It is idle to talk as if it was to be no blow to the Church. The confiscation of Wesleyan and Roman Catholic Church property would be a real blow to Wesleyan or Roman Catholic interests; and in proportion as the body is greater the effects of the blow must be heavier and more signal. It is trifling with our patience to pretend to persuade us that such a confiscation scheme as is now recommended to the country would not throw the whole work of the Church into confusion and disaster, not perhaps irreparable, but certainly for the time overwhelming and perilous. People speak sometimes as if such a huge transfer of property was to be done with the stroke of a pen and the aid of a few office clerks; they forget what are the incidents of an institution which has lasted in England for more than a thousand years, and whose business extends to every aspect and degree of our very complex society from the highest to the lowest. Resources may be replaced, but for the time they must be crippled. Life may be rearranged for the new circumstances, but in the meanwhile all the ordinary assumptions have to be changed, all the ordinary channels of activity are stopped up or diverted.
And why should this vast and far-reaching change be made? Is it unlawful for the Church to hold property? Other religious organisations hold it, and even the Salvation Army knows the importance of funds for its work. Is it State property which the State may resume for other uses? If anything is certain it is that the State, except in an inconsiderable degree, did not endow the Church, but consented in the most solemn way to its being endowed by the gifts of private donors, as it now consents to the endowment in this way of other religious bodies. Does the bigness of the property entitle the State to claim it? This is a formidable doctrine for other religious bodies, as they increase in influence and numbers. Is it vexatious that the Church should be richer and more powerful than the sects? It is not the fault of the Church that it is the largest and the most ancient body in England. There is but one real and adequate reason: it is the wish to disable and paralyse a great religious corporation, the largest and most powerful representative of Christianity in our English society, to exhibit it to the nation after centuries of existence at length defeated and humbled by the new masters’ power, to deprive it of the organisation and the resources which it is using daily with increasing effect for impressing religious truth on the people, for winning their interest, their confidence, and their sympathy, for obtaining a hold on the generations which are coming. The Liberation Society might go on for years repeating their dreary catalogue of grievances and misstatements. Doubtless there is much for which they desire to punish the Church; doubtless, too, there are men among them who are persuaded that they would serve religion by discrediting and impoverishing the Church. But they are not the