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Gaining an individual character , and of prosecuting seriously Some important object , will inevitably raise a man to a state of superiority amongst the thoughtless and indifferent . In point of fact , we apprehend it will not be disputed , that throughout England a great part of the more active members of society , who have most intercourse with the people and most influence over them , are Protestant Dissenters . These are manufacturers , merchants
and substantial tradesmen , or persons who are in the enjoyment of a competency realized by trade , commerce and manufactures , gentlemen of the professions of law and physic , and agriculturists , of that class particularly who live upon their own freeholds . The virtues of temperance , frugality , prudence and integrity , that are promoted by religion Nonconformity and sectarian peculiarities , assist the temporal prosperity of thase descriptions of persons , as they tend also to lift others to the same rank fcom the humbler classes of society . If the wealthy soon quit the Dissenters , they are
Dissenters whilst they are becoming wealthy , and this is the period during which they are most valuable members of any communion . When their moral energy is exhausted , they may settle into habits of conformity , without subtracting any weight from the church which they quit , or adding any to that which they join . Churchmen are often surprised at the si ^ ht of the numerous Dissenting places of worship that rise up in the streets of populous towns and along the road-side of villages ; but they would be still more surprised if they could look into the interior of society and see at one view the rank which Dissenters hold , and the part which they act in all those
institutions that exercise the strongest influence upon the mind and character of a people . They have innumerable charities of their own , and their names are enrolled in almost all other charitable lists . Amongst them originated those little knots of readers , called Book-clubs , which have done so much for the spread of intelligence during the last half-century , and through their means these circles of knowledge are multiplied daily . They take the lead in more permanent literary and scientific institutions . To them is mainly owing the establishment of Schools for All . In all but the highest branches of education , their teachers are as numerous as those that
are in communion with the Establishment . They have in their hands far more than their share of the popular press . Their funds for charitable and religious uses are not inconsiderable , though their carelessness in some cases and their liberality in others have suffered many of these to be alienated from them . Their division into sects , like the division of labour in political economy , is in one sense favourable to their influence and power ; for the amount of zeal in those sects is greater than could have been excited in the united body , and in every one of them a principle is at work which tends
greatly to the prosperity of each and of the whole , namely , that being in some degree proscribed by the State , the individual Nonconformists ought to Support and cherish one another . The action of this principle is different in these sects , according to their numerousness , the relations of their members to general society , and even their theological faith ; but in all it is incessant , and the result is of great moment to the civil and political importance of the Dissenters .
Political is , we ate aware , a term at which , as applied to Dissenters , some of this body are apt to start . It is , nevertheless , in our usage strictly correct . The State places Nonconformists in a different relation lo itself from that of Conformists , and a relation very unfavourable to some of their dearest interests as free-born Englishmen . It would be worse than ridiculous to deny that ! this ! relation in which Dissenters stand to the governing power , is
State of Religious Parties in England . 251
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), April 2, 1827, page 251, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct1795/page/19/