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In the same strain of reasoning, it is at 1 and respectable from its situation ; but I tempted to be shown that the Protestant wish to see it stand on any other ground Dissenters are indifferent to their present than on the narrow basis of exclusion. I wish situation, and consequently to the repeal to see it rely upon any other prop than upon of these acts. Now, Sir, I should have the feeble one of persecution. Let others, if thought that the petitions laid upon your they please, shew their zeal for the Estabtable, if not unequalled in numerical quan- lishment, by supporting it with arguments tity, but such as have been rarely surpassed connected with intolerance. I will shew byliberality of sentimentand in unity of pur- mine by endeavouring to wipe off those pose, would have been a sufficient answer blots that deface it, and which are at once to this objection ; but if there had not derogatory to its honour, its interests, and been a single petition laid upon your table, its strength. I still must have argued, that no English- These Sir, are the principle reasons, man could have sat down contentedly however imperfectly expressed, which have under such a deprivation of his rights; and induced me this night to come forward in if that argument were true, as applied to support of the motion of the noble lord. Englishmen in general, with how much What will be the conduct of those gentlegreater force must it not come when it men who have uniformly shown themselves refers to a body of men not the worst edu- averse to make any concessions to the seccated in the community, and who have taries, it is not difficult for me to anticiever shown themselves the friends to the pate. But there are some honourable liberties of their country; at times, too, gentlemen, I am told, who are friendly to when those liberties were forgotten and the Catholic question, and who now refuse perhaps betrayed by churchmen?
to listen to the prayer of their Protestant There are some gentlemen who are un- brethren. How they are to reconcile this willing to repeal these acts because they to their professions of liberality, it is for say, they know not what will be the them to explain. From all that has fallen next concession required of them. This from me this night, it cannot be doubtful is a singular argument. What! will you to those who have done me the honour to lisrefuse that which is proper, because you ten to me, that I must be a friend to that may perhaps be asked for what is un- great cause, whether as regarding the pereasonable? Will you refuse to pay a culiar interests of Ireland, or rather with just debt, because your creditor may af- reference to the great principles of general terwards be induced to commit a robbery toleration. But I have yet to learn how upon you? I know not what may be the the liberation of one body of men is to be ultimate object of the sectaries : I am effected by rivetting the chains of another. not in the confidence of their committees On the contrary, I think that every step or associations. I know them only by we make this night will be in favour of the casual intercourse of society; but this Ireland-every advance we make for the I know, that were I a Dissenter, I should relief of the Dissenters will be so much never cease to knock at the doors of the gained in the great cause of Catholic emanconstitution till they were thrown widely cipation. Break but once through the open to me; and I should never cease to line of bigotry and prejudice, and the raise my voice until I was placed upon a victory is our own. perfect equality with the rest of my fellow- I must now call the attention of the countrymen.
House to a part of this subject which I own Now, let it not be inferred from any I approach with something like fear and thing I have said this night, or, if I may reverence, but one which I trust will never take the liberty of saying so, from any be deemed incompatible with the duties, thing that has fallen from the noble lord nor alien from the feelings, of a British below me, that we are hostile to, or indif- House of Commons. That there is a reliferent to, the interests of the church. gion of an origin and character infinitely Whatever might be my opinion upon a more sacred than those which I must call review of the abstract question, I have no human establishments in the world, and hesitation in declaring, that in this country which are, in fact, but forms, and modifian establishment is essential for the pre- cations of this original religion, is a truth servation of order, morality, and religion. which will hardly be disputed by the warmI wish to see an establishment high and est advocate for Church and State. If, respected; respected from its own conduct, I then, there is such a religion as the one which I have described, the common jects, but regarding it as equi source, and mother of all the different ing to all christians and as a sects which diversify the Christian world, great career of religious lib something to which we ought all to ap- give my most zealous suppor peal, amidst our differences and our dis- tion of the noble lord.
