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confession. Of these articles the first is perfectly innocent, except so far as it is supposed to justify violence in compelling persons to enter into their communion. Besides, however, that this is a mere inference, supported by no solid argument, it ought to be remembered, that the oaths taken by Bishops and Archbishops, by which it was pretended they were bound to prosecute heretics, was, in 1791, explained in a rescript from the Pope and a congregation of cardinals, to signify merely that they were bound to employ all rational means to reconcile heretics to the Catholic church. And that there might not be the least handle for such a charge, the clause was by the same authority omitted altogether in the following year. The second article, the efficacy of absolution, as hela by Catholics, will not be found to differ from the doctrine of the Church of England on the same subject. It is expressly and positively inculcated upon Catholics in their youth, that the absolution of the priest will not be ratified in heaven, except the subject of it is possessed of unfeigned repentance. The charge that Catholics are not bound to keep promises made to heretics was treated as a shameless calumny in the replies of the six universities to Mr. Pitt's inquiries. The Pope himself affirmed that the doctrine of keeping no faith with heretics was never taught by the church of Rome. Promises and oaths made to heretics and infidels arc asserted to have a binding power upon Catholics from which no dominion on earth can release them. This is expressly laid down in the replies of the six universities, the rescript of the Pope, and in the class-book of the College of Maynooth. As for the Catholic doctrine of auricular confession, it is so much akin to that of the English church, that when the canon, enjoining and explaining it, was read in the House of Commons, by Sir J. C. Hippisley, Mr. Wilberforce interrupted him, by saying it was a canon of the church of Rome---and was quite astonished on discovering his mistake.
We were very much surprised to find that after all Mr. Thorp has written, he does not think the principles of the Catholics incompatible with admission to the same privileges as their fellow subjects enjoy. Admitting,' says he, that present disabilities are removed, ought not the Catholics to be required upon oath to deny the infallibility of the ancient councils.' Inq. p. 68. It seems then that reliance may be placed on the oaths of Catholics; and consequently that those oaths by which they express their abhorrence of the noxious principles ascribed to them, ought to satisfy even their antagonists of the injustice of their imputations.
The above considerations may be enforced by the authority of the most eminent persons in our times,---statesmen, philoVOL. X.
sophers, and divines. As living merit is often questioned, we shall mention only the dead. The opinions of Burke, Pitt, Fox, and Windham, it is well known, were decidedly in favour of removing the catholic disabilities. To these great statesmen mey be added Judge Blackstone, Dr. Johnson, Bishops Horsley and Watson, and Archdeacon Paley. All these most enlightened and patriotic men, no strangers to the character and conduct of the Catholics, perceived nothing in their principles incompatible with the strictest fidelity to the British government, and consequently with the enjoyment of all the privileges common to good subjects. The most timid and fearful may rest satisfied, that, if the dangers, which the alarmists profess to see, had been real, they would not have escaped so much sagacity and penetration.
As the opponents of the Catholics rest their charges on the slightest possible foundation, so they are of all men the most pertinacious in re-iterating them. With them, the catechism of the Catholics, their oaths and declarations, the replies of Universities, and the rescript of the Pope go for nothing. New demands must be satisfied. Mr. Thorp seems to wish for another general council. They must cancel,' he says, 'by an authority equal to that by which they were established, or at least by the highest authority of their universal church in council assembled, those decrees of former councils which strike at the foundation of Protestant communities.' Speech. p. 28. If another general council must be holden, an event almost impossible, before their opponents throw up the game of accusation,the catholics must despair of ever being admitted to the full privileges of British subjects.
In the beginning of his "Speech," Mr. Thorp professes great anxiety to purge the question from all foreign and extraneous matter.' He is for taking it up so abstractedly that he will not allow any mention of the virtues by which,' he says, 'individuals of that community (the catholic) are eminently distinguished.' Though this be a very strange proceeding in a case which must be in a great measure determined by considering the vices and virtues of individuals, we should have passed it by in silence, had not Mr. Thorp himself digressed into matter' at least equally foreign and extraneous.' Before he closes his "speech" he professes it to be easy to divine the various motives by which different men are actuated, in supporting the Catholic claims; and accordingly he lightly touches upon those topics which he has since thought fit to enlarge into an "Inquiry into the principles and views, &c." If our memory does not fail ns, an attempt had previously been made to reduce the adversaries of the catholics into classes, and to characterize their
views and principles. From this attempt Mr. Thorp, it is likely, however, took the hint for his Inquiry. Considering the number, the rank, character, and talents of those who advocatet he Catholic claims, an attempt to bring the question into discredit by such means, is to say the least, egregious trifling. But to represent them as 'bending their force against the laws and liberties of England,' is a flight of extravagance, that we should really have judged it impossible for a man of Mr. Thorpe's acknowledged ability to be guilty of. It is not against, but in favour of the liberties of England, that they bend their force. The penal statutes are anomalies in English law, and a contradiction to the spirit of the constitution and the advocates of the Catholics, far from wishing to violate the genius of liberty, are honestly desirous of abolishing every unnecessary restraint, and bringing all the subjects of the empire to rejoice alike under her genial influence.
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