« PoprzedniaDalej »
Hæ nugæ seria ducunt
I will transcribe one passage from his lordship, that the world may judge from what spirit it proceeds.
I confess myself surprised and astonished in a very particular manner at this part of the Representation, and cannot but stop a few moments to lament the fate of Christianity and of the protestant cause, and even of the clergy themselves, when it shall be insinuated in the world, from the authority of this very report, that their aim is to obtain such a regard to themselves as is inconsistent with a close and immediate regard to Christ himself; and that they take it as an injury to their order, that the Christian people are encouraged to show themselves subjects of Christ, in the great affair of salvation, without fear of man's judgment."
Here you see his lordship is surprised, astonished; he stops short to lament the fate of Christianity, of the protestant cause; nay, (such is his charity,) even of the clergy themselves, whenever those insinuations shall be made to the world which he himself in the very next words does expressly make. When he saw and declared how much the fate of Christianity and the protestant cause, and of the clergy, depended on such insinuations, how could he, a Christian, a protestant, and a bishop, make those
insinuations, and that too when he had no just ground or pretence so to do; when he knew in his conscience there was no such aim in the report as he insinuates? Will such reflexions as these pass for charity, because they are introduced with surprise, astonishment, and lamentation ? Let me for ever want such charity!
It is with the same degree of goodness that his lordship professes that “ he cannot by any means persuade himself to call in question what they (the Committee) so seriously profess :" and as soon as he has made this appearance for himself, he goes on to give all the reasons he can think of, I may say all he could invent, (for some are false in fact,) why nobody else should believe them. How compassionate a part is this, to profess that
believe a man, and then to labor to show his falseness to all the world! I wish his lordship would seriously
consider this part of his conduct as it becomes him to do, and not think it sufficient, because it serves present purposes, to make only “an appearance of charity."*
There will be other opportunities of considering this matter, and I hope by other hands : 1 am so little prepared for it myself, that I should be glad to be prevented.
I have nothing more to add but to acquaint the reader that where the bishop's words are quoted without naming any particular book of his, his Answer to the Representation is always intended.
Postscript to Pilloniere.
OF THE CORPORATION AND TEST ACTS, IN ANSWER TO
THE BISHOP OF BANGOR'S REASONS FOR THE REPEAL
OF THEM :
TO WHICH IS ADDED
A SECOND PART,
CONCERNING THE RELIGION OF OATHS.
Had the question relating to the test been argued on political reasons only, I should not have been a party to the dispute; but when concern for religion was brought in, and secular views were carried on under the appearance of zeal to prevent abuses in the solemn worship of Christians; and when the Bishop of Bangor had called on me in particular to speak to this point, which he supposed I could not do consistently with renouncing all pretences to persecution ; I thought I might without offence endeavor to justify the legislature against the heavy charge of turning aside a sacred institution of the gospel “ from its original and natural design, to a purpose against its own nature, and contrary to the end proposed by the ordainer himself.”*
Could this charge be made good, no Christian would want any other reason to be given for the repeal of the test act. The law which introduces an abuse of religion, which perverts a sacred institution of the gospel, can be no security to the church; and therefore the friends of the church ought to be the foremost in such circumstances to part with it. Whether this be the case or no, it is part of the design of these papers to examine.
To carry the reader directly to the point in dispute, I must tell him it had been observed as a consequence of the bishop's doctrine, that “no religious qualifications (must) any longer (be) insisted on.”+
* Page 190. + Dr. Snape's first Letter, p. 37.
The bishop in his Answer,* in order to load another assertion, gives this as a very bad character of it : “ that it is worthy of him who contends professedly for making religion a civil test, for debasing the most sacred thing in the world into a political tool and an engine of state.”
To pass by every thing in this reflexion but the reasoning mixed with it, it is evident that the bishop's argument depends on this principle, that religion ought not to be made a civil test.
In answer to which I replied, “ is not religion the test in every case where an oath is required ?" +
His lordship now affirms that what he said “against making religion a civil test referred solely to the sacramental test.” I On what reason I cannot imagine ; for I will not suppose him to think that there is no religion but the sacrament, or that any religion but the sacrament may be debased into a political tool and an engine of state.
This account brings down the state of this part of the controversy to the bishop's last performance. I shall consider what he has advanced before I take leave; in the meanwhile, that the world may know on what subject we dispute, it is necessary to take our rise a little higher, and to state the fact of the case about which we differ.
The laws relating to this subject have not been distinctly considered by the writers in this controversy about the test. They seem to argue merely on popular mistakes, and do (as it serves their purpose best) sometimes call the sacrament the test, and sometimes the qualification for an office ; whereas it cannot be both, because there is a real distinction between the test and the thing to be testified by it; it is therefore necessary to show the true design and intent of the legislature in requiring the sacramental test.
By the 13 Car. II. stat. 2. cap. 1. it is enacted that no person shall in “any corporation be elected mayor, alderman, &c. who shall not within a year before his election have taken the sacrament of the Lord's Supper according to the rites of the church of England.”
* Answer to Dr. Snape's Letter, p. 45. † Considerations, &c.
| Page 185.
By the 25th Car. II. cap. 2. it is enacted that all and every person --that shall bear any office-civil or military, &c. shall take the oaths of supremacy and allegiance and shall also receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper according to the usage of the church of England," &c. and make proof of his having received as is therein appointed, on pain of being incapable of the office, and other penalties in the act expressed : this statute is not to extend to inferior offices, as is expressly declared in the last clause.
The latter of these acts is declared by the act of toleration itself to extend to protestant dissenters. The former expressly relates to them; and both are declared, 10 Annæ, cap. 2. to þe made for the security of the church of England as by law established.”
These acts then being made for the security of the church as by law established, that is, for the security of the ecclesiastical constitution of the realm; the intention plainly was to keep non-conformists of all sorts, (whose principles and affection to their own ways cannot but lead them to use any power put into their own hands to the hurt of the established church, from which they have separated,) out of offices civil and military, and out of the government and direction of corporations ; " to the end that the succession in such
corporations may most probably perpetuated in the hands of persons well affected to his Majesty and the established government,* and for preservation of the public peace both in church and state :"+ where his lordship may please to observe that affection to the established government includes a concern for the public peace both of church and state ; and that these acts, though especially regarding the established church, are yet in the sense and eye of the law acts for the preservation of the established government of these realms, which was always understood to include matters ecclesiastical as well as civil).
It being resolved then by the legislature that places of power and trust should be in the hands of such only as were well affected to the ecclesiastical constitution, it became necessary to consider what should be taken as a sufficient proof of any man's
* Preamble to Corporation Act. SHERL.
+ Ibid. p. 2