In giving that cords, our sects and our systems, I should yote I trust that I shall this night have be glad to know from any candid professor the happiness to see a decisive blow given of that holy religion, whose ideas are not to that system of laws, which has long been too far secularized by a connection with the reproach of this country and à disthe state, how that can be useful to the grace to the enlightened age in which we offspring, which is hurtful to the parent; live-- a system of laws useless for any good how that can be advantageous to the Church purpose, impotent to protect, to defend of England, which is destructive to Chris- or to save-- powerful only to irritate, to hatianity itself.— I would further wish to ask rass and oppress, and which, in point of fact, him, whether he thinks that it can be has a devout tendency to produce the very deemed conformable to the principles of evil, and to create the danger, which it that religion to make that ceremony which affects to control. ought to be the bond of union and affec- Sir R. H. Inglis rose and said: tion among mankind, the very ground and I approach, Sir, the consideration of this symbol of their differences. I would ask great question with the same distrust of him, whether it be pious to make the myself, but with the same confidence in holiest rite that can subsist between man my cause, which, on his part, the noble and his Creator the stepping-stone of am- lord—my noble friend, if I may so call bition, of avarice and of vanity—whether him-has felt and expressed in submitting it be decent
his motion to you. I shall be very happy, “ To make the symbol of atoning grace,
if I can carry to the discussion of it the An office key, the pick-lock of a place." same talent and temper which he has disIt has been said, in opposition to this played. view of the question, that there is no greater Sir, in the history of the acts in quesobjection to make the sacrament the test tion, and in the history of the attempts of civil qualification, than to make an oath successively made to repeal them, I am the test of truth. Whatever apparent not disposed to differ much from my noble resemblance there may be between these two friend; except that I do not think that he cases, on further examination we shall find has quite done justice to the character and that there is no analogy whatever between earnestness of Walpole in pursuit of the them, and that nocommon inference is to be same object which he himself has now in drawn from them. An oath is the best view; since Walpole was clearly not conpossible mode of securing the truth, and tent to rest in the failure of his first enwell adapted for the purposes of its in-deavours to procure the repeal of them, stitution. I do not mean to say but that but renewed those endeavours in the year by our present system of legislation, oaths 1736, and quarrelled with one who, on have been so much multiplied as to render other points, had been among his greatest them in many instances inefficacious, but supporters, because, in this instance, he they could not have been appointed for opposed him. This, however, is a minor any other object than for the adjustment of point, which it is scarcely necessary to human differences. Will any one pre- notice. tend that this was the object of the ordi- I proceed, then, at once, to the consi-nation of the holy sacrament, or that it deration of the real question: Are the is not a profanation of its purpose to restrictions, the repeal of which is now reconvert it to the uses to which it is daily ap- quired, restrictions on the natural rights plied? If we must persecute, if we must of man? The passage in the noble lord's indulge that wicked instinct of our nature, speech, in which he insisted on this posilet us, in God's name, refrain from the tion, was much cheered by the House, or use of such means and of such an instru- rather by those who sat more immediately ment as ought at least to be secure from around him; and, in fact, it is on this such unholy contamination.
