« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
religious freedoin had been fully recognised, and civil rights left the appropriate qualifications of their own proper subjects,-if the political institutes of the country had been the exclusive care of its government, and religion, as the business of individuals, had been left in their own keeping, the wisdom of the Legislature had not been necessary to settle numerous questions which have io. volved the national prosperity and existence Civil government always acts inost according to its original purpose, when it sepa rates the religious profession of the subjects of the State from its control, and limits its attentions to their political capacity. The history of those nations in whose institutes this principle has been violated, is replete wich accounts of the fiercest contentions, and the most extensive mischiefs occasioned by the restless influence of religious profession associated with secular power. Religious profession, which should find its proper relations and exeścise in the objecis of eternity, has never been diverted from its true interests, but the public peace and welfare have been sacrificed to the spirit which it has acquired by its onnatural alliance.
It is easier to discover practical mischiefs than to apply a proper remedy for their care. The evils consequent on a secular religious authority, are almost universally acknowledged to exist in the difficulties of Ireland, though there may be some perhaps who are incompetent, and others unwilling, to trace them to their proper causes.
Emancipation, it is imagined, will heal these maladies. This is the demand of a large class of the people; while another numerous class dread the measure as threatening still greater dangers. In regard to ourselves, we do not dissemble that Popery armed with power, would present all that is alarming. We firmly believe that its triumph would be the death blow to our liberties, and that its success would be followed with the direst tragedies. We should then fear all that men can fear. But with this feeling on the subject, we cannot but perceive that the reasons for our alarm are found in other causes than the proposed measure of · Emancipation. If the influence and acts of our Government went only to the sanction of · Emancipation,'-if the Legislature satisfied itself with the repeal of Penal Statutes affecting Roman Catholics, we should not tremble at the prospect; we should cheer ourselves with the good to be anticipated from employing the ineans of knowledge freely and extensively. But when we view the attitude which Popery bas now assumed, and consider to whom it owes the revived hope of again controlling and injuring us, we cannot conceal that the solicited emancipation, were it even conceded, would not be the primary evil to excite dread. And we would hope that every Protestant who expresses his alarm about it, bas the testimony of his conscience that neither actively, nor by his sanction, has he aided the once fallen agents of Popery abroad, to regain their seats, and the power of doing mischief.
From what cause can it have arisen, that this · Question of the repeal of the Penal Statute, has been discussed on grounds so partial ? A stranger to our jurispudence might easily conclude, from the debates which this · Question' has excited, that the only persons among the subjects of this United Kingdom, who are aggrieved by the provisions of the penal code, are the professors of the Roman Catholic faith; the case of the entire body of Protestant Dissenters having been overlooked by the writers and speakers who have advocated the cause of the Petitioners for Emancipation. On the principles which these advocates have avowed, the restrictions oppressive to Dissenters ought immediately to be removed, and the way opened for their admittance to the full exercise of their civil rights.
Lord Grenville has publicly declared, that, in his opinion, it would be an act of undeniable wisdom and justice, to communicate to our fellow subjects professing the Roman Catholic religion, the full enjoyment of our civil constitution. Aware, however, that the relations of the Roman Catholics to a foreign power, are considerations of great moment in this question, his Lordship qualines the proposed measure, hy suggesting the adoption of suitable arrangements maturely prepared, which are well kuown to comprehend the reservation of the influence of the Crown over the nomination of Roman Catholic bishops. Were the circumstances in which the necessity of interposing this Veto arises, removed, or did they not exist, his Lordship’s ‘act of ' undeniable wisdom and justice would be cleared of every difficulty. Now, in whatever respects professors of the Roman Catholic religion are considered as being unwisely and unjustly excluded from the enjoyment of our civil constitution, Protestant Dissenters maintain a title neither less clear nor less strong. Their claims, (and which they cannot be charged with obtruding upon the public attention,) are entirely divested of all those difficulties which adhere to the. Catholic claims. They acknow. ledge no foreign authority, they have no infallible head of the 'church' at Rome to dictate the laws of their obedience; they do not profess an exclusive creed; their attachment to the civil constitution under which they live, is unquestionable, and their submission to the laws is exemplary. If, then, to say the least, the Protestant Dissenters are, as to their political character, not inferior to the professors of the Roman Catholic religion, it must be “ an act of undeniable wisdom and justice to exonerate them from the restrictions of penal statutes, by their admission to the full enjoyment of our civil constitution. To repeal those ? statutes in favour of Catholics,' and leave them binding and galling on Protestants, would be palpable injustice. To the
Protestant Dissenters the civil constitution of England, as non established, owes, more than to any other class of subjects, its preservation ;-is it just then that any of those rights, which they have ever been the foremost in securing to the community, should be withheld from them?
The Letter now before us, is written with some ability, but it has no claim to praise for excellence of arrangement or perspicuity of style; it is indeed perplexed and obscore.
The Author proposes to investigate the original rights which man retains on entering into the social state, and to the enjoy. ment of which every member of the community, not stained by crime or rendered infamous by punishment, is, under the British constitution, equally and fully entitled; the nature and spirit of the constitution, previous to and at the period of the Revolution of 1 88; to review the conditions to be performed by every candidate for the honours and privileges of the State, previous to his competency to hold or to enjoy them; and to prove that such conditiotis cannot be injurious or repugnant to the letter or the spirit of the Christian Religion.
