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of the parties, and that outworks were necessary to protect the alliance ; yet the end in view would not justify the committing so gross an act of injustice, as the subjecting to disabilities and to consequent punishments of the highest magnitude, and of the severest nature, citizens of the purest character, and for adhering to a principle and a conduct which the legislature itself pronounces to be no crime. All the mischiefs which plague mankind, which infest the peace of society, and debase the character both of individuals and of governments, arise from the substituting convenience for morality, and accommodating the unalterable rules of justice to the notions of speculative utility.
But, after all, what is the state ? In many governments it is the usurpation of one, or the combination of a few against the many. In the British government it is a simple partnership, in which every member of the community is a partner, in which they stipulate for equal rights, and wherein a power
is vested in the representative body for the preservation of these equal rights. This body does not represent the members of the church of England, but all the free sons of Britain. It is instituted, not to render justice to a churchman, but to men, under the description of Britons ; and equal justice and equal favour, where the conditions on which the partnership is originally founded are equally performed. The Dissenter does perform these conditions, and with as willing and generous a spirit as ever characterized a Greek or Roman. The state, by which in condescension to an abuse of language we now understand the legal representative of the community, acknowledges that the Dissenter is an equal partner ; by admitting him to an equal participation of the public burdens, and to an equal share of the public trust, in its most important and dignified direction ; in the right of electing, and of being elected, in the right of saying who shall be this representative, or of being himself a constituent mem
ber of it. In fine, by the retention of the test laws, the state involves itself in such a contradiction of conduct, and in such a violation of its duty, that duty which it confesses in its higher line of action, as would disgrace any private man, decide his character, and render even repentance ineffectual to the recovery of esteem and confidence.
It is however the singular happiness of a state, that recovery is always in its power, that it can atone for the ignorance and prejudice, for the fears and passions of the moment, which have driven it to the most unjust and ungenerous actions. This was the origin, and this is the character of the test laws; but the fears are gone, the ignorance is removed, and the repeal or obstinate refusal to repeal will be the signal to all Europe, whether Britain can utter these plain and dignified words : Our ancestors have erred, we renounce their errours ; justice is required, we render justice ;-in fine, whether Britain can descend, or reassert that high rank which she has held amongst nations,
and in the most delicate moment of expectation act up to the wishes of her truest ad: mirers and friends.
It has been pleaded, and particularly by Mr. Pitt, that in the protection of an established religion, and submitting other considerations to this object, the state meditates a security for the propagation of a pure morality among the subjects. This is a laudable motive, and it is with pleasure that we meet our opponents on this ground. We protest only against the inference, which is deduced therefrom. If this then be the predominating motive, and it carries so handsome a face with it, that we will presume it to be truly urged; ought not the state to rejoice in and welcome a body of men,
who with equal power, and with equal honesty, enforce the same cause, and who ask no rewards from the state for the part which they bear therein? Admit that in this alliance between the church and state all the virtuous intentions, which are ascribed to the two contracting parties, operate in their
purest character, surely this virtuous contemplation ought not to exclude other members of the community from contributing to so good and salutary an end; it ought not to subject them to temporal disabilities and deprivations, for no other reason but because they voluntarily, and gratuitously, and generously perform this highest of all services to the community, and without any engagement or intercourse with the state. Contracts and rewards are the bond of the unwilling, in all common construction they have the stamp of suspicion impressed upon them; but that less praise and less gratitude should be rendered where the same service is freely and disinterestedly performed, is a mode of moral reasoning and of moral treatment, of which our ministers and the advocates for the test laws have exhibited the first example. Let this alliance go on, we interfere not with it; we wish not to disturb the harmony which subsists between the parties; we sincerely rejoice in whatever good they can render to their country. But