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consideration, and that his Majesty will condescend to repose the same confidence in us, which we and our predecessors have long experienced.
c It is generally believed, that two of the ministers who signed this memorial had never been considered as trustees, and that the predecessor of one of them had not been publicly so employed. What then could induce these two ministers to sign this strange memorial ?-Who they were, most of you will easily understand.
“ It was on this occasion that I paid my last visit at Lambeth, where I was always received by the Archbishop with that kind of urbanity which I shall long remember; and am thankful, that in our last interview it was neither diminished nor concealed.”-pp. 5–14.
This case Dr. Rees acknowledges to be an exception”—but it is not the only one--for Mr. Martin's successor, Dr. Abraham Rees, was unquestionably appointed by the Granville administration on account of his Whig principles. This was announced in The Monthly Repository* with the “report” that the Attorney-General is instructed to demand of the suspected” distributor an account of the monies vested in his hands, with a tone of triumph and bitternesss which proves that all the partizanship was not on one side.
Thus we have completed our historical collections on this subject, and upon a calm review of these various documents, it is most obvious, notwithstanding the occasional discrepancies in their respective evidence, that a strong suspicion has been cherished from the days of Dr. Calamy to the commencement of the present century, that the almoners have been subservient to court influence and political intrigue. Now we hold that christian ministers should be placed above suspicion, and think that it is greatly to be deplored that eminent men amongst them were for such a lengthened period subjected to it.
If the suspicions were indeed groundless, yet the secrecy and management connected with the administration of this royal charity were too well calculated to justify uncharitable surmises—but if they were true-and men of God allowed themselves to be warped from the right line of their duty as Christians and patriots, by the smiles of statesmen, or by the more gross influence of gold, the mischiefs which must have resulted from such a humiliating spectacle cannot be computed.
It is due to the gentlemen who have distributed this grant for the last five-and-twenty years, to state, that there does not exist the slightest occasion for suspecting their integrity and independence. In resistance to Lord Sidmouth's Bill-in pleading for the repeal of the penal laws against Roman Catholics and Protestant Dissenters, and in almost every other liberal measure, they have been equal to the foremost of their brethren in the ministry. But while this has happily been the case with them, it is not equally clear that statesmen, whether Whig or Tory, do not still expect a quid pro quo in the matter. We know that members of a reform government have uamed this grant in reply to the claims of the Dissenters, and it is a
+ Vol. I. 1806. p. 554.
curious fact, that on Sir Robert Peel's accession to power, he did not correspond with the United Committee, which is the usual channel of communication with the government, but sent for two of the Trustees of the Regium Donum (Dr. Smith and Mr. J. Clayton). Their uncompromising integrity at that memorable interview is well known-but men might have been summoned who did not possess the same high principle and moral courage, who might have grievously compromised the union and efficacy of the dissenting community.
If our integrity now remain unimpeached, our consistency is not so, and from the platform* and the press, the whole dissenting community are grossly insulted, because the trustees, viewing themselves as the irresponsible almoners of the crown, still choose to receive this bounty. The following passage from The Times newspaper, is a fair specimen of the manner this subject is treated by the high church press.
“ It seems, then,” says the editor of the Times, “ that Dissenters object to pay church-rates, because they believe it to be unjust and unnecessary that any sect whatever should receive temporal support from the state. Now, upon this we convict them of the grossest selfcontradiction and inconsistency. About the iniquity of demanding or receiving the smallest state countenance in matters of religion, they have bawled and brawled till their throats are hoarse again. Surely, in such circumstances, it might be expected that these holy and conscientious puritans are not prosecuting their warfare against the church without observing the Saviour's rule, that they only are entitled to fling the stone who are themselves free from her alleged error. If they do not come before Parliament with clean hands in this affair, their talk about conscience is a piece of conventicle cant, and their petitions are an odious fraud. Observe, moreover, it is not about an amount of money, but about a sacred principle, that these eminent confessors are contending; and therefore if their own sects can be convicted of regularly receiving a single shilling from the state, whilst they protest against a similar favour on a larger scale being extended to the church, the principle which brands them as loathsome hypocrites is very satisfactorily made out. Let the country bear in mind, then, that these precious worthies are annually in the receipt of the Regium Donum--an allowance of several thousands of pounds a year from the state, for the support of religion among the three dissenting denominations of Independents, Baptists, and Presbyterians. Mark, too, that this is a state grant, given to them in their corporate capacity as Dissenters. To qualify for receiving it, they must unite pro hac vice as one board ; in other words, those conscientious haters of error, the Independents, must unite to finger the cash with those heretical professors the Unitarians : Dr. Pye
# Vide the speech of the Rev. E. Tottenham, at the Pro-Church Rate Meeting at Bath, Feb. 14, who referred to this subject at great length :" While," said he, “ the advocates of the voluntary principle have been raising this outcry against establishments, and that all state endowments are essentially evil, they have been for a long time quietly putting a considerable amount of state endowments in their pockets. They have submitted to be just what they have called us (and I hope, as it is their own phrase, they will excuse my using it), STATE PAUPERS!'”-Bath Chronicle, Thursday, Feb. 16.
