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stormy element of political debate, were the motives that determined me, and which, bad I not already engaged, would probably have effectually deterred me, from writing upon politics. These scruples have given way to feelings still stronger ; to my extreme aversion to be classed with political apostates, and to the suspicion of being deterred from the honest avowal of my sentiments on subjects of great moment, by hopes and fears to which, through every period of my life, I have been a total stranger. The effect of increasing years has been to augment, if possible, my attachment to the principles of civil and religious liberty, and to the cause of reform, as inseparably combined with their preservation : and few things would give me more uneasi. ness, than to have it supposed I could ever become hostile or indifferent to these objects.' Vol. III. pp. 80, 81.
This manly, frank, and bold avowal of principles far from palatable to a certain class of Mr. Hall's reluctant admirers, might have been expected to give offence, more particularly to those who had been forward in imputing to the Author a renunciation of his early political opinions. But the violent attack upon his character for which it afforded a pretext, was marked by a baseness and malignity that seemed gendered by personal hatred upon ecclesiastical jealousy, and was only the more odious as proceeding from a soi-disant Christian Guardian. In the periodical work so entitled, an article appeared, professing to be a review of the Apology for the Freedom of the Press, but which was, in fact, nothing more than a tirade against its Author, who was insolently stigmatised as having gratuitously obtruded himself on the public in the degrading character of a violent party-scribe.' Of this article, Mr. Hall would have felt it unnecessary to take any notice, had not its writer, with a view to render the affront the more personal and annoying, procured its insertion in the Leicester Journal. This provoked Mr. Hall to send a reply to the same Newspaper ; a step which his best friends regarded at the time as descending from his proper dignity. Had his character stood in need of vindication, there would have been found defenders willing and able to inflict the requisite chastisement on the mean and dastardly assailant. But Mr. Hall was angry; and anger, though in him it could not fail to be eloquent, always disturbs the nice decisions of the judgement. Accordingly, in nothing that he ever wrote, does there occur any similar violation of good taste. The fact is, he felt jostled in the dark by an unknown assailant, whose rank and stature he over-estimated ; and he repelled the attack with the strength of a giant, but with the disadvantage of having come to blows with a chimney-sweeper. Inflated with the unexpected honour of having provoked a reply, his masked Calumniator renewed the attack from his safe obscurity. Mr. Hall was persuaded to take no further notice of so paltry an anta
gonist, but left it to his friends to supply the refutation of the fresh misrepresentations and envenomed abuse by which party maNice sought to lower his character.
Had Mr. Hall's political opinions been formed in the Tory school, had he stepped forward as the advocate of restrictions on the press and the apologist for religious intolerance, we should have heard no complaint from his sanctimonious rebukers, of his having blended too much the politician with the divine. Of all amphibious beings, the most anomalous, the most unsightly, is the clerical party-politician, whether he be a sycophant or a demagogue,-whether his party call itself the people or Church and State,-whether his ‘drum ecclesiastic' be beat as a roll-call to the mob, or as a summons to all the evil spirits that wait upon power and wealth. For a man who professes to have dedicated himself to the ministry of the gospel of reconciliation and the service of the sanctuary, to be found lending himself to purposes of faction, intrigue, or private ambition, is a shameful inconsistency. A good soldier of Jesus Christ' will not so 'en“tangle himself with the affairs of this life,' after having solemnly enlisted in a warfare from which all carnal weapons are excluded, in the service of a kingdom not of this world. But no one will contend that the Christian Minister, whether dignified with the honours of a mitre, or occupying the humblest sphere of usefulness, is exempted from the duties of patriotism, or is debarred from the privileges of citizenship. Although an Apostle, he might still claim to be a Roman, and stand upon the privilege of having been free-born. Now, the distinction between the patriot and the partisan, is not always so apparent as to prevent mistake in the application of those names, although the essential difference between the two characters will be acknowledged. The partisan is an adherent to a faction ; but the name of faction may be injuriously given to a minority struggling in defence of the most sacred rights, or banded in the cause of virtue, religion, and good government. Yet, even though the cause be patriotic, the individual who engages in its defence for his own private ends, or for the secular interests of his confederates, still merits no bete ter name than that of a partisan. It is not the cause that makes the patriot, nor the party that makes the partisan, but the motives and spirit which actuate the individual in embracing and advocating the opinions, religious or political, which he must necessarily hold in common with some party.
