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decisions were already on the books showing the untenableness of the objection taken by the ratepayer, and which, therefore, it may be thought, the magistrates might reasonably regard as not bona
It will be seen that the above cases in no way affect the efficiency of the course advised; they only necessitate increased caution in carrying it out. And they do this the more urgently, because, from a new practice which has sprung up at Westminster, magistrates are now able, unless care be taken by our friends, to get authority to make an order for payment without incurring the danger of an action for disregarding a formal disputation of the rate. Under an Act of the present reign,* if a magistrate for any Teason refuses to make an order, the party desiring it may call upon him to show cause in the Queen's Bench why he so refuses. Cause may be shown both by the magistrates and by the party resisting the order; and if it appears that he did really make it evident to the magistrates that be intended to place himself under the statute, and had reasonable grounds entitling him to do so, the churchwardens will be dismissed with costs. But if this does not appear, though the only failure lay in not making out the good case which really existed, or not making it sufficiently apparent what his intention was, the Court will protect the magistrates in ordering him
To defeat this, however, we conceive nothing more to be necesenry than that we should henceforward, as a matter of course, profide ourselves with professional assistance in attending a churchate summons. To a considerable extent we observe that this has lready become usual, but cases are not unfrequent in which a valid efence has been thrown away for want of it. We think that the text edition of this portion of the Society's “ Practical Directions," kould be headed with: “In attending magistrates be always accompanied by a solicitor or counsel.” Considering that professional dvice as to whether there really is a defence, can always be had gratis from the Liberation Society, and that the expense of a reainer, will in most cases be divided among several rate-payers, who are all equally interested in defending the summons against any one their number, we cannot imagine that this can be any insuper
The threats which have been heard lately of reviving the longforgotten remedy of an indictment against those who disobey a magistrates' order to pay a church-rate, if they are in earnest, are saly an additional proof of the value of tactics for making such an teder impossible. "How far, indeed, it will be found possible really to sustain such proceedings, is a point on which we do not feel quite
One of the Acts commonly called “ Jervis's Acts."
clear. There is no doubt that disobedience to a magistrate's or is an indictable offence; and that fifteen years ago Bidwell and S monds were actually imprisoned in Cambridge and Aylesbury g for “ refusing or neglecting” to pay church rates. But we beli it did not appear in either of these cases that there were any trainable goods, and it is a doubt, fortified by an observation of Justice Coleridge, whether a party who freely submits his goods be distrained, ever can be said legally to refuse the payment wh a distraint will ensure. If the necessity should arise we sho certainly counsel such a reply to the demand of the collector as leave this defence available.
There is a secondary line of our defences, if we may so sp which is hardly less strong than that which depends on the devel ment of the important principles established by the Branten c on which mainly the tactics we have been considering may be s to rest. This consists of DOUBTS. So long as the validity of a depends upon any element in it, the law upon which is not cl and can only be made clear by a suit in the Ecclesiastical Cou followed up by a prohibitory suit in the Queen's Bench, with a sible appeal to the House of Lords,—that is to say, for a per varying from five to fifteen years-a doubt is, for our purposes
, , as good as a certainty. But it is the nature of doubts to get seti in time, and it is their nature also to get replaced by fresh ones. have some instances of this already. For instance we are told the authority of Lord Campbell that one illegal item vitiates a r The item for visitation fees has long been considered doubtful, its presence in a rate has as certainly put church wardens int cold perspiration. Well, a late decision of the Common Plea Sheppard v. Payne has somewhat, though not, we believe, al gether relieved them. But another doubt has arisen as to legality of the not less invariable item for insurance of chui which is at this moment under question in a suit not likely to decided, we should say, for a year or two. So again it has bee doubt, ever since Lord Blandford's Act, what was the legal posit as to church rates of the parishes cut and carved thereunder. I doubt is in process of solution in the case of Gough v. Jone Dr. Lushington's preliminary ruling in which has been report with great prominence both in the Church and Dissenting pape If the learned judge's primary opinion, delivered with avon hesitation, should be adhered to by himself in the further stages the suit, and confirmed by the Courts of Westminster, this dou so far as affects the curtailed portion of the parish, will be set rest. It may be, however, that the suit may go off upon anot? point, in which case the doubt will be so much less of a doubt, as t partially conquered doubt of a judge can make it. We are obliged to speak with reserve of a matter in which the interests of actual litigants are still pending: but we apprehend we may speak of the point involved as by no means practically settled, and as being incumbered, whenever it comes to be settled, with considerable difficulty in the necessary proofs.
* Arches Court, Nov. 13, 1862.
To the full effect of these tactics there is still one thing wanting 1 means of diffusing the knowledge, among all opponents of ehurch rates, what questions are being litigated. Until
, for instance, the case of Gough v. Jones, is finally decided, no church rate ought to be paid anywhere, which involves the question what is the effect of Lord Blandford's Act. These is another suit pending in the Consistory Court of York—the suit of Burley v. Walker—which we have reason to believe furnishes ground for bona fide disputing almost any rate that can be made in opposition to the tactics of the Practical Directions. In the late case of White v. Stock again the most important confirmation was given that has yet been afforded, of the right of a vestryman to demand a poll on any relevant question, and the fatal effect of its refusal, on the validity of a rate. If these facts could be made known, resistance to rates would rapidly become general, and its value would undoubtedly increase also in a geometrical ratio to its generality.
