« ZurückWeiter »
Mr URBAN, December 1972. was done by our ancestors, but jndge of
Send you the following letter, written the present character of fects or churches 4 by a gentleman who is perfectly well by their present conduct only. acquainted with the conftitution of New N ow to determine on the justice of England ; though the latter part of it, a. this charge against the present Diflenters, bout tithes, is no way practicable, or e- particularly those in America, let us conven to be thought of, under ours.
sider the following facts. They went “ I understand from the public papers, from England to establish a new country that in the debates on the bill for relie for themselves, at their own expence, ving the diffenters in the point of subscrip- where they might enjoy the free exercise tion to the church-articles (xxxiv. 355.], of religion in their own way. When fundry reflections were thrown out a- they had purchased the territory of the gaint that people, importing, “That they natives, they granted the lands out in themselves are of a perfecuting, intole- townships, requiring for it neither purrant fpirit; for that when they had here chase-money nor quitrent; but this conthe fuperiority, they perfecuted the dition only to be complied with, That church; and fill perfecute it in America, the freeholders should for ever support a where they compel its members to pay gospel-minister, (meaning probably one taxes for main aining the Presbyterian or of the then governing fects), and a freeIndependent worship, and at the same fchool, within the township. Thus, what time refuse them a toleration in the full is commonly called Presbyterianism beexercise of their religion by the admini- came the establifhed religion of that counAration of a Bishop."
try. All went on well in this way while If we look back into history for the the same religious opinions were general, character of present fects in Chriftianity, the support of minirer and school being we shall find few that have not in their raised by a proportionate tax on the lands. turps been perfecutors, and complainers But, in process of time, some becoming of perfecution. The primitive Christians Quakers, fome Baptists, and, of late years, thought persecution extremely wrong fome returning to the church of England, in the Pagans, but practifed it on one an- (through the laudable endeavours of, other. The first Proteftants of the church and a proper application of their funds of England blamed persecution in the by, the society for propagating the goRoman church, but practised it against spel), objections were made to the paythe Puritans. These found it wrong in ment of a tax appropriated to the supthe Bishops, but fell into the fame prac- port of a church they disapproved and tice themselves both here and in New bad forfaken. The civil magiftrates, howEngland. To account for this, we should ever, continued for a time to collect and remember, that the doctrine of tolera- apply the tax according to the original tion was not then known, or had not laws, which remained in force; and they prevailed in the world. Persecution was did it the more freely, as thinking it just therefore not so much the fault of the and equitable, that the holders of lands feat as of the times. It was n t in those should pay what was contracted to be days deemed wrong in itself. The gene- paid when they were granted, as the onsal opinion was only, that those who are ly confideration for the grant, and what in error ought not to perfecute the truth: had been considered by all subsequent but the poffeffors of truth were in the purchasers as a perpetual incumbrance on right to perfecute error, in order to de- the estate, bought therefore at a proporkroy it. Thus every sect believing itself tionably cheaper rate; a payment which poflefled of all truth, and that every tenet it was thought no honest man ought to differing from theirs was error, conceived, avoid under the pretence of his having that when the power was in their hands, changed his religious persuasion. And perfecution was a duty required of them this, I suppose, is one of the best grounds by that God whom they suppofe to be of demanding tithes of Diffenters now in offended with heresy.- By degrees, more England. But the practice being clamoderate and more modeft fentiments moured against by the Episcopalians as have taken place in the Christian world; persecution, the legislature of the proand among Proteftants particularly all vince of the Mafsachusets-bay, near thirty disclaim perfecution, none vindicate it, years since, pailed an act for their relief; and few practise it. We should, then, requiring indeed the tax to be paid as ucafe to reproach each other with what fual, but directing that the fsveral sums VOL. XXXV,