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superior learning, of greater talents, but I have been resolved that you shall have none who will be more devoted to the cause, who will serve you more faithfully, or with greater zeal. ".
tution was first established. If, then, it was regarded as an experiment, it has long ceased to be so regarded; it has long been well established, and may now be regarded as a parent institution, others having sprung from it, in certain districts; and I ardently wish that its children may rise up in every district of the kingdom, to aid and be aided by, and act in concert with their venerable parent, the London Unitarian Fund. I bless heaven, Sir, that I have had strength to go on in its service until it is so well established, and has produced such important effects." Mr. W. then referred to the new aspect which Unitarianism has assumed during the last few years, to the new churches which have been formed, many of them consisting of the poor and unlearned, and stated as facts, which had been proved by the operations of the Fund, and of which he had witnessed the proof, that Unitarianism is capable of being, and now is in many places, the religion of the poor and unlearned, and his full conviction, that of all religious systems it is eminently calculated to be the religion of those despised and numerous classes, as being perfectly level with their capacity, containing a provision for their moral and spiritual wants, and requiring nothing but what they are capable of doing; that Unitarians can no longer be charged with dwelling in the frigid zone of Christianity, with being without zeal; and that he had seen its efficacy in destroying bigotry and producing Christian charity. He expressed his deep regret in having been compelled by increasing years and infirmities to withdraw from an office in which he experienced the purest pleasure; but that though he retired from the field, before the conflict with error, superstition and bigotry was concluded, it was not till the victory was ensured; and with the determination that if the enemy assailed his quarters, they should find him still in his armour and ready to renew the contest with all the strength he had remaining. This led him to mention the controversy in which he is now engaged, having been attacked by a Calvinist minister Trowbridge. In which controversy he stated, that one important point is ascertained, i. e. that though the Unitarian doctrine can be expressed in the words of scripture without addition or comment, the Trinitarian doctrine is acknowledged by his opponent to be incapable of being so expressed. Mr. W. distinctly expressed the obligatious he felt to the successive Committees and officers of the Unitarian Fund, and concluded with saying, "You may have missionaries of stances will enable him to do it.
The next day, Thursday the 22d, the first stone was laid of the new Finsbury Unitarian Chapel, when Mr. Fox delivered an address, of which, as well as of the ceremony, we hope to be favoured with
On the same day was held the Anniversary of the Unitarian Association, when an interesting Report was read, which, together with the Resolutions, will be found attached in a separate form to this number.
Protestant Society for the protection of Religious Liberty.
The Twelfth Anniversary Meeting of the Protestant Society for the Protection day, May 17th, at the City of London of Religious Liberty was held on SaturTavern, Lord DACRE in the Chair.
fatory observations, requested Mr. Pellatt, The Chairman, having made a few preSociety, to read the proceedings of the one of the honorary Secretaries of the Committee since the last General Meeting, which being done,
Secretary, rose to address the Meeting. Mr. JOHN WILKS, the other honorary He thanked them for their attention to his former hints at preceding anniversaries, and after alluding to some congregational disputes at Amersham aud Guildford, related the results of some proceedings which were pending at the last meeting. He then entered upon the circumstances for the present year; and first, according to custom, he would advert to the subject of pecuniary demands. turnpike tolls, a new act had been passed since their last anniversary, introduced by Mr. Frankland Lewis. By this act, 3d Geo. IV. chap. 126, sect. 32, it was enacted, that no tolls should be taken "of or from any person or persons going proper parochial church or chapel, or of to or returning from his, her, or their or from any other person or persons going to, or returning from his, her, or their usual place of religious worship tolerated which divine service is by authority orby law, on Sundays, or on any day on dered to be celebrated." By sect. 53, a penalty, not exceeding £5 is enacted for demanding a toll from persons exempt;
* We learn that Mr. W. intends publishing a Review of his Missionary life and labours at as early a period as circum
no appeal is allowed, unless the penalty exceed forty shillings. On this subject the Committee had had several applications, and in several instances the imposition of tolls had been successfully resisted. Success was of importance not as a mere pecuniary relief. There was nothing small or narrow connected with the principle on which they contended for exemption. The object was to preserve the rights and equality of the Dissenters. As to the next branch of pecuniary demands, those for assessed taxes, he repeated that neither chapels nor school-rooms could be rendered liable if no emolument proceeded from them. A demand of poor and highway rates had been made upon Mr. Hallett, of Caple, near Ross. In some cases the Committee had advised the parties how to conduct their appeal against these impositions. After adverting to the case of the Rev. W. Roby, of Manchester, the worthy Secretary