From: Essays on the Principles of Morality, and on the Private and Political Rights and Obligations of Mankind (1834).
Author: Jonathan Dymond
Published: Harper & Brothers 1834 Philadelphia
OF LEGAL PROVISION FOR CHRISTIAN TEACHERS.
OF VOLUNTARY PAYMENT AND OF UNPAID MINISTRY.
IF some of the observations of the present chapter are not accurately classed with political subjects, I have to offer the apology that the intimacy of their connexion with the preceding discussion appears to afford a better reason for placing them here than an adherence to system affords (or placing them elsewhere. “The substance of method is often sacrificed to the exterior show of it.”1
By one of those instances which happily are not unfrequent in the progress of human opinion from error to truth, the notion of a divine right on the part of any Christian teachers to a stated portion of the products of other men’s labours is now nearly given up.2 There was a time when the advocate of the claim would have disdained to refer for its foundation to questions of expediency or the law of the land. And he probably as little thought that the divine right would ever have been given up by its advocates, as his successors now think that they have fallacious grounds in reasoning upon public utility. Thus it is that the labours of our predecessors in the cause of Christian purity have taken a large portion of labour out of our hands. They carried the outworks of the citadel; and while its defenders have retired to some inner strong-hold, it becomes the business of our day to essay the firmness of its walls. The writer of these pages may essay them in vain; but he doubts not that before some power their defenders, as they have hitherto retired, will continue to retire, until the whole fortress is abandoned. Abandoned to the enemy? On no—He is the friend of a Christian community, who induces Christian principles into its practice.
In considering the evidence which Christianity affords respecting the lawfulness of making a legal provision for one Christian church, I would not refer to those passages of Scripture which appear to bear upon the question whether Christian ministrations should be absolutely free: partly, because I can add nothing to the often-urged tendency of those passages, and partly because they do not all concern the question of legal provision. The man who thinks Christianity requires that those who labour in the gospel should live of the gospel, does not therefore think that a legal provision should be made for the ministers of one exclusive church.
One thing seems perfectly clear—that to receive from their hearers and from those who heard them not a compulsory payment for their preaching, is totally alien to all the practices of the apostles and to the whole tenor of the principles by which they were actuated. Their one single and simple motive in preaching Christianity was to obey God, to do good to man; nor do I believe that any man imagines it possible that they would have accepted of a compulsory remuneration from their own hearers, and especially from those who heard them not. We are therefore entitled to repeat the observation, that this consideration affords evidence against the moral lawfulness of instituting such compulsory payment. Why would not, and could not, the apostles have accepted such payment, except for the reason that it ought not to be enforced? No account, so far as I perceive, can be given of the matter, but that the system is contrary to the purity of Christian practice.
An English prelate writes thus: “It is a question which might admit of serious discussion, whether the majority of the members of any civil community have a right to compel all the members of it to pay towards the maintenance of a set of teachers appointed by the majority to preach a particular system of doctrines.”3 No discussion could be entertained respecting this right, except on the ground of its Christian unlawfulness. A legislature has a right to impose a general tax to support a government, whether a minority approves the tax or not; and the bishop here rightly assumes that there is an antecedent question,—whether it is morally lawful to oblige men to pay teachers whom they disapprove? It is from the want of taking this question into the account that inquirers have involved themselves in fallacious reasonings. It is not a question of the right of taxation, but of the right of the magistrate to oblige men to violate their consciences. Of those who have regarded it simply as a question of taxation, and who therefore have proceeded upon fallacious grounds, the author of “The Duties of Men in Society” is one. He says, “If a state thinks that national piety and virtue will be best promoted by consigning the whole sum raised by law to teachers of a particular description, it has the same right to adopt this measure as it would have to impose a general tax for the support of a board of physicians, should it deem that step conducive to national health.” Far other—No man’s Christian liberty is invaded, no man’s conscience is violated, by paying a tax to a board of physicians; but many a man’s religious liberty may be invaded, and many a man’s conscience may be violated, by paying for the promulgation of doctrines which he thinks Christianity condemns. Whither will the argument lead us? If a papal state thinks it will promote piety to demand contributions for the splendid celebration of an auto-da-fé, would Protestant citizens act rightly in contributing? Or would the state act rightly in demanding the contribution? Or has a Bramin state a right to impose a tax upon Christian residents to pay for the fagots of Hindoo immolations? The antecedent question in all these cases is,—Whether the immolation, and the auto-da-fé, and the system of doctrines, are consistent with Christianity. If the, are not, the citizen ought not to contribute to their practice or diffusion; and by consequence, the state ought not to compel him to contribute. Now, for the purposes of the present argument, the consistency of any set of doctrines with Christianity cannot be proved. It is to no purpose for the Unitarian to say, My system is true; nor for the Calvinist or Arminian or Episcopalian to say, My system is true. The Unitarian has no Christian right to compel me to pay him for preaching Unitarianism, nor has any religious community a right to compel the members of another to pay them for promulgating their own opinions.
