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were the yoke of Christ, which he now desired to impose upon them; and upon Augustine's sitting still upon his stool or seat, and never rising up with any civility or humility, at their approach, they were so displeased, saith Bede, that they contradicted all the proposal that he made to them." (Page 36.)
We are persuaded that the British taste is so far unaltered by the lapse of centuries, that the disseminator of religious truth would still find Christian meekness, and lowliness in heart, the most powerful weapons that he could use, and the most efficacious vehicles of conviction.
The Bishop's language is perspicuous and animated, but these are not the sort of compositions in which the style is a matter of peculiar attention. His lordship, however, is too zealous a defender of ancient privileges to complain of our putting in a plea in defence of the word " could,” which he, by an unwarrantable exercise of something like a dispensing power, has deprived of its fourth letter, and exhibited in the mutilated shape, in which it has appeared in our extracts.
These productions bear the stamp of the active and well stored mind, from which they proceed; and though we may perhaps still think with Dr. Henry, that“ it is now impossible to discover with certainty who were the first preachers of the Gospel, and the chief instruments of planting a Christian church in this island,” it cannot be denied but that the evidence in favour of St. Paul is set in so strong a light by the present author, as to raise his claim considerably in the scale of probability. If the truth be still involved in some degree of uncertainty, we may say with the same historian, that « we have no reason to be much concerned at this, since we know that we are indebted for this inestimable blessing to that gracious Being from whom every good and perfect gift cometh; and that to him, and not to the visible instruments of his providence, our supreme gratitude and thanks are due.” The mystery, which shrouds the head of our Nile, need not lessen the joy with which we mark the swell of its tide, nor the gratitude with which we partake of its fertilizing influence.
Art. XXVIII.—The Claims of the Roman Catholies considered
with Reference to the Safety of the Established Church and the Rights of religious Poleration. Inscribed to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent of the United Kingdom. Second Edition, with a Supplement. London. 1813,
great question upon the Catholic claims has, we are inclined to think, been decisively disposed of by that court of vir
tual appeal, the deliberate sense and conviction of the great majority of the mass of reasoning people in this country. Still, however, to give permanence to popular sentiment, and to guard the public mind against endeavours to take it unprepared, by introducing rejected propositions in new forms and associated with favourite interests and objects, the grounds and principles upon which the claims of the Catholics have been refused ought frequently to be recalled; and we think the pamphlet now before us is, by its clear and comprehensive statement of all these grounds and principles, admirably calculated for the purpose. If this clamour is destined still to agitate the public mind, and to employ the vigilance of statesmen, it is important by throwing up intrenchments, and strengthening the fortifications, to render the intervals between the attacks secure from surprise, while other objects engage attention and alienate the thoughts.
We proceed to give our readers a short sketch of this tract; and shall begin with recommending the two first chapters to the attention of those persons who are indifferent to all religious establishments, or who, though sensible of the value of an establishment, are yet careless and supine, or actuated by a false liberality, concerning the tests and exclusions which form its standing securities. Such persons will find it here demonstrated, that a national church is essential to the peace and order of civil society, because it is necessary to keep alive a sense of religion, to which human laws are principally indebted for their efficacy. But where a sense of religion prevails, nay, in proportion to its prevalence, religious differences have a tendency to produce religious dissension, and thereby, more than any other cause, to disturb the public quiet; “ and even a religious establishment itself may, by exciting envy, and inviting attack, prove instrumental in creating dissension and disturbance.” In order, therefore, to make such an establishment conducive to peace and order, “ it must possess stability and permanence;" for which purpose it must be “sure of protection from the state.”
“But (asks the author) how can such protection be ensured ? Men in power have the same feelings and propensities as other men, They are equally desirous of the ascendancy of their own religion. It is plain, therefore, that an established church can depend upon the state for protection only so long as the power of the state is in the hands of members of the church; and the state which would afford effectual protection to its church establishment must take care to entrust its authority only to persons of that description; that is to say, it must require conformity with the national religion, as a qualification for office. It must then be considered as a fundas mental principle--as an invariable maxim of policy-in every state,
which would place its national church upon a solid and permanent basis, that conformity with the church is a necessary qualification for office. And the ingenuity of man may be defied to devise any other means of affording adequate and lasting security to such an establishment.” (P. 11.)
Having thus established, on a solid basis, the principle of the test-laws, in his second chapter the author successfully encounters the cavils by which that principle is assailed. He shews, by irrefragable arguments, that such laws involve neither disgrace nor hardship, and that, instead of savouring, as is generally supposed, of intolerance, they are particularly favourable to religious toleration.
· But, in one point of view, the exclusive principle of the testlaws, far from savouring of harshness towards those who dissent from the established church, is really beneficial to persons of that description, by enabling the state to afford them the inestimable blessing of religious toleration. If the church were not protected by the operation of this principle, it could, according to the premises already established, enjoy no security, unless separation from it were restrained and kept under by pains and penalties. Without the aid of coercion, it would be in continual danger from those who dissent from it; who would be ever grasping at power, for the purpose of employing it in promoting the ascendancy of their own religion. And it should be remembered that whatever portion of power is suffered to pass into such hands, operates in a two-fold manner against the establishment; first, as a diminution of its natural means of defence; and, secondly, as a weapon of offence, in the hands of its natural enemies. But whilst power is entrusted only to the members of the establishment, all other persons may be allowed a full and free toleration. The exclusive principle is therefore favourable to nonconformists, since it affords the only means by which they may, without dread of penal laws, enjoy rights intinitely more valuable than power and office,—the rights of conscience and of worship. And it should not be forgotten that they have quite as great an interest, at least while they are pro tected in the enjoyment of these rights, as any other description of persons, in the preservation of public tranquillity, which has been shewn to be intimately connected with the security of an established church. Although excluded from power, their condition is infinitely preferable to that state of religious contention to which they, in common with the rest of the community, would be expused, if the church were deprived of its necessary
barriers." (P. 27, 28.)