proceeded to the subject of Easter Offerings. The most prominent and important case of this nature, was that of Mr. Peter Watson, shoemaker, of New. castle-upon-Tyne, who had been imprisoned for contempt of the Ecclesiastical Court, arising out of a demand for Easter Offerings. That was a case of striking and singular oppression. As to demauds, partly pecuniary, the first he should notice was that communicated by the Rev. J. Fletcher, relative to the students of the academy at Blackburn, who had been drawn for the militia. The opinions of the Attorney and Solicitor-General had been taken as to that case. There were instances in which parochial relief had been withdrawn because its unhappy objects had dared to dissent in opinion from the Church. A pauper, named Mary Stovell, who, with her three children, had received 7s. 6d. weekly from her parish, had had her allowance discontinued; though, after some trouble, it had been again granted. An applica tion had been made by Mr. J. G. Pike, of Derby, respecting the validity of the registry of baptisms. That was a subject of the highest importance. From the Rev. Mason Anderson, of Sandwich, they learned that restrictive orders had been given by the governors of hospitals as to the admission of Dissenters. It was, however, expected that these orders would soon be withdrawn. The Rev. J. Paice, of Horncastle, stated that refusals had been given to admit the children of Dissenters to the grammar school.-After speaking of the Bethel Union, and the restrictions on the attendance of soldiers at divine worship, the worthy Secretary proceeded to narrate a case which had occurred at Syden
ham, near Thame, in Oxfordshire, which displayed the meanness and malice by which Dissenting Ministers were not unfrequently annoyed. After some unsuccessful endeavours to drive away a minister who was preaching there, the friends of the Rector had had recourse to their dernier resort. They went to the publican at whose house the preacher was remaining, and threatened him that if he did not "reject the Methodist," they would refuse to sign for his license at the next sessions. Another person, at whose house the preacher was allowed to speak, was promised a pound note, if he would turn him out of his house. The preaching was accordingly discontinued there, but the man never received his one pound note. In some places, it seemed, by the Rev. Mr. Dagley, of Chapel-end, that clauses were introduced, by which Dissenters were excluded from becoming members of benefit societies. He was sure it was only necessary to mention this circumstance, considering the general intelligence of the magistrates of quarter sessions, to have the odious restrictions removed. He would now allude to the riots and disturbances by which Dissenting places of worship had been annoyed. He would first call their attention to the case of Mr. Elias Jackson, of Ickford, in Oxfordshire, whose life had been put in danger; but in consequence of a prosecution against the offender, which had been settled, he now worshiped in peace. At Corfe Mulien, near Poole, a disturbance had taken place in the meeting-house of the Rev. J. Shoveller and in this case it was his (Mr. W.'s) duty to say, that Mr. Bankes, the Member for Corfe Castle, had not acted in the manner in which it was to have been hoped a man would have acted who made such professions of liberality. Though the disturbance took place while the congregation were assembled in the place of meeting, yet, because the preacher had not actually commenced preaching, Mr. Bankes, before whom the case was heard, dismissed the complaint, and refused the redress which the law provided. While our county Members were supposed to speak the sense of all classes of their constituents, to whatever religious denomination they might belong, he (Mr. W.) had no hesitation in avowing that he felt glad that Mr. Bankes was not elected for Dorsetshire and he hoped if that Honourable Gentleman presented himself again as a candidate, that the Protestant Dissenters would not forget to be true to themselves and to their country, in rejecting his pretensions. At Bradfield, near Bury, and at Canterbury, some circumstances had occurred extremely in
license had been recorded at the sessions, as well as registered in the ecclesiastical tribunal. On failure of this proof, one of these justices told the complainants, "You have no right to redress. You were illegally assembled; and if you assemble again I will interfere myself, and commit you to prison." What were the consequences of this determination? That 500 or 600 persons inoffensively, if not laudably assembled, were to be exposed to the outrages of a disorderly multitude. If the doctrine of the Bury Sessions were correct, there was not a place of meeting in England duly licensed. They were required by law to register their places of meeting, and to hold their meetings open, that under pretence of religion they might not carry on factious designs. It was not in their power to coutroul the registrar or clerk of the peace; and if the law required them to exchange annually, the consequence must be, that for eleven months and three weeks in every year they must be not legally registered. In the opinion of the Solicitor-General, who had been consulted, the Dissenters had fulfilled all the law required of them, when they certified their places of meeting in the Ecclesiastical Court, and it followed that the power exercised in the cases at Bury and Canterbury, was illegal and unjust. The opinion of the Solicitor-General had also been taken as to the outrage at Canterbury. He said, "upon the facts as stated in the case, I strongly recommend a prosecution. Outrages of this nature ought not to be allowed to pass unpu nished." At Canterbury, however, a jury was returned pretty much to the mind