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History of religion in England from the opening of the Long Parliament to the end of the eighteenth century (Volume 6) online

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Corporation Acts as relates to the taking the Sacra-
ment of the Lord's Supper as a qualification for offices."
A copy was despatched to every member of the
House of Commons, and again, in March, 1739, a
motion was made to bring in a Bill to the effect now
expressed. Who introduced the motion is not known,
but there was a long debate ; and the proposal being
for a second time rejected by the Government, it was
lost as before. Now 188 voted against 89. Yet after
such a rebuff the Committee did not despair. They
wrote to their friends to justify what they had done,
saying that members to whom they applied for support
acknowledged the reasonableness of the measure, and
that to accuse them of distressing the Administration
was unfair, as the motion was made and supported
by approved members of the party. Probably the
Dissenters had offended the Ministers on the former
occasion, by seeking help from their opponents.

Returning to the year 1736 ; in the month of March
we find a petition was presented from the Quakers for
relief from the vexatious and expensive operation of
tithe laws, through prosecutions carried on in the
ecclesiastical courts. Leave was given to amend the
laws for the recovery of ecclesiastical imposts. A Bill
to that effect was framed. In case a Quaker should
not submit to the decision of two magistrates, recourse


was to be had to the courts at Westminster. On a
refusal to pay, the amount was to be levied by distress.
The Bill was largely disputed in the House of Com-
mons, and then carried by 164 to 48. From the Lords
it met with a different reception. It was supported by
Harrington, Hervey, Carteret, the Duke of Argyll, and
Earl Hay ; and opposed by the Bishop of Salisbury,
the Lord Chancellor, the Earl of Hardwicke, and Lord
Lovell. The Earl of Scarborough and Lord Bathurst
also addressed the House. The debate turned upon
no great principle, no idea was entertained of exempt-
ing Quakers from payment ; the controversy simply
related to legal proceedings, which, without being ob-
noxious to the Society of Friends, would secure their
discharge of debts claimed on behalf of the Church of
England. " Tythe," it was said, " is a tax which is
now due by the law of the land, and must remain so ;
therefore the Quaker must pay it as well as every
other man subjected to it by law. Nor does he desire
to be absolutely free from it ; he only desires, since his
conscience will not allow him to pay it voluntarily and
freely, that you would take it from him in the easiest
and least expensive method." * Lord Hardwicke pro-
fessed himself ready to help the Quakers, but he
despaired of doing anything that session, saying the
settlement of the question would require more time
than they could then give to it, and at all events
the Bill required much modification before it was fit
to pass. The question of committing it was decided
in the negative by 54 to 35. Fifteen bishops voted
against it.f

In the same year, -1736, a Statute of Mortmain was
enacted, which, reciting the mischief increased by large

t Ibid., 1219.

1727-1745.] IN THE REIGN OF GEORGE IL 13

and improvident dispositions of property on the part
of dying persons for charitable uses, made it unlawful
to give lands, or money for purchasing lands, unless
the conveyance should be executed twelve months
before the donor's death. " Charitable uses," included
religious objects, and therefore the Act affected eccle-
siastical interests. What could have induced this piece
of legislation just then it is impossible to say. In the
Middle Ages, when a large proportion of real estates
were being swept within the grasp of ecclesiastical
hands, there existed abundant reason for mortmain
laws ; but in the eighteenth century, when benefactions
of the kind were not at all common, it is difficult to
perceive what could be the particular reason for fresh
restrictions on the subject. The measure is called
Lord Hardwicke's Act, and in a speech in support of
it, he alluded to the possible danger of Nonconformist
and Jewish endowments.

It is a curious coincidence that about a couple of
years before the Act was passed, a wealthy Dissenter,
to be noticed hereafter, contemplated an educational
foundation, and in 1735 executed a will for that pur-
pose, but as it did not provide for the purchase of
lands, but only for the instruction of ministerial can-
didates, his scheme did not come within the scope of
Lord Hardwicke's prohibitions. Lord Hardwicke,
having been brought up as a Dissenter, and indeed
educated in a Dissenting school, may be supposed to
have come within reach of knowing what went on
amongst old friends ; but in the trust to which I have
referred there was nothing to alarmi the mind of his
Lordship, and it does not seem to -have had any bearing
on the particular evil which he sought to prevent.*

* I have to thank one of my intelligent correspondents for
having called my attention to this subject.


