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* Mal. iii. 8, 9.
ancestor. And therefore we must conclude, that the payment of some portion of our substance was appointed of God. Whatever we possess is his gift. God reserved the tenth of our substance as a tribute to himself, and an acknowledgment of his sovereignty and dominion. The payment of tithes is part of the worship of God, and as we cannot pay them immediately to God, he has ordained that we shall pay them mediately to his ministers, who are his ambassadors and earthly representatives. As before mentioned, he has reserved a seventh of our time, that is Sunday, for his worship, and a portion of our substance for the maintenance of those who "serve at the altar." And therefore God called the tithes, which the eleven tribes paid to the tribe of Levi, HIS INHERITANCE. The tribe of Levi had no other inheritance or property whatever but the tithes. When the Jews began to murmur against the payment of tithes, and to withhold them, he sent the prophet Malachi to tell them that they had robbed him: “Will a man rob God? yet ye have robbed me. Ye say, wherein have ye robbed me? IN TITHES AND OFFERINGS. Ye are accursed with a curse, for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation."*
In the times of the apostles, and during the first ages of christianity, many that were possessors of lands and houses sold them, and laid the price at the apostles' feet. And to the end of the fourth century, the devotion of the people was so great that their offerings and oblations considerably exceeded what the tenth would have been, had they paid a regular tithe. The general duty of providing a maintenance for the christian ministry, is most strictly enjoined in the New Testament. When Christ sent forth his apostles and disciples to preach the gospel, he commanded them to take "no money in their purses, nor scrip," that is, provision, "neither two coats, nor shoes, nor yet staves, for the workman is worthy of his meat." And to these repeated commands of our Saviour, St Paul adds both reasoning and command. "For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? or saith he it altogether for our (the ministry's) sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written; that he that ploweth should plow in hope, and that he that thrasheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we (the ministers) shall reap your carnal things? If others (the heathen priests) be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Do ye not know, that they which minister about holy things, live of the things of the temple, and they that wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained, that they which preach the gospel, should live of the gospel." In these commands, tithes are not
mentioned; only the general duty of maintaining the ministers of religion. The evangelical or gospel ministry is after the order of Melchizedek. They claim tithes, or a maintenance in some shape, as their right, and as being due to that order which is a superior and a more exalted priesthood than that of Levi. Our Saviour was of the tribe of Judah, and therefore did not belong to the order of the Levitical priesthood. Of Judah, "Moses spake nothing concerning the priesthood." But Christ was a priest after the order of Melchizedek, to whom faithful Abraham paid tithes long before Levi was born. "And as I may so say, Levi also, who received tithes, payed tithes in Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him." The ministers of the gospel have therefore a divine right to a maintenance. To the Jews a tenth part was set apart by God himself, as his inheritance, and therefore the Jewish church possessed tithes by divine right. The christian ministry have an equally divine right to a sufficient maintenance to support them in such a manner as may best operate to the glory of God and the salvation of men. Although a tenth is not specified in the New Testament, yet, as the christian church followed the Jewish in its order, all christian nations have followed it also in appropriating a tenth of the produce of the soil as God's inheritance. But it does not signify what name we give it, or in what shape we pay it, it still remains God's inheritance. It is all one whether it is a tithe taken in kind, or a stipend paid in money, or an offering at the church doors, or in seat rents. In all these cases the object is the same-the glory of God and the salvation of men. We are thereby paying tribute to God," according as we are disposed in our heart, not grudgingly or of necessity, for God loveth a cheerful giver."
Mr Selden himself acknowledges, "that before the end of the fourth century, it became the usual phrase, to offer tithes, because they were paid in the offerings of the faithful, who thought themselves obliged, in the making of these offerings, to give every year unto the churches of which they were members, tithes, or greater parts, of their annual increase, for the support of God's worship in them." Before the end of the fifth century, the only obligation on the people to maintain their offerings were the admonitions of conscience. After the inroads of the barbarians on the Roman empire, this part of the worship of God was much neglected. And therefore synods and general councils resorted to the spiritual sword to enforce the payment. In the year 585, the council of Alascon made a solemn decree, enjoining the whole kingdom of France "to pay the tithes of their fruits to holy places, under the anathema, that "if any one shall be contumacious to these our most wholesome orders, let him be for ever
* Heb. vii. 14.