If by any revolution in the religious affairs of this country, another sect was elevated to the pre-eminence, and its ministers supported by a legal provision, I believe that the ministers of the present church would think it an unreasonable and unchristian act, to compel them to pay the preachers of the new state religion. Would not a clergyman think himself aggrieved, if he were obliged to pay a Priestley, and to aid in disseminating the opinions of Priestley?—That same grievance is now inflicted upon other men. The rule is disregarded, to do as we would be done by.
Let us turn to the example of America. In America the government does not oblige its citizens to pay for the support of preachers. Those who join themselves to any particular religious community commonly contribute towards the support of its teachers, but there is no law of the state which compels it. This is as it should be. The government which obliged its citizens to pay, even if it were left to the individual to say to what class of preachers his money should be given, would act upon unsound principles. It may be that the citizen does not approve of paying ministers at all; or there may be no sect in a country with which he thinks it right to hold communion. How would the reader himself be situated in Spain perhaps, or in Turkey, or in Hindostan? Would he think it right to be obliged to encourage Juggernaut, or Mahomet, or the pope?
But passing from this consideration: it is after all said, that in our own country the individual citizen does not pay the ministers of the state religion. I am glad that this seeming paradox is advanced, because it indicates that those who advance it confess that to make them pay would be wrong. Why else should they deny it? It is said, then, that persons who pay tithes do not pay the established clergy; that tithes are property held as a person holds an estate; that if tithes were taken off, rents would advance to the same amount; that the buyer of an estate pays so much the less for it because it is subject to tithes,—and therefore that neither owner nor occupier pays any thing. This is specious, but only specious. The landholder “pays” the clergyman, just as he pays the tax-gatherer. If taxes were taken off, rents would advance just as much as if tithes were taken off; and a person may as well say that he does not pay taxes as that he does not pay tithes.—The simple fact is, that an order of clergy are, in this respect, in the same situation as the body of stockholders who live upon their dividends. They are supported by the country. The people pay the stockholder in the form of taxes, and the clergyman in the form of tithes. Suppose every clergyman in England were to leave the country to-morrow, and to cease to derive any income from it, it is manifest that the income which they now derive would be divided among those who remain,—that is, that those who nor pay would cease to pay. Rent, and taxes, and tithes are in these respects upon one footing. Without now inquiring whether they are right, they are all payments,—something by which a man does not receive the whole of the product of his labour.
The argument, therefore, which affirms that dissenters from the state religion do not pay to that religion, appears to be wholly fallacious; and being such, we are at liberty to assume, that to make them pay is indefensible and unchristian. For we repeat the observation, that he who is anxious to prove they do not pay evinces his opinion that to compel them to pay would be wrong.
There is some injustice in the legal provision for one church, The Episcopalian, when he has paid his teacher, or rather when he has contributed that portion towards the maintenance of his teacher which by the present system becomes his share, baa no more to pay. The adherent to other churches has to pay his own preacher and his neighbour’s. This does not appear to be just. The operation of a legal provision is, in effect, to impose a double tax upon one portion of the community without any fault on their part. Nor is it to any purpose to say that the dissenter from the Episcopalian church imposes the tax on himself: so he does; but it is just in the same sense as a man imposes a penalty upon himself when he conforms to some prohibited point of Christian duty. A papist, two or three centuries ago, might almost as well have said that a Protestant imposed the stake on himself, because he might have avoided it if he chose. It is a voluntary tax in no other way than as all other taxes are voluntary. It is a tax imposed by the state as truly as the window tax is imposed, because a man may, if he pleases, live in darkness; or as a capitation tax is imposed, because a man may, if he pleases, lose his head.
