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bishop Sheldon; the spirit that raged against the Puritans from the days of Queen Elizabeth down to the passing of the Toleration Act, breathes through these Epistles; and indeed whenever a priesthood is fully persuaded of the divine right of its own religious monopoly, whenever it takes the high ground of inherent superiority, then must all who deny this monopoly be looked on as criminals of the worst sort, whom it is a virtue to deliver over to the secular arm. History has not been written in vain. A caste of privileged priests is inevitably cruel and persecuting, and certainly our clergy never have been renowned for mercy. It is a painful, but very instructive task, Mr. Chairman, to read our Church History, and to trace the bloody footsteps of our now superannuated and decrepit authority. Considering our origin, and how we ourselves have escaped out of the fangs of Popery, with the skin of our teeth,' our persecution of the Dissenters has been the most wicked I know of. To watch the Elizabethan Bishops, themselves but hardly saved from the stake, filling the gaols with Non-conformists, and ruining countless families by penal extortions, or hanging men for writing against the Prayer Book ;-to see the fury which animated our Clergy after the Restoration, and to notice all the bloody persecutions of the Dissenters, from the landing of Charles II., down to the passing of the Toleration Act, will furnish abundant proofs of the tendency and
propensity of our priesthood, when not restrained by the superior mercy of the laity. It is calculated that not less than 5000 Dissenters perished for non-conformity in the reigns of the Stuarts; and we all know with what extreme indignation the Toleration Act was received by the clerical body. In fact the high Church party, from the reign of William III. up to this present hour, have only been restrained from acts of violence against the Dissenters by the barrier of the law; and it is clear, by the writings and sermons of all that party, and by the flatteringreception with which we have honoured L. S. E., what we would do if we had the power to indulge our inclinations. I, Sir, for one, should be sorry to see our hands untied; and if the Conventicle and Five-Mile Acts were revived, and the power of burning heretics restored to us by law, I feel convinced that, in spite of the spirit of the times, we should vigorously attack the Dissenters with the priestly arguments of the gaol, the gibbet, and the stake.
"Can we, Mr. Chairman, remembering all that we have done when we had the power to work mischief, can we be surprised to hear the Dissenters now calling out for the humiliation of us Episcopalians? We did all we could to exterminate them when the sword was in our hand, and we thought we did God a service in persecuting them--but now when they only require that we should be made, what they are- -Dissenters-when
they, and the nation with them, demand an equalization of Christian sects, we cry out that religion is at an end, and that faith must be driven from the face of the earth if we lose our tithes. The tree which we cut down, but could not root out of the earth, has sprung up again into luxuriance,and out of its timber they have made an axe to cut us down in our turn.
Rode, caper, vitem; tamen hinc, quum stabis ad aram, In tua quod fundi cornua possit, erit.
"Let us then for the time that remains be more prudent; let us take warning by the history of all established Churches, and not make our downfall more complete by thus putting forth ridiculous claims and frivolous pretensions with all the pride of a Hildebrand, and the folly of a Laud. It is a most vain idea to suppose that we ever can by any position of circumstances, by any political change, or by the policy of any Cabinet, ever attain to what we desire, a monopoly of religion. Dissenters have increased, are increasing, and will constantly increase. Ours is the religion of the aristocracy, a body that has passed its meridian, and is evidently declining; the whole tide of society is flowing strong against the Established Church; and however grand may be our ideas, and however intolerant our language, it seems to me utterly impossible that we can long delay our destiny--that we can long prevent ourselves from falling into the humiliation of an unprivileged sect. If I did not
hope and believe that the Church of England would be separated from the state, if I did not expect before many years shall have passed over our heads, to see our fabric based on the voluntary system, I should quit the Established Church and become a Dissenter; but having, on conviction, adopted Episcopalian views, (though not such episcopacy as the Gathercoals and the Bishop of London dream of,) I still cling to our superannuated and tottering Church, because I believe she will soon be compelled to die to the world that she may live to Christ. I anticipate her resurrection, I look forward to her new life of righteousness, and her regeneration from the rudiments of the world. I am in prophetical vision (I trust I may so call it) beholding, and that not far off, the ruin of her wealth, and her irremediable abscission from the state; and then, when there shall be no more palaces for titled Prelates, when the Church of England shall be for ever freed of courtly Bishops, who spend half the year in Parliamentary intrigues and the other half in amassing money; when tithe-carnage shall cease in Ireland, and Church-rate strifes in England-when livings shall cease to be bought and sold, and to be advertised in the Auction Mart -when the whole rout of fox-hunters, card-players, and money-hoarders shall be driven from the Ministry-when the Universities shall not be the schools and the corrupters of future Evangeliststhen shall I rejoice to call myself a Clergyman of
the Church of England, a title which I now hold not without some feelings of compunction, feelings to which I know for a certainty several of my Reverend Brethren are no strangers. I, therefore, Mr. Chairman, propose the following resolution :
"The Clergy assembled at this present meeting have drunk the health of the Vicar of Tuddington, as of a private gentleman-but in so doing, they totally disclaim any participation in the sentiments contained in his published sermon, or in the Letters of L. S. E."
This speech I have given you as I copy it from the notes of a friend present-it was in reality much longer, and was delivered with terrible energy. I did not hear above half of it myself, for I was too confused and perplexed to understand what he was saying. I was revolving a thousand plans in my mind, and thinking what I should say or do when he had finished. Arden's power was so great over the meeting, that no one attempted to stop him. I once rose up to protest against something which fell from him, but with a stern voice, he said, "Sir, I will not be interrupted-when I have finished what I mean to say, you can answer me at your leisure ;" and the Chairman, who seemed overawed, desired me to keep my seat, and to wait till Mr. Arden had concluded.
Thus did I sit miserable and abashed till the harangue was ended, when Mr. Andrews rose to second Arden's resolution. They all then called