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aided the once fallen agents of Popery abroad, to regain their seats, and the power of doing mischief.
From what cause can it have arisen, that this · Question of the repeal of the Penal Statute, has been discussed on grounds so partial ? A stranger to our jurispudence might easily conclude, from the debates which this · Question' has excited, that the only persons among the subjects of this United Kingdom, who are aggrieved by the provisions of the penal code, are the professors of the Roman Catholic faith; the case of the entire body of Protestant Dissenters having been overlooked by the writers and speakers who have advocated the cause of the Petitioners for Emancipation. On the principles which these advocates have avowed, the restrictions oppressive to Dissenters ought immediately to be removed, and the way opened for their admittance to the full exercise of their civil rights.
Lord Grenville has publicly declared, that, in his opinion, it would be an act of undeniable wisdom and justice, to communicate to our fellow subjects professing the Roman Catholic religion, the full enjoyment of our civil constitution. Aware, however, that the relations of the Roman Catholics to a foreign power, are considerations of great moment in this question, his Lordship qualines the proposed measure, hy suggesting the adoption of suitable arrangements maturely prepared, which are well kuown to comprehend the reservation of the influence of the Crown over the nomination of Roman Catholic bishops. Were the circumstances in which the necessity of interposing this Veto arises, removed, or did they not exist, his Lordship’s ‘act of ' undeniable wisdom and justice would be cleared of every difficulty. Now, in whatever respects professors of the Roman Catholic religion are considered as being unwisely and unjustly excluded from the enjoyment of our civil constitution, Protestant Dissenters maintain a title neither less clear nor less strong. Their claims, (and which they cannot be charged with obtruding upon the public attention,) are entirely divested of all those difficulties which adhere to the. Catholic claims. They acknow. ledge no foreign authority, they have no infallible head of the 'church' at Rome to dictate the laws of their obedience; they do not profess an exclusive creed; their attachment to the civil constitution under which they live, is unquestionable, and their submission to the laws is exemplary. If, then, to say the least, the Protestant Dissenters are, as to their political character, not inferior to the professors of the Roman Catholic religion, it must be “ an act of undeniable wisdom and justice to exonerate them from the restrictions of penal statutes, by their admission to the full enjoyment of our civil constitution. To repeal those ? statutes in favour of Catholics,' and leave them binding and galling on Protestants, would be palpable injustice. To the
Protestant Dissenters the civil constitution of England, as non established, owes, more than to any other class of subjects, its preservation ;-is it just then that any of those rights, which they have ever been the foremost in securing to the community, should be withheld from them?
The Letter now before us, is written with some ability, but it has no claim to praise for excellence of arrangement or perspicuity of style; it is indeed perplexed and obscore.
The Author proposes to investigate the original rights which man retains on entering into the social state, and to the enjoy. ment of which every member of the community, not stained by crime or rendered infamous by punishment, is, under the British constitution, equally and fully entitled; the nature and spirit of the constitution, previous to and at the period of the Revolution of 1 88; to review the conditions to be performed by every candidate for the honours and privileges of the State, previous to his competency to hold or to enjoy them; and to prove that such conditiotis cannot be injurious or repugnant to the letter or the spirit of the Christian Religion.
As it would be vain to attempt an analysis of this volume, we shall satisfy ourselves with furnishing our readers with the following extracts :
• The policy of the Church of Rome has been peculiarly marked, by requiring an obedience to its decrees, so implicit and unqualified, that its votaries, in a spiritual sense, are (in contradiction to the meaning of terms) the subjects of a temporal, though denominated a spiritual king om; and as that authority is most arbitrary which is least defined, the Church of Rome ascertains no limits beyond which its power cannot extend; but “ wise in its generation," proportions the obedience required to the necessities which may demand them : and by affixing crime even to doubt, and apostacy to inquiry, the origin and nature of its assumed spiritual authority is so over-shadowed and obscured from protane observation, that allegiance thereto becomes implicit and supreme, and the security extended to the state, for the performance of the duty of allegiance, rests upon the discretion of its own infallible will !
