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age used on the approach of a storm, and said, " The Lord bless and help us ! to which all present answered, “ Amen. This custom existed in England for more than two centuries after the Conquest.”—Thierry's Norman Conquest, B. v. § 1.
When William the Conqueror departed from those shores for the last time, he left behind him a law couched in the following terms: " When a Frenchman is killed or discovered slain in any hundred, the inhabitants of the hundred shall seize and bring up the murderer within eight days; otherwise they shall pay at their common cost, a fine of 47 marks of silver.” To avoid this fine, all proofs that the murdered man was French were removed
—for if he appeared to be English the Norman judges did not make their official inquest. But to guard against fraud, it was ordained that any man found assassinated should be considered as French, unless the hundred judicially proved that he was of Saxon birth—which proof was to be given by two men and two women, the nearest of kin to the deceased. Without these witnesses nis Anglaiserie—or Englishry-as the Normans expressed it, was not sufficiently established, and the hundred had to pay the fine. More than three centuries after the invasion, (as the antiquarians testify) this inquest was held in England on the body of every assassinated man; and, in the legal language, it was still called “ presentment of Englishry.”—Thierry, B. vi., $ 3.
How wonderful has been the destiny of Britain! By the Roman conquest the nation was paralysed; rather it ceased to live. It became a province, and with their nationality expired all the bravery and public virtue of the Britons. In womanish terror of the Picts and Scots, when imperial protection had been withdrawn, they stretched forth their necks again to the yoke, and in their “groans” implored that it might be riveted upon them. From a race whose manhood had been so utterly lost, nothing noble was to be expected. The fresh blood of freedom, though it was the blood of the fiercest savages, was necessary to the people who should be worthy of the soil of England. Providence sent this in the Saxons. They had in their temperament—or they had acquired from their climate, their necessities, their institutions, and their training, all the elements of power and progress. But they, too, were conquered and enslaved;
cast down, but not destroyed.” Their conquerors could not afford to do without them. They were mingled with their masters as servants, serfs, tillers of the ground, and traders; and, what was of vast importance, they retained their national institutions—their parishes, guilds, and juries—those normal schools of self-government and nurseries of self-reliance. Happily, too, the conquerors and the conquered were of the same religion,
though their priests were imported. A clergy who are in any measure dependent on the masses for support, can never be, for any length of time, indifferent to popular feeling, or wholly free from popular prejudice. Besides, the most rigid system of exclusiveness cannot prevent some master-minds from rising to power out of the plebeian ranks; and then, as in the case of the stern Saxon, Thomas á Becket, (whose amazing popularity is thus accounted for,) they attract the national sympathies, and become the conductors of that lightning which startles tyranny, and perplexes monarchs. The consequence is, that the Church gradually bridges over the chasm between the rulers and the ruled. It is her interest to unite the different classes into one body, which would not be the case if the foreign caste had also a foreign church, maintained in proud ascendancy at the national expense. Had Episcopacy been forcibly established, and permanently maintained, in Scotland, how fatally would the “ English Interest” have warred against the national welfare!
The Saxons and Normans having sprung from the same Teutonic stock, the mixture of races, aided by the common services and sympathies of religion, became a matter of much greater facility than the same process in other countries. And this mixture, we know, has ever given the most powerful impetus to the progress of civilization. Perhaps no race of men ever ceased to be barbarous and stationary without mingling blood with another
On the other hand, such interfusion has rarely, if ever, occurred without imparting benefit to both sides-energy, ledge, enterprise, and advancement in the arts of life. These causes combined, as well as others that might be mentioned, gradually gave prevalence to the Saxon language, and ultimately produced in the “ Commons of England,” before whose ascendancy Norman feudalism must “ hide its diminished head;" while the “ ENGLISHRY” whom it so long trampled down and spurned are now the most illustrious and the mightiest nation on the globe.
Christianity is insensibly, but to a vast extent, modified in its external development by the character, institutions, and situation of the people professing it, and the secular influences which act upon its teachers. Too often, it must be confessed, national religion is but the reflection of national feeling. The Church ought to be the light of the world ; but it is far more frequently
he shadow of the State. In Rome and Austria, Catholicism is the humble servant of an iron despotism; in Ireland, it gives the reins to an enthusiastic democracy. In America, Protestantism sanctions slavery together with republican equality; and in our
VOL. VI. NO. XI.
own country it blesses the banner of free trade, or consecrates monopoly, according to the social and secular elements which prevail in connexion with it.
It would be interesting and instructive to ascertain how far this has been the case in the different nations of Christendom, and to what extent it has inflicted injury on the Christian system, and retarded the progress of truth. What avail the most accurate definitions of doctrine, even though it went forth to the human mind pure as a sunbeam, when it has to pass through a dense atmosphere of ignorance, selfishness, and national prejudice, by which it is discoloured and refracted in a thousand different directions? It lights, for example, on the bleeding negro in America, and instead of dissolving his chains, it sanctifies them in the eye of his master; for that master's pastor has taught him that slavery–which defaces in man the image of God, and reduces him to the condition of a brute—is a Scriptural and patriarchal institution. The immortal being found guilty of a dark skin is consistently denied instruction. He will not be suffered to read the word of God to drink of the water of life which flows freely for all, provided by him who is no respecter of persons, and who has expressly taught us not to call “common or unclean” what he has cleansed. The pious minister of Christ who will not lift up his voice against this iniquity—this detestable antichristianism—lest he should meddle with politics, will agitate the Union from north to south to get political laws passed against the Church of Rome, chiefly because of her spiritual tyranny in refusing the Bible, without note or comment, to the laity. In all this, these truly good and able ministers see no inconsistency whatever! What is the secret of this obliquity of mental vision?