Smith of the one party, and Dr. Rees of the other, are alike trustees for its administration. Herod and Pilate do regularly shake hands on clutching this state spoil ; while, on their professed principles, the conscience of Episcopalians is thus remorselessly ontraged by them, in being taxed to support a monstrous alliance of Independent democracy combined with Socinian error. It will therefore be noticed, that the tenderness of dissenting consciences applies, not to the practice of receiving support from the state, but only to the practice of the Established Church receiving it ; that is to say, the antichurch faction are afflicted in conscience at being taxed for the establishment, but when the members of the establishment are indirectly taxed for the dissenting donum in support of heretical doctrines, the Dissenters very quietly pocket the money, and leave conscience to shift for itself. Out upon the cloaked and canting hypocrites ! We hold them up to the scorn and derision of the country.”
The reader of this abusive paragraph will naturally ask-“ Is the allowance several thousands ?" Oh no! It is a nominal grant of £1700, less some £50 for treasury fees. It is a beggarly sum; the very form of the vote is truly humiliating, for “ the usual allowance to Protestant dissenting ministers in England,” is united with " sundry small charitable allonances to the poor of St. Martin's-in-theFields!”
But it is a question of principle and not of amount, and therefore it may be fairly asked, Do the Dissenters, as a body, deserve this historical reproach of political subserviency,* and to be taunted as the pensioners and paupers of the State? No; the Dissenters, as a body, never acquiesced in this dubious business, but have from the first regarded it as unfavourable to their freedom and honour. Within the last four years they have not disguised their opinions, and this will conduct us to the second part of our design, which is to collect the protests that have been recorded against it. At the annual meeting of the dissenting deputies of London, consisting of the most influential dissenting gentlemen of the metropolis, held December 27, 1833, it was resolved, “That the annual parliamentary grant for dissenting ministers (formerly designated the Regium Donum) is in the opinion of this meeting a direct violation of the principles of Dissenters, and utterly inconsistent with their application to be relieved from all compulsory payments for the support of religion. And that the committee to be this day appointed, be instructed to make every effort to remove this stain upon Dissenters.”
But as it may be said that it is an easy thing for opulent merchants, bankers and traders to vote away this bounty from the poor dissenting ministers, we are happy to state that the ministers of London have warmly sympathised in the opinion of the deputies, and have put upon record resolutions in complete accordance with it.
* Dr. Haweis, rector of Aldwinkle, who was on friendly terms with many Dissenters, thus speaks of the matter :-“As the Dissenters approved themselves strong friends to government, they enjoyed favour; and being excluded from all lucrative preferment in the church, the prime minister (Walpole) wished to reward them for their loyalty; and by a retaining fee, preserve them steadfast." - Impartial History of the Church of Christ, vol. iii. p. 227.
The Congregational Board, at their first monthly meeting after the annual meeting of the Deputies, viz. January 7, 1834, passed a resolution, “ That it is desirable that the grant annually made by Parliament to protestant dissenting ministers should be discontinued."
As it however may be alleged that the Independents are men of extreme opinions, we are able to state that the body of protestant dissenting ministers of the three denoninations held an extraordinary meeting at the close of the same month, January 28, 1834, pursuant to a requisition, addressed to the Secretary, to consider " the propriety of discontinuing the parliamentary grant”- and that on the motion of the Rev. Professor Hoppus, it was resolved by a large majority, notwithstanding the elaborate historical defence of the Rev. Dr. Rees, “ That in the opinion of this meeting, it is inconsistent with the principles of protestant dissenting ministers that they should accept of a grant from Parliament for their support.”