ground that much of what we hear elseConsidering, then, this question not where, or see in the petitions, much of merely as one designed to relieve a great what the noble lord, much of what the and deserving body of his majesty's sub- hon. gentleman who last addressed you,
have urged, mainly rests. On this ground, I tion then follows, what preference of those therefore, I will first meet the question. belonging to that establishment, what exLet me say, in the first instance, that, on clusion of others, may be necessary to its this, as on a somewhat similar subject, I preservation? I am very willing to admit should feel ashamed to resist, on the mere that the least degree of exclusion, the ground of expediency, a claim which any lightest restraint, which can meet and saman, or any body of men, could urge as tisfy that object ought to be imposed. a matter of right and justice. It is be. But some exclusion, some restraint,' is incause I do not see any such right or jus- separable from the idea of the public and tice in the present case, that I resist the recognized establishment of a Church. motion of my noble friend. Sir, the The question, in the present case, is not question of power is one of pure unmixed-let it ever be recollected — whether expediency: no man has an abstract right this connexion of church and state be to it: power, as Burke has stated it, is or be not desirable in the abstract : with the creature of society: when once esta- us that question is already decided. We blished, indeed, its sanctions are from a are not legislating for a new country; we higher source: but, in the beginning it is are not forming a constitution for New not like the right of life, or of liberty, Zealand. We possess a church estaoriginal and absolute, but it is the arbitrary blishment inseparably connected with our and artificial arrangement of men, modi- state : and that establishment and that fied and distributed in different ages and union we are bound to maintain : countries in every possible variety of com
Spartam nactus es, hanc orna: bination. No one can, by nature, independently of the conventions of society, I am to consider, then, whether, in the claim a right to govern his fellow men. view of preserving the Church, more grievThe question, therefore, whether any man ous restraints are imposed on those who or any body of men, ought to be eligible dissent from it, than the necessity of the to power is a question of pure expediency, case requires. And here I cannot but renot of justice; and such power may be mark the extraordinary fact, that, for regulated by sex, by age, by property, or thirty-six or thirty-seven years there has by opinions, without any wrong to any hardly been uttered one complaint to parone's natural claims. Sir, it is the highest liament on the subject of these restraints. right, and the first duty of every man, to It is true, that they now occupy a very worship God according to his own con- considerable space in the petitions upon science; and God forbid that any man the table: but I cannot help thinking, should be compelled to worship in one that the silence, with which they had been way, or be prohibited from worshipping treated for more than an entire generation, in another, by any despotism of society: is a strong proof, that practically the but I repeat it, a man's opinions may just grievances are not so great as for the puras reasonably as the measure of his pro- poses of argument they are represented. perty exclude him from power: and, The substance of those grievances is embotherefore, the question is still left one of died in a statement industriously circulated, mere policy, upon which men equally con- called the “ Case of the Dissenters;" and scientious
may well arrive at different con- here I was surprised to observe, that the clusions.
last rejection of their claims which is Some established opinions every govern- therein noticed is described as carried ment, in every age, and in every country, by only twenty against them; leaving an with one single and late exception, has re- inference as if this House were nearly dicognized and enforced. Some established vided in opinion when the question last came form of religion there has ever been in before them: but what was the fact? The every other civilized state:-all reason, all division stated took place, indeed, in 1789, experience, all history, ancient and modern, but in 1790 the question was again brought the United States of America alone ex- before the House ; and was lost by a divicepted, justify such a measure on the part sion of two hundred and ninety to one of every government. Now, the very idea hundred and five, Mr. Pitt and Mr. Burke of an authorized religion implies some voting in the majority. preference. I cannot conceive how an To return to the point. The silence of establishment can exist without some spe- the Dissenters since that time may ly cial protection and preference. The ques- be considered as a proof, that the griesances under the Test and Corporation Laws | all neglects. The original laws are kept were not much felt; were not, in degree, so in existence, to be enforced only when excessive as they are now described to be. some great necessity shall arise : 'no one
I come, then, to the mode, the particu- wishes to enforce them on the one side ; lar Test, applied by these Laws for the and no great body of men, I should have purpose of securing the Church. And thought, felt them a grievance on the here let me say, that those who object to other. They are at the same time the the mode, and who do not profess to ob- power which the constitution of England ject to the purpose, ought perhaps them- keeps in her own hand to protect the selves to propose a substitute. I will, how- Church and herself, whenever such a comever, consider the Test actually adopted. bination of circumstances shall again arise I own, that I think bishop Sherlock's de- as that which, two centuries ago, overfence of it is in theory, at least, unanswer- threw the altar and the throne, the able. Receiving the Sacrament is not the Church and the State, in one common dequalification ; but the evidence of qualifi- struction. cation, namely, the evidence of being a Against the recurrence of these dangers member of the Church of England. The the laws in question were framed. SomeChurch requires all her members to re- thing has been said by the noble lord, and ceive the Holy Communion three times still more by the hon. member who seevery year; and the law requires only, conded the motion, and something also by that you should give evidence of having the hon. gentleman who has just set down, done that which your own Church has al- on the "wisdom of our ancestors ;" a ready required you to do, whether you topic often introduced, on late occasions, take office, or not : the constitution as- with a sneer. It seems, indeed, the best, suming that you are a member of the because it is the most frequent, joke of Church, or, at least, not so hostile to it, as those who use it. Now, Sir, I am willing to refuse communion with it.