Heb. vii. 9, 10.
Hist. of Tithes, c. 5.
separated from the communion of the church." A similar canon was made at Seville, in the year 590, for the kingdom of Spain, enjoining the payment of "tithes of all cattle, fruits, and labour of men;" and decreed that whoever subtracted the tithes should be accounted "a robber of God, and a thief, and that the curse which God inflicted on Cain, who did not divide aright unto God his portion, be heaped upon him." To the same purpose, the council of Friuli, in 791, ordained tithes to be paid in Italy. About the middle of the eighth century, Egbert, archbishop of York, made a canon for his province, ordaining the payment of tithes, and commanding his clergy to teach the people how to perform that act of worship. In the year 784, a general council of the whole kingdom, held at Calcleuth, ordained the payment of tithes. The 17th canon of which says: "Wherefore, with earnest beseeching we enjoin, that all do carefully endeavour to pay tithes of all that they do possess, (because they are the peculiar property of the Lord our God,) and maintain themselves and give alms of the other nine parts." In the year 794, Offa, king of Mercia, gave the tithes of all his kingdom to the church. This establishment did not extend beyond the kingdom of Mercia. But Ethelwolf, who succeeded Egbert, under whom the heptarchy was united into one kingdom, enlarged Offa's gift to the whole realm of England. On this gift the civil right of tithes in England is founded. Ethelwolf held a parliament at Wilton, in the year 854, at the feast of Easter, and, with the full consent of his parliament, gave for ever to God and his church the tithe of all goods, and the tenth of all the lands of the kingdom, free from all secular service, taxations, and impositions, whatsoever. This being the grand civil charter by which the church in England holds the tithes, I here give it at length as recorded by Mathew Paris :
"I, Ethelwolf, by the grace of God, king of the West Saxons, in the holy and most solemn feast of Easter, for the health of my soul, and the prosperity of my kingdom, and all the people by Almighty God committed to my charge, have, with my bishops, earls and all other my nobles, brought to pass this wholesome counsel, that I have not only given the tenth parts of the land through my kingdom to the holy churches, but also have granted to our ministers placed in them to enjoy them in perpetual liberty, so that this grant shall remain firm and immutable, freed from all royal services, and from all other secular service whatsoever. And it hath pleased Elstan, bishop of Sherburn, and Swithen, bishop of Winchester, and the rest of the chief men, to give their consent hereto. This we have done for the honour of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the blessed Virgin Mary, and of all the saints, and for the reverence which we bear to the feast of Easter, that almighty God may vouchsafe to be propitious to us, and to our posterity. This charter was written in the year of the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 854, in the second indiction, on Easter day, in our palace called Wilton. Whosoever shall augment this our donation, may God augment to him his prosperous days; but if any one shall presume to diminish or change it, let him know
The province of York at that time extended from the river Humber to the firths of Forth and Clyde. + Cited by Seldon and Prideaux.
that he must give an account hereof before the judgment seat of Christ, unless in the interio he doth make amends by giving satisfaction for the same.
+ I, ETHELWOLF, the king, + I, ELSTAN, bishop, + I, SWITHIN, bishop, + I, WULFLOF, abbot, + I, WERFORD, abbot, + 1, ETHERID, and I, ALFAED, the king's sons, have given our consent hereto."
