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their convents, they could not have been prevented by parliament from disposing of them, as they might think proper; for the only full test of perfect dominion in property is the absolute freedom of disposing of it. Moreover, if these church lands were not then looked upon as a part of the national trustfund, parliament would not have enacted, that they should be forfeited to the state by such convents, as permitted their alien spiritual superiors to interfere with or take away any part of their revenues or possessions.
The church lands and revenues, which in the reign of king Henry VIII. were given to or vested in lay persons by parliament, were confirmed to the lay proprietors by the first and second Phil. & Mary, c. 8. Now if the act of divesting them out of the spiritual corporations, and vesting them in lay persons, were sacrilegious and against the law of God, or malum in fe, then was it out of the power of parliament to enact it, and the act was of itself invalid, and an invalid act can receive no confirmation, for confirmare efi id, quod eft, firmum facere. No length of time could induce an obligation of complying with an act of parliament, that enacted malum in se; but in this case, barely twenty years had intervened between the passing of the acts and their confirmation. It appears evident, that the
parliament in queen Mary's days, after their reconciliation with the fee of Rome, held themselves to poffefs the same power or controul over the church lands, as did the parliament in the time of king Henry her father; for although they might have been induced by many political reasons to confirm the possessions of the church lands to the then lay proprietors, yet the same reasons for peace and quiet could not apply to the crown, as to private individuals; and by that very act were all such lands and revenues confirmed to the queen, which had not been divested out of the crown during the two preceding reigns. Whence we must necessarily conclude, that although parliament be never justifiable in misapplying any part of the national fund; yet do they command the same power and controul over the revenues of the church, as over any other part of that fund; and are equally bound by their duty and trust to model and regulate it, as they shall think the preservation and welfare of the community require.
The statutes for the clergy and of provisors of benefices (25 Ed. III) and of premunire for suing in a foreign realm, or impeaching of judgment given, ( 27 Ed. III.) are founded in the power of parliament, over the temporalities of the church,
CH A P.
CHA P. V.
OF SOME MODERN DOCTRINES CONCERNING
THE RESISTANCE OF INDIVIDUALS AGAINST
ATO man of the Nightest observation or The malcon. TV reflection can at this day be ignorant tented with of the confidence, with which the malcontents entablishment. of the hour inveigh against the ecclesiastical and civil establishment of our present constitutional polity; insisting upon the absolute fubversion of the one, and a general reformation and alteration of the other. But it is an obvious question, Who are these malcontents ? They are not only composed of the remains of some of the old sets of diffenters from the established church, such as anabaptists, puritans, independants, &c. but more generally of the various sets of modern subdiffenting improvers upon their ancient masters, whom Dr. Price seems, with unbounded affection and zeal, to have admitted as his worthy afsociates and fellow labourers in the good common cause of diffent from the principles, and resistance against the establishment of the national church. Of these Mr. Burke speaks,
couragement to dilicat.
with his usual elegant and nervous poignancy, Dr. Price's en- * “ If the noble seekers should find nothing
to satisfy their pious fancies, in the old staple of the national church, or in all the rich variety to be found in the well-assorted warehouses of the diffenting congregations, Dr. Price advises them to improve upon nonconformity, and to set up, each of them, a separate meeting house, upon his own particular principles f. It is somewhat remarkable, that this reverend divine should be so earnest for setting up new churches, and so perfectly indifferent concerning the doctrines which may be taught in them. His zeal is of a curious character. It is not for the propagation of his own opinions, but of any opinions. It is not for the diffusion of truth, but for the spreading of contradiction. Let the noble teachers but dissent, it is no matter from whom or from what. This great point once secured, it is taken for granted their re
* Refe&ions on the Revolution in France, p. 14, and 15.
t « Those who dislike that mode of worship, which is prescribed by public authority, ought, if they can find no worship out of the church, which they approve, to set up a separate worship for themselves; and by doing this, and giving an example of a rational and manly worship, men of weight, from their rank and literature, may do the greatest service co society, and the world.” P. 18, Dr. Price's Sermon.
ligion will be rational and manly. I doubt whether religion would reap all the benefits which the calculating divine computes, from this great company of great preachers. It would certainly be a valuable addition of non-descripts to the ample collection of known classes, genera, and species, which at present beautify the bortus ficcus of diffent.”
Whenever, in the course of this work, I shall have occasion to mention any fets of persons known by a common description or appellation of religious focieties, or sectaries difsenting from the established church, I do not mean even to hint at the religious or theological tenets, doctrines, or principles, by which they differ from it or from each other.
Polemical discussion is not my province. The author's And I have no other motive nor reason to re- wiens the pofer to or animadvert upon the tenets, doctrines, cintes only of or principles of any such societies or sectaries, but inasmuch as they contradict or counteract those general and fundamental principles of civil government, upon which the fystem of our prefent constitution and governinent is formed and preserved. The inhabitants of this island certainly form one entire community, to whom it is fully competent to model and establish that constitution and systein of government, which they shall chuse; and