The Congregational Board held a special meeting on the same subject in January last, when it repeated the opinion expressed in its resolution of 1834. The most important manifestation of the feeling of Dissenters against the continuance of this grant occurred, at the recent meeting of three hundred delegates from every part of the empire, to petition Parliament for the abolition of church rates. At their first meeting, Wednesday, February 1, the chairman had some difficulty in restricting the attention of the meeting to the simple question of church rates, as many felt that the argumentum ad hominem, which the Regium Donum supplies, could only be satisfactorily met by a formal renunciation of all share in that grant. Mr. Baines, M.P. for Leeds, remarked that while he highly approved the decision of the chairman, yet he thought that they ought not to go to Parliament, if they were not prepared to say, “ We ask nothing from you; we will give nothing to you ;" which was received with vehement cheers.
Before the delegates proceeded to Downing Street, to have their appointed interview with Lord Melbourne, on Friday, February 3, it was put to the meeting to ascertain their opinion on this question, and the Rev. John Burnett was authorised, in the name of the delegates, to express to his lordship their dissatisfaction with all parliamentary grants for such purposes. That gentleman accordingly said, “I am also warranted to express their disapprobation of any grant being received by the dissenting body; so that they do not wish to remove a burden from themselves in order to share any of the public money!”* Thus it is plain, that for the last four years, various sections of the dissenting community have solemnly renounced this grant, and thrown the responsibility of receiving it upon the trustees themselves, and that in the most complete representation of the dissenting mind that has been seen in the metropolis for many years the parliamentary grant was disclaimed, and treated as if it were one of the grievances from which the assembled delegates sought relief, How then can we be branded as “ loathsome hypocrites?” When
* Patriot, Feb. 6.
the writers in The Times find it convenient to notice what “Mr. Spokesman Burnett” (as they are pleased to call that gentleman) has said, they can cite his words - but upon this solemn occasion, when he addressed the prime minister of England, in the name of a great delegation, it is convenient not to observe his remarks! Abuse, however, from such a quarter will do us no harm. “ The scorn and derision of the country” have long gathered around those who threaten to direct them against us. The political stedfastness of the Dissenters is as well known both to Whigs and Tories, as the vacillations of the Times are proverbial. · It is due, however, to the trustees, after inserting that abusive passage, to state that they do not feel themselves involved in the inconsistency which is thus pointed out, and which most of their brethren acknowledge. They argue that the Regium Donum " is not derived from the compulsory taxation of the people.” “They have received the royal bounty as a simple charity, designed to express the sense which the august family now upon the throne of these realms are pleased to entertain of the zeal and exertions of the protestant dissenters on behalf of their accession to the British crown." · The important changes that have been made respecting the ancient patrimony of the sovereign and the civil list have completely altered the relations of things, and we can assure those kind hearted men that they hold to a legal fiction, at which every member of Parliament acquainted with fiscal questions will laugh, and we know, on most satisfactory evidence, that it amounts to tlie same thing! Unless, therefore, they mean to advocate the principle of state support in religion, and to renounce the spontaneous liberality of the people, they must erase the last sentence of their “ Statement,” which, however tender and devotional it may be, is, in our judgment, most exceptionable, both in principle and feeling, and which has very naturally been quoted against us. “ But should this be the unhappy result of the interference of certain Dissenters, they must ever lament the injury thus done to a numerous class of indigent ministers of the gospel-the blow being the more felt because inflicted by the hand that should have been extended for protection : and will fervently pray that he, whose providence is over all, and is especially engaged towards them that devote their lives to his glory, may open other sources for the relief of these his servants, not indeed less pure, but better guarded against the fluctuation and even caprice of public opinion!!”
As every benevolent mind must sympathise with the disinterested anxiety of these gentlemen for the relief of worthy and necessitous dissenting ministers, we must now briefly address ourselves to the most fitting method to supply the deficiency which the discontinuance of the parliamentary grant would occasion.
Our readers are aware that the entire grant is divided into three portions of £550 each for the Presbyterian, the Baptist, and the Independent denominations. As it relates, then, to the Congregational churches, it is a question of £550 per annum! Within the last fourteen years, a society has been formed, called The Associate Fund, by which more than that amount is annually distributed