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ists”—“ unanimously and with one voice declare their hearty assent, concurrence, and approbation of the Act of January, 1779, declaring all Church-laws null, and the Act of Religious Freedom the true exposition of the Bill of Rights.” Signed by a great number. Many for and against.
May 12, 1780.-Sundry inhabitants of Amelia pray that marriageli senses shall not continue to be directed, in the old form, to Episcopal ministers; that certain persons therefrom doubted the validity of marriages by other than the Episcopal clergy: they pray that the ceremony "without the use of the ring and the service” may be declared lawful. Successful. It led to the bill legitimizing children of all such marriages by Dissenting ministers. The Baptist Association at Sandy Creek, Charlotte, petition for the same.
Also other Baptist associations.
November, 1780.- Petition and counter-petition of the inhabitants of Cumberland. The Presbyterians pray the Assembly to declare all nonjuring clergymen incapable of preaching. The Episcopalians indignantly declare the Presbyterians “disorderly and turbulent, desirous of giving laws to all societies," and fond of noise and violence. The real object of their (the Presbyterians') petition, the memorialists say, is to ruin the Rev. Christopher MacRae, who, although prevented by conscientious scruples from taking the oath, is a most benevolent man, a pattern of piety, and one who wishes liberty and happiness to all mankind. The ruin of the Church in Cumberland is declared to be the ultimate object of the Presbyterians.
November 22, 1781.-Sundry inhabitants of Prince Edward county pray that all the old vestries may be dissolved by Act of Assembly and new ones elected by the body of the community at large, Dissenters to be equally competent with conformists to the post of vestrymen, and the sole proviso to be "attachment to the present form of government.” Referred to next Assembly, and, June 9, 1782, rejected.
November 12, 1781.—The Hanover Presbytery pray that there may be no incorporations, and, if a general assessment is decided upon, that it may be as liberal as possible.
June 4, 1784.—The Protestant Episcopal clergy file their memorial.
From this time—that is to say, the date of the Act of “ Religious Freedom”--the enemies of the Establishment redoubled their efforts to overthrow the last vestiges of its former power and usefulness. The petitions are throughout of this description, and need not be particularly referred to. The concessions of the Assembly had evidently given them hope and resolution, and they seem to have employed every possible means in their power to cast discredit on the Episcopacy.
During the same period, the petitions from parishes praying a dissolu. tion of old, inanimate vestries and a sale of unoccupied glebes indicate that the Establishment was almost at its last gasp. There are great numbers of these petitions. The foregoing is the conclusion which will be arrived at from reading them. It is not necessary to publish them.
Dr. Hawks's OPINION ON THE GLEBE CASE, TAKEN FROM HIS WORK
ON THE CHURCH OF VIRGINIA. [I had intended to examine for myself the question of the constitution. ality of the law for selling the glebes so far as to form and express av opinion on the subject, though it would have been of very little worth ; but want of time, and the reading of this and the next number of the appendix, containing Dr. Hawks's candid statement of the case and Judge Story's able opinion, have led me to a course which will, I am sure, be greatly preferred by all my readers. I do not hesitate to say that I have always inclined to the belief that the Act was unconstitutional. I have long laboured, but in vain, to obtain the opinion of Judge Pendleton, which was to have been delivered the day after his sudden death, and which would have decided the question in favour of the Church. I hope it may yet be found. At the same time, I must declare that I have always rejoiced in that Act of the Assembly, so far as the Church was concerned. Such has also been the feeling of almost all our clergy and laity with whom I have ever conversed. Could we have had the glebes restored to us by a decision of the courts, or even by the Act of Assembly, we should have opposed the effort; it being injurious to the cause of religion in our own Church and in the State. The history of the glebes and glebe-houses in Virginia has, from first to last, been a most mortifying one. With comparatively few
. exceptions, as may be seen on the old vestry-books, they were not worthy of the residence of our ministers, and, for the most part, were rented out for very small sums of money-even for forty, thirty, and twenty shillings—or surrendered to vestries on condition that the casks or hogsheads for the tobacco were furnished. When the salaries were withdrawn, only a few of the glebes held out any inducement to the incumbents to remain, as the voluntary contributions were very small and often nothing at all. For these few the Episcopalians earnestly contended, and for their sale some other denominations as earnestly sought. I doubt not that there were those who advocated their sale from a sincere conviction that it was religiously and politically right, while it cannot be doubted that, in many instances, sectarian feeling and political ambition had much to do with it.)
As to the arguments by which a sale of the glebes was urged upon the Legislature, the principal were as follows :-
1. That most of the glebe-lands were originally purchased with money levied upon the people at large, and that, consequently, whenever a majority of the people desired a sale of the lands, they should be sold and the money applied to such other use as might seem best to them.
2. That if the Church was permitted to retain the property, a certain pre-eminence and superiority was thereby conferred, which was odious in a republic and inconsistent with its institutions.
3. That the fourth article of the Declaration of Rights of Virginia asserted, " That no man or set of men are entitled to exclusive or separate emoluments or privileges but in consideration of public services;" but the enjoyment of the glebes did confer upon the Church "exclusive emoluments from the community,” and was consequently unconstitutional.