Queen Caroline died in November, 1737, manifesting
through her iUness that sweetness of disposition for
which her Hfe had been so remarkable ; except — and
it is a sad exception — that to the last she refused to
receive into her presence the Prince of Wales, who,
being her own son, whatever might be his offence, had
the strongest claim on her affection and forgiveness.
She was buried, with some confusion in the service;
but it is interesting to learn that Handel's anthem
was sung for the first time at her obsequies : " When
the ear heard her, then it blessed her ; and when the
eye saw her, it gave witness to her. How are the
mighty fallen ! She that was great among the nations,
and princess among the provinces." *

Tidings reached London in September, 1745, that
Charles Edward Stuart had so far succeeded in his
attempt to secure the throne for his father, that he
had entered Edinburgh in triumph and taken pos-
session of Holyrood Palace. He had ridden down the
High Street on his charger, wearing the white cockade,
had been rapturously received by a large number of
citizens, and had proclaimed James HI. King of Great
Britain. The possible ecclesiastical consequences of
success in this rapid movement it is easy to guess.
" Professing the Romanist religion, he might soon have
been tempted to assail, at the very least he would have
alarmed, a people jealous of their freedom, and a
Church tenacious of her rights." f And in any case
his reign must have proved a return of the Stuart type,
for it could exist only by resting on the ruins of the
Revolution of 1688. The religious excitement amongst
certain classes in England, especially the Dissenters,

* Stanley's " Memorials of Westminster Abbey," 184.
t Stanhope's " History," III. 277.

1745-1760.] IN THE REIGN OF GEORGE IL 15

who seem to have looked deeper into the question at
issue than many of their fellow subjects, was there-
fore intense ; and it increased in a few days when news
of the Preston Pans victory arrived, and the story was
told of the death of the brave Protestant, Colonel
Gardiner. Higher it rose, wider it spread, as the slow
post brought to the metropolis intelligence of an
advance on England, of the border being crossed, and
of Carlisle being taken. From Carlisle the Pretender
marched to Manchester, and thence to Derby. A
battle was anticipated in the neighbourhood of North-
ampton, and the metropolis was threatened : yet the
excitement even then was not universal, multitudes,
strange to say, did not much care about it one way or
another. With religious people it was otherwise ; they
took a side, a few for, the majority against, the Pre-
tender. Nonjurors and Jacobite Churchmen sympa-
thized in the rebellion ; but on the part of moderate
Tories, Whigs of different shades, loyal members of
the Establishment, and the various Dissenting denomi-
nations, who identified the Pretender's cause with the
interests of popery, there were zealous and earnest
efforts to arrest the tide of invasion. Archbishop
Herring exerted himself in the support of his Royal
master. He gathered together volunteers by his per-
suasion, and raised a fund of ;^40,ooo towards the
public defence. Sermons on the duty of Protestants
to stand by the throne were preached and published.
Pamphlets by clergymen during the former rebellion
of 171 5 were reprinted; and of course, when the
struggle was over, and victory crowned the royal arms
on the field of CuUoden, churches echoed with thanks-
giving. But amongst the supporters of the Govern-
ment at that juncture, if not the most wealthy or the


most numerous, Nonconformists were the most active,
and in their records are notices of" Solemn humiliation
and prayers on account of the unnatural rebellion in
Scotland." Dr. Doddridge was singularly active, and
promoted the raising of troops in his congregation and
neighbourhood. Also in September, 1745, the Deputies
resolved that it be recommended to Protestant Dis-
senters to express their zeal and readiness to support
his Majesty's person and Government in any legal way
that might prove effectual.

In Lancashire sides were taken according to political
predilections. The Nonjurors boldly came out in
support of Prince Charles. Three sons of the Non-
juring clergyman, Dr. Deacon, on their father's advice,
and with their father's blessing, obtained commissions
in the army of the Pretender. Members of his con-
ereg"ation,':toa-ether with Roman Catholics and some
orthodox Churchmen, became officers of the Manchester
regiment. One of the first enrolled was no other than
the " Jemmy Dawson," immortalized in Shenstone's
ballad. An Oxford clergyman, teacher in the Gram-
mar Schools, dressed in canonicals, accompanied a
drummer as he went through the town beating up
recruits. James III. was proclaimed in Manchester,
and one of the chaplains of the Collegiate Church,
in the presence of crowds lining Salford Street,
offered solemn prayer for a Divine benediction on
the daring enterprise. Sunday, March 30th, witnessed
a grand gathering in the Collegiate Church. The
Manchester regiment marched there under a banner
inscribed with the motto, " Church and Country." The
men wore blue, the officers Scotch tartan, all mounting
the white cockade. Ladies in plaid ribbons, shawls,
and mantles poured into the edifice. Charles occupied

