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“Complete Duty of Man;" Newton's "Olney Hymns;" the “ Practical View" of Wilberforce—all these exercised a deep influence an a large section of the people, whilst Berridge and Toplady were hymnwriters a

Lecky's Hist., ii. 616.



HE grievances of the Dissenters under the Cor-

poration and Test Acts had, ever since the days of Walpole , been laid to rest; but when Mr. Pitt came into power, the Dissenters, to whose support he was much indebted, thought that the time had arrived for urging the repeal of those Acts. Accordingly, a Committee of deputies solicited the support of Pitt and Fox, neither of whom was friendly to the penal laws, and on March 28, 1787, Mr. Beaufoy brought in a Bill for their repeal in the House of Commons. He set forth the grievances under which the Dissenters suffered, and he illustrated their injustice by the example of the philanthropist Howard, whom every kingdom in Europe except England would be proud to own, but who in this country was denied the common rights of a subject; he spoke of the degradation to religion when its highest ordinance was made a qualification for employment, as well as the painful position in which the Clergy were placed by the existing laws. Lord North opposed the repeal, and called the existing Acts “the great bulwark of the Constitution, to which they owed those inestimable blessings of freedom which they now enjoyed.” Pitt, as we have said, was no friend of the penal laws; yielding, however, to the opinion of the Bishops, he opposed the motion : “Church and State," he said, “are united upon principles of expediency, and it concerns those to whom the well-being of the State is entrusted to take care that the Church be not rashly demolished." The motion, though supported by Fox, was defeated by 178 to 100 votes.

a Parl. Hist., ix. 1046.

Another motion in the following year, also brought forward by Mr. Beaufoy, which had the support of Mr. Fox, met, although by a diminished majority (122 to 102 votes), with a similar fate. But a few days after the Bill had been introduced into the Commons, Lord Stanhope brought in a similar Bill in the House of Lords, for allowing all Nonconformists, except Roman Catholics, the free exercise of their religion; it was, however, defeated through the strong opposition of the Bishops b. But the diminished majority in the House of Commons gave encouragement to the Dissenters, who again in 1790, no longer under Mr. Beaufoy, but the vigorous

Lord Stanhope warned the Bishops that “if they would not suffer him to load away their rubbish by cartfuls, he would endeavour to carry it off in wheelbarrows, and if that were resisted, he would take it away with a spade.”—Hughes, iii. 406.

patronage of Fox, determined to submit their case to Parliament On March 2, Mr. Fox moved the repeal of the two Acts. The Dissenters, however, had chosen an inopportune time for urging their claims, and many

of their own friends were now opposed to them. For the country had before it the excesses of the French Revolution, with which the Dissenters were known to sympathize; the Clergy, alarmed at the fall of the Gallican Church, renewed the cry of "the Church in danger;" the zeal exerted on both sides was wonderful, especially on the part of the Dissenters, to whom the grievance, through the annual Acts of Indemnity, was only nominal; the Press teemed with petitions on one side or the other; Burke represented in Parliament the danger from such writers as Price and Priestley, who, if they had the power, had certainly the will, to overthrow the Church, as had been done in France; so that now the motion was defeated by the decisive majority of 294 to 105 votes, or nearly three to one; the agitation for the repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts was not renewed for nearly forty years.

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Priestley had in a letter to Mr. Pitt not only announced himself as the enemy of religious Establishments, but asserted that the Dissenters would demand also the repeal of the statute which made it blasphemy to impugn the Trinity; their rights to be married by their own ministers; to be admitted to the Universities without subscription; and the removal of Bishops from the House of Lords.

In 1791 an important motion was made in the Commons by Mr. Mitford, in behalf of a section of Roman Catholics described as “Protesting Catholic Dissenters 4.” He stated that in Burns' "Ecclesiastical Law" no fewer than seventy pages were filled with the penal statutes still in force against Roman Catholics. The present, he said, was the only reign (except the short one of James II.) since that of Elizabeth in which additional severities had not been enacted against them. Mr. Wyndham, who seconded the motion, spoke of the power of the Pope as a mere spectre, capable of frightening only in the dark. Mr. Fox objected that the proposed relief was too limited, and that it should be granted to all Roman Catholics alike, and Mr. Pitt spoke in favour of the abolition of the penal statutes. The Bill, however, passed the House of Commons in its original form.

But it was evident that such a limited provision, which included only “Protesting Roman Catholics," would never suit the Roman Catholics as a body. The oath which it was proposed under the Bill should be taken was also calculated to needlessly offend a large section of that community. It condemned, in language far stronger than Parliament

A body of Roman Catholics who protested against certain tenets imputed to them, such as the Pope's power to excommunicate Princes, and to absolve subjects from their allegiance.

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