« ZurückWeiter »
That extent he has now the most satisfactory documents to ascer tain. He has not only their proceedings in their aggregate meetings, and in their synods; in their canons, their speeches and their pamphlets, to direct his judgment; but their repeated petitions deposited in the archives of Parliament. They will have unrestricted, unqualified Emancipation or none; and if men's intentions can ever be collected from their declarations, and their acts, nothing can be more evident than that if they are eager to accomplish that Emancipation, it is because they persuade themselves that it will be a most material step gained towards the dissolution of an union for which the entire protestant population of Ireland gratefully acknowledge themselves to be principally indebted to Lord Castlereagh, and by that dissolution, towards the final separation of the two countries. To crush the league that has been formed with this desperate view; to put an extinguisher on all its treasonable expectations, and give it decidedly to understand that its claims must ever be considered as incompatible with the integrity and permanency of the British Constitution, is a service perfectly in character with all his Lordship has hitherto done for his country-She would say to him by me; I quo tuum te Ingenium vocat; hoc operum mihi crede tuo
To suppose that his Lordship or any of the Ministers who braved and successfully weathered the storm that spread its ravages over every nation of Europe, and threatened their destruction through insurrection and tumult from within, joined to hostile aggression from without, are to be deterred by the menaces of the Clarendon Chapel meetings, from putting them down, and delivering the country from their machinations, would be unjust to their character and ungrateful. The loyalty of Ireland, if properly countenanced, is under no apprehension from such menacesWe know the men-we know the cause we have to support against them, and we entertain no fears about the final result.
As Mr. Canning has enrolled himself among the Illuminés, he will accuse me of being a parson, and of preaching, when I say that I trust to other means besides Legislative regulations, and Parliamentary securities for allaying the present ferment, and restoring quiet and peace to Ireland. But may it not be allowed to a layman to be thankful to God that he knows the power of truth: that he knows the efficacy of that pure religion which it is his happiness to have learned from the Gospel, and how certain it is to do its own work by the very means that seem most likely to defeat it. I cannot but anticipate the happiest consequences from the part the popish hierarchy has played in this game of ambition. It is not to be believed that their blindest votaries must not see what that religion is, the profession of which deprives them of all the privileges and
immunities enjoyed by their Protestant fellow subjects. It is not to be believed that they will continue to think it any sacrifice to renounce it, when that renunciation will enroll them in the number of British denizens, and abolish the distinctions they now complain of as rendering them an insulated people, and a degraded cast. The Religion in which they believe is that taught them by their priests, pleading a commission from God, while they withhold from them the record in which they tell them that commission is to be found. But from the plainest perceptions of their nature, when they attend to them, they will learn that a religion coming from God must partake of his attributes. It must rest on principles as immutable as himself, and its rule of morals must be as immutable as its principles. As Christians it must teach them that it can be no less than a sin against the Holy Ghost, to ascribe the most contradictory doctrines to his immediate inspiration; and as reasonable creatures, that nothing can be so degrading as implicitly to deliver over their judgment and their conscience to the guidance of men, who claim divine authority for decreeing on one day what the next day, on the same authority, they anathematise.
Nor can we have any dread that this discovery of the character of their priesthood will drive them to the dreadful expedient of throwing off all sense of religion, as the recent example of a neighbouring country might make us apprehend. The religion they now profess is, as I have said, the religion not of the Gospel, but of the priests; and when in the countries in which it is the only, or the universally professed religion, the priests once fall into contempt with the people, the alternative is general infidelity. It was so in Revolutionary France; it is to be feared it will continue to be so in France, restored to its ancient government, but at the same time returned to its ancient superstition.
But amongst us the Roman Catholics will have no such frightful alternative to dread. The pure light of the Gospel is reflected too clearly around them from the bosom of the reformed church, not to open their eyes to its rays when once they are undeceived, and relieved from the dread by which they are now deterred from consulting it, from their own superstitious and idle observances, from which they derive neither religious instruction, nor moral improvement, they will have our purified, rational, decorous, impressive, and truly evangelical service to resort to. The gospel will be opened to them, and they will learn, and feel the difference between the doctrines of God and the doctrines of men. Unity of faith will bring with it unity of privileges, and of councils, and we shall no longer have to dread the anomaly of seating in the great assembly of the nation, in which the dearest interests of the established church are so frequently brought into discussion, a spurious succession of members whose unalterable faith it is "that she must speedily fall, and that
nothing but the memory of the mischief she has done can survive." This, as a Christian layman, I am not ashamed to say is the Emancipation I anticipate for my Roman Catholic fellow subjects; Emancipation from the spiritual Bondage in which they are kept by their bishops, and their priests, and their restoration to civil liberty in the recovery of their religious freedom.
To grant them the Emancipation they demand would be to hold out a premium to them to cleave to their present demoralising superstition, and its congenial priesthood. It would be to give encreased encouragement, and additional facilities to that priesthood for indulging their inveterate enmity to the religion of the state, and to every thing that holds to it, from the throne to the cottage. It would be to preclude all hope of ever seeing the country blest with a loyal and peaceable, a moral and industrious people.