of those who were against the prosecution. The prosecutors attended at the hazard of their lives. Stones were thrown at them, and it was evident that the fury of their enemies was such, that if martyrdom had been necessary, it would have been resorted to in support of their right to persecute their fellow-christians for worshiping God after the dictates of their own conscience. A bill of indictment was found against seven of the rioters under circumstances similar to those which have excited the attention of the Legislature to our sister island. At Southam, in Warwickshire, there had been another case of disturbance, and there also redress had been refused, but on another pretext; a good woman there thought she could best learn her religious duties by attending a meeting-house; her husband went after her, violently assaulted her, and dragged her away. In consequence of this disturbance to the congregation, an application was made
portant. At Bradfield a disturbance was
Sessions, and on the authority of that to a neighbouring magistrate. The man decision, they required proof that the was summoned, but, on hearing the case,
the magistrate dismissed the complaint, on the ground that he had only incidentally disturbed the congregation, and that he had an unquestionable right to prevent his wife from attending the meeting. At Anglesea this doctrine had been carried to a greater extent: a man was indignant that his wife should attend a place of worship of which he did not approve. He declared, therefore, that if she went any more, he would break all the windows of the meeting-house, and would besides do some act that should astonish and surprise them. He did not mind going to prison so as he had his revenge on the Methodists. At the next meeting the wife attended, and her feelings being excited by the enthusiasm of the preacher, she was led to exclaim, "Praised be the Lord!" The husband seized upon her, and began to drag her out; the woman fainted, and the whole assembly was thrown into a state of alarm and agitation. The man meanwhile persevered in his brutal attempt to drag his wife away. Her neckerchief was loosened in the struggle, and she was almost strangled in the face of the congregation. This man was brought before the quarter sessions, and there also the question occurred, what was the proof of registration? On this occasion the certificate had been left with the Bishop of Bangor, and it happened that no book was kept in the diocese. Though the original certificate was produced, it was held by the Chairman that a book must be produced, and in the absence of a book, the place, in his judgment, was illegal, and the indictment could not be sustained. The Chairman ac ded, that it was "an unlawful act against the law of God and of his country, to allow a man's wife to become a member of a society against the will of her husband, and that he had a right to prevent his wife from attending it." The jury, however, felt as men, and as Welshmen too. They acted on their own judgments of right and wrong, and returned a verdict of guilty. The Chairman refused to pass sentence upon the offender. He was persuaded the verdict was contrary to law, and he discharged the defendant, on finding bail to appear hereafter. In consequence of this decision, a panic pervaded all the cottages in that neighbourhood. They had entreated to know what was the law. They had begged for some message to cheer their drooping spirits, and fortify their sinking resolution. The Committee had prepared a case, and taken the opinion of eminent counsel, who stated distinctly that the verdict was correct, and that on a mandamus the Chairman would be compelled to do his duty of passing sen-' tence on the defendant.He now came
to the subject of refusals to bury and marry. At Swansea, Mr. Philip Richard, a Baptist minister, complained of the Rev. Henry Williams, curate of Llangevelach, for refusing to bury his child. Such was the law. Lay baptism was not sufficient to entitle its receivers to burial in the parochial ground. It was a foul blot on the law, and he trusted it would soon be removed, and Baptists and Dissenters put in possession of the right of being buried in the general place of se. pulture. At Beaminster the clergyman had refused to admit the corpses of his parishioners into the churchyard. At Merthyr Tydvil, in Wales, the children of Baptists were refused marriage unless they submitted again to go through the ceremony of baptism. While Dissenters were bound to be married at Church, which he trusted would not be long, how improper was it that additional obstacles should thus be raised! From Neath, in Glamorganshire, the Rev. John Thomas, a Baptist minister, had written to the Committee to express his apprehensions as to the refusal of marriage there to Baptists, unless they submitted to baptism at the hands of the Established Clergy. One man, who had been twice baptized, was refused to be married unless he would submit to a third baptism, This man had been sprinkled in his infancy. When an adult, he was baptized afresh by immersion. It was in vain that he told the Welsh clergyman of his double baptism. The clergyman was inexorable. He replied, "I cannot look upon you as a Christian, unless I baptize you again." And so, for the third time, rather than delay the blessings of matrimony, he again submitted, and was sprinkled afresh. He now approached a subject attended with some difficultythat of out-door preaching. At Buruham, in Norfolk, the magistrates had been troubled by a great number of itinerant preachers. These persons contended they had a right to preach wherever they pleased. Archdeacon Bathurst, the worthy son of a worthy father, had been in particular annoyed by some of these itinerant preachers. They preached opposite to his parsonage-house, and at the door of his Church while service was going on, as if they could exercise their duties nowhere else. As a magistrate, the Archdeacon committed them to prison, but at the quarter sessions he interfered on their behalf, and obtained their discharge. He (Mr. W.) would not say it was proper always to abstain from out door preaching, but preaching in a street or highway was certainly improper, If a right could exist which could be exerted without any regard to propriety, it must follow that there was a right to
