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treated as ecclesiastical revenue, and included in their returns whenever the amount was ascertained. In all the churches erected by the Church Building Acts, they are the sole income of the minister; and, together with various small endowments, form the only source of emolument in perpetual curacies. These are 2,722 in number, and bear an average value of £100 a-year. It may seem strange to regard pew-rents as part of the State provision, partaking, as they do, of a voluntary character ; but, on nearer inspection, it will be seen that they are virtually compulsory. The church once built, and the clergyman's income specified, it will be levied as a tax, if not cheerfully contributed as rent. The following extract from a Report by the Board of Audit, for the parish of St. Marylebone, is a practical illustration of what has been affirmed—“In Appendix No. 3, will be found a statement of church-rates collected for the last sixteen years, ending December 31, 1847, amounting to £105,178 14s. 7d. ; and Appendix No. 4 gives the debtor and creditor account of the four district churches for the same period, showing the costliness of this part of the parochial expenditure ; no less a sum than £8,386 13s. 2d. has been disposed of out of the church-rates, to make up deficiencies, irrespective of the interest of bonds for money borrowed originally to erect the churches. It will be understood with respect to these churches, that the Bishop has fixed the salary of each minister at £500 per annum, to be paid out of the pew-rents ; but, by a clause introduced into the Act of Parliament, it has been determined, that should the pew-rents not amount to £500, the deficiency shall be made up out of the church-rate; and should the accounts of any one church show a balance above the £500, after the necessary expenses are paid, the surplus, however large, is paid over to trustees appointed by the Bishop, for the purpose of building a parsonage house for that particular district. In this way, these trustees hold upwards of £2,000, not a fraction of which is available to the rate-payers, at a time when the vestry are compelled to pay so largely for money borrowed to meet the expenses of the parish.” This is the wolf in sheep's clothing! It is the bailiff entering the house of his unsuspecting victim, by meanly taking advantage of the visit of a welcome friend. The latch once raised, and the door ajar, his exactions have no limit but his conscience. The toleration of volun. taryism within the pale of the Establishment was suspicious. “ Timeo Danaos dona ferentes.”
The value of the glebe lands was included in the returns made to the Commissioners in 1834. Parsonages with their premises, however, were not considered as legitimate sources of income; but we cannot comprehend the reasons for merging so important an item of Church revenue. It will be seen from the returns of the Tithe Commutation, that glebe lands are attached to almost all the benefices. They have been reckoned in the “Quarterly Review” and other publications favourable to the Church, to be about 8,000. The parsonages are not so numerous; together they may be estimated at half a million; we believe that the Tithe Commissioners' final report will prove it to be more.
We have now treated separately the more important items which compose the revenues of parochial benefices. We may have left some still unnoticed, for we are aware that the nature of Church property is such, that new sources of income may be discovered when it is more closely looked into. And now, calmly reviewing all the facts of the case, it is impossible to acquit the clergy of deliberate understatement in their returns of 1834. They have generally shown in these transactions no very scrupulous regard for the claims of truth, and instances of disgraceful shuffling and falsehood are unfortunately not rare. Parallels to the following case mentioned by William Howitt, in the later editions of his admirable “History of Priestcraft,” will readily occur to those who have had experience in the tithe commutations of the last fourteen years. The incumbent of the parish of Hackney, where Mr. Howitt then resided, was Thomas Oliver Goodchild; he bought the living, and candidly declared that he meant to make the most of it. Accordingly, in 1840, he stated the amount of his tithes for the past year to be £442 178. 6d. ; they were then to be assessed to the poor-rate. In 1842, he made a claim for £981; they were then to be commuted into a permanent rent-charge for him; and he has since raised them up to £1,035! In this charge, it has been shown at the vestry, and not denied by him, that he has included £93 on lands never charged before ! and £154 of Easter-offerings, which he thus summarily converted from a free gift to a positive rent, and then had the audacity to send round his begging officer at the following Easter for fresh Easter offerings ! Nor was this all ; it was found that, whereas he had thus more than tripled his charge on the parishioners, he had taken measures to avoid paying his share of the poor-rates on these tithes, amounting to £134.” It redounds in no small degree to the damage and dishonour of our nation, that such abominations in connexion with religion should have been tolerated and sanctioned for so long a period. The State has shown a culpable indifference to the moral character of its spiritual teachers, in not having long since delivered them from the temptations to false. hood and fraud, which arise out of the very nature of their financial relations.
