« AnteriorContinuar »
Sect. V. Provided That, if any assembly of persons, dissenting from the Church of England, shall be held in any place for religious worship with the doors locked, barred, or bolted, during any time of such moeting together, such persons shall not receive any benefit from this law, but be liable to all the pains and penalties of all the aforesaid laws.
Sect. VI. Provided That nothing herein contained shall be con.. strued to exempt any of the persons aforesaid from paying of tythes, or other parochial duties ; nor from any prosecution in any Eccle. siastical Court or elsewhere, for the same.
Sect. VII. That if any person dissenting, &c. as aforesaid, shall hereafter be chosen high constable, or petit constable, churchwarden, overseer of the poor, or any other parochial or ward office, and such person shall scruple to take upon him any of the said offices, in regard of the oaths, or any other matter or thing required by the law to be taken or done in respect of such office, every such person shall and may execute sich office by a sufficient Deputy, that shall comply with the laws on this behalf.
Sect. VIII. That no person dissenting from the Charch of England in holy orders, or pretended holy orders, or pretending to holy orders*,
at which there shall be present five persons besides those of the family, if it be in a house where there is a family, or if in a house, field, or placc where there is no family, shall forfeit 58. for the first offence, for the second, 10s. to be levied on his goods ; or, if he has no goods, on the goods of any other person convicted of the like offence at the same converticle; and every person taking upon him to preach at such conven. ticle, shall forfeit £. 20 -- and every person permitting such conventicle in his house, out-bouse, barn, yard, &c. shall forfeit €. 20 Any constable, &c. knowing of such meeting and not informing, &c. shall forfeit £.5; and a justice of the peace, omittiog his duty in the execution of this act, shall forfeii €.1000: and this act shall he construed most largely and bene. ficially for the suppression of conventicles, and for the justification and encouragement of all persons to be einployed in the execution hereof, and no warrant, &c. impeached by reason of default in form.
In ihe latter part of the reign of Queen Ann, an act, called the Schism Bill, was passed, which forbade Dissenters to educate their own children, but required theni lo be put under the care of Conformists; and also for. bade all tutors and schoolmasters to be present at any meeting-house. This iniquitous scheme was frustrated by the death of the queen, who died the very day on which it was to have taken place. But it was not till the year 1779 That the full benefits of the Toleration Act were extended to Dissenting Schoolmasters.
* The ineaning of these terms has been well explained by J. Smith, Esq. Barrister at Law, in a judicious pamphlet, entitled “ Observations on the Statute commonly called the Toleration Act," price 28. sold by Button and Butterworth, London.
By persons in holy orders, he understands those who had received epis. · copai ordination before the Act of Uniformity took place. Among The 2000 wbo quitted their livings, there were many who had been so ordained.
By persons in pretended holy orders, may be intended those ministers who, agreeably to soine ordinances of parliament, were ordained by the Presbyteries, without the presence of a diocesan bishop. By the Act of Uniforinity this kind of ordination was invalidated; and no such minister could officiale ailer 1662, without remordination; to which len would submit.
ner any preacher or teacher of any congregation of Dissenting Protesa tants, that shall make and subscribe the declaration aforesaid, and take the said oaths at the General or Quarter Sessions of the Peace, to be held for the county, town, parts, or division where such person lives, which court is hereby impowered to administer the same, and shall also declare his approbation of and subscribe the Articles of Religion *. mentioned in the statute made in the 13th of Queen Eliz. except the 34th, 35th, and 36th, and these words of the 20th Article ; viz. "The Church hath power to decree rites or ceremonies, and authority in controversies of faith, " --- shall be liable to any of the pains or penalties mentioned in former acts.
Sect. X. recites, That some Dissenting Protestants scruple the baptizing of infants ; and then proceeds to enact, That every person in pretended holy orders, &c. &c. that shall subseribe the aforesaid Articles of Religion, except before excepted, and also except part of the 27th article, touching infant baptism, and shall take the said oaths, &c. &c. shall enjoy all the privileges, benefits, and advantages which any other Dissenting Minister might enjoy. "
Sect XI. That every teacher or preacher in holy orders, or pre. tended holy orders, that is a minister, preacher, or teacher of a con. gregation, that shall take the oaths herein required, and make and sube scribe the déclaration aforesaid, &c. &c. shall be exempted from serv. ing upon any jury, or from being appointed to bear the office of churchwarden, overseer of the poor, or any other parochial or ward. office, or other office in any hundred of any shire, city, town, parish, division, or wapentake.
