Professor Plumptre, in an able and interesting letter to the
Guardian in defence of Mr. Gladstone's measure abolishing
compulsory Church-rates, suggests that the ultimate result of that measure may be to render it necessary to restore compulsory rates to support the public worship of the country,—but no longer exclusive Church-rates, but rather rates in aid to any and all forms of worship, the tendency of which may be "to the main- tenance of good morals and social order,"--"in fact, extensions of the education grants-in-aid to the purposes of religious worship. He points out that Mr. Gladstone, when opposing in 1839 the Government education plan, did so on the specific ground that Government aid to schools of all religions, involves Govern- ment aid to all these religions themselves, in short to all kinds of divine worship ; and Mr. Plumptre asks why, now that Mr. Glad- stone has accepted one of the two conclusions thus linked together, he should shrink from taking the other with it ? We confess we should ourselves willingly accept it, if there was any chancafor it in the country. But Voluntaryism has now become a sort of ele- ment in the religious creed—a test of piety—among many of the Dissenting sects.