But what is he who conscientiously disapproves of a state religion to do? Is he, notwithstanding his judgment, to aid in supporting that religion, because the law requires it? No: for then, as it respects him, the obligation of the law is taken away. He is not to do what he believes Christianity forbids, because the state commands it. If public practice be a criterion of the public judgment, it may be concluded that the number of those who do thus believe respecting our state religion is very small; for very few decline actively to support it. Yet when it is considered how numerous the dissenters from the English establishment are, and how emphatically some of them disapprove the forms or doctrines of that establishment, it might be imagined that the number who decline thus to support it would, in consistency, be great. How are we to account for the fact as it is? Are we to suppose that the objections of these persons to the establishment are such as do not make it a case of conscience whether they shall support it or not? Or are we to conclude that they sacrifice their consciences to the terrors of a distraint? If no case of conscience is involved, the dissenter, though he may think the state religion inexpedient, can hardly think it wrong. And if he do not think it wrong, why should he be so zealous in opposing it, or why should he expect the church to make concessions in his favour? If, on the other hand he sacrifices his conscience to his fears, it is obvious that, before he reprehends the establishment, he should rectify himself. He should leave the mote till he has taken out the beam.
Perhaps there are some who, seriously disapproving of the state religion, suspect that in Christian integrity they ought not to pay to its support,—and yet are not so fully convinced of this, or do not so fully act upon the conviction, as really to decline to pay. If they are convinced, let them remember their responsibility, and not know their master’s will in vain. If these are not faithful, where shall fidelity be found? How shall the Christian churches be purified from their defilements, if those who see and deplore their defilements contribute to their continuance? Let them show that their principles are worthy a little sacrifice. Fidelity on their part, and a Christian submission to the consequences, might open the eyes and invigorate the religious principle of many more: and at length the objection to comply with these unchristian demands might be so widely extended, that the legislature would be induced to withdraw its legal provision; and thus one main constituent of an ecclesiastical system which hall grievously obstructed, and still grievously obstructs, the Christian cause, might be taken away.
As an objection to this fidelity of practice, it has been said, that since a man rents or buys an estate for so much less because it is subject to tithes, it is an act of dishonesty, afterward, to refuse to pay them. The answer is this, that no dishonesty can be committed while the law exacts payment by distraint; and if the law were altered, there is no place for dishonesty. Besides, the desire of saving money does not enter into the refuser’s motives. He does not decline to pay from motives of interest, but from motives of duty.
It is however argued that the legislature has no right to take away tithes any more than it has a right to deprive citizens of their lands and houses; and that a man’s property in tithes is upon a footing with his property in au estate. Now we answer that this is not true in fact; and that if it were it would not serve the argument.
It is not true in fact.—If tithes were a property, just as an estate is a property, why do men complain of the scandal of pluralities? Who ever hears of the scandal of possessing three or four estates?—Why again does the law punish simoniacal contracts? Who ever hears of simoniacal contracts for lands and houses? The truth is, that tithes are regarded as religious property.—The property is legally recognised, not for the sake of the individual who may possess it, but for the sake of religion. The law cares nothing for the men, except so far as they are ministers.—Besides, tithes are a portion of the produce only of the land. The tithe owner cannot walk over an estate and say, of every tenth acre, this is mine. In truth he has not, except by consent of the landholder, any property in it at all; for the landholder may, if he pleases, refuse to cultivate it,—occasion it to produce nothing; and then the tithe owner has no interest or property in it whatever. And in what sense can that be said to be property, the possession of which is at the absolute discretion of another man?