In this chapter, too, the embarrassments produced by a deviation from the principle of the test-laws are pointed out, and we fear it is impossible to disprove the conclusion that “the difficulty of defending the established church of this country is be
come alarmingly great, so much is the defensive principle rea' laxed and enfeebled, and so much ground has been gained by the hostile force opposed to it.” The danger inseparable from a relaxation of principle in vital points is vigorously expressed in. the following passage.
" It may, indeed, be considered as a general maxim, (and happy would it be for mankind, if the maxim were never lost sight of,) that in no instance can relaxation of principle be unaccompanied with danger : for the human mind is sure to lose its respect for principle, when it ceases to regard it as inviolable; and it is soon led to view with indifference, what it before looked upon as saered. Fixed to no rule, but deeming itself at liberty to follow the dictatésof its own discretion, it becomes unsettled and wavering; it changes its opinions and its views according to the fluctuation of circumstances; it loses the manly qualities of firmness and decision; it knows not what to oppose to solicitation, to which it gradually gives way, in the vain hope of conciliation; at length, enfeebled by irresolution and compliance, it finds itself utterly unable to withstand the hostile force, which, during its period of vacillation, has been accumulating; and it is compelled to abandon, if it do not, from a sense of weakness, voluntarily sacrifice, what, in the first instance, it perhaps considered as out of the reach of danger.” (P. 34, 35.)
In the third chapter it is shewn, that if we would consult the safety of the established church, it is more necessary to maintain the principle of the test-laws against the Roman Catholics than against any other description of nonconformists; and this for two reasons: first, because the members of the Romish church are distinguished by extraordinary zeal for their religion, and must therefore be expected, more than other dissenters, to employ whatever power may be entrusted to them in promoting its ascendancy. Secondly, because the members of the church of Rome acknowledge a foreign supremacy; a circumstance which must render political power, in their hands,“ peculiarly dangerous to a Protestant establishment."
“ Such a supremacy (the author justly observes) is at direct va. riance with the British constitution, which vests ecclesiastical as well as civil supremacy in the king.
It is an invasion of that sovereignty, that plenum dominium, which necessarily belongs to the supreme power. Whoever acknowledges such a supremacy divides his allegiance between two sovereigns, he acknowledges two masters; and as religious concerns justly claim a higher imporiance than those of a temporal nature, whenever the interests of those masters happen to clash, the influence of the ecclesiastical head must be expected to predominate. Any individual within the realm claiming supreme ecclesiastical jurisdiction would set himself up as a rival to the prince on the throne. But such a claim, on the part of a foreign potentate, is incalculably more formidable, as this potentate is beyond the reach of controul. To entrust power in the hands of those who acknowledge such a supremacy is, in effect, to entrust it to the person possessing that supremacy; and that person, it is well known, considers the religion of a Protestant state as heretical, and the ecclesiastical authority of the sovereign of such a state as an usurpation." (P.42.)
This distinction between Roman Catholics and Protestant dissenters, with regard to the danger of entrusting them severally with power, is recognized by the test-laws of this country, by which the adherents to the see of Rome, on account of their recognition of a foreign ecclesiastical supremacy, are excluded “ from legislative authority as well as from political power.'
“ But (says the author) as far as the question relates distinctly to Ireland, the danger attending the sacrifice of the test-laws, in favour of the Roman Catholics of that country, is immediate and at the very door of the Protestant church.” This position he illustrates by various arguments, the result of which is, that the case of Ireland, with relation to this subject,
“ Is an extreme case. Of all classes of nonconformists, we have seen that the Roman Catholics are those from whom our Protestant establishment has most to dread, because they are distinguished by an acknowledgment of a foreign supremacy; a circumstance which should make them dreaded by all descriptions of Protestants. But, in Ireland, that establishment has abundantly more to fear from them than in Great Britain, on account of their ecclesiastical organization, and their formidable numbers. They there possess a complete hierarchy,-perfect in all its parts,-supported by the bigoted attachment, by the enthusiastic feelings, -of an indisputably large majority of the population, and, like a finished vessel, waiting only for a full tide, to be triumphantly launched, amidst the shouts and acclamations of countless multitudes.
“If, therefore, our object really be the preservation of our Protestant establishment, Ireland is the last spot where we should think of conceding the claim of the Roman Catholics to political power; for it is there that we should be least able to guard against the effects of such concession. If we mean to maintain, in any respect, the principle of the test-laws, the argument against the abandoning of that principle in Ireland is an a fortiori argument." (P. 57, 58.)
In these conclusions we entirely concur. And we cannot refrain from taking this opportunity of expressing our astonishment at the inconsistency of those persons, who having uni. formly opposed the repeal of the corporation and test-acts, when such repeal was solicited by the Protestant dissenters, are now disposed to concede the claims of the Roman Catholics; claims which involve, in favour of nonconformists, who acknowledge a