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maintain with each other the most friendly relations; and even no student is prevented from hearing the Lectures of a Professor of the other church. In the town of Ludovigsburg, the present residence of the Queen Dowager of Wirtemburg, one of the churches is used in common by Catholics and Protestantstheir ministers performing divine service by turns. . For good preachers, their audience make no distinction between the two denominations ;, who preaches best, bin they hear. But what will give a clearer view than even this, of the spirit of toleration in Germany, is, that when the Protestants, in 1817, celebrated the centenary Reformation by Luther, I have seen Catholic priests, in their robes, assisting in the service in the Protestant Church, in which the portraits of the two principal Reforiners, Luther and Melancthon, were hung up. The reason they gave for partaking in the solemnization of such an event, was, that their church had derived from the Reformation as much benefit as the Protestant.
NOTICES. The Third Annual Meeting of the Somerset, Gloucester and Wilts Unitarian Association, will be held at Frenchay, near Bristol, on Friday, April 4, when the Rev. Hugh Hutton, of Birmingham, is expected to preach. Service to commence at eleven o'clock.
The Annual Meeting of the Lancashire and Cheshire Unitarian Missionary Society, will be held in Manchester, on Good Priday next, April 4. A sermon will be preached in aid of the Society in the Cross-Street chapel, by the Rev. J. BRETTELL, of Rotherham; the service to commence at eleven o'clock : and in the afternoon, the members and friends of the Society will · meet in the school-room of the Mosley-Street chapel for the dispatch of business.
The work which Mr. WORSLEY, of Plymouth, has on hand, upon the Origin and History of the American Tribes, is in the press.
He solicits the names which are not already received, but are intended to be sent. The price, after the delivery to subscribers, must, of necessity, be enlarged--the work being extended beyond his original design by materials bighly interesting, but unexpected.
CORRESPONDENCE. Communications have been received from Messrs. Wills; Benvet; Worsley ; Satham, M. D.; A Tradesman; and W. R.
Several papers that we mean to insert have been lying by äs some time, the insertion having been delayed on account of their length.
AN ARGUMENT TO SHEW THÁT THE DENIAL OF THE DOC. TRINE OF THE TRINITY IS NOT ILLEGAL. BY MR. WILLS. Sir,
Birmingham, March 4, 1828. The case of “ The Attorney-General, at the relation of Mander and others against Pearson and others," has given rise to the expression, by a high legal authority, of some very alarming opinions on the operation of the toleration laws, as affecting Unitarian Dissenters. If those opinions are well founded, then a numerous body of Christians, re. spectable from their talents, character and property, notwithstanding the repeal of the penal statutes respecting them, are liable to severe and indefinite punishments for the avowal of opinions which they deem to be of infinite moment and unquestionable verity: opinions which no way concern the magistrate, having no relation to any thing but religious belief, and to what they conceive to be their duty to the Supreme Being.
Impressed by these important considerations, and with a view to ascertain the degree of weight to which the opipions in question are entitled, I propose, Ist, to enter into a short account of the common and statute law relative to heresy; 2dly, to state some conclusions from the foregoing account; and, 3dly, to examine the arguments urged in support of the position, that to impugn the doctrine of the Trinity is still an indictable offence at common law.
1st. Christianity, wherever introduced, found civil government subsisting, and did not profess to interfere with the established order of society. The founder of Christianity himself declared, “My kingdom is not of this world." John xviii. 16.
It was not until the reign of Constantine the Great, in the early part of the fourth century, that Christianity was taken into alliance with the magistrate. This union of church and state was the forerunner of innumerable mischiefs, and has produced greater evil than, perhaps, any other event in civil or ecclesiastical history.
The unostentatious and simple religion of Jesus Christ became arrayed in the gorgeous trappings of royalty : hence originated the most extraordinary and tremendous despotism that the world ever witnessed—the power of papal Rome. Her thunders rolled over every civilized state, and empires and monarchs trembled beneath her sway.
The consequence of this union of the church with the magistrate was, that the church assumed to herself, the attribute of infallibility, and that all difference of opinion and practice from her was denounced as heresy.
Although a few of the papal corruptions had been previously introduced, the Pope acquired no civil authority in England until the period of the Norman Conquest. During the time of the Saxons, the county court had jurisdiction of ecclesiastical matters, the bishop sitting with the aldermen or sheriff. The court of Rome soon began to withdraw its members from the jurisdiction of the tempo'ral courts, and to assume the sole privilege of judging upon all ecclesiastical persons and causes. It became a rule of the canon law, that " sacerdotes a regibus honorandi sunt, non judicandi” (Decret. pt. 2, caus. 11, qu. !, c. 41); and the ignorance and superstition of the times were favourable to the papal encroachments. The first separation of the ecclesiastical from the temporal courts in this kingdom, took place in the reign of King William the Conqueror. That monarch, commune concilio, et concilio archiepiscoporum, episcoporum, et abbatum, et omnium principum et baronum regni,” instituted, that the courts for holding pleas of ecclesiastical matters should be separate and distinct from those courts which had jurisdiction of civil causes (Seldon's Councils, Vol. II. fol. 14–165; Hale's H. C. L. 91); and though they were re-united for a short time by Henry I., they were soon afterwards finally separated.