But grant, for a moment, that tithes are property. Is it affirmed that whatever property a man possesses cannot be taken from him by the legislature? Suppose I go to Jamaica and purchase a slave, and bring him to England, has the law no right to take this property away? Assuredly it has the right, and it exercises it too. Now, so far as the argument is concerned, the cases of the slave holder and of the tithe owner are parallel. Compulsory maintenance of Christian ministers, and compulsory retention of men in bondage, are both inconsistent with Christianity; and as such, the property which consists in slaves, and in tithes, may rightly be taken away.—Unless indeed any man will affirm that any property, however acquired, cannot lawfully be taken from the possessor. But when we speak of taking away the property in tithes, we do not refer to the consideration that it has been under the sanction of the law itself that that property has been purchased or obtained. The law has, in reality, been accessory to the offence, and it would not be decent or right to take away the possession which has resulted from that offence, without offering an equivalent. I would not advise a legislature to say to those persons who, under its own sanction, have purchased slaves, to tum upon them and say, I am persuaded that slavery is immoral, and therefore I command you to set your slaves at liberty; and because you have no moral right to hold them, I shall not grant you a compensation. Nor, for the same reasons, would I advise a legislature to say so to the possessor of tithes.
But what sort of a compensation is to be offered? Not surely an amount equivalent to the principal money, computing tithes as interest. The compensation is for life interest only. The legislature would have to buy off, not a freehold, but an annuity. The tithe owner is not like the slave holder, who can bequeath his property to another. When the present incumbent dies, the tithes, as property, cease to exist,—until it is again appropriated to an incumbent by the patron, of the living. This is true, except in the instances of those deplorable practices, the purchase of advowsons, or of any other by which individuals or bodies acquire a pecuniary interest in the right of disposal.
The notion that tithes are a “property of the church” is quite a fiction. In this sense, what is the church? If no individual man bas his property taken away by a legislative abolition of tithes, it is unmeaning to talk of “the church” having lost it.
It is perhaps a vain thing to talk of how the legislature might do a thing which perhaps it may not resolve, for ages, to do at all. But if it were to take away the right to tithes as the present incumbents died, or as the interest of the present owners ceased, there would be no reason to complain of injustice, whatever there might be of procrastinating the fulfilment of a Christian duty.
Whether a good man, knowing the inconsistency of forced maintenance with the Christian law, ought to accept a proffered equivalent for that maintenance, is another consideration. If it is wrong to retain it, it is not obvious how it can be right, or how at least it can avoid the appearance of evil, to accept money for giving it up. It is upon these principles that the religious community who decline to pay tithes decline also to receive them. By legacy or otherwise, the legal right is sometimes possessed by these persons, but their moral discipline requires alike a refusal to receive or to pay.
That this system possesses many advantages over a legal provision we have already seen, But this does not imply that even voluntary payment is conformable with the dignity of the Christian ministry, with its usefulness, or with the requisitions of the Christian law.
And here I am disposed, in the outset, to acknowledge that the question of payment is involved in an antecedent question,—the necessary qualifications of a Christian minister. If one of these necessary qualifications be, that he should devote his youth and early manhood to theological studies, or to studies or exercises of any kind, I do not perceive how the propriety of voluntary payment can be disputed: for, when a man who might otherwise have fitted himself, in a counting-house or an office, for procuring his after support, employs his time necessarily in qualifying himself for a Christian instructer, it is indispensable that he should be paid for his instructions. Or if, after he has assumed the ministerial function, it be his indispensable business to devote all or the greater portion of his time to studies or other preparations for the pulpit, the same necessity remains. He must be paid for his ministry, because, in order to be a minister he is prevented from maintaining himself.
But the necessary qualifications of a minister of the gospel cannot here be discussed. We pass on therefore with the simple expression of the sentiment, that how beneficial soever a theological education and theological inquiries may be in the exercise of the office, yet that they form no necessary qualifications; that men may be, and that some are, true and sound ministers of that gospel without them.
