Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

;

is, a

ceive I have lately seen some indication of a dis- upon others, even under penalties and incapacities disposition to carry the imputation of crimes from by reasonable atheists. They who think religion persons to descriptions, and wholly to alter the of no importance to the state, have abandoned it character and quality of the offences themselves. to the conscience, or caprice, of the individual ;

This universal exclusion seems to me a serious they make no provision for it whatsoever, but evil-because many collateral oppressions, besides leave every club to make, or not, a voluntary conwhat I have just now stated, have arisen from it. tribution towards its support, according to their In things of this nature, it would not be either easy fancies. This would be consistent. The other or proper to quote chapter and verse; but I have always appeared to me to be a monster of contragreat reason to believe, particularly since the diction and absurdity. It was for that reason, that, octennial act, that several have refused at all to let some years ago, I strenuously opposed the clergy their lands to Roman catholicks; because it would who petitioned, to the number of about three so far disable them from promoting such interests hundred, to be freed from the subscription to the in counties as they were inclined to favour. They thirty-nine articles, without proposing to substitute who consider also the state of all sorts of trades- any other in their place. There never has been a men, shopkeepers, and particularly publicans, in religion of the state, (the few years of the parliatowns, must soon discern the disadvantages under ment only excepted,) but that of the episcopal which those labour who have no votes. It cannot church of England; the episcopal church of Engbe otherwise, whilst the spirit of elections, and the land, before the Reformation, connected with the tendencies of human nature, continue as they are. see of Rome, since then, disconnected and protestIf property be artificially separated from franchise, ing against some of her doctrines, and against the the franchise must in some way or other, and in whole of her authority, as binding in our national some proportion, naturally attract property to it. church: nor did the fundamental laws of this kingMany are the collateral disadvantages amongst a dom (in Ireland it has been the same) ever know, privileged people, which must attend on those who at any period, any other church as an object of have no privileges.

establishment; or in that light, any other protestAmong the rich each individual, with or with ant religion. Nay our protestant toleration itself out a franchise, is of importance; the poor and at the Revolution, and until within a few years, rethe middling are no otherwise so, than as they ob- quired a signature of thirty-six, and a part of the tain some collective capacity and can be aggregat- thirty-seventh, out of the thirty-nine articles. So ed to some corps. If legal ways are not found, little'idea had they at the Revolution of establishillegal will be resorted to; and seditious clubs and ing protestantism indefinitely, that they did not confederacies, such as no man living holds in indefinitely tolerate it under that name.

I do not greater horrour than I do, will grow and flourish mean to praise that strictness, where nothing more in spite, I am afraid, of any thing which can be done than merely religious toleration is concerned. to prevent the evil. Lawful enjoyment is the Toleration, being a part of moral and political prusurest method to prevent unlawful gratification. dence, ought to be tender and large. A tolerant Where there is property, there will be less theft; government ought not to be too scrupulous in its where there is marriage, there will always be less investigations; but may bear without blame, not fornication.

only very ill-grounded doctrines, but even many I have said enough of the question of state, as it things that are positively vices, where they are affects the people merely as such. But it is com- adulta et prævalida. The good of the commonplicated with a political question relative to religion, wealth is the rule which rides over the rest; and to which it is very necessary I should say some- to this every other must completely submit. thing; because the term protestant, which you ap- The church of Scotland knows as little of proply, is too general for the conclusions which one of testantism undefined, as the church of England and your accurate understanding would wish to draw Ireland do. She has by the articles of union secured from it; and because a great deal of argument to herself the perpetual establishment of the Conwill depend on the use that is made of that term. fession of Faith, and the Presbyterian church go

