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the Bishops' with whom they lived. Henee the maintenance of the Ministers, as consisting of these two orders, and the repairs of monasteries, &c. took now the greatest part of it; so that the face of things began to be materially altered. For whereas formerly this fund went chiefly to the poor, out of which Ministers of the Gospel were provided, it now went chiefly to the latter, out of which there came a provision for the poor. Another change must be noticed with respect to the principle on which the gifts towards this fund were offered. For whereas tenths were formerly solicited, on the Christiari duty of charity to the poor, they were now solicited on the principle that by the law of Moses they ought to be given for holy uses, in which the benefit of the fatherless, the stranger, and the widow, was included. From this time I shall use the word Tithes for tenths, and the word Clergy instead of Ministers of the Gospel.
In the eighth century, matters were as I have now represented them. The people had been brought into a notion that they were to give no less than a tenth of their income to holy uses. Bishops, generally, at this time, and, indeed, long previous to this, lived in monasteries. Their Clergy also lived with them in these monasteries, and went from thence to preach in the country within the diocese. It must also be noticed, that there were at this time other monasteries, under abbots or priors, consisting mostly of laypersons, and distinct from those mentioned, and supported by offerings and legacies in the same manner. The latter, however, not having numerous ecclesiastics to support, laid out more of their funds than the former were enabled to do towards the entertainment of strangers, and towards the support of the poor. Now it must be observed, that when these two different kinds of monasteries existed, the people were at liberty to pay their tithes to either of them, as they pleased ; and that, having this permission, they generally favored the latter. To these they not only paid their tithes, but gave their donations by legacy. This preference of the lay-abbeys to the ecclesiastical, arose from a knowledge that the poor, for whose benefit tithes had been originally preached up, would be more materially served. Other circumstances too, occurred, which induced the people to continue the same preference. For the Bishops in many places began to abuse their trust, as the Deacons had done before, by attaching the bequeathed lands to their sees; so that the inferior Clergy and the poor became in a manner dependent upon them for their daily bread. In
' Selden, ch. ix. $ 2. In process of time, as the Bishops became otherwise provided für; the tund was divided intu three parts, for the other three purposes just mentioned. 2 lbid.ch. #. i
3 Ibid. cii. x. § 2.
other places the Clergy had seized all to their own use. The people, therefore, so thoroughly favored the lay-abbeys in preference to those of the Church, that the former became daily richer, while the latter did little more than maintain their ground. This preference, however, which made such a difference in the funds of the ecclesiastical and of the lay-monasteries, was viewed with a jezlous eye by the Clergy of those times, and measures were at length taken to remove it. In a council under Pope Alexander the Third, in the year 1180, it was determined that the liberty of the people should be restrained with respect to their tithes. They were accordingly forbidden to make appropriations to religious houses without the consent of the Bishop in whose diocese they lived." But even this prohibition did not succeed. The people still favored the lay-abbeys, paying their tithes there, till Pope Innocent the Third, in the year 1200, ordained, and he enforced it by ecclesiastical censures, that every one should pay his tithes to those who administered to him spiritual things, in his own parish. In a general council, also, held at Lyons in the year 1274, it was decreed, that it was no longer lawful for men to pay their Tithes where they pleased, as before, but that they should pay them to MotherChurch.3 And the principle on which they had now been long demanded was confirmed by the Council of Trent under Pope Pius the Fourth, in the year 1560; which was, that they were due by divine right. In the course of forty years after the payment of tithes had been forced by ecclesiastical censures and excommunications, prescription was set up. Thus the very principle in which Tithes had originated was changed. Thus free-will offerings became dues to be exacted by compulsion. And thus the fund of the poor was converted almost wholly into a fund for the maintenance of the Clergy.
Having now traced the origin of tithes, as far as a part of the continent of Europe is concerned, I shall trace it as far as they have reference to our own country. And here I may observe, in few words, that the same system and the same changes are conspicuous. Free-will offerings and donations of land constituted a fund for the poor, out of which the clergy were maintained. In process of time, Tithes or tenths followed. Of these certain proportions were allowed to the clergy, the repairs of buildings, and the poor. This was the state of things in the time of Off, king of Mercia, towards the close of the eighth century, when that prince, having caused Ethelbert, king of the East Angles, to be treacherously murdered, fled to the Pope for pardon; to please whom, and to expiate his own sin, he caused those tithes to become dues in his own dominions, which were only at the will of the donor before.
Selden, ch. vi. $ 7.
3 Ibid.ch. vii. $ 1.
2 Ibid. ch. vii. $ 1. 4 Ibid. ch. vii. $ 1.
About sixty years afterwards, (anno 855,) Ethelwolf, a weak and superstitious prince, was worked upon by the Clergy to extend Tithes as dues to the whole kingdom; and he consented to it, under a notion that he was thus to avert the judgments of God, which they represented as visible in the frequent ravages of the Danes. Poor laymen, however, were still to be supported out of these tithes, and the people were still at liberty to pay them to whatever religious persons they pleased.
About the close of the tenth century, Edgar took from the people the right of disposing of their Tithes at their own discretion, and directed that they should be paid to the parish-churches. But the other monasteries or lay-houses resisting, his orders became useless for a time. At this period the lay monasteries were rich, but the parochial Clergy were poor. Pope Innocent, however, by sending out his famous decree, before mentioned, to king John, which was to be observed in England as well as in other places under his jurisdiction, and by which it was enacted that every man was to pay his Tithes to those only who administered spiritual help to him in his own parish, settled the affair ; for he set up ecclesiastical courts, thundered out his interdicts, and frightened both king and people.3
Richard the Second confirmed these Tithes to the parishes as thus settled by this Pope ; but it was directed by an Act, that, in all appropriations of churches, the Bishop of the diocese should ordain Selden, p. 201.