Now, in inquiring into the Christian character and tendency of payment for preaching Christianity, one position will perhaps be recognised as universally true,—that if the same ability and zeal in the exercise of the ministry could be attained without payment as with it, the payment might reasonably and rightly be forborne. Nor will it perhaps be disputed, that if Christian teachers of the present day were possessed of some good portion of the qualifications, and were actuated by the motives of the first teachers of our religion,—stated remuneration would not be needed. If love for mankind, and “the ability which God giveth,” were strong enough to induce and to enable men to preach the gospel without payment, the employment of money as a motive would be without use or propriety, Remuneration is a contrivance adapted to an imperfect state of the Christian church: nothing but imperfection can make it needful; and when that imperfection shall be removed, it will cease to be needful again.
These considerations would lead us to expect, even antecedently to inquiry, that some ill effects are attendant upon the system of remuneration. Respecting these effects, one of the advocates of a legal provision holds language which, though it be much too strong, nevertheless contains much truth. “Upon the voluntary plan,” says Dr. Paley, “preaching, in time, would become a mode of begging. With what sincerity or with what dignity can a preacher dispense the truths of Christianity, whose thoughts are perpetually solicited to the reflection how he may increase his subscription? His eloquence, if he possess any, resembles rather the exhibition of a player who is computing the profits of his theatre, than the simplicity of a man who, feeling himself the awful expectations of religion, is seeking to bring others to such a sense and understanding of their duty as may save their souls.—He, not only whose success but whose subsistence depends upon collecting and pleasing a crowd, must resort to other arts than the acquirement and communication of sober and profitable instruction. For a preacher to be thus at the mercy of his audience, to be obliged to adapt his doctrines to the pleasure of a capricious multitude, to be continually affecting a style and manner neither natural to him nor agreeable to his judgment, to live in constant bondage to tyrannical and insolent directors, are circumstances so mortifying, DOI only to the pride of the human heart, but to the virtuous love of independency, that they are rarely submitted to without a sacrifice of principle and a depravation of character: at least it may be pronounced that a ministry so degraded would soon fall into the lowest hands; for it would be found impossible to engage men of worth and ability in so precarious and humiliating a profession.”5
To much of this it is a sufficient answer that the predictions are contradicted by the fact. Of those teachers who are supported by voluntary subscriptions, it is not true that their eloquence resembles the exhibition of a player who is computing the profits of his theatre; for the fact is that a very large proportion of them assiduously devote themselves from better motives to the religious benefit of their flocks:—it is not true that the office is rarely undertaken. without what can be called a depravation of character; for the character, both religious and moral, of those teachers who are voluntarily paid, is at least as exemplary as that of those who are paid by provision of the state:—it is not true that the office falls into the lowest hands, and that it is impossible to engage men of worth and ability in the profession, because very many of such men an actually engaged in it.
But although the statements of the archdeacon are not wholly true, they are true in part. Preaching will become a mode of begging. When a congregation wants a preacher, and we see a man get into the pulpit expressly and confessedly to show how he can preach, in order that the hearers may consider how they like him, and when one object to his thus doing is confessedly to obtain an income, there is reason,—not certainly for speaking of him as a beggar,—but for believing that the dignity and freedom of the gospel are sacrificed.—Thoughts perpetually solicited to the reflection how he may increase his subscription. Supposing this to be the language of exaggeration, supposing the increase of his subscription to be his subordinate concern, yet still it is his concern; and, being his concern, it is his temptation. It is to be feared, that by the influence of this temptation his sincerity and his independence may be impaired, that the consideration of what his hearers wish rather than of what he thinks they need, may prompt him to sacrifice his conscience to his profit, and to add or to deduct something from the counsel of God. Such temptation necessarily exists; and it were only to exhibit ignorance of the motives of human conduct to deny that it will sometimes prevail,—To live in constant bondage to insolent and tyrannical directors. It is not necessary to suppose that directors will be tyrannical or insolent, nor by consequence to suppose that the preacher is in a stale of constant bondage. But if they be not tyrants and he a slave, they may be masters and he a servant: a servant in a sense far different from that in which the Christian minister is required to be a servant of the church, in a sense which implies an undue subserviency of his ministrations to the will of men, and which is incompatible with the obligation no have no master but Christ.