1745-1760.] IN THE REIGN OF GEORGE II i-j

the warden's seat, and the Oxford clergyman preached
from the words, " The Lord is King, let the earth be
glad thereof." There were no counter-demonstrations
on the part of Presbyterians ; but in Liverpool a
regiment was raised in defence of King George by the
pastor of the Baptist Church in Byron Street. The
Manchester regiment soon broke up, having done no
service, and the unfortunate clericals who threw them-
selves into the Stuart cause paid the penalty of
rebellion at Carlisle and elsewhere. The heads of some
were stuck on poles by the Manchester Exchange ;
and as long as they remained. Dr. Deacon raised his
hat, and blessed God for the constancy of the sufferers,
though his own son was of the number. This was
denounced by a Presbyterian minister as " false worship
in the Christian sense, but true Nonjuring and Jacobite
devotion." The rebellion suppressed, Manchester over-
flowed with delight ; orange ribbons immediately took
the place of tartans and white cockades ; and St.
Anne's Church and Cross Street Meeting were now as
brilliant in symbolical colours as the Collegiate Church
had been before. Bells rang, bonfires blazed, and
illuminations at night sparkled from the windows. Dr.
Deacon could not unite in the general joy, but the
heartless mob insisted upon his putting lights in his
windows as other people did.*

Three years afterwards, 1748, when the nation had
become quiet, and no one remained to trouble the
House of Hanover, Gooch, Bishop of Norwich, preached
one day in his fine old cathedral, and said, " that the
leaders of the rebellion were Presbyterians, as appeared
by the conduct of those Lords in the Tower, who,
during their imprisonment there, sent for Presbyterian

* Halley's " Lancashire," II. 372 et seq.


confessors." There happened to be present the cele-
brated Presbyterian minister, Samuel Chandler. He
was nettled at the allusion to Presbyterianism, inas-
much as Lord Lovat, one rebel who died on Tower
Hill, was a Roman Catholic ; and Balmerino made
no profession of religion at all, but only shouted, " God
save King James," adding that he would lay down,
if he had them, a thousand lives in the same cause.
As to Lord Kilmarnock, who was a Presbyterian, he
confessed the greatness of his crime.* On returning
to London, Chandler wrote to the Bishop on the
subject, complaining of the unfairness of the charge,
which led his Lordship to return a civil answer, together
with an invitation, which the Dissenting minister
accepted. As they were talking together, conversation
ran upon the subject of Comprehension, agitated long
before, but now for many years fallen asleep. Some
little time afterwards a meeting followed between
Chandler and the Bishop, accompanied by Sherlock of
Salisbury. What Chandler said, we do not know ;
but Sherlock is represented as remarking, " Our Church,
Mr. Chandler, consists of three parts, doctrine, dis-
cipline, and ceremonies. As to the last, they should
be left indifferent ; as to the first, what is your objec-
tion } " The substance of the reply appears to have
been : " Your Articles must be expressed in Scripture
words, and the Athanasian Creed must be discarded."
Upon this, as report goes, both Bishops rejoined, in
words once used by Tillotson in reference to that
Creed, they wished " they were rid of it." They

* In the " Life of Doddridge," by Dr. Stanford, a letter is
printed containing an account of the execution of Balmerino and
Kilmarnock. Balmerino is described as seeming "to have no
thoughts of a future state.

