accounts for the greater volume, proportionately, of Arian and Unitarian writings on religious liberty.20 Prompted by Archdeacon Francis Blackburne's The Confessional (1766), and led by Blackburne and Theolphilus Lindsey, the liberal Anglican anti-subscription movement of 1772, supported by the so-called Feathers Tavern petition, was launched and defeated in the same year. Only a few months after the defeat of the Anglican bill, the Dissenters made a similar, though unsuccessful, attempt to relieve their ministers and schoolmasters from the requirement of subscription. The Dissenting movement was a genuinely national effort; their petition bore the signatures of more than 850 Dissenting ministers, most of them orthodox Trinitarians. In the ensuing flurry of pamphlets and books, the number of orthodox authors who wrote in support of the anti-subscription cause equalled the number of heterodox authors.21
Two significant advances in toleration were made in England in the late 1770s. The Catholic Relief Act of 1778 repealed laws relating to Catholic schoolmasters and allowed Catholics to own property. Catholics were still debarred from public offices and the universities, however, and could not vote. In 1779, Trinitarian Nonconformist ministers and schoolmasters were exempted from subscribing to the Thirty-nine Articles provided they declared their belief in Scripture 'as the revealed will of God'. Non-Trinitarians, however, were still subject to the penalties of the Blasphemy Act. From 1787 through to 1790 there were three unsuccessful attempts to repeal the Test and Corporation Acts, and these campaigns provoked some of the most famous debates over religious liberty in the history of the House of Commons. In the midst of the first repeal effort in 1787, Priestley worked against the Blasphemy Act, not only for the sake of fellow Unitarians, but also on behalf of the Jews, but to no avail. By March 1790, the third repeal bill was doomed by the growing fear of the Revolution in France, as was any significant move towards toleration in general. C. J. Fox agreed to bring in a bill to repeal the penalties against Unitarians in 1791, but the effort failed.
Eighteenth-century Scotland presents no movement for religious equality comparable to that of England, but new claims for religious self-determination can be traced to the Presbyterian seceders. In the early 1730s, Ebenezer Erskine broke away from the Church of Scotland over the issue of patronage in a secession that tookthe name of the Associate Synod. Erskine and his colleagues insisted on the divine right of male communicants to choose their own pastors, and like their Dissenting contemporaries in England, they emphasized the right of private judgement and the spiritual nature of Christ's kingdom.22 Another group of anti-patronage Presbyterians remained within the established church
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