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the essential doctrines of Christianity, and it ought to be prepared, if it relieved them, to relieve every one, however opposed to Christianity. The words used, he contended, required no declaration of faith from the parties, they were merely the conclusion of a contract pronounced by a

third person,

join in her service, he thought the Bill with proper amendments, might be made satisfactory to all parties, and would therefore vote for the Committee. In that Committee he should have some amendments to propose, unless he were prevented by some Noble Lord more competent to the task. The object of his amendments would be to assimilate the present Bill as much as possible, in civil principle, to the Bill of last Session, providing against clandestine marriages, and making some provisions for punishing those who were instrumental in carrying them into effect. He should also

propose another clause, to enable the Unitarians to keep the registers of their own marriages; with amendments of this description, he thought the Bill would be beneficial, and he should vote for the Committee.

The Bishop of St. DAvid's then spoke, but in so low a tone as to be nearly inaudible below the bar. We only caught a sentence or two. His Lordship said, the Unitarians objected to doctrines which were held by the great mass of Christians to be essential to Christianity. The objections of the Unitarians, therefore, were to what the House must consider as

The Archbishop of CANTERBURY admitted that the Unitarians denied the Trinity, which the Church considered as an important and essential doctrine of Christianity, and it was on that account that they sought relief; but it could be no satisfaction to the Church, nor could the Church desire it, to force the Unitarians to acquiesce in some parts of its service which they denied, or, at any rate, to maintain a seeming acquiescence. He had heard it said, with great surprise, that the words might be used by the minister in one sense, and received by the parties in another. What was this but to encourage prevarication, and simulated assent to doctrines which the parties did not believe ? He was persuaded that it would give as much relief to the minister to be exonerated from the duty now imposed on him, as it would do to the Unitarian,

a

as

TERBURY.

and he should therefore of George II., intended for vote for the Bill going into a very different purpose,

Committee, where it that the Dissenters were might receive such amend- indirectly subjected to those ments as were proper. hardships from which they

The Bishop of St. DA- now sought relief. This VID's explained, disavowing Act, so far from being inany opinion that the Church tended to produce what could recognize the affixing had been described by the of a different meaning to Archbishop of Canterbury the words used.

a simulated assent to The Archbishop of CAN- doctrines which were not That was

the believed, was intended, as very point. The words

the title of the law imports, were notoriously used by solely to prevent clandesthe Church in one sense, tine marriages, and give and, it was said, might be the community all the sereceived by the parties in curity which the law could another.

bestow against the conseThe Marquis of LANS

quences of such marriages. DOWNE could not allow

Incidentally it had the effeet this opportunity to pass complained of, by subjectwithout adverting to some ing the Dissenters, like all topics which had been ur- other persons, to the reguged out of that House, lations for preventing these and partly adopted, per- marriages, and it was this haps by some of their Lord

incidental effect from which ships, and which could

they now wished to be lionly be maintained in com- berated, and which constiplete misapprehension of the tuted a distinct and fair Bill, and of the law of Eng- ground of claim for relief; land, when it was stated that not by altering the Liturgy these Dissenters should be

of the Church of England, placed in the same situation however, as the Right Reas they were in the reign of

verend Prelate who spoke King William; those who

first, seemed to suppose. stated this, forgot that if The Dissenters asked no the law were now as it was such thing; they sought no ther, the Dissenters would concession from the Church, now have had no occasion

but an alteration in the to ask for relief. It was in law, which would relieve consequence of an after

them from the evil of which innovation, effected by the they complained. They Act introduced by Lord knew that it had been Hardwicke, in the 26th

thought necessary to ad

here rigidly to the Liturgy; and that it had been declared that no alteration could be made and they, therefore, only asked relief in a mode which would subject them to additional trouble and expense, but would, it that cost, liberate them from the practice of admitting the doctrines of a Church which they are prepared to deny, and which, in the free exercise of their opinion, they were entitled to deny, The Noble Marquis said he had, on a former occasion, taken some trouble to elicit from the Noble and Learned Lord his opinion as to the legal situation of these parties, and he could not discover that that Noble Lord had any ground for considering the opinions of the Unitarians illegal

. In the courts of justice in this kingdom it had been long and cheerfully acknowledged, that there was a wide distinction between those blasphemous opinions

which were tertained by persons who had no other object than to subvert religion, and those which grew out of free discussion, which were scientiously formed, and which might legally exist. But the present Bill had been represented as a blow aimed against the Church, not intentionally by those who had brought in the