Sect. XII. That every justice of the peace may, at any time, require any person that goes to any meeting for exercise of religion, to make and subscribe the declaration aforesaid, and also to take the said oaths or declaration of fidelity hereinafter mentioned ; in case such person scruples the taking of an oath, and upon refusal, such justice of the
The third description is that of persons pretending to kely orders ; that is, claiming to exercise the office of ministers, not in the church of England, but according to the usage of Dissenters. This class comprehended niany in 1689; and now, almost all Disseptere are of this description,
The fourth and fifth description comprize' preachers and teachers of any congregation of Digsenting Protestants. The words in the act are disjunctive, -- " preachers or teachers." No distinction is made now of these persons.; but it shows the design of the legislature to extend the toleration as far as any circumstances could be theught to require.
It seems extraordinary, that when there was liberality enough in the slate io allow this act, terms so invidious should be chosen. How ill do they apply to fuch men as Owen, Goodwin, Baxter, Charneck, Bates. Howe! &c. &c. How ill do they apply to such' men as Heary, Watts. Doddridge! &c. &e. Men pretending to holy orders!
* Subscription to the Articles is now dispensed with (to those who scruple such subscription) by au act of the 19th of Geo. III. entitled “Aa Act for the further Retief of Protestant Diesenting Ministers and Schoolmasters." Instead of signing the Articies, the minister is required to take the oaths. and to make and subscribe a declaration in the words following: viz.
" I, A. B. dò solemnly declare, in the presence of Almighty God, that I am a Christian and a Protestant; and as such, that I believe that the Scrip. tires of the Old and New Testament, as coinmonly received amonr Pro. textant churches, do contain the revealed will of God and that I do receive the same as the rulo of my doctrine and practice %
peace is required to commit such person to prison, and to certify the name of such person to the next General or Quarter Sessions of the Peace, &c.
Sect. XIII. recites, That there are certain other Dissenters whe scruple the taking of any oath ; and then proceeds to enact, That every such person shall make and subscribe the aforesaid declaration, and also this declaration of fidelity following ; viz. “I, A. B. do sincerely promise and solemnly declare, before God and the World, that I will be true and faithful to King William and Queen Mary ; and I do solemnly profess and declare, that I do from my heart abhor, detest, and renounce, as impious and heretical, that damnable doctrine and position, That princes excommunicated or deprived by the pope, or any authority of the see of Rome, may be deposed or murthered by their subjects, or any other whatsoever : and I do declare, That no foreign prince, person, prelate, state, or potentate, hath or ought to have any power, jurisdiction, superiority, pre-eminence, or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm :" and shall subscribe a profession of their Christian belief in these words : 661, A. B. profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ his eternal Son, the true God, and in the Holy Spirit, one God blessed for evermore ; and do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration :'-- which declarations and subscription shall be entered of record at the Gencral Quarter Sessions, &c.; and every such person shall be exempted from all the pains and penalties of all and every the aforementioned statutes, &c.
Sect. XVI. Provided That all the laws made and provided for the frequenting of divine service on the Lord's Day, commonly called Sunday, shall be still in force, and executed against all persons that offend against the said laws, except such persons come to some congregation or assembly of religious worship, allowed or permitted by this act.
Sect. XVII. Provided That neither this act, nor any clause, article, or thing herein contained, shall extend, or be construed to extend, to give any case, benefit, or advantage to any Papist or Popish Recusant whatsoever, or any person that shall deny in his preaching or writing the doctrine of the blessed Trinity, as it is declared in the aforesaid Articles of Religion.
Sect. XVIII. Provided That, if any person or persons do and shall willingly, maliciously, or contemptuously, come into any cathedral or parish-church, chapel, or other congregation permitted by this act, and disquiet or disturb the same, or misuse any preacher or teacher, such person or persons, upon proof thereof before any justice of the peace, by two or more sufficient witnesses, shall find two su reties, to be bound by recognizance in the penal sum of L. 50, and, in default of such sureties, shall be committed to prison, there to remain till the next General or Quarter Sessions ; and, upon conviction of the said offence at the said General or Quarter Sessions, shall suffer the pain and penalty of L. 20 to the use of the King's and Queen's Majesties, their heirs and successors.
Sect. XIX. That no congregation or assembly for religious worship, shall be permitted or allowed by this act, until the place of such meeta ing shall be certified to the Bishop of the Diocese, or to the Archdeacon of that Archdeaconry, or to the justices of the peace at the Gencral or Quarter Sessions of the peace for the county, city, or place in which such meeting shall be held, and registered in the said Bisliop's or Arch,
deacon's court respectively, or recorded at the said General or Quarter Sessions; the register or clerk of the peace whereof respectively is hereby required to register the same, and to give certificate thereof to such person as shall demand the same ; for which there shall be no greater fee or reward taken than the sum of six-pence.
The attention of the Legislature has been called to this subject by Lord Sidmouth, who lately made a motion, in the House of Peers, concerning the number of licences granted under the Toleration Act.