It is not a fundamental part of the settlement at vernment. In England, even during the troubled the Revolution, that the state should be protestant interregnum, it was not thought fit to establish a without any qualification of the term. With a negative religion ; but the parliament settled the qualification it is unquestionably true; not in all its presbyterian, as the church discipline ; the Direclatitude. With the qualification, it was true before tory, as the rule of publick worship; and the Westthe Revolution. Our predecessors in legislation were minster catechism, as the institute of faith. This is not so irrational (not to say impious) as to form to shew, that at no time was the protestant religion, an operose ecclesiastical establishment, and even to undefined, established here or any where else, as I render the state itself in some degree subservient believe. I am sure that when the three religions to it, when their religion (if such it might be call- were established in Germany, they were expressly ed) was nothing but a mere negation of some other characterised and declared to be the Evangelick, -without any positive idea either of doctrine, the Reformed, and the Catholick ; each of which discipline, worship, or morals, in the scheme which has its confession of faith and its settled discithey professed themselves, and which they imposed pline; so that you always may know the best and

his

the worst of them, to enable you to make the most protestant church of England, in the two kingof what is good, and to correct or to qualify, or doms, in which it is established by law. First, to guard against whatever may seem evil or dan- the king swears he will maintain, to the utmost of gerous.

power, “ the laws of God.” I suppose it means As to the coronation oath, to which you allude, the natural moral laws.Secondly, he swears to as opposite to admitting a Roman catholick to maintain “ the true profession of the gospel.” By the use of any franchise whatsoever, I cannot which I suppose is understood affirmatively the think that the king would be perjured if he gave christian religion.-Thirdly, that he will maintain his assent to any regulation which parliament “ the protestant reformed religion." This leaves might think fit to make with regard to that affair. me no power of supposition or conjecture ; for The king is bound by law, as clearly specified in that protestant reformed religion is defined and several acts of parliament, to be in communion described by the subsequent words, “ established with the church of England. It is a part of the by law,” and in this instance to define it beyond tenure by which he holds his crown; and though all possibility of doubt, he “ swears to maintain no provision was made till the Revolution, which “ the bishops and clergy, and the churches comcould be called positive and valid in law, to ascer- “mitted to their charge,” in their rights present tain this great principle, I have always considered and future. it as in fact fundamental, that the king of Eng- The oath as effectually prevents the king from land should be of the christian religion, according doing any thing to the prejudice of the church in to the national legal church for the time being. I favour of sectaries, Jews, Mahometans, or plain conceive it was so before the Reformation. Since avowed infidels ; as if he should do the same thing the Reformation it became doubly necessary; be in favour of the catholicks. You will see, that it cause the king is the head of that church; in is the same protestant church, so described, that some sort an ecclesiastical person; and it would the king is to maintain and communicate with, be incongruous and absurd, to have the head of according to the act of settlement of the 12th and the church of one faith, and the members of an- 13th of William III. The act of the 5th of Anne, other. The king may inherit the crown as a pro- made in prospect of the Union, is entitled, “ An testant, but he cannot hold it, according to law, “act for securing the church of England as by law without being a protestant of the church of Eng- established.” It meant to guard the church imland.

plicitly against any other mode of protestant reliBefore we take it for granted, that the king is gion which might creep in by means of the Union. bound by his coronation oath not to admit any of It proves beyond all doubt, that the legislature did his catholick subjects to the rights and liberties, not mean to guard the church on one part only, which ought to belong to them as Englishmen, and to leave it defenceless and exposed upon every (not as religionists,) or to settle the conditions or other. This church, in that act, is declared to be proportions of such admission by an act of parlia- “ fundamental and essential” for ever, in the conment, I wish you to place before your eyes that stitution of the united kingdom, so far as England oath itself, as it is settled in the act of William is concerned ; and I suppose as the law stands, and Mary.

even since the independence, it is so in Ireland. “Will you to the utmost of your power maintain All this shews, that the religion which the king

is bound to maintain has a positive part in it as “_The laws of God, the true profession of the well as a negative; and that the positive part of it gospel--and the protestant reformed religion as

