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Notice to Subscribers. The Editor of the Unitarian Repository regrets that circumstances beyond his power to controul have prevented the appearance of the Numbers for August, September, and October, and that the same circumstances will probably continue to operate in the same way for some time to come. All therefore that he will attempt at present is to publish an occasional number with a view to prevent the work from becoming entirely extinct and in the hope that more favourable circumstances will soon enable him to continue it in regular series. The recent proceedings in Parliament on the Unitarian Marriage Bill are deemed of sufficient interest and importance to occupy the whole of the present Number. The Report is taken from the Monthly Repository of Theology and General Literature, and is more complete than any of those which have appeared in the Calcutta Newspapers.---Ed.
HOUSE OF LORDS, APRIL 2d, 1824.
Unitarian Marriage Bill. On the order of the day necessary to trespass on for the second reading of their Lordships' attention the Bill for granting relief at any length, if it had to Unitarian Dissenters in not been intimated to him the matter of their Mar- that an opposition was inriages :
tended. The Bill which he The Marquis of Lans- was now about to propose DOWNE, in rising to make for a second reading had his promised motion, com- originated in the petitions menced by observing, that presented by the body of he should not have felt it Unitarians to the Commito
tee, which had sat last session, on the Marriage Laws, and complaining that the marriage ceremony of the Church of England, to which they were obliged to submit, was
in their consciences, they could not approve. He could state to their Lordships that it was generally felt by the Members of the Committee, as he hoped it would also by the House itself, that some relief ought to be afforded them. Before he proceeded to consider the relief now proposed, he would state the principle on which it was founded. There were two duties incumbent on the Legislature in prov:ling for the due regulation of marriages. One was entirely of a civil nature; the other was compounded of civil and religious considerations. It was a civil duty to provide against clandestine marriages, and to provide for due celebration and registration; and next it was of importance that the contract involving such import consequences both to society and to the individual, should be performed in a manner the most likely to bind the conscience. The Legislature had been called upon to provide against clandestine marriages; and on the ground he had already stated, of giving the
strongest religious sanction to marriage of which the contract was susceptible, they were bound to adopt the proposition which he should now make. The measure had been misunderstood both within doors and without. It had been represented as an alteration of the Liturgy, by law established: this was entirely a mistake. Their Lordships, however, would not wish to violate the consciences of those who differed from them in religious opinion, or to force them into the Established Church, in order to make them signify an approbation of its forms, which they would not acknowledge upon any other occasion. If it was of importance that the contract of marriage should be as binding as possible, with that view it should be solemnized in the manner most conformable to their religious feelings and belief, in short, in the manner most likely to impress itself on the mind. He should, therefore, propose, that the persons called Unitarians should be authorized to celebrate marriages in their own chapels, duly registered for that purpose, having previously given publicity by the publication of banns, and on the payment of dues in the Established Church. He would have
preferred certainly to have brought in a more general measure, but he felt, after the experience he had gained on the subject, that great practical difficulty would arise from its extension to other Dissenters. Many persons might raise such objections to forms as the Legislature could not anticipate, and a laxity might possibly arise which would favour the evil of clandestine marriages. Upon these grounds, he thought it best to limit the present Bill to the persons who had most reason, in foro conscientiæ, to object to the ceremony of the Church of England. It had been stated liberally in that House, and from the Right Reverend Bench, on a former occasion, that some provision ought to be made to saye the consciences of those who differed so widely from the Church of England, the moment such a case was fairly brought forward. He therefore proposed, in this Bill, that after the publication of banns in the usual form in the parish church, persons of the Unitarian persuasion should be allowed to have marriages solemnized in their own places of worship, (these places having been registered as such for a year at least,) and by a minister of their own denomination. The parties who brought
forward the measure were desirous to give every civil security, and therefore, if it were thought advisable that ministers should be specially licensed or registered also, he did not see any objection. It might also be thought expedient to add, as in the case of the ministers of the Church, that the punishment of transportation should be visited upon any minister presuming to offend against these regulations. Though, in their petitions, the Unitarians considered the publication of banns as the best security that could be given against clandestine riages, and though the Bill itself was founded
