Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

III. That the Protestant Dissenters come before the magistrate with every requisite and character of good citizens, and have even a peculiar claim to the good opinion and confidence of the civil guardians of the British constitution.

IV. That a religious test, which opens or shuts the door to civil advantages, is the usurpation of a power which is not committed to the magistrate, and a violation of the rights of a citizen.":

V. That the sacrament of the Lord's supper is a purely religious act, instituted by the

great founder of our religion, and intended to be expressive of the sublimest and most generous piety; that if it be a test for any world, it is a test for another, and not for this; that the introducing the temptation of secular hopes and fears to the performance of this act vitiates its acceptableness, decides not the religion of the communicant, repels the honest, invites the unprincipled, and corrupts the weak; that it is in

every view a prostitution and a profanation of the most serious and conscientious act of Christian piety..:' - VI. That on these grounds the Protestant Dissenters have the highest reason to complain ; that it would be a desertion of their character and duty, not to seek the redress of a grievance which wounds them as men, brands them as citizens, robs them of their rights, and is injurious to a religion, which they value more than any consideration of this world.

The principles of our antagonists, which are

to be collected from their publications and the debates in parliament, appear to be reducible to these heads

I. That toleration in religion is due to all, who can answer to the claim of civil allegiance.

II. That the magistrate has a right to choose a national religion; and that special immunities, honours, and rewards, at the dis

cretion

cretion of the civil magistrate, may and ought to be conferred on the members of his favoured religion.

III. That the church of England is this national and favoured religion, that there is a contract or alliance between this church and the state; that the test laws are necessary to the preservation of the church; and that the church is necessary to the preservation of the civil constitution of this kingdom.

IV. That the Dissenters are hostile to the church ; that they must wish its subversion, and that the more conscientious is the Dissenter, the more must he be disposed, and the more must he operate to this end.

V. That civil trust and power are dangerous instruments in the hands of a Dissenter, and that therefore they are justly denied to him.

VI. That the door of conformity being open to him, it is by the act of his own will that he enters not this door, and that he has no right therefore to complain of the disa

bilities

bilities and penalties which are the consequence of his refusal.

VII. That the sacramental test is a discrimination of religious character, that it is a wise provision of the state, and that it is no perversion or profanation of the holy or, dinance of the Lord's supper.

VIII. That civil offices are favours, not rights; that they are of the nature of an estate in the discretionary use of the magistrate; that he may dispose of them to whom he pleases ; and this not individually, which is not contested ; but that by a general law he may

exclude any description of subjects from the admission to them. To these are added other principles,

we hope only as the effusions of uninformed and passionate minds—which surrender into the hands and the discretion of the magistrate, all the rights and even the property of the subject, which go to the abandonment of the whole foundation and structure of legal liberty,

On

On the ground of this statement we make our appeal to the people of England, we invite their attention, and entreat them with a calm and collected mind, with that honour and generosity which are expected from Englishmen, and with that fellow sympathy which a common country, a common interest, and a common religion recommend, to attend to the pleadings of truth, and wisdom, and justice, and good policy.

The foundation of all the reasoning of our opponents, both in and out of parliament, is a supposed alliance between church and state, between the church of England and the state of England, and the necessity of each to the preservation and prosperity of each. If such alliance can be shown to have no foundation in fact, and that the prosperity of the state has no necessary dependence on the being or prosperity of the church, it will become our opponents to have recourse to better arguments in justification of the unkind treatment which we receive at their hands. If there be any thing 3

unpleasant

« AnteriorContinuar »