Two great parties have long divided intelligent society in this country, and it would be the extreme of illiberality to doubt that true patriots have been found on either side. Those parties, accidentally distinguishable as Whig and Tory, have been substantially popular and prescriptive; and the great questions which have successively arisen to test their respective principles, VOL, VII.- N..
have occasioned their being opposed to each other as the friends or the jealous opponents of civil and religious freedom, general education, the reform of the representation, the abolition of the slave trade and slavery, and a pacific national policy. Upon each of these grand questions, pretty nearly the same parties, with some illustrious exceptions, have been ranged in mutual opposition. Throughout the long reign of George the Third, although that monarch was personally disposed to protect the religious liberties of at least his Protestant subjects, and his patriotic wish was, that every child in his dominions might be taught to read his Bible, still, the politics of the court and the measures of the minister were uniformly hostile to toleration, to the freedom of the press, to a liberal policy, to every species of reform; and the ruinous wars of George Ill. have bequeathed to the present generation the fatal legacy of an overwhelming debt. Consequently, the vast majority of those persons whom loyalty, political opinion, or interest attached to the ministerial party, became committed to the approval or extenuation of almost perpetual war, a lavish expenditure, and all the vices of that policy which alienated the American colonies, and had well-nigh provoked rebellion at home. On the other hand, men of philanthropic principles, unconnected with any political party, the friends of education, of improvements in our criminal code, all who sought to procure the abolition of the slave-trade, as well as the Dissenters generally, found themselves involuntarily placed in direct opposition to the ascendant party in church and state.
We may now, happily, look back upon this state of things as matter of history; but it is the history of ourselves the existing generation; and present events have grown immediately out of these circumstances. At the time that Mr. Hall published his Apology, the friends of constitutional freedom were not without reason alarmed at both the arbitrary acts and the still more lofty doctrines of the minister and his satellites. Mr. Pitt had gone so far as to assert, that the king had a right to land as many foreign troops as he pleased, without the authority of Parliament; and the clergy were for the most part the abettors of political tenets which not the highest Tory would at the present moment dare avow. The horror of French principles, the alarm of revolution or invasion, spread through the nation like a mania; and the minister, rendered absolute by the panic fears of the pusillanimous and the arts of the interested, was enabled at pleasure to dispense with the forms and securities of the constitution. The danger to liberty appeared extreme, and it required some intrepidity to address a warning voice to the slumbering nation. The Dissenters were at that time loaded with the foulest abuse. The ultra-loyalists of the day went far beyond the anti-reformers of our own times, in their hatred and execration of the sectaries; but the chief reason
of the difference is, that the former had then the ascendancy, and the mob was on their side. The riots at Birmingham, unlike those of Bristol, were the work of men who gloried in their loyalty; and its chief victim was not a bishop, but a sectarian teacher and philosopher. In allusion' to these circumstances, the eloquent Author of the Apology thus repels the calumnies cast upon the religious body to which he belonged.
