« AnteriorContinuar »
« tending to the character of human nature, " and to the delicate springs of all great u events, that the failure of the most im
portant designs is often to be attributed.
Speculation alone is a feeble instrument, “ if it be not aided by action, and man “must be managed as man, or he will not « be found to act in a manner worthy of “ himself—that such a union of dissenters 56 of such different religious principles, on “ the common ground of religious liberty " and civil rights, would be in itself a great $attainment, which this island had never
known, which would do the highest ho
nour to the liberality of the present day, “ and the happy consequences of which no so one could presume to calculate. If the
union here recommended had earlier ob“ tained among the dissenters, if they had “ been earlier stimulated in the cause of " their just rights, it is probable, that the “ redress of their grievances had ere this " been accomplished. No reason can be
“ suggested, why such a mode should not be
permanently adopted. It presents nothing “ which ought to give alarm, but is rather
happily calculated in it's consequences to prevent all rude, undisciplined, and violent
proceedings; to collect in the most decent “ and dignified form the sense of the whole
body of the dissenters ; and to present it « in this form to the legislature of the coun
try: while it meditates nothing but the
religious interests, that are common to all “ dissenters of every name and faith ; those “ interests, which are not committed to the “civil magistrate, which are deposited with " themselves, which interfere with no civil « duty, and which they would preserve un" mixed with any civil concern, both as a “ right inherent in themselves, and as a duty “ which they owe to the civil government “ of their country. The example of the “Quakers, of whose union this proposed “ plan is almost an exact counterpart, is a “ complete answer to every objection, that
can be made to this mode of consolidating « the community of dissenters throughout " the kingdom."
In consequence of the adoption of this plan, and of the favourable issue of Mr. Beaufoy's motion in May 1789, when success appeared to have been nearly within their reach, the majority against them being only twenty-four, the dissenters were encou. raged to more vigorous exertions. In the spirit of elation which these augmented hopes produced, general meetings were held, committees formed, and resolutions entered into, expressing in firm but moderate language a sense of the hardships to which they were subjected, the grounds on which they claimed the restoration of their rights, and their determination to persevere, until they had obtained that redress, which both justice and policy dictated. The following resolutions, drawn up by Mr. Walker, and unanimously approved at a meeting of dem puties from the counties of Derby, Nottingham, Lincoln, Warwick, Salop, Stafford,
Leicester, Rutland and Yorkshire, are decla7 ratory of the principles avowed at their most respectable meetings, and of the grounds on which they defended their claims.
« Resolutions : “ 1. That it is not the province of the civil magistrate to direct, or to interfere with the religious opinions or practices of
any mem-bers of the state, provided their conduct be not injurious to others.
“ 2. That all the subjects of the state, conducting themselves in an equally peaceable manner, are equally entitled, not only to protection in the possession of their civil rights, but also to any civil honours, or emoluments, which are accessible to other subjects, without any regard to their religious opinions or practices. -.." 3. Désiring nothing for ourselves but the same equal and liberal treatment, to which we think all other persons in a similar situation are equally entitled, it is our earnest wish, that an equal participation in all civil privileges may be obtained for dissenters of
every description, to whom nothing can be objected, beside their religious opinions or practices, and who can give that security for their civil allegiance, which the state ought to require.
" 4. That the protestant dissenters of this country have always had reason to complain of unjust treatment, in being disqualified to hold offices of civil trust or power, though their behaviour has ever been peaceable and loyal, and though they can even boast peculiar merit, as friends to the present government.
« 5. That it becomes dissenters, as men feeling their own disgraceful situation, and the opprobrium which this reflects upon
their country, to adopt every constitutional method of procuring the redress of their grievances, and thus retrieve the honour of the nation.
“6. As one principal ground of our abhorrence of the test laws is the prostitution of religion to interested and secular views, and as these laws therefore ought to be