We have deemed these observations called for by an impression, which we hope we have shown to be erroneous, that our means of legal opposition to church rates are not as sound and as important 33 was originally represented. If our readers have been satisfied y what we have said, it is for them to act upon the result.
TOPICS OF THE MONTH,
THE UNION OF THE TWO CONGREGATIONAL DENOMINATIONS begins to be discussed in earnest, both in public and private. Every one mens to be persuaded that if the union of these bodies cannot be attained, it is useless to look further afield for projects of consolidafion. There are not wanting writers and speakers on both sides to throw the coldest water on the genial little fire which has been kindled, of course under the impulse of a wisdom which, if it has learned little faith or hope, is abundantly supplied with maxims of caution, and vaticinations of unconquerable sectarianism. There is,
• Common Pleas, June 11th, 1862.
indeed, little to be hoped for from the spirit of a large numbe church members on either side, or from some "denominational orgal An artificial conscientiousness on the subject in dispute has b nurtured by the controversies of centuries, until almost everyb piously pretends to be a little more sure than they really are the absolute truth of their opinions. So long as the disputed ma is made the oriflamme of a party each partizan is expected to 1 or to feign, an unwavering confidence in the denominational doctr. For ourselves, without insinuating the slightest intentional sincerity on either side, but considering only the usual tactic human nature under similar conditions, we have long felt suaded that neither the Independents nor the Baptists, taken whole bodies, feel quite as deeply convinced of the truth of 11 respective doctrines as might appear from the strength of t antipathies, the vigour of their rivality, and the tartness of tl polemical discourse. On either side there are doubtless la numbers of intelligent persons whose faith is the result of partial investigation, and whose conclusions are maintained due regard to the apparent evidence. But one circumstance always suggested to us the suspicion that a tolerably active col of examination would reveal on both sides considerable bigotr that is to say, much determination to hold an opinion apart f a full study of the evidence. No man believes with a grip martyr-like tenacity like him who “ believes as the church believi The spirit of a party acts on weak and ill-informed minds with spasmodic energy of tetanus or epilepsy. Qui ad parva et pa respiciunt, facile enunicant. Many make up for lack of 1 viction by brazen confidence. A look all round the horizon has effect of introducing a little doubt into the soul.
Now, consider the fact, that between the Independents and Baptists there are two questions in dispute, wholly different, connected in argument, depending for solution on two sepa lines of evidence, the subject and the mode in baptism--so a pletely distinct that it is as easy as possible to conceive that four opinions might be held in any combination of pairs, as result of examination. A man might believe in infant bapt by affusion or immersion only—and in the baptism of belie by affusion or immersion only, or in the lawfulness of both me in each case. How is it, then, that the advocates of infant bapt always believe in the auministration by affusion, and decry every manifestation of dislike the mode of immersion; and on other hand, that the advocates of adult baptism always believe immersion only, and cannot be brought to admit the lawfulnes affusion? There may be some who will reply that it is beca the pædo-baptists never think seriously on either subject or m -but practise an unscriptural superstition received by tradit
from their fathers; while the Baptists always think carefully and wisely on both topics, and are, therefore, always right.” It is to be hoped that the number of 'anti-pædo-baptist' enthusiasts who vould offer this solution of the phenomenon is exceedingly small. A very limited acquaintance with the history of the controversy, and with the best books and men on both sides, will soon persuade the judicious reader of that which only an obstinate fanatic will ceny, to wit, that there is a strong appearance of evidence on either hand, quite enough to account for the honest belief of persons of each denomination, and that it is impossible to account for the uniformity of the coupling together of the doctrines on subject and mode, except by resorting to the hypothesis of ignorance, or of sectarianism, or of desperate one-sidedness in the generality. The reason of the uniformity must be that multitudes in each denomination, probably the large majority, do not study the evidence, but follow the traditions of the party, and the hectoring, guidance of party-writers. If they did study the evidence it would inevitably follow according to the doctrine of chances that many would come to believe in infant baptism by immersion, or in adult baptism by affusion, or at least in the lawfulness of either mode. We attribute this evil state of things to party organization, which acts as a device for hindering impartial investigation, and for causing men to adopt opinions in bundles ; and we presume to think that this is a reflection which onght to shame both denominations out of a prolongation of their feuds. Whatever is true on this matter, can now, after so many ages, be known only in different degrees of probability; and whichever opinion is the more probably true will most readily be diffused by the destruction of organized parties. The worst method of achieving the diffusion of a minor opinion in religion is to make it the basis of a “denomination.” To do that is regarded as a declaration of war against all opponents; and since men are governed by their utipathies more than by their sympathies they are seldom perwaded to adopt a belief which will involve a change of name, a hange of feeling, and perhaps a change of social relationships.
What remains, then, if union is to be accomplished? There is no remedy except a common determination to relegate the difficult and lisputable subject to its due place in theology and in the church, as a juestion on which each Christian must follow his best lights or twilights, and leave his brother at liberty to pursue a similar course. There can be no union between Baptists and Independents except by ach party ceasing to pretend a deeper conviction than really exists
, Ind by all alike consenting to dismiss the article of baptism from the lort creed which is the foundation of unity in faith, in worship, ad in work. We believe that on all s:des, the best men and most trusted leaders are somewhat disposed to look at the matter from this point of view. There is no hope of effecting a union with