Other modes of voluntary payment may be and perhaps they are adopted, but the effect will not be essentially different. Subscriptions may be collected from a number of congregations and thrown into a common fund, which fund may be appropriated by a directory or conference: but the objections still apply; for he who wishes to obtain an income as a preacher has then to try to propitiate the directory instead of a congregation, and the temptation to sacrifice his independence and his conscience remains.
There is no way of obtaining emancipation from this subjection, no way of avoiding this temptation, but by a system in which the Christian ministry is absolutely free.
But the ill effects of thus paying preachers are not confined to those who preach. The habitual consciousness that the preacher is paid, and the notion which some men take no pains to separate from this consciousness, that he preaches because he is paid, have a powerful tendency to diminish the influence of his exhortations and the general effect of his labours. The vulgarly irreligious think, or pretend to think, that it is a sufficient excuse for disregarding these labours to say, They are a matter of course,—preachers must say something, because it is their trade. And it is more than to be feared that notions, the same in kind however different in extent, operate upon a large proportion of the community. It is not probable that it should be otherwise; and thus it is that a continual deduction is made by the hearer from the preacher’s disinterestedness or sincerity, and a continual deduction therefore from the effect of his labours.
How seldom can such a pastor say, with full demonstration of sincerity, “I seek not yours, but you.” The flock may indeed be, and happily it often is, his first and greatest motive to exertion; but the demonstrative evidence that it is so can only be afforded by those whose ministrations are absolutely free. The deduction which is thus made front the practical influence of the labours of stipended preachers is the same in kind (though differing in amount) as that which is made from a pleader’s addresses in court. He pleads because he is paid for pleading. Who does not perceive that if an able man came forward an pleaded in a cause without a retainer, and simply from the desire that justice should be awarded, he would he listened to with much more of confidence, and that his arguments would have much more weight, than if the same words were uttered by a barrister who was feed? A similar deduction is made from the writings of paid ministers, especially if they advocate their own particular faith. “He is interested evidence,” says the reader,—he has got a retainer, and of course argues for his client; and thus arguments that may be invincible, and facts that may be incontrovertibly true, lose some portion of their effect, even upon virtuous men, and a large portion upon the bad, because the preacher is paid. If, as is sometimes the case, “the amount of the salary given is regulated very precisely by the frequency of the ministry required,”—so that a hearer may possibly allow the reflection, The preacher will get half a guinea for the sermon he is going to preach,—it is almost impossible that the dignity of the Christian ministry should not be reduced, as well as that the influence of his exhortations should not be diminished. “It is however more desirable,” says Milton,” for example to be, and for the preventing of offence or suspicion, as well as more noble and honourable in itself, and conducive to our more complete glorying in God, to render an unpaid service to the church, in this as well as in all other instances; and after the example of our Lord, to minister and serve gratuitously.6
Some ministers expend all the income which they derive from their office in acts of beneficence. To these we may safely appeal for confirmation of these remarks. Do you not find that the consciousness, in the minds of your hearers, that you gain nothing by your labour, greatly increases its influence upon them? Do you not find that they listen to you with more confidence and regard, and more willingly admit the truths which you inculcate and conform to the advices which you impart? If these things be so,—and who will dispute it?—how great must be the aggregate obstruction which pecuniary remuneration opposes to the influence of religion in the world!
But indeed it is not practicable to the writer to illustrate the whole of what he conceives to be the truth upon this subject, without a brief advertence to the qualifications of the minister of the gospel: because, if his view of these qualifications be just, the stipulation for such and such exercise of the ministry, and such and such payment, is impossible. If it is “admitted that the ministry of the gospel is the work of the Lord that it can be rightly exercised only in virtue of his appointment,” and only when “a necessity is laid upon the minister to preach the gospel,”—it is manifest, that he cannot engage beforehand to preach when others desire it. It is manifest, that “the compact which binds the minister to preach on the condition that his hearers shall pay him for his preaching, assumes the character of absolute inconsistency with the spirituality of the Christian religion.”7
Freely ye have received, freely give. When we contemplate a Christian minister who illustrates both in his commission and in his practice, this language of his Lord; who teaches, advises, reproves, with the authority and affection of a commissioned teacher; who fears not to displease his hearers, and desires not to receive their reward; who is under no temptation to withhold, and does not withhold, any portion of that counsel which he thinks God designs for his church; when we contemplate such a man, we may feel somewhat of thankfulness and of joy; of thankfulness and joy that the Universal Parent thus enables his creatures to labour for the good of one another, in that same spirit in which he cares for them and blesses them himself.
