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and willing to support him; but it is not so in Ireland. Hitherto, as far we have had the means of ascertaining, no CLASS of persons has been competent to support a periodical'; and, until the CHRISTIAN EXAMINER commenced its labours, all attempts had proved abortive. Now, we began without desiring to succeed, and continued without obtaining success in pleasing any party; all our purpose centred in opposing Popery, Socinianism, and Infidelity in maintaining Evangelical religion, and encouraging, as far as possible in the land, the truth as it is in Jesus Christ.
That we have not pleased mere political Protestants—that we have not pleased High Churchmen or Low Churchmen, or no Churchmen—that we have not pleased Millenarians, or Perfectionists, or New Prophets, or Mirabilarians, we are quite ready to allow. That we have not made our pages the medium of flattering, or of upholding the opinions or reveries of any man, we confidently assert. And, though often accused, and, at times, justly, of indiscretion, of mismanagement, of mistake, yet we feel assured that our faults have not been those belonging to the mean or servile; and, if we have shown a partiality, surely it has not been towards those who, in a worldly sense, could do us service.
Confessedly, we have made our pages the vehicle of free opinions ; they have been left open for the exercise of candid and temperate discussion on points that did not compromise the great leading truths of our religion; and, while disclaiming all responsibility for what bore a signature, we have only resolved that our contributors shall abstain from what would be unbecoming a Christian Journal. While pursuing this plan, we know that our work has displeased many; and, consequently, those who range under particular colours have, during the period of our existence, in support of their party, set up sundry rival periodicals, of which some have fallen to the ground, and others still support them. selves. Neither with the dead or the living have we ever interfered. We started with the resolution of maintaining the catholic character of a Church of Ireland Magazine, and we would not intentionally narrow our scope by acting as the tool of a party in that Church with which we desire to stand or fall.
Originally we commenced as the opposers of Popery; and though, in the course of nine eventful years, it appears, not only in
mockery of our, but of every other effort, to rise in ascendant, yet we would suggest that it is well to look at this great evil of our land in two points of view, namely, its political and religious state, and perhaps it will be found that, while the former is rampant and running to riot, the latter may be exhibiting marks of gathering decrepitude. And if it can be shown that much of the darkest and most degrading forms of Popery have vanished; if well-worshipping and Patrick's purgatory pilgrimages, and holiday drinking, and sundry idolatries of holy bones and stones; if various abominations of stations, patrons, purgatorial fraternities, &c. have been shamed away from the Isle, never more to return ; surely, we may take credit for what, in fact, we know to be true—the rebuking, by means of sundry exposures in our pages, the GREAT APOSTACY into a more tolerable and less offensive demeanour than what she puts on in any other part of Europe.
Having already said that our primary object was to oppose the Popery that was evidently, like a giant refreshed with wine and sleep, rising to wage war with Protestantism in Ireland; we confess that, in our anxiety to give the Protestant public of the empire information concerning every thing connected with the encrease of its rival, we, about two years ago, were betrayed into the imprudence of republishing, as religious intelligence, a letter reflecting on a Roman Catholic clergyman, which letter had, as far as we knew, gone, uncontradicted, the round of most of the Connaught newspapers, and which was accompanied with the genuine signatures of sundry respectable Roman Catholics, the parishioners of the gentleman animadverted on. In our subsequent publication (having been informed that this letter was written by the parties to answer an angry and malicious purpose) we made what we thought an ample apology. But this did not satisfy the offended clergyman, and be brought his action for libel, which action we were glad to compromise, by making a satisfactory apology to the person aggrieved, and paying all costs, to the amount of near 500l.
Our readers may now judge whether we are not borne out in saying, that we have had obstacles, both literary and pecuniary, to contend with; and, though certain FRIENDS of ours may have intimated, and that perhaps justly, that these difficulties are only the results of our own culpable imprudence, we are not quite sure that such Job's comforters would alone console us for the past or enable us to bear up against the future; but we would assure such FRIENDS, and better men than such FRIENDS, that we have higher motives and surer grounds of support than the praise, or fear, or aid, or discountenance, of man, for upholding the CHRISTIAN EXAMINER. And, with God's blessing, who, we doubt not, has procured for us the countenance of those Christian patriots who have so long helped us and cheered us, we shall strenuously per. severe in our undertaking.
