« AnteriorContinuar »
on religious matters. Take away these arbitrary data,-and it is the glorious excellence of this system to remove every crabbed and untoward principle,-take away these, and every form of religion is equally acceptable, if general use and custom have given a sanction thereto.
THE DISSENTER'S PLEA; OR THE APPEAL OF THE
DISSENTERS TO THE JUSTICE, THE HONOUR,
To the People of England. From the legislature of our country we make our appeal, in the name of the Protestant Dissenters of this kingdom, to the good sense and liberality of Englishmen at large. Not that we reflect on the wisdom or liberality of the legislative body, to which our application was directed, as it becomes us to make every handsome allowance for the complicated interests and inveterate prejudices which we had to combat, and for the officious zeal with which these interests and prejudices were called forth into the field. We wonder not, therefore, at the re
ception which our application has met with; we expected not to succeed in the present instance, nor had we even presumed to calculate when success would come. Confident of the goodness of our cause, we committed it ito its own merits"; and left the issue to our country, and to that presiding Providence, which for agès is pleased to permit the unenvied triumph of ignorance, and prejudice, and worldly policy. The issue has been, that numbers have overcome: blut we glory in the homage which has been ren dered to our causes in the general,acknow. ledgment that reason, and truth, and justice, ranged on our sider-i[It is with this wellfounded confidence, that; we 'appeal to our fellow-citizensi of every description, and trust that we shall bring the, isamé conviction home to every honest and accessible mind, by a plain" statement of the arguments on either side, which a full discussion of the subject has brought forward to the public view. As all good reasoning must be derived
from principles, which are supposed to be generally admissible, it may not be amiss to bring into a short view the principles on which the argument has been conducted by the Dissenters, and by the members of the church of England. In this we shall pay no regard to the unauthorised publications of either party ; as we deem it to be a matter of simple justice, that no body of men should be answerable for the opinions or actions of individuals, however respectable these individuals may be. - The Dissenters have asserted this justice in the their most respectable meetings; but, without regard to these protests, they have been attacked even in parliament, on the ground of individual publications. We will never recriminate in so unhandsome a manner, though the publications and sermons of many churchmen afford the amplest scope for it
The principles on which the reasoning of Protestant Dissenters has been conducted, $ 4
and their claims asserted, may be reduced to these ;
I. That political society is for the good of all; that protection and accessibility to all the advantages and privileges of a citizen are the rights of a citizen, and that responsibility for civil allegiance is the only condition of this right. :: II. That religion is not within the jurisdiction of the civil magistrate; that it is the unalienated property of every individual, for which he is answerable to God alone ; and that no differences of religious faith and worship ought to exclude a citizen from one of those rights or privileges, which he claims on the grounds of the preceding principle.
On these two the whole reasoning of the Protestant Dissenters turns : but thereto are added the following, either as inferred from the preceding principles, or as making an irresistible appeal to fact, and to every honest mind.