« PreviousContinue »
R E A D E R.
HE ensuing Treatise was first pubo
well accepted, that within about two
The Author, a zealous Protestant and Lover of Liberty, was excited to write on this Sub ject, by the numerous Complaints of the People, at that Time labouring under fevere Prosecutions for Tithes.
For although the Power and Jurisdiction of the Ecclefiaftical Courts, to which Prosecutions for Tithes were limited by an Act made in the 32d Year of King Henry the Eighth, had been taken away, and the Bishops and their Clergy removed ; yet the facceeding Preachers, equally mindful of their own Intereft, soon obtained an Order of Parliament for settling themselves pro tempore, dated the 2d of O&tober 1644, and an Ordinance for Tithes dated the 8th of November following ; under the heavy burden of which the People in vain continued to express great Uneasiness : A 2
For, when several Years after, upon Cromwell's being made Protector, one of the Articles of Government, by him sworn to and subscribed, did express, that as soon as may be a Provihon less subject to Scruple and Contention, and more certain than the present, be made for the Encouragement and Maintenance of able and painful Teachers, a Clause was inserted therein, that until fuch Provision be made, the present Maintenance (viz. by Titbes] Mall not be taken away nor impeached. By which Clause, the Preachers, secure of the Continuance of the old Pay, sat down at Ease, prosecuting such as refused to pay them Tithes, both in the Courts at Westminster, and before the Justices of the Peace in the Country, with such extreme Severity, that our Author has taken a particular Notice of it, and pathetically deseribed some of their unmerciful Exactions, pag. 43.
After he has given an Extract, or short Hiftory of Tithes, from the first Appointment of them by the Law of Moses, taken chiefly from the History of Tithes by the learned Antiquary John Selden, he then considers the several Claims made to them ; as first, By divine Right ; secondly, By the Gifts of Kings and Princes; thirdly, By the Laws of Kings and Parliaments ; fourthly, By particular Gifts, Appropriations, Confecration, and Donation of the Owners of the Land ; fifthly, By Prescription and legal Polesion ; fixthly, By Purchase . To the Arguments for each
of which Claims he returns a particular
As the Author has not been so full in his
Mind. pag. 3i. Wherefore for the Sake
it. A Discourse of Impropriate Tithes,
Inhabitant of the Parish of Alballows, Bark-
3d. Some Arguments against Tithes, ex-
4th. In Conclusion, we have added a few
Having laid before the Reader these Hints
Yet as from this Plea, fome, not of our
And though a divine. Right to Tithes is by
pear. We are to consider then, and judge of the Confiftence or Inconfiftence of the Conduct of any Member of our Society in this particular, as we would of the Conduct of any Protestant Disenter on the Principle of Liberty and Conscience ; who, on Pretence of being determined by an outward Law, acts contrary to his own professed Principles. There is a Language, and much stronger, in Astions than in Words. Every one who pays Tithes to a National Ministry, by that Act, feems to declare his Belief that they are, by the Constitution of the Christian Church, due to that Ministry, antecedent to any National Law, and that it is truly and properly a Gofpel Ministry, whether of this or any other National Church ; because not only the Law by which they are recovered, but the Parfon who claims them, takes all this for granted. For can it be fuppofed he will plead a Right to Tithes, without declaring himself to have this Right as a Minister of Christ ? From whence this shameful Absurdity undeniably follows, that every Man, under the Profession of Quakerism, who pays Tithes, either profeffes what he does not believe, or believes what he does not practise. For,
The Basis of our Religion is the universal Manifestation and immediate Teaching of the holy Spirit ;—from which arifes a Faith, that all acceptable Worship is performed in and under its Influence ; – that all Gospel Ministry flows from its Emanations ;-that this in Vel