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pendently of the final issue, would be ruin, is itself compulsion. But suppose the reverse to be true, and suppose also that the time at which I am now speaking were a time of war-our fleet is preparing to sail; the enemy's fleet is already in the channel ; the officer appointed

our Admiral is a man of the highest professionaf merit, and is called to the command by the general voice of the people. Debauched, however, in his private life, living in avowed fornication, and notoriously profane, he approaches the holy table: if the sacrament be administered to him, in what situation is the clergyman? If it be refused him, in what situation is the kingdom?

“ Such are the preposterous consequences that follow, when religion is perverted from its genuine object, and made the instrument of purposes that are merely human.

" I should have thought it not unbecoming in the bishops to have solicited the removal of this scandal from the church ; but let the requisition come from what quarter it may, sure I am, that as legislators, a compliance wiih it belongs to us as our duty; for whatever tends to the debasement of religion, diminishes political authority, and weakens the sanctions of civil discipline.

“ Thus I have shewn the various bearings of these pernicious statutés. To the judgment of the House, to your wisdom, as senators, to your patriotism as citizens, to your feelings as men, I now submit the consideration of the proposed repeal, perfectly convinced that you will not permit the continuance of laws unjust in their principle, unwise in their political effects, inconsistent with all religious regards, and therefore every way hostile to the interests of the state."

Lord North made the following reply:

" If the present motion went no farther than for the fair and free exercise of the rights of conscience, I should


be the last man upon earth to deliver an opinion against it; but my motive for rising is to act the part of a good citizen, and not to lay an heavy burthen upon the conscience of any individual whatsoever.

I have heard reports, that the Dissenters wish to gain more than civil privileges; but as this suggestion has been contradicted by the two honorable members who have spoke upon the subject, my doubts on that point are done away, and I can give every belief to the assertions of these honorable gentlemen. I should have been glad if the Dissenters had proceeded in a more regular manner, and stated the grievances under which they labor, by petition to the House. Yet I am not insensible that great and liberal minds should shew a virtuous eagerness to relieve unasked, -to anticipate the wishes of fellow-subjects,—and that when a natural way to act thus laudably is known, it ought undoubtedly to be always adopted. The doors of this House stand open to all petitioners; and, if a petition had been delivered, stating their grievances, I doubt not but the justice of the House would have redressed them, if they really proved so troublesome in their nature-They have, however, chosen to adopt another mode of bringing their case before the House ; and they seem rather to depend upon the weight and abilities of the honorable mover, and seconder of the motion, than on the justice of their cause. --But I wish, before the House resolve on a vote, to see on what grounds the motion stands.

“ It prays for the repeal of an act which is the great bule wark of the constitution, and to which we owe those ines. timable blessings of freedom which we now so happily enjoy. It recommends procedures contrary to the experience of a century. The Dissenters appear desirous of having such and such privileges granted to them, and a line drawn

which they are not to exceed: that line (I am glad to say) is already drawn; and, concerning what relates to the worship of God in their own way, they have no grievance to state ; but their entreaty is to have the restriction from being able to fill offices taken off. In the year 1778 a finishing 'stroke was put to restrictions ; a general toleration was then granted. If there remains any thing which can operate as a burthen on any man's conscience, in the name of heaven, let it be done away ; but let not the admitting of persons of particular persuasions into the offices of state be confounded with the restriction of conscience. If this government finds it pru

. dent and necessary to confine the admission to public offices to men of particular principles, it has a right to adhere to such restriction; it is a privilege belonging to all states, and all have exercised it-all do, exercise it

; and will continue to exercise it. If Dissenters claim it as their undoubted, their natural right, to be rendered capable of enjoying offices, and that plea be admitted, the argument may be admitted to all men. The vote of a freeholder for a representative to parliament is confined to those who possess a freehold of forty shillings of upwards; and those, not possessing that qualification, may call it an usurpation of their natural right, by preventing them from voting also.

" We are told that other countries have no Test acts, and that their established churches are not endangered for the want thereof. France has Protestants at the head of her army and her finances; and Prussia employs Catholics in her service; but it must be considered, that those are arbitrary governments; that the King alone in those countries is to be served, and can, at pleasure, remove, or advance, whom he pleases. The King of England, being a limited monarch, can do no such thing ;

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he is bound by those restrictive laws, as much as his subject. Holland admits of men of all religions into her army, because not having subjects enough of her own, she is obliged to have recourse to foreign troops ; but there is no place where they restrain their civil offices more to the established principles of the country. The same may be said of Sweden. It has been urged, that by the Corporation and Test acts, any man, who refuses to submit thereto, is subject to the same punishment with those who may be convicted of great and heinous crimes ; but that is not the fact; no man, because he does not choose to receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, is subjected to any punishment whatever. The act holds out punishment to those who fill offices; and they are punished for wilfully flying in the face of an act of the legislature. If the act went to force every other man to take the sacrament, or inflict a penalty upon him, it would indeed be a grievance; and I would most readily concur in having it repealed.

“Have not the country resolved that no King or Queen should sit on the throne of the British Empire, who refuses to comply with the Test act? If the throne was offered to any Prince who would not comply, from mo. tives of conscience, the refusal of the throne to him would be offering him no indignity,-no insult. Gentlemen, then, should not lightly talk of insults and stigmas thrown on any set of men who do not choose to comply with any particular forms. If all were to be admitted, on the principles of national right, there would be an end to all rules and orders; for no rules could be drawn by the legislature, but what would be broken through. The Corporation act was made at a time when many disturbances were occasioned by the Dissenters, who were principally instrumental in all the consequences



that followed. All who then wished for peace, and for the preservation of the constitution, in church and state, called for the measure which was then taken, and which I now consider as a wise and political measure ; it was and is necessary to confine offices in corporations to those who are well-wishers to the established church. We are called upon by an honorable gentleman to proceed as France has done, but I would rather proceed according to the experience of England, which has enjoyed peace and harmony in the church by those acts. It has been said, that when the Test act was made, the King himself was suspected of being a Catholic ; and the presumptive heir had openly avowed himself a Catholic; that

; it was not meant to act against the Dissenters, but against the Papists; but I will venture to say, that the parliament who passed it, knew how far it extended; they knew that it included both ; and when the parliament passed both those acts, they know both Papists and Dissenters were included. CHARLES the Second, we are told, pre. vented, by dishonorable means, the repeal of those acts; he thought that the repeal was wisely and patriotically refused. It has been the general means of Princes, who had particular objects to attain, which they could not do while every sect remained as it was, to endeavour to confound all sects, that when the door of innovation was once opened, they might pass on till their object was gained. What was the opinion of parliament at the Rem volution ? That parliament was sharpened by the mi. series they had experienced, and by the horror of danger they deliberately went through all the acts, and repealed every one, except the Test act, which they considered as a mere civil and political regulation ; they preserved it, and they thought it necessary for the safety of the church, and the preservation of the constitution. By that parlia.


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