Bill, but by the Bill itself, in its ecessary operation. It was easy to make assertions of this nature, and he could not help recollecting that some of the most mischievous delusions which had ever disgraced a country, had originated in the unfounded assertion, that the Church was in danger. The most disgraceful acts recorded in our history were excited by erroneous clamours of this sort. The mob, who had carried the torch to the house of one of the greatest magistrates who had ever presided in England, had been led on to that act of violence and barbarism, under the influence of such an absurd belief. When, therefore, an opinion respecting the danger of the Church Establishment was thrown out by such an authority as the Noble Lord on the Woolsack, it was to be wished and expected that he would condescend to state in what the danger consisted. He would take leave to direct their Lordships' attention to what had been done in Ireland, where the Church was the same as the Church of England, except so far as the measure to which he was about to allude had altered and liberalized the spirit of church government. An Act was then pasked in 1781, declaring all

en

con

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marriages of alỊ Dissenters to be valid, and without any of the regulations which this Bill proposed ; and he would ask the Prelates of the Church Establishment in Ireland, to state in what instance this regulation had been found injurious to the Church ? That Act had passed in Ireland, not only with the approbation of the Right Reverend Bench and of the Lord Lieutenant, but of the Privy Council, acting at that time under the inAuence of Lord Thurlow, a man not likely to disregard the interests of the Church. Some of the Bishops, who had taken a part in that proceeding, had left their opinions recorded in a protest; and those opinions were so different from those avowed by the Noble and Learned Earl, that he could not help alluding to them. The Bill for allowing the marriages of Dissenters in Ireland, passed the Commons with out any opposition. In the House of Lords it was objected to; but when some of the Prelates came to form a protest against the measure, after it had passed into an Act, they stated their objections to be, not against the principle, of which, on the contrary, they approved, but because it gave the Dissenters greater

privileges than the members of the Church, (they being willing to give them as much,) and because it did not contain in its enactments a provision against clandestine marriages, nor a provision to facilitate divorces in the ordinary cases. They expressed themselves most willing to concur in the principle of the Bill, which they would not have done if they thought it likely to be attended with danger to the Church. He could not conceive that any objection could be made to the principle of the present Bill, except by persons who held that Unitarians were unfit to be recognized in civil society. What difference there might be in point of doctrine between them and the Established Church, it was not his business to inquire ; but if Unitarians had been tolerated, and were still considered worthy to be tolerated in this country, and to contract marriagesit followed, that they ought to be relieved from a form which imposed upon them a simulation of conformity and an acquiescence which the Church ought to disdain to accept, unless it came freely and from the heart. He could say with truth, that in proportion as he attached importance to the doctrines of the Church

1

of England, he would be anxious that no other assent should be required on their behalf, but that which flowed from the conviction of the heart. If there were any persons in this country who felt a complete indifference on

matters of religion, who regarded it only as a trick of State, intended to secure obedience to Government, and respect for law, those

were the very persons who, he expected, would be the first to compel others to wear that mask which they were content to wear themselves. But such a proceeding was nnworthy of a Christian and Protestant teacher, unworthy of the Church of England, and unworthy of that Assembly : they had no right to ask from others any submission which was not essential; and, after obtaining what was necessary to secure against clandestine marriages, they would not, he was persuaded, consent to vex the consciences of individuals, by obtaining a false assent to doctrines, in which they could not sincerelyacquiesce. With respect to the amendments suggested, he should have no objection, if the Bill went into Committee, to meet the views of the Right Reverend Prelates, preserving the principle of the Bill. But with respect

to the proposition for obliging the Dissenters to keep a separate registry of their own, he doubted whether the general' registry would not be more effectual; at the same time that he was willing to agree to any regulations which were considered necessary. The Bill was not intended for the benefit of Unitarians, but for the general benefit, by giving to marriage the greatest solemnity of which it was capable ;-the best way

to insure that solemnity was, to connect it with the religious belief of the parties, whether they might consider it mistaken or not; and the most certain way to weaken and destroy it was, to call them into the bosom of the Church, and, as it were, into the presence of their Creator, for the purpose of affecting opinions which they did not believe, though certain Right Reverend Prelates were good enough to point out the way in which the evasion might be reconciled to their consciences. He knew that in times which ought never to be referred to for precedents, during the ascendancy of the Romish Church, instruments of torture had been resorted to, for the purpose of compelling an acquiescence in doctrines which its professors had resolved to pro

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