Heresy was one of the numerous matters which became cognizable by the spiritual courts. How tyrannical, intolerable, and unjust, the exercise of their authority became, may be easily conceived from the very definition of the crime of heresy.
Lyndewood, an eminent canonist, thus defines a heretic: “ Hæreticus est qui dubitat de fide catholica, et qui negligit servare ea qua Romanæ ecclesia statuit seu servare decreverat.” (Cap. de Hæreticus.) The stat. 2 Hen. IV.
c. 15., defines heretics to be “ teachers of erroneous opinions, contrary to the faith and blessed determinations of the Holy Church.” The capon law reckons up eighty different sorts of heresy. Amongst other things, speaking against pilgrimage, against the worship of images, and against the necessity of auricular confessions, were determined to be heresy. (Gibs. Cod. 252.) Thus was unlimited scope given for the exercise of every kind of tyranny. The judges of what was conformable to the determinations of the blessed church were ecclesiastics, bred up within its pale, and identified with its interests and with the continuance of its oppressions.
There were two methods of proceeding against and panishing heretics by the common law: 1st, in a general convocation or synod of the archbishop and other bishops, and other the clergy of the province; and, 2dly, in the ordinary ecclesiastical courts. In case of conviction in the provincial synod, the offender was burned to death by virtue of the writ de hæretico comburendo.
Fitzherbert, amongst the variety of judicial forms preserved by him, has given us that of this writ, (Fitz. Nat. Brev. 269,) which, according to Britton, (who wrote his treatise in the 5th Ed. I.;) is as ancient as the common law itself. (Britt. lib. I, cap. 17.) From this writ it appears, that the delinquent was delivered over to the King to do as he should please with him; and that the Crown might pardon the convict by issuing no process against him, the writ de hæretico comburendo. being not a writ of course, but issuing only by the special direction of the King in council. (Bl. Comm. IV. 46; Hal. P.C. I. 395.)
The punishment of heresy in the ordinary ecclesiastical courts was by the censures of the church: such as the enjoining of penance, and the lesser and greater excommunication, the former excluding the party from the participation of the sacraments, the latter excluding him not only from these, but also from the company of all Christians. (H. H. I. 392; Inst. III. 39; Bl. Comm. III. 101.)
An important change in the common law, relative to heresy, took place by the statute 2 Hen. IV. c. 15, which enacts, that if any person be sententially convict before the diocesan, or his commissaries, of heresy, and do refuse to abjure, or after abjuration fall into relapse, then the sheriff, &c., after sentence, shall receive such heretics, and them before the people in an high place do to be burat.
Thus, as Blackstone well observes," the Roman ecclesiastics determined, without appeal, whatever they pleased to be heresy, and shifted off to the secular arın the odium and drudgery of execution.” (Bl. Comm. IV. 45.)
By divers statutes, the temporal courts acquired jurisdiction over heresy, and by statute 2 Hen. V. c. 7, persons convicted of heresy forfeited all their lands and goods.
Thus stood the law relative to heresy before the Reformation, in the reign of King Henry VIII. By several acts of Parliament made in that reign, the Pope is deprived of all ecclesiastical authority. and jurisdiction within this realm. By 26 Hen. VIII. cap. 1, it is enacted, that the King shall be reputed the only supreme bead on earth of the Church of England. An act to the same effect was passed in the 1st year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, with a view to repeal the statute 1 and 2 Philip and Mary, cap. 8, which had repealed all the statutes made in the reign of King Henry VIII. in derogation of the see of Rome.
To impagn the peculiar opinions of a church whose infallibility was thus exploded, could no longer, with consis tency, be deemed heretical. The statute 25 Henry VIII. cap. 14, therefore declares, that offences against the see of Rome are not heresy. It is not surprising, however, that the nature of religious liberty as yet was little understood. Accordingly, we find the statute-book of this and succeeding reigns disgraced by the most sanguinary enactments.
The statute 31 Henry VIII. cap. 14, established the six most disputed points of popery-transubstantiation, communion in one kind, the celibacy of the clergy, monastic vows, the sacrifice of the mass, and auricular confession and it was enacted, that all oppugners of the first shonld be deemed heretics and be burnt, and of the five last to be felons, and to suffer death.
It is computed, that during the three first years of the reign of Queen Mary, 277 persons were brought to the stake, besides those who were punished by imprisonment, fines and confiscations. (Hume, V. 266.) Two Arians, under the title of beretics, were burnt to death during the reign of James I. ;* and no one reign since the Reformation,
* See an account of the proceedings against them, Howell's State Trials, 11. 727.