(in which we are in perfect agreement with the

catholicks and with the church of Scotland) is infiit is established by law.—And will you preserve nitely the most valuable and essential. Such an “ unto bishops and clergy, and the churches agreement we had with protestant dissenters in committed to their charge, all such rights England, of those descriptions who came under “ and privileges as by law do, or shall appertain the toleration act of King William and Queen “ to them, or any of them.-All this I

promise

Mary; an act coeval with the Revolution; and " to do.”

which ought, on the principles of the gentlemen

who oppose the relief to the catholicks, to have Here are the coronation engagements of the been held sacred and unalterable. Whether we king. In them I do not find one word to preclude agree with the present protestant dissenters in the his majesty from consenting to any arrangement points at the Revolution held essential and fundawhich parliament may make with regard to the mental among Christians, or in any other fundacivil privileges of any part of his subjects. mental, at present it is impossible for us to know;

It may not be amiss, on account of the light because, at their own very earnest desire, we have which it will throw on this discussion, to look a repealed the toleration act of William and Mary, little more narrowly into the matter of that oath and discharged them from the signature required -in order to discover how far it has hitherto ope- by that act; and because, for the far greater part, rated, or how far in future it ought to operate, as they publickly declare against all manner of cona bar to any proceedings of the crown and parlia- fessions of faith, even the consensus. ment in favour of those, against whom it may be For reasons forcible enough at all times, but at supposed that the king has engaged to support the this time particularly forcible with me, I dwell a

1

2

3

5

run us.

little the longer upon this matter, and take the their conduct to give any alarm to the government, more pains, to put us both in mind that it was in church and state, I think it very probable that not settled at the Revolution, that the state should even this matter, rather disgustful than inconbe protestant, in the latitude of the term, but in a venient to them, may be removed, or at least so defined and limited sense only, and that, in that modified as to distinguish the qualification to those sense only the king is sworn to maintain it. To offices which really guide the state, from those suppose that the king has sworn with his utmost which are merely instrumental ; or that some other power to maintain what it is wholly out of his and better tests may be put in their place. power to discover, or which, if he could discover, So far as to England. In Ireland you have outhe might discover to consist of things directly con

Without waiting for an English example, tradictory to each other, some of them perhaps im- you have totally, and without any modification pious, blasphemous, and seditious upon principle, whatsoever, repealed the test as to protestant would be not only a gross, but a most mischievous, dissenters. Not having the repealing act by me, absurdity. If mere dissent from the church of Rome I ought not to say positively that there is no exbe a merit, he that dissents the most perfectly is the ception in it; but if it be what I suppose it is, you most meritorious. In many points we hold strongly know very well, that a Jew in religion, or a with that ch ch He that dissents throughout Mahometan, or even a publick, declared atheist, with that church will dissent with the church of and blasphemer, is perfectly qualified to be lord England, and then it will be a part of his merit lieutenant, a lord justice, or even keeper of the that he dissents with ourselves :—a whimsical spe- king's conscience; and by virtue of his office (if cies of merit for any set of men to establish. We with you it be as it is with us) administrator to a quarrel to extremity with those, who we know great part of the ecclesiastical patronage of the agree with us in many things, but we are to be so Crown. malicious even in the principle of our friendships, Now let us deal a little fairly. We must admit, that we are to cherish in our bosom those who ac- that protestant dissent was one of the quarters from cord with us in nothing, because whilst they de- which danger was apprehended at the Revolution, spise ourselves, they abhor, even more than we do, and against which a part of the coronation oath those with whom we have some disagreement. A was peculiarly directed. By this unqualified man is certainly the most perfect protestant, who repeal, you certainly did not mean to deny that it protests against the whole Christian Religion. was the duty of the Crown to preserve the church Whether a person's having no Christian Religion against protestant dissenters; or taking this to be be a title to favour, in exclusion to the largest the true sense of the two revolution acts of King description of Christians who hold all the doctrines William, and of the previous and subsequent union of Christianity, though holding along with them acts of Queen Anne, you did not declare by this some errours and some superfluities, is rather more most unqualified repeal, by which you broke down than any man, who has not become recreant and all the barriers, not invented indeed, but carefully apostate from his baptism, will, I believe, choose preserved at the Revolution ; you did not then and to affirm. The countenance given from a spirit of by that proceeding declare, that

you

had advised controversy to that negative religion may, by de- the king to perjury towards God, and perfidy togrees, encourage light and unthinking people to a wards the church.