As it would be vain to attempt an analysis of this volume, we shall satisfy ourselves with furnishing our readers with the following extracts :
• The policy of the Church of Rome has been peculiarly marked, by requiring an obedience to its decrees, so implicit and unqualified, that its votaries, in a spiritual sense, are (in contradiction to the meaning of terms) the subjects of a temporal, though denominated a spiritual king om; and as that authority is most arbitrary which is least defined, the Church of Rome ascertains no limits beyond which its power cannot extend; but “ wise in its generation," proportions the obedience required to the necessities which may demand them : and by affixing crime even to doubt, and apostacy to inquiry, the origin and nature of its assumed spiritual authority is so over-shadowed and obscured from protane observation, that allegiance thereto becomes implicit and supreme, and the security extended to the state, for the performance of the duty of allegiance, rests upon the discretion of its own infallible will !
• The subject urges me to a detail which I could wish to avoid, were I not satisfied that though Catholics may be entitled to toleration, yet until they escape from their present yoke of bondage, they must be incapable of enjoying the blessings of constitutional freedom, and therefore are unfit depositories of power or of privilege.' p 77.
• If political power and privileges should be still pursued, recol. lect that the success of the laity must depend upon your ability to prove, by primary and authentic evidence, that all the doctrines im. puted to the Church of Rome, injurious to the security of constitutional liberty, as upheld by some and denied by other councils, are now not only not recognized but formally abrogated and condemned by an authority equal to that by which they were previously imposed
s! and confirmed, and which authority or council is the present standard
of Catholic orthodoxy. You will, I doubt not, anticipate that unerring standard to which your doctrines and discipline have been adapted, THE COUNCIL OF TRENT:you are, therefore, positively required to produce the record of this infallible council, duly authenticated, for the examination of the Imperial legislature, to enable them to discover, by actual inspection, whether those doctrines, injurious to the peace and security of man, which were either generally or partially held, maintained, practised, or imputed, at any period, have been formally recited, condemned, repealed, and renounced, in order to remove doubts and to ensure confidence' pp 269, 272.
This appeal and this demand addressed to the Romish Clergy, a e entitled to serious consideration ; they ought to be fairly met, Religion can never be at variance with the real interests of society; and if an authority is acknowledged as a religious au! hority by " l'atholics,' it is just to require satisfactory evi. dence of its e tire separation from political obligation, an obligation exclusively under the cognizance of the State.
The Authur very forcibly endeavours to impress on the Roman Catholic Clergy, as essential and particular duties at the present moinent, the • Restoration of the Scriptures' to the people, and the • Renunciation of the Papal authority.' The Letter is addressed to Lord Holland.
Art XI. 1. The Protestant Reformation commemorated ; a Sermon
preached on Sunday Morning, viarch 1, 1818, at Aldermanbury
Postern, London Wall By John Hawksley. 8vo. 1818. 2. The Reformation from Popery commemorated. The Substance of
a Discourse delivered at the Independent Meeting House, Stow.
market, Nov. 9. 1817. By William Ward. 8vo, 1818. WHATEVER sentiments on subjects of ecclesiastical or civil
polity, may be entertained by those who sustain the responsible office of the Christian pastor among Protestant Dissenters, we believe we run no fear of contradiction in asserting, that the pulpit is rarely if ever made by them the organ of political opinions. The great subjects of the evangelical ini. nistry, are rarely made to give way to topics of subordinate importance. An attendant upon the services of the Meetinghouse, might in many situations listen for years without hearing from the preacher any thing more than a passing reference to the peculiar tenets of Nonconformity. At an ordination service, such sentiments are, as a matter of course, formally introduced ; but in a general way, this reserve bas been carried to an extent which has left room for regret that the younger part of the congregation should be suffered to grow up uninformed as to questions of great practical importance.
The time was, when it was thought necessary to preach sermons against Popery. In the beginning of the last century, a course of sermons, having this avowed object, was undertaken by the London Dissenting Ministers, which are known under the title of Salter's Hall Lectures. We do not know that there is any immediate necessity for preaching against Popery now; or, indeed, for preaching against any species of error; but there is always need for preaching up the truth; and the great principles of the Protestant Reformation, as constituting a most important branch of truth, stand in as much need perhaps of being contended for, at the present period, as they have ever done. We are glad that the faint attempt wbich was made to turn the Third Centenary of that glorious era, to some moral account, bad at least the effect of directing the public attention in some measure to the subject. But the general apathy with which, in this country, the proposal to commemorate that event was received, contrasted with the interest taken in it by the Prote-tants of the Continent, might serve to convince those who are the consistent advocates of the great principles of the Reformation, that something more than an anniversary reference has become requisite, in order to rescue them from neglect or utter forgetfulness.
An earlier attention was due to the few sermons published on the occasion alluded to. Those which head this Article we can cordially recommend, as presenting a concise but comprehensive view of the principles of Protestantism, in a style well adapted to subserve the great purpose of religious instruction.
Mr. Hawksley has appositely taken for his text, or motto, Psalm lxxvii. ii, 12. I will remember the works of the ! Lord : surely I will remember thy wonders of old. The first part of the discourse is devoted to a brief sketch of the rise, progress, and ultimate character of Popery. Under the second division, he expatiates on the advantages which have been con• ferred upon us by our deliverance from its bondage. These he sums up in the following particulars : the unrestrained circulation
of the scriptures : * freedom of thought and of profession in ! all the concerns of religion ; ' 'a purer doctrine and greater sim
plicity of worship,? more especially the re-establishment of that grand article, (stantis vel cadentis ecclesiæ articula) justification by faith alone! and, lastly,' a more correct and widely
extended morality.' Under the last head, he calls upon his audience to make a suitable improvement of the circumstances in wbicb as Protestants, and as Protestant Dissenters, they are placed ; not scrupling to affirm that by no denomiation of Christians are the principles of the Reformation better understood, • and more practically honoured, than by our truly apostical