To the first of these arguments it was answered that some of the glebes were a private donation; that those which were purchased were bought many years before,—some of them more than a century,—and that the “people” with whose money the purchase was made were not Dissenters, (for there were few or none in the Colony at that day,) but were members of the Establishment, and perfectly content that their money should be thus applied; that, having been thus applied, the “people” had voluntarily divested themselves of it, and their descendants could not now take it back, any more than they could other moneys of which their ancestors had seen fit willingly to deprive themselves : it was also answered that, upon this principle of a restoration to the "people” of money which the people"
“ once gave, there should obviously be returned no more than such
part as would be proportionate to the original number of Dissenters among the people who purchased; for, if those who now asked for a sale of the glebes had, from conscientious motives, dissented from the faith of their fathers, they should thence learn that their fathers also had consciences, and with no justice or propriety could they seek to undo what their ancestors had done with a good conscience. But, as to Dissenters among the original purchasers, there were either none at all, or, at best, the number was very limited; and it was certain that there were no Baptists among them.
It was also asserted to be very questionable whether, considering the great emigrations to the Western country and to other States, there was one-third of the inhabitants remaining whose ancestors had contributed to purchase a glebe; that, if they were sold for the benefit of that third, it would be impossible to ascertain to whom the proceeds should be paid. If it should be urged that “the country” first purchased them, and that now they should be given back to “the country,” then it was to be remembered that that country by a solemn Act had declared that “in all time coming" they should not be taken from the Church; and that if it would be unrighteous in an individual to take back by mere force that which he bad once bestowed
upon another, it required no small skill in casuistry to prove that similar conduct was righteous in a State.
As to the second argument, it was said in reply that the question of permitting the Church to retain the property was one of right, founded on law, which republics were emphatically bound to respect. That by the very law which released Dissenters from all taxes to support the Episcopal Church, the Assembly of Virginia had pledged its legislative faith-the most solemn pledge and firmest sanction which a free State could give—that the property in dispute should “in all time coming" be saved and reserved to the use of the Episcopal Church. That to order a sale of property thus solenınly reserved would tend to sap the foundation of those rights by which property in general is held, introduce into the Acts of the Legislature instability and uncertainty, exhibit a fluctuation in law unprecedented in Virginia, and overturn that confidence and security which the citizens of a republic should always feel in the stability of purpose avowed by their selected representatives. It also said that, if pre-eminence and superiority in the Church were evils justly dreaded, a declared preference for any other religious denomination was no less to be deprecated; and that, if the glebes were sold to gratify any sect or party, a distinction would be so far manifested in its favour, and would tend to furnish it, in this patronage of the State, with the means of establishing its own creed upon the ruins of every other.
To the argument of unconstitutionality as deduced from the Declaration of Rights the answer was that “the community” under the Government established after the Revolution certainly had granted to the Church vo exclusive emoluments," for it had granted nothing: it had only confirmed to the Church that which she had and owned and enjoyed for more than a century before. But, in truth, the fourth article of the Declaration of Rights had no bearing upon the question, as was evident when the whole of it was viewed together. The article declared that no man or set of men are entitled to exclusive or separate emoluments or privileges from the community, but in consideration of public services; which, not being descendible, neither ought the offices of magistrate, legislator, or judge, to be hereditary,”—thus showing simply an intention to prevent hereditary honours, offices, or emoluments in the civil government.
These are the principal arguments and answers which from time to time were presented to the Legislature upon the question of a sale of the glebes generally: there are to be found also among the memorials and remonstrances some which concern the sale of a glebe in some particular parish only; and these afford additional considerations for and against the measure, founded upon the peculiar circumstances of each case, and possessing no general interest.
Bishop Madison, in the exercise of the discretion confided to him by the Convention of 1796, submitted to the Legislature of that year the memorial touching the sale of the property of the Church. It was not
acted upon by the Assembly; but the subject, according to some former precedents in matters concerning the Church already recorded, was submitted to the consideration of the people. Episcopalians began now to think that their only mode of saving the glebes was, if possible, with the concurrence of the Legislature, to draw the determination of the question from before that tribunal and submit its decision to the courts of law. With the concurrence of the standing committee, the Bishop therefore vesolved to obtain professional advice, and an opinion was sought at the hands of some of the ablest jurists of Virginia. Bushrod Washington, Edmund Randolph, and John Wickham were consulted, and, as the result of their deliberations, stated :
1. That the Protestant Episcopal Church was the exclusive owner of the glebes.
2. That so far was the title of the Church from being impaired by the Bill of Rights, that on no sound construction did they clash; but that the title of the Church stood upon precisely the same grounds with the rights of private property, which had been recognised and secured by the principles of the Revolution and by the Constitution.
3. That any question concerning the right of property in the glehce could constitutionally be decided by the judiciary alone.
Having obtained this opinion, the Bishop called together the Conven. tion in December, 1797, and, in his address, directing their attention to the Church property, laid before them the opinion just recited.
The Convention appointed a committee to attend the discussion of their memorial before the Legislature, and instructed them to propose to that body that the controversy should be submitted to the decision of a proper tribunal of .justice.
The task becomes truly painful of following through the ecclesiastical records of this period the gradual but sure descent of the Church from level to level, each a little lower than the former, and of witnessing effort after effort made in vain by her few remaining friends to stay her downward course. The picture presented by the Bishop, in one of his addresses about this time, offers to our contemplation a suffering clergy, temples in every stage of dilapidation and decay, and an increasing indifference to the interests of the Church, which told too plainly that the protracted struggle was fast driving Churchmen into the hopelessness of despair.
The last Conventional effort of which we have any record was made in 1799. By a resolution of that year, the Bishop was directed to employ counsel to defend the rights of the Church before the judiciary whenever it should be deemed most proper to bring the question before it; and it is to be presumed that the Church now sat down in patience to await the blow which probably was seen by all to be inevitable. The crisis came at last; and on the 12th of January, 1802, the Legislature passed the law by virtue of which the glebes of Virginia were ordered to be sold for the benefit of the public. The warfare begun by the Baptists seven-and-twenty