1745-1760.] IN THE REIGN OF GEORGE II 19

further professed that they had no objection to express
the Articles in Scripture phraseology. " But what
could be done," they went on to ask, " about reordina-
tion ? " " None of us," remarked Chandler, " would
renounce his Presbyterian ordination ; but if your
Lordship means only to impose your hands upon us,
and by that rite recommend us to public service in
your society or constitution, that perhaps might be
submitted to." The two Bishops, at the conclusion
of the interview, requested Chandler to wait on Dr.
Herring, who had by this time succeeded Potter in the
Primacy. He did so, and met once more with the
Bishop of Norwich, when the Archbishop, finding
Comprehension to be the subject under discussion,
remarked, '' A very good thing ; he wished it with all
his heart, and the rather because this was a time which
called upon all good men to unite against infidelity
and immorality, which threatened universal ruin ; and
added, he was encouraged to hope from the piety,
moderation, and learning of many Dissenters, that this
was a proper time to make the attempt." Upon hear-
ing this. Chandler said he wished the Articles to be
expressed in Scripture words, to which his Grace
replied, " Why not } It is the impertinences of men
thrusting their own words into iVrticles, instead of the
words of God, which have occasioned much of the
divisions in the Christian Church from the beginning
to this day." He added, "the Bench of Bishops
seemed to be of his mind ; that he should be glad to
see Mr. Chandler again, but was then obliged to go
to Court." The account of this conversation rests on
the authority of the Dissenting minister who had so
remarkable an interview with his Episcopalian friends.
How the conversation was reported on the other side,


we cannot tell ; but the opinions of one or two of the
three Prelates were certainly such as to lean in what
would be called a liberal direction. Still, it is more
than a little surprising, that Bishops should go so
far as this report would indicate ; and at all events
Chandler was blamed for what he did. " Several
persons," says another Dissenting Divine who has
preserved the report, " were angry with him for his
conduct in this affair, especially for an expression he
made use of, on his second visit, when, urging the
expediency of expressing the Articles in Scripture
language, he said, * It was for others, not himself, he
suggested this — his own conscience not being dis-
satisfied with them as they now stood, for he freely
owned himself to be a moderate Calvinist' " * What
exactly excited such anger, whether the profession of
his own opinion, or his allusion to the opinion of
others, does not appear ; but this appears, and it is
worthy of observation, that anger did not proceed
from any distinct objection to the idea of Compre-
hension altogether. That idea still lingered in some
quarters, but there is no ground to suppose that a
deep or a widespread desire existed in Nonconformist
circles upon the subject. Baxter, Howe, and Calamy,
who longed for something of the sort, were gone ; and
the time for regathering Dissenters within the bosom
of the Establishment had passed by, never to return.
Soon after the interview between the Archbishop and
Chandler^ his Grace received a visit from Dr. Dod-
dridge, who in the course of conversation suggested
the possibility "of a sort of medium between the
present state and that of a perfect coalition." It was,
says Doddridge, " to permit the Clergy to officiate

* Wilson's " Dissenting Churches," II. 354-

1745-1760.] IN THE REIGN OF GEORGE II 21

amongst us if desired," involving " a counterpart of per-
mitting Dissenting ministers to officiate in Churches."
This struck Potter as " a new and important thought
which he would lay up in his mind for future con-
sideration." Nothing came of it ; yet, however
difficult Comprehension may be — this kind of inter-
communion and interchange would involve no sur-
render of principle on either side amongst those who
have common religious sympathies. As to Presby-
terians, Independents, Baptists, and Methodists, they
preach at the present time in each others' pulpits
without offence or inconvenience. Only Episcopalians
decline such intercourse. While changes in the Estab-
lishment were sought by different persons, the policy
of the Whig Minister was to keep things as they were.
" Do not stir what is at rest,'' was his politic motto.
" Those at the head of affairs," said Warburton, " find
it as much as they can do to govern things as they
are, and they will never venture to set one part of the
Clergy against another ; the consequence of which
would be, that in the intrigues of political contests,
one of the two parties would certainly fall in with the
faction, if we must call it so, against the Court."

Numerous changes in the Episcopate occurred in
the reign of George 11. Smallbrook, Bishop of St.
David's, was, in 1730, raised to the See of Lichfield
and Coventry, in consequence of Chandler being at
the time translated from that See to Durham. In
both appointments honour was done to learning ; so
it was, also, in the case of the antiquarian Tanner,
raised from a Christ Church Canonry to the Bishopric
of St. Asaph in 1731, and in the case of another
antiquary, Maddox, promoted in 1736, from the
Deanery of Wells, to succeed Tanner. In 1734 two