No! far, very

far from it ! you total indifference to every thing positive in mat- never would have done it, if you did not think it ters of doctrine; and, in the end, of practice too. could be done with perfect repose to the royal conIf continued, it would play the game of that sort science, and perfect safety to the national estabof active, proselytizing, and persecuting atheism, lished religion. You did this upon a full considerwhich is the disgrace and calamity of our time, ation of the circumstances of your country. Now and which we see to be as capable of subverting a if circumstances required it, why should it be congovernment, as any mode can be of misguided zeal trary to the king's oath, his parliament judging on for better things.

those circumstances, to restore to his catholick Now let us fairly see what course has been taken people, in such measure, and with such modificarelative to those, against whom, in part at least, tions as the publick wisdom shall think proper to the king has sworn to maintain a church, positive add, some part in these franchises which they forin its doctrine and its discipline. The first thing merly had held without any limitation at all, and done, even when the oath was fresh in the mouth which, upon no sort of urgent reason at the time, of the sovereigns, was to give a toleration to pro- they were deprived of? If such means can with testant dissenters, whose doctrines they ascertain- any probability be shown, from circumstances, ed. As to the mere civil privileges which the dis- rather to add strength to our mixed ecclesiastical senters held as subjects before the Revolution, and secular constitution, than to weaken it; surely these were not touched at all. The laws have fully they are means infinitely to be preferred to penalpermitted, in a qualification for all offices, to such ties, incapacities, and proscriptions continued from dissenters, an occasional conformity; a thing I generation to generation. They are perfectly conbelieve singular, where tests are admitted. The sistent with the other parts of the coronation oath, act called the Test Act itself, is, with regard to in which the king swears to maintain “ the laws of them, grown to be hardly any thing more than a “ God and the true profession of the gospel, and dead letter. Whenever the dissenters cease by “ to govern the people according to the statutes “ in parliament agreed upon, and the laws and than this, that wherever it is judged proper to give “ customs of the realm.” In consenting to such it a legal establishment, it becomes necessary to a statute, the Crown would act at least as agree- deprive the body of the people, if they adhere to ably to the laws of God, and to the true profession their old opinions, of “ their liberties and of all of the gospel, and to the laws and customs of the “ their free customs,” and to reduce them to a kingdom, as George I. did when he passed the state of civil servitude. statute which took from the body of the people There is no man on earth, I believe, more willevery thing which, to that hour, and even after the ing than I am, to lay it down as a fundamental of monstrous acts of the 2d and 8th of Anne, (the the constitution, that the church of England should objects of our common hatred,) they still enjoyed be united and even identified with it; but, allowinviolate.

ing this, I cannot allow that all laws of regulation, It is hard to distinguish with the least degree made from time to time, in support of that fundaof accuracy, what laws are fundamental, and what mental law, are, of course, equally fundamental not. However, there is a distinction between them and equally unchangeable. This would be to conauthorized by the writers on jurisprudence, and found all the branches of legislation and of jurisrecognised in some of our statutes. I admit the prudence. --The crown and the personal safety of acts of King William and Queen Anne to be fun the monarch are fundamentals in our constitution : damental, but they are not the only fundamental yet, I hope that no man regrets, that the rabble of laws. The law called Magna Charta, by which statutes got together during the reign of Henry it is provided, that “ no man shall be disseised of the Eighth, by which treasons are multiplied with “ his liberties and free customs but by the judg- so prolifick an energy, have been all repealed in

