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thus we arrive at the modern ultimatum—we come back to prisons again, which, under their former regime, used to lie midway between the prelate and the stake. In no hands and at no time could these prerogatives be usefully or justly placed. We should feel the absurdity and wickedness of resorting to these torturous means and appliances for the support of any truth of philosophy or science; but to attempt by force to compel the conscience to believe in or support any Christian truth would be worse still, because we have the most specific instructions on this head from the great Teacher himself
. How rank, then, must be the offence of compelling a Christian, in the name of Christianity, to support what he may believe to be an untruth —to uphold what he may believe to be a great lie—or to contribute to the perpetuation of a system which turns Christ's spiritual church into a Civil Corporation, or rather into a Rotten-Borough of the State.
To corroborate our assertion, we find that these prerogatives have ever been inoperative for the suppression of the evil, and have only been exercised for the distress and ruin of the good. Force, and not truth, the only weapon, is tried ; and tried only on those who never acknowledge any other authority than truth. In short, the only parties with whom it cannot possibly prevail are the only parties on whom it has been, or will be tried. There is then, every probability-reasoning as well from experience as from the nature of the case that the prelates' victim, the sufferer for conscience sake, is a professed Christianand, in the vast majority of cases, a sincere and humble believer in Christ, and a devout observer of all his commandments. Because he is such, he has fallen into the prelates' traps ; because he is a disciple of Christ he is condemned from the blackest chair of judgment which ever confronted the mercy-seat-from the chair of a Protestant Inquisition; and consigned to punishment by a priest, who professes to be acting under the most direct and exclusive commission from Christ himself.
For the truth of what has now been advanced, we may appeal to contemporary instances, as confidently as to those which history has indelibly recorded. The spirit of prelacy is the same to day as yesterday; the same now as when its movements filled England with the groans of the puritans, and dyed Scotland's mountains with the blood of the covenanters; the same now as when it fell under the stroke of Parliament, to rise again in all the plenitude of vindictive malignity, with the restoration of the royal Bacchanal. Antagonism to liberty of conscience and hatred of every form of freedom are its 'marks,' and will ever identify it. Need we say, that the victims of prelatical persecution are the same ? of the same class and
the same character ? Now, as formerly, they are good Christian men. Take the two recent cases of Childs and THOROGOOD, men of different degrees of talent, and moving in different spheres, but each of them worthy, intelligent, and estimable members of society. The one, indeed, is a gentleman of no ordinary ability in the affairs of life, whose exertions as private citizen for the public benefit have been great, and his circle of friends is uncommonly large. Above all, he is a pious Christian man, regulating his life by God's word and law,—and he has need of 'strong consolation,' for he has fallen on evil tongues, he has been a great personal sufferer, and death has very lately invaded the sanctuary of his heart and home. The other individual has also evinced his sincerity by his sufferings; and by those sufferings, so meekly and yet so courageously endured, he has revived the interests of liberty, and sustained the character of his religious profession. But he too is a pious Christian man, and we could mention sacrifices made by this humble person for the cause of Christ and the benefit of his neighbours, which would put to the blush many a more respectable professor.
But our readers may still be curious to know something of Mr. William Baines, the new church-rate prisoner: he will not be found to furnish an exception to the preceding remarks. He is (or should we not rather say he was) a successful young tradesman at Leicester-much respected by his fellow-townsmen, highly esteemed in his Christian profession--of a quiet, unobtrusive disposition-shunning all political notoriety-living in the bosom of his rising family-anxious, but in due subordination to higher principles, for the happy fire-side clime'-modest, but firm, in the assertion of his convictions--active and generous in the promotion of every good work-leading, in very deed, as he was commanded, ' a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty.'
From his business--from the spiritual ministrations, so thankfully enjoyed and zealously supported—from a home so endeared-he is now severed. His customer misses him from the shop-his friends from the cheerful circle of kind and neighbourly reciprocities—his pastor from his wonted place at worship -his Sunday-school class wonder where their teacher' has gone-his brethren and sisters of the little community see him not, either on the Sunday going up to the house of God with his family, or wending his way with willing steps, on the weekday, to the place where prayer is wont to be made--and his HOME! Go and see and you will find a house without a head, servants without a master, children without a father, and a wife bereft of her husband. The morning comes, but there is no father to open the Book, and gather the family, and return
thanks and pray for mercies; the decent meal is spread, but he who has earned it, is not there to ask the benediction and say the grace; the night falls, the hour of rest comes, the children gather round their mother to breathe their artless prayer, but there is no father's encouraging smile or parting caress; and all is quiet save the beating of that mother's heart; his familiar voice and face have not been heard or seen in that dwelling all the day, and a day is a long time, it is a great part of life, and its renewal may not be vouchsafed; but the charities of home and life have not been tasted for a day, nor will they be for many a day to come, if indeed they ever be tasted again! But the reader will best picture to himself a scene, which would be desolate indeed could the persecutor reach the gentle hearts there, or shake the firm resolution of a sufferer, whose duty is patience.
We have answered the question with which we set out, almost in the spirit of an epitaph. Were the prisoner to die in his bonds, it would be the epitaph of a good man, who died in the bosom of "The Church,' so aptly typified by four stone walls.
