Page:Books Condemned to be Burnt - James Anson Farrer.djvu/177

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161
Books Condemned to be Burnt.

But Parliament was in a burning mood; for Sacheverell's friends, wishing to justify his cry of the Church in danger, which he had ascribed to the heretical works lately printed, easily succeeded in procuring the burning of Tindal's and Clendon's books, before mentioned. Nor can any one who reads that immortal work. The Rights of the Christian Churchy asserted against the Romish and all other Priests who claim an independent power over it, wonder at their so urging the House, however much he may wonder at their succeeding.

The first edition of The Rights of the Christian Church appeared in 1706, published anonymously, but written by the celebrated Matthew Tindal, than whom All Souls' College has never had a more distinguished Fellow, nor produced a more brilliant writer. In those days, when the question that most agitated men's minds was whether the English Church was of Divine Right, and so independent of the civil power, or whether it was the creature of, and therefore subject to, the law, no work more convincingly proved the latter than this work of Tindal; a work which, even now, ought to be far more generally known than it is, no less for its great historical learning than for its scathing denunciations of priestcraft.