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There can be little doubt , we think , that this extraordinary decision will be reversed if it be appealed from . From the amount of property to which the same principle applies , it would be strange were the struggle to end here . The merits of the case lie in a nutshell . Lady Hewley was an English Presbyterian . This class of religionists while yet Trinitarian , differed
from the other English sects ( not in being subjected to that form of government which the name imports / and which never obtained generally amongst those so called , south of the Tweed , ) but in not subjecting communicants to doctrinal examination by the church—in not fencing the Lord ' s table and other religious privileges by a creed . The natural consequence followed . Diversity of opinion followed the allowance of freedom of opinion . Different shades of heresy obtained in different
congregations ; all continuing to worship in the chapels which their fathers erected and endowed , and to dispense the charities which their fathers founded . The idea occurred to a Trinitarian lawyer of turning them out , because they no longer held the opinions of their predecessors , it being deemed a very wnirriportant point that they adhered to the freedom of their predecessors , and had relinquished the one in consequence of retaining the other . The first great attack was made on lady Hewley ' s trust , and thus far successfully .
Lady Hewley established a Presbyterian , i , e . an unfettered charity . Her will required no creed of her trustees ; nor of the ministerial beneficiaries , save that they should be f godly preachers of Christ ' s holy word . ' The plea for excluding Unitarians is , that Lady Hewley was a Trinitarian , and that Trinitarians now deny Unitarians the epithet of * godly .
To decide this question , the Court of Chancery has been invoked to perform the office of the Holy Inquisition . Faith and conscience have been put to the question ; the abstrusest points of dogmatic theology and biblical criticism have been discussed by the bar , and on the bench , and an exhibition been made , which we believe to be unparalleled , of ignorance mistake , and absurdity . Unused to such matters , and very innocently bewildered by the strange jargon , the reporters have made * confusion worse confounded . *
We trust that these proceedings will be continued no longer than is requisite to ascertain ( if there be such a thing ) the legal principle . If that be against them , let the heretical Presbyterians pack up and vacate . Only let them endeavour to fix upon their successors the condition on which they themselves have inherited the disputed chapels and trusts , and which is the legitimate title to their possession , viz . freedom from the ecclesiastical imposition of a form of doctrine . If this be done , the change of hands may become a great good , though purchased by much individual inconvenience and suffering .
However uninterested in the theological part of the dispute , the public can scarcely fail to be disgusted with this revival of an inquisitorial and persecuting spirit . And should the combined operations of lawyers and theologians bring ( as they may ) all similar property into ceaseless change and litigation , the inquiry may arise , how long society can wisely allow a man ' s money to be employed in influencing opinions and practices , after he is dead .
Lady tfewley ' s Trust 87
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Jan. 2, 1834, page 87, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct2629/page/89/