Look again at another phase of modern civilization and national temperament in America : It has resulted from the intensely commercial spirit which pervades the people of the United States—from the passion for barter which animates them,-that youths enter very early into business, get hardened in the ways of money-making ere they leave their teens,-escape prematurely from parental control, and set up for themselves. This state of things is lamented by an enlightened American as one cause of the inefficiency of the ministry in that country. This precocious manhood - restless, excitable, ardent, self-willed pays, and votes, and speaks in the Church ; and in its reckless go-ahead enthusiasm, must have talent, smartness, magnetizing energy, forced“ revivals," — in a word, it would convert the pulpit into a galvanic battery. If the minister does not come up to their mark, the young men combine and agitate against him. If he would keep his ground, he must strain after originality and
effect. He must strive to startle; and while thus torturing his own mind, he distorts the features and dislocates the members of evangelical truth. There is no fixedness—no sense of permanency about his office. In the pulpit, he is a mere tenant at will. His right to speak there, hangs on the feverish caprices of a boyish despotism. Hence, we are told, that pastors are obliged to remove, on an average, once in every
years, or oftener; and some of them are actually hired, like household servants, from year to year! It would be folly to expect such a preacher to speak as one having authority; or that his office should be respected by the young dictators whom he is obliged to humour. It would be equal folly to believe that Christianity is fairly represented to the congregations who place their ministers in such a degrading position.
Another sort of despotism reigns over the pulpits of the Continent; and it is hard to say which is more detrimental to the Christian commonwealth. We have taken these examples from a distance to illustrate our remarks on the tendency of social institutions to assimilate Christianity to themselves. We could have selected cases in point nearer home, of anomalies quite as glaring and not less mischievous---in regard to which custom and familiarity have blunted the moral perceptions of the public. We are far from thinking that Britain is in a condition to cast the first stone at America. We, too, have our enormities and follies, over which the Churches cast their mantles of indulgence.
It is natural to ask- What is the main ligature by which the world thus draws the Church in its wake? Why was religion the bright reflection of patriotism with the Anglo-Saxons ? Why was it also the blighting shadow of Norman ascendancy? What made Laud and Baxter, Owen and South, so different in their spirit as expounders of the one Gospel? Why is the ministry more or less democratic in all Voluntary Churches,—and more or less Conservative in all Establishments? Why do we sometimes find the pulpit teaching a one-sided theology, and sometimes even a one-sided morality? Why do some Churches go on with the movement, and others cling desperately to the past, —the former breaking those idols of antiquity which the latter most devoutly worship?
Perhaps the best answer to these last questions, and the best solution of the difficulty, will be found in the sources from which the clergy derive their support. If this be so, then the vexed question of Ecclesiastical Finances will be seen to have a more important bearing than is generally imagined on the purity and preservation of truth in the world. Free Churches of all denominations must beware lest their Voluntaryism should lead to
mammon-worshipping, as enslaving and corrupting as is to be met in any Establishment. No man who is at all acquainted with the British Churches can say that matters are as they ought to be in this respect. The commercial spirit tends to make the minister of religion a commodity. The feudal spirit which endows him with land tends equally to make him feel that he has rights without duties, and accustoms him to think more of his property than his preaching. He does “duty" when he must, merely as a formal service rendered for his freehold. Possibly the facts connected with Church property among the AngloSaxons may throw some light on existing controversies.
It is natural to presume that the Saxons in England, in founding parish churches, followed the example of the converted Franks in other countries. Their custom was, to assign a competent provision in land for the support of the Church and the clerks who were to serve in it. Their canons ordained that a manse should be connected with each, and that the incumbent should not be obliged to render any secular service. The revolutions of three centuries, the devastations of the sea kings, the successive conquest of the kingdom by two foreign nations, with almost incessant domestic turbulence, must, as Dr. Lingard remarks, have seriously affected the property of parochial churches as well as that of the monasteries and larger establishments.
“ Yet we find in the authentic document of Domesday a considerable number of them still in possession of land, though in very
different proportions, some holding to the amount of several hides, many a single hide, and others not more than a few acres. Of two or three only is it entered that they were churches without land.”
But besides the produce of their lands, there were other sources of income enjoyed by the parish priests. Of these the most ancient were the voluntary offerings made by the people at the communion service. These were not given up after the clergy had received landed endowments.
“ Those who could afford it,” says our author, “ continued to offer the bread and wine for the sacrifice at the chancel, and money, provisions, and any article that might be of service at the treasury of the church. This was a practice which harmonized with the previous notions of the Anglo-Saxons. They never presented a petition to a superior without its accompanying present. How, then, could they presume to pray to God for mercy without making to him an offering." -(Pp. 179, 180.)
It was not till the eighth century that tithes were established by civil and ecclesiastical authority in Gaul and the neighbouring provinces. In 730, Bede seems to allude to them when he says, “ that there was not a village in the remotest parts of Northumbria which could escape the payment of tribute to the