• Dissenters are reproached with the appellation of republicans ; but the truth of the charge has neither appeared from facts, nor been supported by any reasonable evidence. Among them, as among other classes, (and in no greater proportion, there are persons to bc found, no doubt, who, without any hostility to the present Government, prefer in theory a republican to å monarchical form; a point on which the most enlightened men in all ages have entertained very different opinions. .... Were we, however, without any proof, to admit that Dissenters are more tinctured with republican principles than others, it might be considered as the natural effect of the absurd conduct of the legislature. Exposed to pains and penalties, excluded from all offices of trust, proscribed by the spirit of the present reign, menaced and insulted wherever they appear, they must be more than men, if they felt no resentment, or were passionately devoted to the ruling powers. To expect affection in return for injury, is to gather where they have not scattered, and reap where they have not sown. The superstition of dissenters is not so abject as to prompt them to worship the constitution through fear. Yet, as they have not forgotten the benefits it imparted, and the protection it afforded till of late, they are too much its friends to flatter its defects, or defend its abuses. Their only wish is to see it reformed and reduced to its original principles. In recent displays of loyalty, they must acknowledge themselves extremely defective. They have never plundered their neighbours, to shew their attachment to the king ; nor has their zeal for religion ever broke out into oaths and execrations. They have not proclaimed their respect for regular government by a breach of the laws, or attempted to maintain tranquillity by riots. These beautiful specimens of loyalty belong to the virtue and moderation of the high-church party alone, with whose character they perfectly correspond. Vol. III. pp. 152, 3.
It was not then without an urgent call and ample provocation, that Mr. Hall stood forward as the vindicator of his brethren, and the apologist for those principles of freedom which it had become almost dangerous to profess, but which are really the conservative principles of the constitution. Apart from a conscientious attachment to the cause of freedom, and a patriotic interest in his country's welfare, we can conceive of no motive that should have induced him to encounter the obloquy which the publication could not fail to draw down upon its writer. Unconnected with any political party, and rendered incapable, by his principles as a Dissenter, of deriving worldly aggrandisement from the patronage of any set of men that might accede to power, he could
not be suspected of having in view any personal or sinister object. Indeed, in the pamphlet itself, he avows his distrust of the op position party of the day, representing the existence of a regular parliamentary opposition as an expedient which was at once the
offspring and the cherisher of faction. It was reserved for the reptile baseness of his Leicester neighbour, to stigmatise the Author of this noble production as a party scribe, and with matchless arrogance to stigmatise the great principles to which through life Mr Hall maintained an inflexible attachment, as 'the sins of
his youth ; '--the greatest indignity and insult, we have reason to believe, that Mr. Hall ever met with from any opponent.
It is, we admit, an unhappy necessity that justifies a minister of the Gospel in meddling with party politics ;' but if on any occasion such a deviation from his proper sphere becomes a duty, it is when a tide of corruption and intolerance has set in, so strong as to threaten to undermine the bulwarks of religious liberty, and when he is called to act the part of a public censor of wickedness in high places, the bold rebuker of the corruptions in the State. “The plain state of the case is,' said Mr. Hall, in replying to his Reviewer, not that the Writer is offended at 'my meddling with politics, but that I have meddled on the ' wrong side. Had the same mediocrity of talent been exerted • in eulogizing the measures of ministers, his greetings would
have been as loud as his invective is bitter.' In fact, there may be said to be no controversy as to the lawfulness and expediency of a Christian minister's insisting upon political duties, provided he maintains an absolute silence on the subject of political rights. There was a time, at least, when it was maintained as an article of faith by the Tory party and the clergy generally, that every minister of religion, from the prelate who raises his mitred head among the peers of the realm, down to the chaplain who assists his patron at an election, or the humblest curate that sets his name to a petition against innovation, is bound by his sacred profession to employ his influence only in support of the ascendant party in the State. Such used to be the doctrine of the opponents of all political reform ; but it is so no longer. We have lived to witness a strange forgetfulness of their own maxims of dutiful subserviency to the powers that be, on the part of the clergy and of those who once claimed a monopoly of loyalty. As the nonjurors of other days, who had inculcated upon the people the doctrine of passive obedience, were ready enough to 'resist • the power,' when the voice of the nation had called a constitutional monarch to occupy the vacated throne, so, the Tory faction of our own day scruple not to speak of the person of their sovereign and of his government, in terms that they would once have been forward to brand as sedition and impiety. The present ministry are now reproached by this party, with having the sup