• The subject urges me to a detail which I could wish to avoid, were I not satisfied that though Catholics may be entitled to toleration, yet until they escape from their present yoke of bondage, they must be incapable of enjoying the blessings of constitutional freedom, and therefore are unfit depositories of power or of privilege.' p 77.
• If political power and privileges should be still pursued, recol. lect that the success of the laity must depend upon your ability to prove, by primary and authentic evidence, that all the doctrines im. puted to the Church of Rome, injurious to the security of constitutional liberty, as upheld by some and denied by other councils, are now not only not recognized but formally abrogated and condemned by an authority equal to that by which they were previously imposed
s! and confirmed, and which authority or council is the present standard
of Catholic orthodoxy. You will, I doubt not, anticipate that unerring standard to which your doctrines and discipline have been adapted, THE COUNCIL OF TRENT:you are, therefore, positively required to produce the record of this infallible council, duly authenticated, for the examination of the Imperial legislature, to enable them to discover, by actual inspection, whether those doctrines, injurious to the peace and security of man, which were either generally or partially held, maintained, practised, or imputed, at any period, have been formally recited, condemned, repealed, and renounced, in order to remove doubts and to ensure confidence' pp 269, 272.
This appeal and this demand addressed to the Romish Clergy, a e entitled to serious consideration ; they ought to be fairly met, Religion can never be at variance with the real interests of society; and if an authority is acknowledged as a religious au! hority by " l'atholics,' it is just to require satisfactory evi. dence of its e tire separation from political obligation, an obligation exclusively under the cognizance of the State.
The Authur very forcibly endeavours to impress on the Roman Catholic Clergy, as essential and particular duties at the present moinent, the • Restoration of the Scriptures' to the people, and the • Renunciation of the Papal authority.' The Letter is addressed to Lord Holland.
Art XI. 1. The Protestant Reformation commemorated ; a Sermon
preached on Sunday Morning, viarch 1, 1818, at Aldermanbury
Postern, London Wall By John Hawksley. 8vo. 1818. 2. The Reformation from Popery commemorated. The Substance of
a Discourse delivered at the Independent Meeting House, Stow.
market, Nov. 9. 1817. By William Ward. 8vo, 1818. WHATEVER sentiments on subjects of ecclesiastical or civil
polity, may be entertained by those who sustain the responsible office of the Christian pastor among Protestant Dissenters, we believe we run no fear of contradiction in asserting, that the pulpit is rarely if ever made by them the organ of political opinions. The great subjects of the evangelical ini. nistry, are rarely made to give way to topics of subordinate importance. An attendant upon the services of the Meetinghouse, might in many situations listen for years without hearing from the preacher any thing more than a passing reference to the peculiar tenets of Nonconformity. At an ordination service, such sentiments are, as a matter of course, formally introduced ; but in a general way, this reserve bas been carried to an extent which has left room for regret that the younger part of the congregation should be suffered to grow up uninformed as to questions of great practical importance.
The time was, when it was thought necessary to preach sermons against Popery. In the beginning of the last century, a course of sermons, having this avowed object, was undertaken by the London Dissenting Ministers, which are known under the title of Salter's Hall Lectures. We do not know that there is any immediate necessity for preaching against Popery now; or, indeed, for preaching against any species of error; but there is always need for preaching up the truth; and the great principles of the Protestant Reformation, as constituting a most important branch of truth, stand in as much need perhaps of being contended for, at the present period, as they have ever done. We are glad that the faint attempt wbich was made to turn the Third Centenary of that glorious era, to some moral account, bad at least the effect of directing the public attention in some measure to the subject. But the general apathy with which, in this country, the proposal to commemorate that event was received, contrasted with the interest taken in it by the Prote-tants of the Continent, might serve to convince those who are the consistent advocates of the great principles of the Reformation, that something more than an anniversary reference has become requisite, in order to rescue them from neglect or utter forgetfulness.