gather round every door in Cheapside a multitude engaged in discussing every variety of topics. Such was not the law. Such could not be the law. If above twenty persons were collected in any uncertified place, they were liable to a certain penalty. If any person chose to certify a field, which was not a highway or thoroughfare, the question of the legality of the certification was not settled. The Committee would endeavour to ascertain how the law applied to that kind of certification. If in any instance persons had offended against the law by outdoor preaching, it should be remembered that they had offended indiscreetly, enthusiastically, somewhat intemperately perhaps, but beyond doubt holily. At Peterborough, a prebendary of the Cathedral, who was a magistrate also, directed Mr. Charles Thorpe, of that town, to be taken into custody for exhorting a few persons at the threshold of a friend. At the village of Benefield, near Oundle, James Horner, an itinerant preacher, was taken into custody by order of the vicar and magistrate there; when Horner was brought before this Reverend Gentleman, he asked, "Is this the fellow? Come, I want none of your talk about souls." Horner was then committed under the new Vagrant Act. He was sent to gaol without a warrant, though bail was of fered to the amount of £500. Afterwards he was released and suffered to depart without molestation. This was a subject of considerable delicacy. While he (Mr. W.) was prepared to censure any indiscreet indulgence in the practice, he was not prepared to give up the right altogether, and especially when he found it strenuously maintained by some of the best and wisest champions of popular rights. He referred particularly to the well-known case of William Penn, the distinguished member of that excellent, benevolent and pious sect, the Society of Friends, who, in all works of utility and philanthropy, were ever active and foremost. Penn was tried in 1670, for preaching in Gracechurch Street, and he published his trial under the title of "The People's Ancient and Just Liberties asserted." On this trial the Recorder, and the Chaplain of the Archbishop of Canterbury, expressed sentiments which singularly accorded with some now entertained by persons whom he would not name. The Recorder said, "the Spanish Inquisition was excellent, as a good way to prevent schism." And the Chaplain said, "that it would be less injurious to the Government to dispense with profane and loose persous than to allow a toleration to Protestant Dissenters." On looking abroad at the condition of Dissenters, he saw the same scenes acting elsewhere. At Montreal, in Lower Ca
nada, the Dissenters suffered from precisely the same measures of which that society complained. The majority of the inhabitants were Catholics; but though Catholics, Episcopalians and Presbyteriaus, legally exercised the rights of baptizing, marrying and burying, yet Dissenters of all denominations were denied them. Lord Dalhousie, the governor, though friendlily inclined towards the Dissenters, had no power against the court of appeal, of which the Bishop of Quebec was the head. Of the Protestant inhabitants only 2-15ths were Episcopalians, so that 13-15ths were degraded and oppressed.-He now came to review the general state of religious freedom in the British dominions. In the first place, there was much wanted some more explicit declaration of the Toleration Act. That was of pre-eminent and universal importance. In the next place, it was necessary that their Baptist friends should be protected. There was great propriety in requiring that Dissenting ministers should have authority to celebrate marriage. This power was possessed by the Quakers, than whom a more domestic, pious, or happy people did not exist. It was also enjoyed by the Jews, that long persecuted, but, he hoped, now reviving people. In Ireland, Dissenting Ministers generally had the right, and in Scotland also; why then should it be denied to them in England, where, indeed, it was once possessed? During the commonwealth marriages were rendered legally only a civil contract. Upon the Catholics of England the evil pressed with peculiar hardship. With them marriage was a sacrament, and could be celebrated only by their priests. The consequence was, that all their marriages were unlawful, and their children illegitimate. By law they were as separate and disunited as the most perfect strangers. No tie of kindred, no bond of blood could unite them. If this object-the celebration of marriage by Dissenting ministers-were sought with temper and firmness, he did not believe it would be refused. The next object was to validate the registration of baptisms. The Court of Chancery had decided lately, that a registration of baptism, on Dr. Williams's plan, was not a matter of record. Their places of meeting ought to be exempted from assessment, whether in parochial rates or king's taxes; and, lastly, the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts was an object of all others to be desired. They were not to be satisfied with an annual Indemnity Act, by which they were pardoned for offences they had never committed. No: they claimed to stand with all their fellow-subjects on the broad and equal basis of the law. Looking at the whole state of the world, he would