I have by Mr. Pownal your Lordships Secretary two of the [Acts of] Assembly passed in the province of North Carolina in May 1760. for establishing Vestrys and making provision for an Orthodox Clergy with your desires to have my sentiments upon the same, so far as they regard the Establishment of the Church of England there the Right of Presentations given to the Vestrys, and the Jurisdiction set up for the punishment of Ministers guilty of Immorality.
These Acts seem to me to be connected in one scheme to establish
I observe 1st that the Act for establishing Vestrys does not require from each person elected to be a Vestryman, to give Testimony of his Faith other than he is, or intends to continue a Member of the Church of England. The Act says that each person so chosen shall take the Oath of Abjuration and subscribe the Test and shall declare—I will not oppose the Doctrine and Discipline of the Church of England as by Law established—which Declaration may be made by Presbyterian Anabaptist Independent Quaker Jew or pagan. If persons retaining any of these Tenets be elected into such Office and are to preside in Ecclesiastical Affairs can it be supposed but they will incline to favour such as are of their own Opinions rather than the Ministers and people in Communion with the Church of England? who it is to be feared, will frequently suffer by the partialities and prejudices of Vestry men who do not conform to their Doctrines, or are Strangers to their Faith. To avoid those Evils, the proper Remedy will be to make it a necessary Qualification for each and every person to make the following Declaration, viz: I A. B. do declare that I will conform to the Liturgy of the Church of England, as by Law established, as it is required by a former Act in 1755 in the said Colony.
The second Act for making provision for an Orthodox Clergy is an agreeable Title and sounds well; and if it provided sufficiently for them, no reasonable Objection could be made against it; but if on the contrary it renders their Maintenance uncertain and precarious by placing them in a dependent state, upon the Humours and Tempers of Vestrymen chosen as before mentioned, it will rather hurt than help them. This Act says that every Minister to be preferred or received into any parish within that province shall receive One hundred pounds proclamation Money from the Church wardens annually; but if they refuse to pay the same, there is no penalty mentioned in the Act which they shall be subject to nor power given to the Minister, how or from whom he shall recover the same. The like or rather greater difficulty lies upon the Minister how or from whom he shall recover the Fees for marrying by Licence, as the Marriage License is frequently directed to a Justice of peace to execute; and when that is the Case how or from whom shall the Orthodox Minister recover the Fees specified? The same difficulties attend the Recovery of all other Fees the Allotment of Two hundred Acres of Glebe Land and Building a Mansion-house for the
The next point in this Act, is vesting the Right of Presentation of every parish for twelve months after a Vacancy in the respective Vestry belonging to it; but should that Term expire and no Minister be presented there is no mention made of the Lapse of that Term to the Crown or Ordinary: By this Means a Power is acquired by the Vestrys never granted to the Builder or Endower of any Church by the Laws of England nor should be as it is so injurious to the prerogative of the Crown and the Welfare of the Church of England.
The last part of the Act for punishing Ministers guilty of Immoralities, sets up a new Jurisdiction for prosecuting Offenders by exhibiting Articles of Complaint against them in Temporal Courts, which have an undoubted Right to judge in temporal Matters; but Immoralities being spiritual Crimes whether in the Minister or people, wherever the Church of England has been established these have always been censured in the Ecclesiastical Courts by the Bishop or his Commissarys. To set up any other authority for this purpose is taking away the little Remains of Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction if any is left in that province and reducing the Bishop of London by the Act only to certify as a public Notary, that the Minister is duly ordained. This part of the Act is contrary to the common principles of Justice, to punish spiritual Crimes in temporal Courts. It is likewise contrary to an express Law in North Carolina, which enacts that all Statutes made in England for the Establishment of the Church shall be in force there. Is it reasonable then that those Laws which have so wisely regulated presentations to Livings in those Kingdoms for Ages past, and in a proper Manner have punished Ministers guilty of Immoralities should be totally set aside and repealed in a Colony in Exchange for others no way consistent with the English Constitution