2 Ilid.ch. viii. $ 4. 3 To show the principles upon which princes acted with respect to Tithes, io these times, the following translation of a preamble to an Act of King Stephen, may be produced. “Because through the providence of Divine mercy we know it to be ordered, and by : he Churches publishing it far and near every body has beard, that by the distribution of alms persons may be absolved from the bonds of sin, and acquire the rewards of heavenly joy,I, Stephen, by the grace of God, king of England, being willing to have a share with those who, by a happy kind of commerce, exchange heavenly things for earthly, and smitten with the love of God, and for the salvation of my own soul, and the souls of my father and mother, and all my forefathers and ancestors, &c." Selden, c. ii. $ 4.
Indeed, the history of Tithes, as exhibited by the learned Selden, is a melancholy history of the artifice and priestcraft of Rome, exerted against the. ignorance and superstition of mankind; containing a series, first of
persuasions, then of demands; accompanied with benedictions both for this life, and for that which is to come, on the faithful, and with curses on the unfaithful ; still, however, under pretence of pleading the cause of the poor. Augustine, " Decimæ tributa sunt egentium animarum, redde ergo tributa pauperibus," and many others to the same purpose.
a convenient sum of money to be distributed out of the fruit and profit of every living among the poor parishioners annually, in aid of their living and sustenance. «Thus, it seems," says Judge Blackstone, “the people were frequently sufferers by the withholding those alms, for which, among other purposes, the
of Tithes was originally imposed.” At length Tithes were finally confirmed, and in a more explicit manner, by the famous Act of Henry the Eighth, on this subject. And here I must just observe, that, whereas from the eighth century to this reign, Tithes were said to be due, whenever the reason of them was expressed, by Divine right, as under the Levitical Law,--so in the preamble to the act of Henry the Eighth, they are founded on the same principle, being described therein as “ due unto God and holy Church.” Which Act has not only never been repealed, but it is frequently referred to in subsequent Acts on the subject. Thus, in our own country, as well as on the continent of Europe, were those changes brought about, which have been described : and they were brought about by the same means ; for they were made partly by the exhortations and sermons of Monks, partly by the decrees of Popes, partly by the edicts of Popish Kings, and partly by the determinations of Popish Councils.
It is not necessary that I should trace this subject further, or that I should make distinctions relative to Tithes, whether they may be rectorial, or vicarial, or whether they may belong to lay-persons. I shall, therefore, proceed to state such conclusions, as in my opinion result from the History of Tithes, and which are of general application to professors of Christianity.
Conclusions deducible from the foregoing Historical Facts. 1st. That the conduct of Abram, in the affair of Melchizedek, cannot consistently be urged in favor of a forced maintenance for Ministers of the Gospel.
Ind. That Tithes, as a part of the Ceremonial Law, were abolished by Jesus Christ; and, consequently, form no part of the Christian Dispensation.
3rd. That Ministers of the Gospel, in imitation of Christ and his Apostles, are to preach the Gospel freely.
4th. That Tithes were introduced among Christians by the spirit of Anti-Christ.
5th. That they are not in equity dues of the Clergy.
6th. That the payment of them, being compulsory, is an acknowledgment of human authority in matters of religion,
7th. That being claimed upon an Act of Parliament which holds them forth, as of Divine right, the payment of them is, virtually, an acknowledgment of the Jewish Religion ; and a denial of the coming of Christ.
The following conclusions naturally arise from the preceding historical narrative :
First. That by the account recorded of the affair of Abram and Melchizedek, the gift on the part of Abram was purely gratuitous ; and as the occurrence took place more than four centuries before the giving of the Law, with which event it does not appear to have had any connexion, it not being once alluded to by Moses, either by way of precedent, or in any other way; and as it occurred nineteen hundred years before the Christian era, it were preposterous to bring forward this act of the Patriarch as a plea for Tithes under the Gospel.
Secondly. That the Levitical priesthood, with all its ceremonial institutions, ceased on the coming of Jesus Christ. But Tithes were a part of these ceremonial institutions : they, therefore, form no part of the Christian Dispensation. That if Tithes are now due, as the Levitical Tithes were, they must be subject to the same conditions. Now the Levites, who had a right to Tithes, previously gave up to the community their own right to a share of the land; but the Clergy claim a tenth of the produce of the lands of others, having given
up none of their own. Tithes, by the Levitical law, were for the strangers, the fatherless, and the widows, as well as for the Levites; but the Clergy, by taking Tithes, have taken that which was for the maintenance of the poor, and have appropriated it solely to their own use; thus leaving the poor a second burden
upon the land.
But the position itself is false : for the Levitical priesthood, and Tithes with it, ceased on the coming of Jesus Christ. It becomes Christians, therefore, to make a stand against this doctrine; for, by acquiescing in the notion that the Jewish priesthood extends to them, they virtually acknowledge that the priesthood of Aaron still exists, and that Christ has not actually come.
This latter argument, by which it was insisted upon that Tithes cease with the Jewish Dispensation, and that those who acknowledge them acknowledge the Jewish religion for themselves, has been admitted by many serious Christians. The celebrated John Milton, in a Treatise which he wrote on Tithes, did not hesitate to use it. He says, “ Although hire to the laborer be of moral and perpetual right, yet that special kind of hire, the tenth, can be of no right or necessity bụt to that special labor to which God ordained it. That special labor was the Levitical and Ceremonial service of the Tabernacle, which is now abolished : the right,