ment of his peers, or the laws of the land," a body; although they were all, or most of them, (meaning clearly for some proved crime tried and made in support of things truly fundamental in adjudged) I take to be a fundamental law. Now, our constitution. So were several of the acts by although this Magna Charta, or some of the statutes which the Crown exercised its supremacy; such as establishing it, provide that that law shall be per- the act of Elizabeth for making the high commispetual, and all statutes contrary to it shall be void, sion courts, and the like ; as well as things made yet I cannot go so far as to deny the authority of treason in the time of Charles II. None of this statutes made in defiance of Magna Charta and all species of secondary and subsidiary laws have been its principles. This however I will say, that it is held fundamental. They have yielded to circuma very venerable law, made by very wise and stances : particularly where they were thought, learned men, and that the legislature, in their at- even in their consequences, or obliquely, to affect tempt to perpetuate it, even against the authority other fundamentals. How much more, certainly, of future parliaments, have shewn their judgment ought they to give way, when, as in our case, they that it is fundamental, on the same grounds, and affect, not here and there, in some particular point in the same manner, as the act of the fifth of Anne or in their consequence, but universally, collechas considered and declared the establishment of tively, and directly, the fundamental franchises of the church of England to be fundamental. Magna a people, equal to the whole inhabitants of several Charta, which secured these franchises to the sub- respectable kingdoms and states; equal to the jects, regarded the rights of freeholders in counties subjects of the kings of Sardinia or of Denmark; to be as much a fundamental part of the constitu- equal to those of the United Netherlands; and tion, as the establishment of the church of Eng- more than are to be found in all the states of land was thought either at that time, or in the act Switzerland. This way of proscribing men by of King William, or in the act of Queen Anne. whole nations as it were, from all the benefits of

The churchmen, who led in that transaction, the constitution to which they were born, I never certainly took care of the material interest of which can believe to be politick or expedient, much less they were the natural guardians. It is the first necessary for the existence of any state or church article of Magna Charta,“ that the church of Eng- in the world. Whenever I shall be convinced, “ land shall be free,” &c. &c. But at that period which will be late and reluctantly, that the safety churchmen, and barons, and knights, took care of of the church is utterly inconsistent with all the the franchises and free castoms of the people too. civil rights whatsoever of the far larger part of the Those franchises are part of the constitution itself, inhabitants of our country, I shall be extremely and inseparable from it. It would be a very sorry for it; because I shall think the church to strange thing if there should not only exist ano- be truly in danger. It is putting things into the malies in our laws, a thing not easy to prevent, position of an ugly alternative, into which I hope but, that the fundamental parts of the constitution in God they never will be put. should be perpetually and irreconcilably at vari- I have said most of what occurs to me on the ance with each other. I cannot persuade myself topicks you touch upon, relative to the religion of that the lovers of our church are not as able to the king, and his coronation oath. I shall conclude find effectual ways of reconciling its safety with the observations which I wished to submit to you the franchises of the people, as the ecclesiasticks on this point, by assuring you, that I think you of the thirteenth century were able to do; I can- the most remote that can be conceived from the not conceive how any thing worse can be said of metaphysicians of our times, who are the most the protestant religion of the church of England foolish of men, and who, dealing in universals and essences, see no difference between more and less; | true spirit of the Revolution. But the Revolution and who of course would think that the reason of operated differently in England and Ireland, in the law which obliged the king to be a communi- many, and these essential, particulars. Supposing cant of the church of England would be as valid the principles to have been altogether the same in to exclude a catholick from being an exciseman, both kingdoms, by the application of those prinor to deprive a man who has five hundred a year, ciples to very different objects, the whole spirit under that description, from voting on a par with of the system was changed, not to say reversed. a factitious protestant dissenting freeholder of In England it was the struggle of the great body forty shillings.