THE PRESENT STATE OF THE ESTABLISHED
CHURCH. As in every invasion of the interests of Protestantism in this country, are involved, the destiny, the laws, and the religion of England, we shall stand excused in entering more at large, than We are wont to do in a single article, into the original foundation and future welfare of the Established Church. We shall confine ourselves to a few points; but discuss them at length, Public fame has already confiscated the property of the church. A reformed parliament, will, it is said, disabuse our ecclesiastical system of the anomalies that deform the elaborate and costly mechanism of our establishment, too splendid for the simple purity of a Christian institution, and that thus innovation once introduced, the perpetuation of the long-sighed-for overthrow will easily be accomplished. We shall not now speculate upon this contemplated rapacity. For until the voice of reason be silenced, and the spirit of British law be extinguished until anarchy shall rule over the desolation of all that is sacred, and despotic tyranny govern unchecked, we cannot urge ourselves to acknowledge that this dream of visionary speculatists or infidel republicans will ever be embodied into a legislative ordinance of King, Lords, and Commons of Great Britain. For we cannot imagine that the madness of encroachment will ever precipitate the advisers of the crown to bound beyond the theories of even the wildest fanatic that ever forged a system of government for the English people. Even Harrington, the author of Oceana, was less insane than some of our modern ecclesiastical innovators. And his model for a new code of laws, and for a thorough purging of the church and state of all its ancient usages, was rejected as too eccentric and visionary by the lawless republicans in the days of Cromwell, though he hesitated to tread down the sacred rights of the church. Nay more, in his “ Art of Lawgiving," he proposed to make additions to the emoluments of the inferior clergy, without infringing on the other parts of the establishment.
* It is proposed that the legal and antient provision for the national ministry be so augmented, that the meanest sort of livings or beneX. S. VOL. II.
The ministers of the king, in the arguments they have employed for the abrogation of the test law, and of Roman Catholic disabilities, asseverated, that the abandonment of all restrictions on dissenters, would strengthen the stability of the Church, by removing the odium of an intolerant spirit from the laws that protected her. Therefore their former arguments in defence of these legal modifications, and their vindication of their present policy from the imputation of revolutionary tendencies, being still in our remembrance, we shall not say that they are participators in the contemplated demolition. If they have been sincere, every hindrance that can be objected to the raising of flood-gates of and the revolutionary scheme of destroying the Protestant Church, they are bound in consistency to interfere as defensive auxiliaries to those principles and arguments which they are pledged to public opinion to maintain. If then, the object of their present policy is to seek an adjustment only, or more enlarged distribution of the blessings inherent in the Church, with no desire to deface her beauty, or impair her strength, they will, on the assembling of the new parliament, immediately give publio testimony, which enmity cannot gainsay, that the opinions they have frequently promulgated, are but the echo of their secret intentions, by building up around the Church such legislative bulwarks as in all seasons of peril or of change, or threatened hostility, or even of imagined danger, their ancestors have uniformly erected. If they shall hesitate to do this, where are their promises ? Will not their names be attainted of a studied determination to destroy the Church? Were not hypocrisy and a show of attachment the means which they employed to accomplish it? Will not the people perceive that the union between Church and State is no cherished article of
fices, without defalcation from the greater, be each improved to a revenue of one hundred pounds at least. This, in regard the way is by tithes, comes up so close to the orders of Israel, as in our day, may shew that a commonwealth may come too near that pattern to be liked. We find not indeed that the apostles either took or demanded tithes, in which case the priests, who were legally possessed of them, might have had suspicion that they under colour of religion had aimed at the violation of property. But putting the case that generally the priests had been converted to the Christian faith whether the apostles would for that reason have enjoyned them to relinquish their tithes ? or, what is there in the Christian religion to favour any such surmise ? To me there seems abundantly enough to the contrary; for if the apostles stuck not to comply with the Jews in a ceremony which was of mere human invention, and to introduce this as they did ordination, by imposition of hands, into the Christian Church, that they would upon a like inducement have refused a standing law undoubtedly Mosaical, is in my opinion, most improbable, so that I conceive the law for tithes now in being may or may not be continued at the pleasure of lawgivers for any thing in this case to the contrary. Confident I am that the introducing of this model in the whole, (his own system of government) which is thought impracticable, were not to willing minds so difficult a work AS THE ABOLITION OF TITHES."— The Art of Lawgiving, p. 450, Works.