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    John Selden. The Historie of Tithes(:) That is, The Practice of Payment of them. The Positive Laws made for them. The Opinions touching the Right of them. A Review of it Is also annext, which both Confirms it and directs in the Use of it. [London:] N.P., 1618. Krown & Spellman retail: $850. First Edition. 4to. a-e4,A-3K4,(2)a-f4 [-f4 blank]. [6],XXII,[12],491,[3 ]p. Contemp calf, blind rules on covers, spine banded, title on morocco label, front hinge cracked at ends, head and tail of spine chipped. T.p. in red and black. From the Krown & Spellman Collection.

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    "In more than one passage of this essay Selden handles the question whether tithes are payable jure divino. In the sixth chapter (section 6), he first approaches the subject; he does not deny that they are payable by what he calls 'ecclesiastical or positive law,' but he denies that they are payable by what he calls 'the divine moral law or the divine natural law, which should bind all men and ever;' and he endeavours to show that the practices of the early church were consistent only with this view. In the seventh chapter he again reverts to the subject, and states the chief question in debate among divines in these terms: 'whether by God's immediate moral law the evangelical priesthood have a right to tythes in equal degree as the layman hath to his nine, or if they have them only as by human positive law and so given them for their spiritual labour.' It obviously follows that if tithes are of divine law, both as to their existence and their quota, they cannot be affected by human law; and here Selden's love of the common law comes into play, and he urges the fact that 'the practised common law  hath never given way herein to the canons, but hath allowed customs and made them subject to all civil titles, infeodations, discharges, compositions, and the like.' It is not perhaps difficult to guess in which direction the mind of Selden leaned on this crucial question between the canon and the common law, but it is difficult to find in the treatise any direct expression of his private judgment.

    It was not only passages touching 'the divine right' of tithes which gave offence to the clergy. The preface appears to have been written after the work had made some noise, owing doubtless to the circulation of the manuscript among Selden's friends. In this preface he with more than usual spirit turns on his critics; he energetically protests that his book is 'not written to prove that tythes are not due by the law of God; not written to prove that the laity may detain them; not to prove that lay hands may still enjoy appropriations; in sum, not at all against the maintenance of the clergy; neither is it anything else but itself' that is, a mere narrative of the History of Tythes. With increased heat he pointed to the opposition which the clergy offered in past times to the progress of true knowledge and to the suspicions with which they had viewed 'the noble studies of Roger Bacon, Reuchlin, Budaeus, and Erasmus. When published the book aroused a fierce storm. The author was summoned to answer for his opinions before some of the lords of the court of high commission and some of the privy council, and he acknowledged his error in a few lines in writing. The submission contained, as Selden contended, no confession of mistakes in the book, and expressed no change of opinion, but merely regret at the publication of the work. The form of the submission was probably a matter of arrangement between himself and those of his judges who seemed to favour him. The book itself was suppressed by public authority, and by some command, probably of the king, he was forbidden to print any reply to his numerous antagonists, a restraint of which he bitterly complained to the Marquis of Buckingham in May 1620."DNB STC  22172.3.(mixed state--p249 incorrectly numbered 149 with "little"). ESTC s117046.Pforzheimer 857. Sweet & Maxwell I,140,26.Kress 360.

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