of these rates to the uttermost farthing, and ' in maintaining every abuse connected with their collection and

distribution, do you think that such a course of proceeding * would be advantageous to the interests of the Church, or lead to • the promotion of true religion? Consider the heart-burnings, the - acrimonious revilings, the constant quarrels, the jealousies, the

recrimination, the profanation of the church itseli, where these • meetings take place, by which, year after year, the cause of 'true religion is violated and profaned, the house of God dese* crated, and the very worst possible feelings excited among the • majority of the people at large. I say that such a state of things • imperatively calls for relief.' (Mirror of Parliament, II. 1167.)

Something else must therefore be done than enabling the existing law to be enforced; and something in a very different direction. Let us consider the objection to the rate, and see on what it is grounded, and how any other method of providing for the expense can be devised, so as to be free from that objection.

The Dissenters are not certainly the only persons who object to the rate. All who deny that there should be any preference given by the state to one sect over others, of course object to any public provision for the repair or service of churches. But the Dissenters, whether they object to an Establishment or not, hold that they may consistently object to the rate; because they are thereby compelled, say they, to support a Church of whose doctrines they disapprove. Thus, an attempt has been made to show that a Dissenter may be friendly to the existence of an Establishment, and yet hold it a violation of his religious liberty to make him pay for maintaining it. This, we own, does appear to us extremely absurd. That any one, Dissenter or Churchman, may most consistently agree in favour of an Establishment, and yet contend that its expenses should be paid otherwise than by rates, is quite indisputable. But that the Dissenter stands in a different relation to this question from the Churchman, unless be denies the right of the State to patronise one sect more than another, and holds it a grievance to him that any preference should be given to the Church, appears quite incomprehensible. His grievance is, that having to pay one for his own worship, of which he approves, and by which he profits, he has to pay over again

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