that principle, he should not object, in case any better security could be devised, to give the public the advantage. Though, amongst all the Dissenters, the class selected for the operation of the present measure was the one which had differed most widely from the Church of England, he did not see that on that ground the Legislature should refuse them this privilege. If it was an indulgence, it was an indulgence in the shape of a burden, for these individuals only brought upon themselves double trouble and expense. He was not, he would confess, prepared to hear from any Noble
Lord, in the present en- duty, in common with ma. lightend state of the world, ny others, decidedly to obthat the Unitarians were a ject. If relief is to be sought sect standing without the only by transferring the pale of society, that it was grievance; by removing the expedient that marriages scruple from the few to the should be prohibited a
many; by altering the remongst them, or solemnized ligous ordinances of one in the manner least calcu- church to meet the objeclated to become binding up- tions of another; to such on their consciences: and a plan I should always obunless they were disposed ject. But this plan was to argue either that Únita- abandoned, and last session rians were out of the pale of a Bill was submitted of a society, or, being within very different character; that pale, ought not to mar
and whatever objections apry at all, or, doing so, to plied to it, it certainly was pay the penalty of violated
not chargeable with atconscience, he could not tempting to transfer the conceive how the present grievances from the smaller Bill could be resisted. The to the larger portion of the Noble Marquis concluded community. That Bill, my by moving that the Bill Lords, was supported by should be read a second several, and by me among time.
the rest : it was opposed by The ARCHBISHOP of CAN- others, and those others TERBURY.—“I have always formed on that occasion a expressed myself extremely majority which rejected the desirous of paying every
Bill. At that time, however, respect to the feelings of there appeared a disposition religious conscience. I be- on all sides to give the relief lieve, my Lords, that the desired under some form. scruples of the Unitarians My Lords, that relief can are so founded on religious only be afforded in one of faith and conscience; and two ways; either by allowseeing that, I conceive them ing these parties to celeto be entitled to the consi- brate marriages in their deration of the House; and own places, and according the question then only a- to their own ferms, or by rises how the relief can be submitting the Liturgy of best afforded. Some little the Church of England to time ago it was proposed to some alterations calculated alter the Liturgy of the to remove the objections of Church in this respect; and Unitarian Dissenters. My to this plan 1 thought it my
Lords, to this last plan I
objected in the last session; nience. The first, undoubtto it I still object; and de- edly, it accomplishes; the precating, as 1 do, any al- second, I do not think teration of our excellent that it does in its present Liturgy, I trust I always form, and considerable alshall object to it. I was then terations will therefore be told that no alteration was necessary
in the Comintended; that to be sure mittee. The Noble Mover some portions of the ser- has stated that it was his vice were omitted, but that wish to have introduced a no part of it was submitted measure comprehending all to substitution or alteration. classes of Dissenters, and But surely it cannot be con- supposes that it may be tended, that as marked and thought extraordinary that decided an alteration may this favour should be grantnot be effected by omission ed only to this particular as by any substitution. Was sect. My Lords, favour is it not asked by this omis- not the ground on which we sion, to put aside the recog- are to proceed. Scruple of nition of one of the most conscience is the ground on essential articles of our faith
are to entertain --the doctrine of the Trini- this Bill as a matter of justy? If we were, at the re- tice. If such scruple exists, quest of objectors to our (and in the case of the Unidoctrines, to put them away tarians I feel that it does from our service, to present exist,) they are entitled to our formularies thus muti- relief at our hands. I am lated and unhallowed to aware, my Lords, that this their purposes, would not cannot be done, after all our this be to make the Church care, without some hazard the handmaid to Dissent ? of civil insecurity; but Such a proposition, my scruples of conscience outLords, was not, could not, weigh that hazard; and and, I trust, never will be ought to do so. The band's listened to. The only plan will be published in a place then, that remains for a- to which Unitarians do not doption is that which I have resort; and the marriage before noticed ; and I now may take place ten miles come to consider the pro- off; and there may be havisions of this Bill. It is zard in this, no doubt. As very true, my Lords, that
to the supposed claim of in this Bill it is proposed the general body of Dissento provide for relief of con- ters, it is founded on a difscience and also for the pre- ferent principle. It is not servation of civil conve- founded as here in conscien