other appointments took place — that of Benson, a man
of piety and worth, to the See of Gloucester and that
oi Hoadly, promoted from Salisbury to Winchester.
Lavington was raised from a Canonry at St. Paul's to
the See of Exeter in 1746, and Sherlock presided over
London from 1748 to 176 1. He had been opposed
to Hoadly in the Bangorian Controversy, and it is
said that Hoadly dreaded him more than any other
opponent, for he was an eloquent speaker, and effec-
tively addressed the House of Lords. His method of
defending Christianity in the " Trial of the Witnesses
of the Resurrection of Jesus," — in which, after cross
questions, he points out their harmony — may be taken
as a key to his habits of thought ; and his corre-
spondence with Doddridge indicates his liberal and
comprehensive spirit* Zachary Pearce was raised
from Bangor to Rochester in 1756. He had attracted
Queen Caroline's attention as early as 1737, and was
made Dean of Winchester two years afterwards.
Attaining to the Bishopric of Bangor in 1747, he was
transferred to Rochester in 1756, which he held in
connection with the Deanery of Westminster. In
1768 he resigned the Deanery, sighing for a fuller
rest in some lines which were entitled " The Wish,"
beginning with the words —

" From all Decanal cares at last set free,
O could that freedom still more perfect be."

But the most important Episcopal change, in the
reign of George H., was when Potter succeeded Arch-
bishop Wake in 1737. The appointment at first looks
strange, in connection with the Queen's ecclesiastical
influence, for Potter was a High Churchman ; but

* " Doddridge Cor.," V. 153.

1745-1760.] IN THE REIGN OF GEORGE H. 23

he was also a man of pre-eminent learning, and a
Whig in political opinion. These two recommenda-
tions were powerful with her Majesty. She admired
the author of "The Antiquities of Greece," and the
editor of Plutarch, Basil, and Lycophron ; and she
liked an argument on points of doctrine with one who
had been Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford. In
the policy of supporting Walpole and a Whig Ministry
— very important in Caroline's estimation — she could
count on the adherence of the new Archbishop. So
that all things considered, the elevation of Potter quite
accorded with her views and her wishes. His influence
on the destinies of the Church is another matter. A
" cold and dry orthodoxy " has been attributed to
him, but with it there has also been ascribed valuable
service done to the Church of England by his opposi-
tion to all attempts at relaxing the rigour of clerical
subscription.* Hoadly was friendly to that object,
and might have promoted it had he been made Arch-
bishop ; therefore the choosing of Potter in preference
is considered by some to have been a security to the
Establishment in an hour of peril. But it is curious
to find alleged as a reason for this view, that Latitu-
dinarianism was at that time on the increase. It had
been increasing in spite of subscription. Many could
subscribe on some ground, no doubt satisfactory to
themselves, however they differed from Church for-
mularies. How that could be a defence which in fact
was found to be so much gossamer thread, it is very
hard to understand.

Archbishop Potter died in 1747, when the Primacy
was offered, first to Sherlock, Bishop of London, and
then to Butler, Bishop of Durham. The reason why

* Perry's "History of the Church of England," III. 361.


the former refused it we are not informed ; but the
latter is reported to have done so on account of the
condition of the Church, of which he took very gloomy-
views, and did not feel himself competent to meet the
exigencies of the case. Herring-, Archbishop of York,
was the next person thought of for the vacant post,
recommended as he was by the loyalty he had mani-
fested during the Rebellion. He accepted it. The
ecclesiastical prospect must have appeared to him very
different from what it did to his brother, for Herring
wrote to a friend saying, '* I think it happy that I am
called up to this high station at a time when spite and
rancour and narrowness of spirit are out of countenance,
when w^e breathe the benign and comfortable air of
liberty and toleration, and the teachers of our common
religion make it their business to extend its essential
influence, and join in supporting its true interest and
honour." The tone of sentiment thus expressed, so
different from Butler's and from that of many others,
is in accordance with the disposition attributed to this
Prelate ; but it is supposed, by those who suspect him
of latitudinarian opinions, to have proceeded, at least
in a measure, from that cause. He occupied the chair
of St. Augustine about ten years, and w^as then followed
by Hutton, translated from York in 1757. The new
Archbishop, like his predecessor, is described as enter-
taining " very liberal notions on ecclesiastical affairs ; "
but what exhibits his character most decidedly in that
respect is, that he was the patron and the friend of

Online LibraryJohn StoughtonHistory of religion in England from the opening of the Long Parliament to the end of the eighteenth century (Volume 6) → online text (page 2 of 37)