Before we wholly leave the subject of benefices, some notice must be taken of the churches, with their bells and other apparatus, and also of church-rates.
Previously to the Reformation, the churches were allowed by the State to be used by Catholics only; during the Protectorate, they were open to ministers of various sects; since that time, the State has limited the possession of them to Protestant Episcopalians: thus providing that sect with houses of worship, though all other sects have to erect or to hire their own. The annual value of these structures, and their fittings, may be £250,000.
Church-rate is a tax intended to defray the incidental expenses of public worship, and those which are incurred in the repair of churches. Its being levied directly for religious purposes, constitutes its especial grievance, so far as Dissenters are concerned. Its odiousness in the estimation of many of them may be inferred from the sacrifices they have made to obtain its abolition. Their efforts have been fruitless. The Whig Premier has discovered a spiritual significance that was not known formerly to belong to it. He views it in the light of 5
a tribute to Almighty God,” and “ an act of homage from a Christian state.” We, too, have regarded it as a tribute; but as an unrighteous one, extorted from conscientious dissentients by an scrupulous Church. Whatever be its spiritual or moral character, it is a gross encroachment; for, in the ancient tripartite division of tithes, provision was made for meeting the very expenses which are now defrayed exclusively from this source. Whatever
have been the time or intention of originating the tax, it enabled the clergy gradually to appropriate the whole tithes to themselves. The tax was at first optional; it could not be laid or levied unless with the sanction of the majority of the parishioners. Parish constituencies have been deprived of this option by Lord Denman's decision, which has been confirmed by the Judges of the Exchequer Chamber, and now only awaits the final judgment of the House of Lords. Lord Althorp estimated Church-rates at £600,000 annually, when, in 1834, he endeavoured to make provision for the repair of churches, &c., out of the Consolidated Fund. A prospective augmentation of the proceeds of this tax may be confidently anticipated, from the inability of parishioners to protect themselves against exorbitant demands, from the increasing number of parochial divisions, and from the evident disposition to draw from this source the salaries of additional ministers.
But the Church has not been content with these sources of revenue. It has drawn largely upon the Consolidated Fund. From the Twenty-third Annual Report of her Majesty's Commissioners for Building New Churches, we find that, up to the year 1843, 296 churches had been erected by them, and that they had received Exchequer Bills to the amount of £1,500,000. It should be borne in mind that, if Queen Anne's Bounty had been righteously administered, it would have been unnecessary for the Church to seek this assistance from Parliament. The details connected with the management of that bounty form an episode in the history of ecclesiastical finance, which painfully illustrates the habitual indifference of the episcopal dignitaries to what, in Parliamentary phrase, is designated
the spiritual efficiency of the Church. We have mentioned the Twenty-third Annual Report, because, in the year in which it was presented, there was a return, by order of the House of Commons, of the amount applied by Parliament in aid of religious worship generally, from which we extract the following :-(The date of the return is August, 1843.) Issued to the Commissioners for building Churches, £ pursuant to Act 58 Geo. III. c. 45.
1,000,000 0 0 Ditto 5 Geo. IV. c. 103
500,000 00 Amount received by ditto from sale, exchange, and interest of Exchequer Bills, and for interest on loans due from parishes
89,406 00 Grants of Parliament to the Governors of Queen
Anne's Bounty for Maintenance of poor Clergy, from 1809 to 1820, inclusive
1,100,000 00 Amount paid by the Paymaster of Civil Services
2,043 19 2 Drawback on materials used in building churches. 244,196 92
£2,935,646 8 4
“ But there are various other sources of emolu. ment,” says the “Eclectic Review," and with this extract terminates our notice of this part of the subject, “ to which, as functionaries of the National Church, they have access, which must be taken into account in order to form a correct estimate of the actual amount of ecclesiastical revenue. There are many posts of distinction and of substantial pecuniary advantage, created by zealous adherents of the Church, whose voluntary efforts for the propagation of their peculiar tenets have not been paralyzed by the deadening influence of an Establishment, and who, having had the burden of supporting their own sect shifted from themselves upon others, were at full liberty to devote what they thought right to bestow for religious purposes, to the erection of new clerical preferments. There are lectureships, for instance, supported by endowments, or by voluntary subscriptions among parishioners. These are about three hundred and fifty in number, and augment the incomes of the clergy by £50,000. There are also chaplaincies in connexion with public institutions, corporate bodies, commercial companies and embassies; besides which there are army and navy chaplains: the cost of the latter alone is, at present, about £14,000 a