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solemn admonition. The time has arrived in which the authorities of this kingdom have judged the punishment of any class of theological opinions with civil disabilities, to be unnecessary, and therefore unjust; and the passing of this sentiment into a law, is viewed as having placed our country among those apostate kingdoms whose destruction is inevitable, and approaching rapidly. Better hopes were once fondly cherished, but now all is lost! The crying guilt of this legislative deed is moreover described as a thing to be attributed, in no small measure, to the revolutionary spirit of modern “ dissenterism.” But it would be well if the men who are so shrewd in detecting the mote in a brother's eye, were somewhat attentive to the beam in their own. In our history as dissenters, and even in our present circumstances, there is that which ought ever to protect us from the reproach of meaning in any way to favour the superstition of the Romanist. Why do we submit to an exclusion from those seats of learning in our father-land, the very sight of which, in the mind having the least passion for science and improvement, is inseparable from associations and sympathies which are not to be expressed? Is not this a part of the cost arising from our abhorrence of popery, and from our resolve not to touch that unclean thing? Why do we suffer ourselves to be excluded, not merely from the bonours and emoluments of our universities, but from every thing of the same kind as connected with our ecclesiastical establishment? Is not this also from our abhorrence of popery, as a thing
hated of God, and that should be hated of men? And why again do we submit to so much odious imputation, so much priestly violence, and so much of almost proverbial contempt, from the gay, the opulent, and the mighty? It needs not be told that we bear all this from our attachment to certain sacred principles, which we value more than anything in the shape of human favour or aggrandizement—the imperishable principles of genuine Protestantism, of primitive Christianity!
To pass within the pale of the Church of England, or to obtain the humblest advantages connected with either of our national seminaries, we are required to testify our approval of a scheme of doctrine, of polity, and worship, which a secular parliament has been allowed to impose on the Christian church. But the theological infallibility which we conscientiously deny to any conclave of priests, we find it quité as difficult to concede to any convention of senators. Were the things imposed pure as holy writ, this manner of imposing them would still be a ground of complaint and of protest. It is our lot, however, to believe that the things so established are not thus pure. On the contrary, the papal temper which descended unimpaired from Henry to Elizabeth, and which sufficiently affected the parliaments under their control, is, we think, strikingly evinced in much of what they laboured to perpetuate. And we must be borne with in stating, that if the wrath of God is to come upon this land, as the chastisement of its fondness for popery, it is our grave conviction that it will be
brought down by the obstinate impurities of that very church to which our accusers belong. We would not for a moment forget that in the Church of England and in the Church of Scotland there are men who are the ornaments of their country and their age. But the men of both communions, who have descended to catch at popular prejudice to do us wrong, must allow us to ask where they learnt to make the church virtually the creature of the state, and as a consequence, to attempt the support of a spiritual cause by carnal means ? Especially of our episcopalian countrymen we must ask, whence did you obtain your gradation of names, of power, of wealth - indeed the whole framework of your present hierarchy? Whence did you learn to exclude the people from all church authority? And whence those formularies which speak of baptism as regeneration, of confirmation as a bestowing of the Holy Spirit, and of the priest as delegated to remit the sins of the dying—which relate to so many festivals, and to such varieties of attire and of ceremony? Whence came these? Were they not in England before the age of Cranmer and Wycliffe, and can their origin be at all mysterious ?* Yet the men who
* “We yield thee hearty thanks, most merciful Father, that it has pleased thee to regenerate this infant with thy Holy Spirit.” Common Prayer: Public Baptism of Infants.—“Alinighty and ever living God, who hast vouchsafed to regenerate these thy servants by water and the Holy Ghost, and hast given unto them forgiveness of all their sins,” &c. The Order of Confirmation.--" Our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath left power to his church to absolve all sinners who truly repent and believe in him, of his great mercy forgive thee thine
are thus conforming to the inventions of the apostacy in nearly all they do, must be revered as free from the least taint of popery, while by favouring the release of the Catholic from civil disability on account of his religious creed, the Dissenter is to be censured as exposing his country to the most fearful visitations of wrath! If national sins must be the theme, we would entreat our opponents to remember, that some three centuries ago this nation broke off its connexion with Rome, but retained a religious establishment, altered as little as might be from what it was while subject to the authority of the pontiff, and that this establishment, with all the imperfections of the sixteenth century upon it, this nation has maintained in nearly the same state until now, uninfluenced by the advances of science, and literature, and liberty, and religion ! This however is no national offence, for this no national judgment is likely to take place; but by admitting the Catholic to the place of a free citizen our country has done the deed for which there is no remission. Such infatuation should
offences: and by his authority committed to me, I absolve thee from all thy sins.” The Visitation of the Sick. There are those who believe that baptism is thus inseparable from regeneration ; that confirmation is in the same degree connected with a participation in the grace of the Holy Ghost; and that the priest is entrusted with the absolving power which the above form attributes to him; and they are not inconsistent in subscribing to such forms. But what are those persons to do who cannot persuade themselves that any one of these services is thus certainly or even generally connected with spiritual benefit? The answer is plain ;-they must bear the reproach of dissent, or profess a faith which they do not possess, and that on a subject which must annex the guilt of impiety to that of falsehood!
awaken pity rather than resentment. But if there be anything that can render indignation holy, it is the conduct of men who, having swallowed the camel, can thus strain at the gnat. I would only add as the sum of these exculpatory remarks, that if the Catholic Relief Bill be displeasing to the Head of the church, there are other and older provisions on our statute book which call for a heavier vengeance; and if Dissenters, in what they have done, have betrayed too favourable an opinion of the system of popery, it is not the English episcopalian who is entitled to become their censor.
We have more to apprehend from the popery of Protestantism than from popery itself. Let the men who call themselves Protestants be such, and the grave of the “ Man of Sin” must soon be prepared. And let it never be forgotten, that our life is inevitably linked with the destinies of others, so that we none of us live to ourselves, neither die to ourselves. If the effects of popery are degradation and ruin, we cannot become in any way its adherents, without becoming parties to that degradation and that ruin. And any system of religion, whatever be its name or its form, which really prevents the communication of good, or is the means of producing evil, if we adopt it as ours, brings upon ourselves the guilt incurred by the withholding of that good and the inflicting of that evil. In such cases, the question is, not how does the scheme operate with respect to an individual, or a small district; but what is its effect on the mass, and what is its influence