On this page
- Departments (1)
- Text (3)
Note: This text has been automatically extracted via Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. The text has not been manually corrected and should not be relied on to be an accurate representation of the item.
Additionally, when viewing full transcripts, extracted text may not be in the same order as the original document.
( 74 )•
Register at Dr . Williams ' * Library . A joint Committee of Ministers and Deputies of the Three Denominations was appointed some time ago , to consider the state and validity of the system used in this Registry , and cases have been submitted to eminent counsel on the subject for their opinions .
The result we understand to be , that , at a meeting held on the 1 st of December , this Committee agreed to certain resolutions , which were in substance , That the existing forms of Certificate and Registration at Dr . Williams ' s Library are of a highly valuable character , answering in the completest manner almost all the purposes required , and
giving as good legal proof as can be attained by a voluntary institution , and a much better clue , in many cases , to actual proof than the parochial Registers ;—that the system ought to be recommended to general use;—that the wnole plan of Registration of Births , Marriages and
Deaths in England is radically defective , not only as identified with the Establishment , which includes only part of the community , but as being in its details imperfect;—and , that such a change as ought to be looked to as an effectual cure , can only be expected to spring out of a successful result to exertions in
favour of those greater questions affecting Dissenters of all classes , which the meeting trusted would soon be discussed in the new Parliament . ¦ The efficiency of the system of Registration established under the superintcndance of the Deputies of the Three Denominations at Dr . Williams ' s Library has been lately a good deal discussed .
If a better plan can be devised , especially if a thorough reform of the whole system can by any exertions be brought about , no efforts should be spared ; but if vague ideas of defects or of the probability of change or improvement should lead to any neglect of the present mode until a better can be established , ( which we fear is remote and improbable , ) we cannot but think that great mischief will
ensue . The truth is , that the whole system of this country , in identifying the administration of these matters of civil policy with the ecclesiastical jurisdictions , renders every attempt at improvement which shall not go to the root of the evil , difficult , and likely to be productive of * as much inconvenience as the evil itself .
The Churchman wants a new system , if he rightly considers his own interests , as much as the Dissenter , the Catholic , and the Jew , does . It might be very well when every body was ( if there ever waa such a time ) a member of the Establishment , to make the record of the fact of passing through its ordinances ( as individuals would necessarily at or soon after birth , marriage and death ) a sufficiently accurate register of the events
connected with them ; but when a large proportion of the country do not pass through those ordinances , or do so only by compulsion on conscience , it is obvious , that to trust to such a record , which misses half the proper subjects of it , must be a most bungling contrivance . It would be as if a shepherd numbered his flock at their passage through one entrance or exit to the fold , when there were half a dozen others , of which he took no heed at all .
We should like to know what reliance for instance , ( looking at it as a mere statistic question , ) can be placed on the returns of births within the - bills of mortality , drawn from the only official sources of information , the parochial baptismal Registers ?
One great mischief arising from connecting these records with Church ordinances , on the absurd assumption , in the face of undoubted and notorious fact , that all the population belong to the Establishment , is , that the Church is very jealous in monopolizing these offices to itself ; will talk of offices entrusted to it for civil ends , only within as it
were the memory of man , as parts of its ancient privileges $ will claim to itself , as a necessary appendage , the right of transacting some of the most important civil business of the country ; and yet will not allow the least adaptation of this business to the altered situation and religion *
feelings of the parties concerned , under the plea that by such an adaptation you would infringe upon its rites and ordinances as a-religious body . It will suffer itself to be made ( by the Marriage Act for instance ) the civil officer of the State , and then immediately turn round upon you and say ,. " I am administering my religious ordinances ; you are compelled to come to them , it is true , only for a civil purpose ; but when you are there I will make yon swallow all I please to administer . " It is in vain to remind the Churchman that it is no favour that is asked of him ;
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Jan. 2, 1827, page 74, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct1792/page/74/