Need it be asked where Baines is ? No. Need it be asked how it is that this outrage on an English citizen, and an English Christian, comes to pass ? No. Need it be asked who has done it - by whose encouragement — or whose connivance? No. These practices may be enormities, but they are perfectly notorious—nay, they are not so much notorious outrages, as outrages of course, now, in this brilliant era of intellectual advancement, under the mild sway of a young Queen, and the administrative superintendence of a Party who, if they had not been so safely ensconced about the throne as her majesty's advisers, would have been the first as patriots to denounce these oppressions of her best subjects; the land would have rung again with their indignant fulminations against both the priestly authors and the cabinet abettors of these tyrannous proceedings --they would have been rampant in their old vocation of rousing the greatest passions and appealing to the highest interests, for the promotion of self-regarding ends; their rallying cry would have been the watchword of civil and religious liberty' to be quieted only by victory—to cease only with success ?--no: but to be dropped, rather than quieted-to be sopped, rather than ceased on restoration to office and reinstatement in place!
Need we ask, why is this? We answer by asking, Is HE NOT A PROTESTANT DISSENTER? He is; and this accounts for all. Such treatment is perfectly legal and constitutional. The assertion will startle only the nonconformists who have not inquired into the true character of those arrangements which the state has made with the hierarchy, for their comfort and accommodation. The sanguine amongst them may probably have over rated their importance, by measuring their actual power by some obsolete standard of Christian probity or civil rectitude. Let us no longer deceive ourselves or delude others, by these overweening estimates. Let the Protestant Dissenters acquaint themselves with their political state and condition. Their numbers may be great-their wealth considerable—their intelligence at least on a par with that of their neighbors—their zeal and usefulness in the promotion of religion and the diffusion of knowledge, testified by all. They may come of a noble stock, however unworthy of such ancestry-noble for genius, courage, and piety—the earliest advocates of religious, the first teachers of civil, freedom-its first assertors and its first martyrs. They may have fought and bled in battle for their country-contributed to its burthens-enriched its literature-sustained its piety. They may be patriots by birthright, and yet loyal ; they may be the stay of order, and yet democratic. They may love their father-land, and their prayers to God may be stirred up like the sound of many waters about His Throne, for the stability of its eminence and the lustre of its righteousnessfor the safety of its queen and the prosperity of its people. But the Protestant Dissenter is dealt with as we have described. He, as such, according to the law of the land, has no rights—they are favors; he has no wrongs—they are incidental inconveniences. The law graciously permits such a subject to contribute to the support of the state only on condition that he shall contribute to the support of the church. This is the sum and substance of his position. If he put up contentedly with this conditional toleration, all is well; he may be a traitor to his conscience, but he will not be molested. He may rejoice in the unquestionable privilege of paying for his pew, and listening to his minister; he may be a trustee, executor, schoolmaster, and so forth ;-and thousands of Dissenters comply with this condition and enjoy their reward. But if a nonconformist do not recognize the condition—if he regard political conformity to the state's requisition on behalf of its church, as no less a violation of his Christian rights and duties than ecclesiastical conformity to the state's requisition on behalf of this church, then will he find, that he forfeits all the blessings of a constitution, which, thenceforth, vouchsafes not protection in return for allegiance; his property is pillaged, or his person
is incarcerated, by law, and neither one nor the other will be released till he has endured the penalty or paid the uttermost farthing.
Toleration is plainly a sort of middle state between tyranny and liberty. It is an open truce rather than a peace; and every day's events show how hollow it is. Being made up of aliquot portions of tyranny and liberty, it is therefore almost equally nauseous and unsatisfactory to both parties. To the friend as well as to the enemy of liberty, it means mutual degradation, grounded on conditional submission. The party tolerating looks upon it as a just sentence-compulsorily suspended, but not as a pardon; the party tolerated feels that it is a reprieve from execution, where the sentence of guilty has been solemnly pronounced, but where there has been no crime. Lord John Russell, in acknowledging a late memorial of his constituents, plainly intimates that the Dissenters had better comply with the terms of this contract, or their opponents may repudiate it as well as themselves !
This intermediate state cannot be an abiding one. It cannot be reconciled with the genius of our age or of our constitution, -of our common religion, or of our common humanity. It is not in the nature of things that mortals should abide in it. Government, be it Whig or Tory, must get out of it, at one side or the other; either by going backwards to old tyranny, or forwards to new liberty. In other words, the state must abrogate toleration and give us pure Equality; or they must abrogate toleration and give us sheer Despotism. The former will be the object of a patriotic, the latter the object of a despotical, government. We are evidently advancing to the recognition of one or the other. They are cardinal points in modern politics. The alternative is presented by the hand of fate-rather let us say, by divine providence-and one course or other must be embraced. Can the side which politicians' will take in this controversy be doubtful ? We know that the state-church will be supported to the outrance in all its doings by the whole force of the crown and aristocracy. Its plots and machinations, through its press and its priests, its landlords and its representatives, are clearly, energetically, and avowedly directed against God's truth and man's liberty. Since Laud's days its priests have not been so bitterly arrogant as at present. True enough, the church will now and then make a beggarly commutation of great spiritual claims with the state, but it yields only in order to secure and to make sure. In the instance of church-rates, it has partially abandoned the high prerogatives of unmitigated spiritual censures in its own courts, for the sake of more summarily administering its highest functions by the hands of the magistrate. The state-church loves certainty; and a six months' imprisonment suits better than a longer, but less certain, term of punishment. It matters not as to the time or the mode. If the Church can fairly impale its victim on one of its many fangs, it will profess its readiness to forego the vengeance of the rest; because, like the dragons of old, it can concoct as much remorseless venom in a single tooth as is needful, to relieve its wrath and wreak its sweltering spite. The time and mode do