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The history of Church property is the history of fraud : of fraud made successful by imbecility on one side , and by the most cunning artifice on the other . The chief , because the constant , supply of the riches of the Church are tithes . By Black stone , tithes are defined to be the tenth part of the in * crease yearly arising and renewing from the profits of lands , the stock upon lands , and the personal industry of the inhabitants * Here then we have a
tenth part of all the annual produce of industry arising from lands , devoted to the maintenance of the clergy . Let it be observed , that this source of revenue is no fixed and determinate sum , but a sum yearly increasing in proportion to the augmentation of the productiveness of the land . The richer the country becomes , the greater is the affluence of the clergy ; the more industrious , the more enterprising and successful an individual proves ,
the larger is the portion of which he is deprived by his spiritual guides . There was a time when the claim of the clergy to the possession of tithes was founded on what was deemed a divine right , derived from the hierarchy of Judaism to the hierarchy of Christianity . But the best friends of the clergy have long since relinquished a mode of justification which could not endure even the approach of reason . The possession of tithes is now justified by the assertion that the labourer is worthy of his hire . This axiom no one will impeach , but unfortunately for the clergy it is an axiom which
meets not the case . That the labourer is worthy of his hire , proves , indeed , that a competent provision should be made for the ministers of Christ , but it proves no more ; it leaves untouched the questions which are at issue , whether or not the state or the hearers should make that provision—whether it should be voluntary or compulsory—whether it should consist in the forcible abstraction of a tenth part of the land's annual increase . Whatever mode of remuneration sound reason might dictate , nothing can be clearer
than that it must condemn the system of tit he-taking . It is obvious that the usefulness of a minister of Christ mainly depends on the respect and affection which his flock bear towards him : and it is equally obvious that the measure of respect and affection cannot be very ample in those cases where the parson claims and takes as of right—often by force of arms and process of law—the tenth part of the annual reward of industry . Instead of the mild and winning aspect of a Christian minister , the clergyman assumes in the countenance of tax
eyes of his parishioners the unwelcome and vexatious a - gatherer . The bonds of attachment are supplanted by those of lordliness on the one hand , and servitude on the other . The parishioner resorts to artifice to elude the tithing grasp , or to diminish the amount of its abstractions ; the clergyman to jealousy and watchfulness , in order to defeat the artifice and secure to the full the measure of his legal claim . Is this a state of things which ought to subsist between minister and people ? Can any good arise from the heart-burnings , the jealousy , the intrigue , the violence , to
which the present relation of clergyman and parishioner often leads ? We undertake to say that if a plan had been purposely devised which should in the present state of society most effectually preclude the influence which a minister of Christ may , under favourable circumstances , exert , the system of tithing would possess claims to notice which it would be difficult to find elsewhere . As yet we have said nothing of the fact that the tithes are enjoyed and taken by those to whom , in general , the people are little or not at all indebted for spiritual aid . In the Church of England , it is the
THE HISTORY AND MYSTERY OF CHURCH PROPERTY .
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), May 2, 1831, page 299, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct2597/page/11/