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lutions of the holy sacrament which, you say, you see with concern, what room can there be for any rational doubt? For, does not the very design and intent of that law, at least as it is now, applied, prostitute and pervert the sacrament to an use not only different from, but directly re-, pugnant to that for which it was instituted and designed by Jesus Christ? The christian law enjoins it as a mean, and with intent to unite and. coalesce christians. The Test law enjoins it as a mean, and with intent to discriminate and divide them. For the ministers of Jesus Christ then, to be advocates for a law which prostitutes and perverts a holy sacrament of his religion; yea, a law which makes themselves the
instruments and tools of this shameful prostitution, is such a violation of their character, such a prostitution of their sacred office, such a betraying the solemn trust committed to them by God, for which they must give an account to the chief pastor at his coming, as cannot but greatly shock an attentive beholder, and, ought, in my opinion, to give the most painful apprehensions to themselves. “ These prostitutions (you assure us) you do
with concern, but you cannot be for the re“ peal, because you think it inconsistent with the “preservation of the church.”* What church, alas! must that be which cannot be preserved but by an acknowledged prostitution and perversion of a holy sacrament! Surely it cannot be, the church of Christ! Let not christians do evil that good may come: such carnal and corrupt policy ever defeats itself; and its condemnation is just.+
You correct me for saying, that, by the force of this law, multitudes of needy persons are compelled to come to the Lord's table, and cry,“ God * forbid that the temptations even of poverty and
* II. Defence, page 8.
+ Rom. üli, da
«« want should be esteemed to have the nature of “ force and compulsion ; for, in that case, they " would have no guilt at all upon their consci“ences.” So then, you can bring off, I find, the young adulterer from any guilt with the lewd woman, Prov. ii. 21. because with the flattery of her lips she forced him. I thought I had written to a bachelor of divinity, to a gentleman who was no stranger to scripture language, and who knew what it meant when the King commands his servants to compel the guests to come in. Luke xiv. 23. For the like use of the word compel, you may consult Gal. ii. 14. vi. 12. See also Luke xiv, 18. 20. in the original.
That the priest has no power to refuse the Lord's-supper to the vilest person, that demands it as a qualification for a post, you care not to admit, and ask, “ Is there any law which forbids “ the curate to repel him from the Lord's table ** Yes, by the equitable construction of the law called the Test, most certainly there is; for, the same law, which requires under severe penalties all persons in posts to receive the Lord's-supper according to the usage of the church of England, , does, by indisputable consequence, require some one to give it. If it must be received by them, it inust surely be given to them. To suppose the legislature to have obliged them under heavy pains to partake of the holy sacrament, but to have obliged none, upon their demand, to adinia nister it to them, is to suppose it acting a most absurd and unjustifiable part, which is not to be imagined. Who then is the person to whom, ac-, cording to law, a man that wants the sacramental. qualification is to apply for that service? Undoubtedly his parish priest, who is appointed and paid by law for the performance of the several
offices which the state requires of him, of which this is plainly one. Whatever power, therefore, the rubric gave the curate to repel open evil livers from the table of the Lord, before the Test-act took place, it is now, in cases of qualification, unquestionably superseded, and the rubrie virtually repealed. For, when a new law enjoins what is repugnant to an old one, that old law is to be considered as so far set aside. And, as for the “ damages to which the priest is liable to be con“ demned for refusing the sacrament," these the law, it is presumed, will give according to the loss which the person can make appear he hath sustained by that refusal, which, in many cases, may be
great,-more perhaps than the priest is worth. • The oath of adjuration you esteem quite a "parallel to the sacramental test, and urge that “ if one should be repealed because it lays men " under violent temptations to prostitute their
consciences, so also ought the other.* No. The cases, if duly weighed, will be found to differ widely. An oath of fidelity to the government that employs us in posts of influence and power, is a security, or pledge, evidently founded in the reason of things: it has been the practice immemorial of all civilized nations : its necessity, or great expediency manifestly arises from the nature of civil government: it is, therefore, reasonably presumed to be the will and institution of God, the author of civil government, and was instituted for purposes of a political, or civil kind. Here, then, is no prostitution, no perversion, of this sacred rite, when the oath is tendered to a man at his entrance upon a post of trust; and, if a needy Jacobite takes it to the pollution of his conscience, himself only can be blamed: the law that ordered it is clear. But can this, in any. sense, be said concerning the sacramental test?
* Defence, p. 6.
Harh this been an instrument for the support of civil government in any kingdom of the christian world besides our own? Hath God, the author of civil government, given the least intimation of his intending that it should have such a guard? Had. Christ, the institutor of this rite, the least intention, or design, that it should be thus used and applied, be made an engine and tool of state, an instrument to discriminate between christian and christian, to raise some to posts of power
in the kingdoms of this world, and to fix upon others (men equally virtuous) brands of odium and disgrace? Had he not unquestionably a quite contrary design? You know, Sir, that he had. Does he look down with pleasure, think you, upon
thé kingdom and church, where he sees his name and his institutions thus openly violated, perverted, profaned; his priests liking to have it so, approv, ing, espousing, defending the abuse? own I cannot ihink it: and, should any man express a fear that this is not the least of those national sins which expose us to the divine displeasure ; that it is a public violation of that righteousness and piety which alone can exalt a people ; a blemish, a disease, which preys upon the body politic; and if it does not threaten its dissolution, yet greatly impairs its strength; I confess, I could not prove bis fears to be weak or superstitious : for, if the church of Corinth was severely chastened for not making a due distinction between the sacrament and their common meals, and not eating it as the Lord's supper, I see not but the church of England, may have something also to fear on account of those perversions and prostitutions which, you own, you see with concern; by which this sacrament is used not only not according to, but directly against its primitive institution; to a purpose, and for an end which quite opposes and subverts one principal design for which our divine Master appointed this sacred rite.
High offices and court employments, I have acknowledged, might be apt to corrupt Dissenters, as every one knows them to have this influence upon the human mind : though, therefore, as a Briton, and as a Christian, I wish earnestly the repeal, yet, as a Dissenter, 1 profess no solicitude about it. “ But I ought not then (you say) “so strenuously to plead for their being admitted " to such employments, but to be very solicitous
against it.” Review, Sir, in less haste, and you will find, I am so far from pleading strenuously for their admission to such employments, that I have not so much as pleaded for it at all! All I plead for is, the removal of the incapacity, under which they unjustly lie, that breaking a dis. graceful yoke which the test hath put upon their necks, and the restoring them to their native freedom, and honour, and right: that the state may bave liberty, if it thinks it needs their faithful services, to avail itself of them; and that it be left to their liberty, their virtue, their choice, either to accept or to refuse posts of trust under the government, and that they may not stand branded and stigmatized before the world as pera sons incapable and unworthy of such trusts.*
* In the late excellent comment on Warburton's Alliance, &c. the passage of my second letter, to which this refers, is · not only mistaken, but not faithfully and justly quoted. In the letter it stands thus,- “ Though I think this law a “ most uprighteous restraint upon us, and an undoubted “ violation of our natural rights, yet I am far from being, “ persuaded that its repeal would be of the least service to
our interest as Dissenters. I have often doubted whether “ there is not too much truth in what you say, that high “ Irusts and court employments would be extremely apt to cor
rupt us, and that it would really rather injure than strengthen our interest. I have never, therefore, as a Dissenter, been at all solicitous for the repeal." Note. This is expressed only as a doubt, or suspicion ;
but the author of that comment hath made it say, in strong and positive terms, (page 123,) “ That a repeal " of the Test and Corporation acts would really be in