I censure not, either in word or in thought, him who, in sincerity of mind, accepts remuneration for his labours in the church. It may not be inconsistent with the dispensations of Providence, that in the present imperfect condition of the Christian family, imperfect principles respecting the ministry should be permitted to prevail: nor is it to be questioned that some of those who do receive remuneration are fulfilling their proper allotments in the universal church. But this does not evince that we should not anticipate the arrival, and promote the extension, of a more perfect state. It does not evince that a higher allotment may not await their successors,—that days of greater purity and brightness may not arrive: of purity, when every motive of the Christian minister shall be simply Christian; and of brightness, when the light of truth shall be displayed with greater effulgence. When the Great Parent of all shall thus turn his favour towards his people; when He shall supply them with teachers exclusively of his own appointment, it will be perceived that the ordinary present state of the Christian ministry is adapted only to the twilight of the Christian day; and some of those who now faithfully labour in this hour of twilight will be among the first to rejoice in the greater glory of the noon.
1 Bishop Warburton.
2 Yet let it not be forgotten that it is upon this exploded notion of the divine right that the legal right is founded. The law did not give tithes to the clergy because the provision was expedient, but because it was their divine right. It is upon this assumption that the law is founded. See Statutes at Large: 29 Hen. VIII. c. 20. Men. in the MS.
“The whole was received into a common fund, for the fourfold purpose of supporting the clergy, repairing the church, relieving the poor, and entertaining the pilgrim and the stranger.”—”The payment of tithes had at first been voluntary, though it was considered as a religious obligation. King Ethelwolf, the father of Alfred, subjected the whole kingdom to it by a legislative act.”—Southey’s Book of the Church; c 6. Men. in the MS.
Wickliffe’s followers asserted “that tithes were purely eleemosynary, and might be withheld by the people upon a delinquency in the pastor, and transferred to another at pleasure.”—Brodie’s History of the British Empire. Introduction. Men. in the MS.
3 See Quarterly Review, No. 58:—
“There was a party in the nation who conceived that every man should not only be allowed to choose his own religion, but contribute as he himself thought proper towards the support of the pastor whose duties he exacted. The party however does not appear to have been great. Yet let us not despise the opinion, but remember that it baa been taken up by Dr. Adam Smith himself as a sound one, and been acted upon successfully in a vast empire, the United States of America.”—Brodie’s History of the British Empire, v.iv. p. 365. Men. in the MS.
4 “Thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous.—Exodus xxiii.8. Men. in the MS.
5 Mor. and Pol. Phil. b.6, c.10.
6 Christian Doctrine, p. 484.
7 I would venture to suggest to suggest to some of those to whom these considerations are offered, whether the notion that a preacher is a sine qua non of the exercise of public worship, is not taken up without sufficient consideration of the principles which it involves. If, “where two or three are gathered together in the name” of Christ, there he, the minister of the sanctuary, is “in the midst of them,” it surely cannot be necessary to the exercise of such worship, that another preacher should be there. Surely too, it derogates something from the excellence, something from the glory of the Christian dispensation, to assume that if a number of Christians should be situated as to be without a preacher, there the public worship of God cannot be performed. This may often happen in remote pieces, in voyages, or the like: and I have sometimes been impressed with the importance of these considerations when I have heard a person say “— is absent, and therefore there will be no divine service this morning.”
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- Preface to the American Edition.
- Introductory Notices.
- Moral Obligations.
- Standard of Right and Wrong.
- Subordinate Standards of Right and Wrong.
- Standard of Right and Wrong Footnotes.
- Collateral Observations.
- Immediate Communication of the Will of God.
- Immediate Communication of the Will of God Footnotes.