That statute (said his Lordship) cannot be too much appreciated for the blessings which its liberality had conferred upon society t. The object of his motion would, he trusted, meet with equal approbation from those people who enjoyed the benefit of that statute, as it could do from those who espoused the doctrines of the Established Church, Although he was one of those who hailed the blessing of toleration, yet, in reverting to the principle and meaning of that act, so far as it concerned the granting of licences to those who dissented from the doci trines of the Church of England, it was very evident considerable abuses had been practised under its authority. It would be admitted by all, that some of those who applied for these licences, did so for very improper purposes. Thus it happened ; many, particularly at certain periods, obtained the licence of a preacher, merely to free themselves from those claims which their country had on their services, and to which others were so generally liable. After animadverting on this point, he concluded by moving, “That a return be made from the Quarter Sessions of each county in England and Wales, of all Licenses granted under the Toleration Act, from the year 1780 to 1809, specifying the grants of each year.”
Lord Harrowby rose in favour of the motion ; but he would propose, as an amendment, That the returns should be made to a still more remote period; he would propose the motion should include this king's reign, and that 1760 be substituted for 1780.
+ The general benefit of toleration was finely expressed by the lata Lord Mansfield, in a speech made in the House of Lords, on the termination
of a lony.contested cause between the City of London and a Mr. Evans, * who, being a Dissenter, refused to serve the office of sheriff, or to fine
£.600 for not serving it, being ineligible, as every Dissenter is rendered by the Corporation Act (see page 368). The Mansion-House had been partly built, it is said, by the fines extorted from Dissenters who, it was expected, would not serve.
“ Conscience,” said his Lordship, is “not controulable by human iaws, por amenable to human tribunals. Persecution, or attempts (o force Conscience, are only calculated to make hypocrites or martyrs. What bloodshed and confusion have been occasioned from the reign of Hen. IV. when the first penal statutes were enacted, down to the Revolution in this kingdom, by laws made to force conscience! There is nothing certainly more uareasonable, more inconsistent with tbe rights of human nature, more contrary to the spirit and precepts of the Christian religion, more iniquitous and unjust, more impolitic, than persecution." His Lordship iben refers to the penal by-law of the city, which contradicted the Toleration Act, the law of the land, and adds, “ It was made in some year of the reign of the late king, I forget which; but it was about the time of building the Mansion-House,
The Archbishop of Canterbury professed his high regard for the Toleration Act. From his own experience, in two dioceces, he was Induced to believe the Dissenters had increased very much, particularly In the last few years. One cause he conceived to be, the want of churches to contain the people; for, the fact was, our population had
object was, rather to aid another measure for bettering the situation of the clergy, than to found any direct proceeding upon the return.
Earl Grosvenor expressed his thanks to the noble Viscount for having brought forward the présent motion
: The Lord Chancellor had a great regard for the Toleration Act; but the circumstances alladed to had often occupied his consideration. He was fully persuaded, many obtained those licences who, at the time they obtained them, did not mean to preach, but made use of that expedient merely for the porpose of avoiding those duties which overy truly religious man would be anxious to discharge.
The motion was then put, and upaniinously agreed to. . It is a fact not to be disputed, that some base persons have . availed themselves of the act in question, and have entered their names at the Qirarters Sessions as preachers, who never did preach, nor intend to preach, but shamefully assumed the character of ministers, merely for the purpose of obtaining an easy exemption from serving on the militia. This is certainly a gross abuse; but it has already been corrected, in a considerable degree, by several late acts respecting the militia. In those acts clauses have been inserted, which refuse the exemption to a licenced teacher, unless he be really the minister of a congregation H.
It is certain that several magistrates have refused licences to
of youth, though no age is specificed in the act. Others have been refused, because they were not regularly educated for the ministry; others, beoause they were engaged in trade, or be. cause they were not ministers of particular congregations ; buig as the law now stands, the magistrates are obliged to tender the oaths, &c. by whomsoever demanded, - to cause the same to be recorded, and to order a certificate, or be liable to a mandamus: to shew cause why they resusen. An instance occurred, not long since, in the city of London, where licences were demanded by several persons; and, it is reported, in a very indecent and im• proper manner; but the magistrates granted them. Indeed, that the justices at the Quarter Sessions are obliged to grant licences, appears clearly from the Act of Toleration (see page 374) and the act made in the 10th year of Queen Ann, en itlod “ An *Act for preserving the Protestant Religion, for confirming the
In the Locul Mililia Aet, passed June 30, 1808, the exemplion preachers is t'ns expressed : “ And be it further enacted, That no licence teacher of any congregation, in holy orders, or pretended h«.ly orders, an not carrying on any other trade, er exercising any other cxcupation for livelihood, except that of schoolmester, shall be liable to be ballotted for lo Local Militia,"