of the people for the establishment of their liRecollect, my dear friend, that it was a funda- berties against the efforts of a very small facmental principle in the French monarchy, whilst tion, who would have oppressed them. In Ireit stood, that the state should be catholick; yet the land it was the establishment of the power of the edict of Nantz gave, not a full ecclesiastical, but a smaller number, at the expense of the civil libercomplete civil establishment, with places of which ties and properties of the far greater part; and at only they were capable, to the Calvinists of France; the expence of the political liberties of the whole. and there were very few employments indeed of It was, to say the truth, not a revolution, but a which they were not capable. The world praised conquest; which is not to say a great deal in its the Cardinal de Richelieu, who took the first op- favour. To insist on every thing done in Ireland portunity to strip them of their fortified places and at the Revolution, would be to insist on the severe cautionary towns. The same world held and does and jealous policy of a conqueror, in the crude hold in execration (so far as that business is con- settlement of his new acquisition, as a permanent cerned) the memory of Louis the Fourteenth, for rule for its future government. This, no power, the total repeal of that favourable edict; though in no country that ever I heard of, has done or the talk of fundamental laws, established reli- professed to do-except in Ireland; where it is “ gion, religion of the prince, safety to the state," done, and possibly by some people will be professed. &c. &c. was then as largely held, and with as bit-Time has, by degrees, in all other places and peter a revival of the animosities of the civil confu- riods, blended and coalited the conquered with sions during the struggles between the parties, as the conquerors. So, after some time, and after now they can be in Ireland.

one of the most rigid conquests that we read of in Perhaps there are persons who think that the history, the Normans softened into the English. I same reasons do not hold when the religious rela- wish you to turn your recollection to the fine speech tion of the sovereign and subject is changed; but of Cerealis to the Gauls, made to dissuade them they who have their shop full of false weights and from revolt. Speaking of the Romans,—“ Nos measures, and who imagine that the adding or quamvis toties lacessiti, jure victoriæ id solum taking away the name of Protestant or Papist, “ vobis addidimus, quo pacem tueremur: nam neGuelph or Ghibelline, alters all the principles of que quies gentium sine armis ; neque arma sine equity, policy, and prudence, leave us no common stipendiis ; neque stipendia sine tributis, haberi data upon which we can reason.

queant. Cætera in communi sita sunt: ipsi by all this, which on you will make no impression, plerumque nostris exercitibus presidetis: ipsi to come to what seems to be a serious considera- “ has aliasque provincias regitas: nil separatum tion in your mind; I mean the dread you express

clausumve-Proinde pacem et urbem, quam of “ reviewing, for the purpose of altering, the victores victique eodem jure obtinemus, amate, principles of the Revolution.This is an in- “ colite.” You will consider, whether the arguteresting topick; on which I will, as fully as your ments used by that Roman to these Gauls, would leisure and mine permits, lay before you the ideas apply to the case in Ireland; and whether you I have formed.

could use so plausible a preamble to any severe First, I cannot possibly confound in my mind warning you may think it proper to hold out to all the things which were done at the Revolution, those, who should resort to sedition, instead of with the principles of the Revolution. As in most supplication, to obtain any object that they may great changes, many things were done from the pursue with the governing power. necessities of the time, well or ill understood, from For a much longer period than that which had passion or from vengeance, which were not only sufficed to blend the Romans with the nation to not perfectly agreeable to its principles, but in the which of all others they were the most adverse, most direct contradiction to them. I shall not the protestants settled in Ireland, consider themthink that the deprivation of some millions of peo- selves in no other light than that of a sort of a cople of all the rights of citizens, and all interest lonial garrison, to keep the natives in subjection to in the constitution, in and to which they were the other state of Great Britain. The whole spirit born, was a thing conformable to the declared of the Revolution in Ireland, was that of not the principles of the Revolution. This I am sure is mildest conqueror. In truth, the spirit of those true relatively to England, (where the operation of proceedings did not commence at that æra, nor these anti-principles comparatively were of little was religion of any kind their primary object. extent,) and some of our late laws, in repealing What was done, was not in the spirit of a contest acts made immediately after the Revolution, admit between two religious factions; but between two that some things then done were not done in the adverse nations. The statutes of Kilkenny shew,

[ocr errors]

I therefore pass

« ZurückWeiter »