This charter was tendered by the king, on his knees at the altar, in the presence and with the consent of the estates of the kingdom, under heavy curses and imprecations on himself and any of his successors who should either alienate or encroach on this inheritance given to God. Many acts of subsequent parliaments have confirmed and guaranteed this charter. At that period, the sole right of property in all the lands in the kingdom was vested in the sovereign; so that Ethelwolf gave what was, strictly and legally speaking, his own property to the church for ever. All the lands in the kingdom came into the possession of their present owners, burdened by the payment of tithes. The tenth, being unalienable, cannot be sold; but the other nine parts may change hands as often as necessary. In the purchase of land, the buyer only bargains for nine parts; the tenth he does not purchase nor pay for. It remains with its never-ceasing proprietor-the church. It is therefore evident, that the church has an unalienable right to tithes. They are her estate, guaranteed by the most solemn compacts of princes and parliaments. No man in the kingdom can show title deeds so old as Ethelwolf, for his nine parts of the land. But the foregoing is the church's title deeds for her tenth. The revenues of the Church of England have been much exaggerated. They are far from being immoderate, even were they in all cases fully paid. But the clergy seldom, if ever, obtain the full amount of their due. In almost every case they are obliged to sacrifice a great portion of their just rights for the preservation of peace and charity. In England, the clergy are subject to the same imposts and public burdens as the laity. They pay the poor rates the same as the laity. The poor rates are the birthright—the freehold estate of the poor. The tithes are the freehold of the clergy, and open to be acquired by all ranks in the kingdom. The poor and the clergy are both merely liferenters: yet the title of the poor reaches no farther back than the 45th of Elizabeth, whereas that of the clergy to the reign of Ethelwolf, in the year 854.
By Blackstone, tithes are called, "a species of incorporeal hereditaments." They are defined to be a tenth part of the increase yearly arising and renewing from the profits of lands, the stock upon lands, and the personal industry of the inhabitants. The first species being usually called prædial. The prædial tithes consist of corn, hay, grass, hops, fruit, herbs, and wood, including tithe for the agistment of cattle. The second species is called mixed. It consists of wool, calves, lambs, pigs, chickens, milk,
eggs, and other natural products, but matured and preserved in part by the care of man. The third species of tithe is usually called personal. It is such as springs from manual occupations, as trade, fisheries, and the like. The first two species must be paid in gross; of the third, only the tenth part of the clear or nett gains or profits are due. Tithes are divided into great and small. Great tithes are those of corn, peas, beans, hay, wood, &c. Small tithes comprehend all the other species of prædial tithes, together with those called personal or mixed. The distinction of great and small tithes depends on the nature and quality of the thing, and not upon the place or mode of cultivation, or the quantity produced, or the use to which it is applied. The only criterion for determining what are great, or small, or vicarial tithes, is by endowment or prescription. When endowment is pleaded, it must be produced. Prescription is founded on a supposed endowment, which has been lost. In some parishes, grass, hay, and wood, are great tithes, whereas in others they are small tithes, according to prescription, which has been founded on an endowment, or such usage as presupposes an endowment.
Great tithes are commonly called parsonage tithes, being payable to the parson or rector. Small tithes, being in general payable to the vicar, are usually called vicarial tithes. Prima facie, the rector is entitled to ALL the tithes of the parish, and nothing can be presumed in the vicar's favour without endowment or prescription. As a general rule, tithe ought to be paid as soon as the tenth part can be severed from the whole, unless there be any custom to the contrary, as often as a renovation or fresh crop is severed from the same land in the course of the year. The titheholder, or his deputy, has a right to see that the same is fairly set forth from the other nine parts, before any particle of those nine parts is removed from the field. In general, tithes are to be paid for anything that yields an annual increase, as corn, hay, fruit, cattle, poultry, and the like; but not for anything that is of the substance of the earth, or is not of annual increase. Under this last head is comprehended stone, lime, coal, ores, and the like. No tithe is to be paid for creatures that are of a wild nature, as deer, hawks, &c., whose increase is not natural, but casual; but tithes may be 1 paid for deer and rabbits, if such has been the custom.
There are two methods by which lands and their occupiers may be exempted from the payment of tithes: first, by real composition; secondly, by custom or prescription.
I. A real composition is when an agreement is made between the owner of the lands and the parson or vicar, with the consent of the bishop J or patron, that such lands for the future shall be discharged from pay
ment of tithes, by reason of some land, or other real recompense, given to the parson in lieu and satisfaction thereof.
These real compositions