An earlier attention was due to the few sermons published on the occasion alluded to. Those which head this Article we can cordially recommend, as presenting a concise but comprehensive view of the principles of Protestantism, in a style well adapted to subserve the great purpose of religious instruction.
Mr. Hawksley has appositely taken for his text, or motto, Psalm lxxvii. ii, 12. I will remember the works of the ! Lord : surely I will remember thy wonders of old. The first part of the discourse is devoted to a brief sketch of the rise, progress, and ultimate character of Popery. Under the second division, he expatiates on the advantages which have been con• ferred upon us by our deliverance from its bondage. These he sums up in the following particulars : the unrestrained circulation
of the scriptures : * freedom of thought and of profession in ! all the concerns of religion ; ' 'a purer doctrine and greater sim
plicity of worship,? more especially the re-establishment of that grand article, (stantis vel cadentis ecclesiæ articula) justification by faith alone! and, lastly,' a more correct and widely
extended morality.' Under the last head, he calls upon his audience to make a suitable improvement of the circumstances in wbicb as Protestants, and as Protestant Dissenters, they are placed ; not scrupling to affirm that by no denomiation of Christians are the principles of the Reformation better understood, • and more practically honoured, than by our truly apostical churches.' The points above enumerated admit of a fair ground of comparison. From this branch of the discourse, we select the following extract.
• Your first and most obvious duty is the exercise of gratitude to God. From him, the Father of lights, “ cometh down every good gift and every perfect gift;" and his agency is therefore to be de. voutly acknowledged in all the mercies we enjoy. If his “ kingdom ruleth over all ;' if it extend to the most minute occurrences of an individual's life; nay, if, as the Redeemer has
us, a sparrow falleth not to the ground without our Father,” and “the very hairs of our head are all numbered ;"_very powerfully must we be impressed with a persuasion of the energy of his arm, in the great and mighty achievement we are now commemorating !
• We are justly habituated to admit the peculiar intervention of Heaven, when we reflect upon the rapid propagation of the gospel in the first ages. When we advert to the power and policy that were combined against it; when we recollect the nature of the doctrine that was insisted on; and when we call to mind the character of the principal human agents we are constrained to exclaim, in dwelling upon its triumphs, " What hath God wrought !” pp. 26, 27.
. I call upon you, in the second place, to appreciate highly, and to maintain inviolate, the principles which you have received. The blessings we have been contemplating, as having emanated from the Reformation, are unquestionably of the utmost value. Let us, then seek to impress upon our minds a sense of their importance. Let us beware of profaning them. And let us be anxious that they may be known and enjoyed by others who have not yet acquired them. 'O! how much do we ourselves owe to their prevalence! We will pray, then, for their wider diffusion; and in our own separate spheres, will be concerned that they may be understood, and that they may be venerated. We will teach them to our children and associates. And we will be ready to protest against all arbitrary exactions which tend to impair or to obstruct them.
• I should deem myself highly culpable, if, on this occasion, and in addressing this audience, I did not advert to the topic of Protestant Nonconformity. It has directly flowed from the Reformation, and is indeed its genuine and legitimate result. It is a subject of ne inconsiderable moment, and a subject which it is especially desirable that our young friends should competently understand. It has long been lamented by many, that our principles as Dissenters are not so fully comprehended, or so highly revered as they once were, and as they still demand and deserve to be. And to this cause, principally, is to be attributed the secession of any from our churches ; for in the humble estimation of the preacher, where the grounds of Nonconformity are really understood, they are sufficient to carry their own evidence.
• This want of acquaintance with the subject, is partly to be at. tributed to the neglect of domestic instruction ; and partly to other causes. Dissenters have seldom been forward to obtrude their senti. ments on the public notice. They have generally acted upon the