to admit, that, in physical science, new As to the profanation of the rite, I and improved views are every day opening thank my noble friend for the manner in on mankind : but in moral science, and which he treated this part of the subject. even in the arts of governing men, I am In the tone of his reference to it, he yet to learn that we are superior to our has set us all an example which I take the ancestors. The foundations of all moral liberty of saying we shall all do well to truth were laid in a revelation not of yes. imitate. Profanation is not necessarily, I terday. The principles of political gohope not frequently, connected with this vernment are to be found in the great autest: at any rate the abuse is not in itself thors of antiquity. No where can you an argument against such a test, any more find more intimate knowledge of human than perjury is an argument against oaths. nature in society, than in the ten first In practice, the test is seldom enforced. books of Livy, in Tacitus, and in ThucyIt has been repealed by law in respect to dides; and in respect to the Institutions the more numerous classes to which it of our own country, I am content with once applied ; and in respect to others, is the principles of the constitution, as escovered by the act of indemnity: In a tablished at the Revolution. I do not county with which the noble lord and I desire to be a better Whig than lord are particularly connected, the whole num- Somers; and I am surprised at the way ber of persons who have qualified since in which the descendants of his great the accession of the present king is only associates speak of the wisdom which twenty-three. I speak of the county only, established the safeguards of our present and not of the corporation. That num- constitution. ber includes all members of the Church The Dissenters of the present day enjoy of England of course : whether any per- the fullest rights of conscience : and I sons of the twenty-three felt it to be a vio- i am willing to admit that there is nothing lation of their consciences to take the sa- in their overt acts from which I apprecrament according to the Church of Eng- hend any danger. With some of them land, I have no means of knowing; but I am intimate, for many more I have the whole number is so small, as to prove, the highest respect; but it is perfectly at any rate, how little the evil can be, in clear, that the principles of Dissenters that quarter at least.-- In fact, the act of conscientiously opposed to the Church, indemnity relieves all scruples, as well as can never give the same undivided allegis ance to the constitution in church and excluded by law from all offices in the state which a churchman does. The state, civil and military. principles, if carried to the same extent The hon. baronet had taken for granted as formerly, would produce the same re- two material points that remained to be sults. The laws which restrain Dissen- proved: first, that our constitution, in ters are, and will ever be, left inopera- church and state, required protection ; tive, so long as those principles slum- and, secondly, that such protection would ber also : but I think that they should be afforded to it by the exclusion in quesbe retained for the purpose of being tion. The hon. baronet had, indeed, said, exerted in extreme cases, if such should that although he would not consent to the ever arise. In fact, a richly-endowed repeal of the Test and Corporation acts, he Church, with all its privileges and im- did not object, in ordinary times, to the munities, will always be an object of passing of the act of Indemuity, by the jealousy to those who differ from it: provisions of which the Dissenters were but, connected as it is with the consti- protected from the penalties of the law; tution, the state is bound to protect it but that to guard against the recurrence against any dangers from any quarters. of events, which in former times had overDangers will always exist : and, if the whelmed both church and state, it was present disabilities were removed, and Dis- necessary and fit, that the power should be senters placed on the fullest equality as retained to put the law in execution, when to power with the Church, some new a change of circumstances might require question, perhaps of property, would it. This, then, was the boasted indemnity immediately be started, on which new of the Dissenter, that he was to be safe struggles and new dangers would arise. from those dreadful penalties, only as The question of tythes would probably long as the dominant party in the state come: and, as we should have followed should be of opinion that the enforcing of the example of America in giving no pre- those penalties was not necessary for their ference to any Church, we should be called own security. See the situation of the upon to follow it further, and to enact Dissenter, who was told by some of those that no man should pay any thing to any who oppposed his claims, that he suffered pastor but his own [hear, hear). I accept no practical grievance, for that he was, the cheer of the hon. member for Mon- and would continue to be, protected by trose as a proof that my inference is cor- the act of Indemnity, annually renewed; rect; that there are those who would go whilst others, of which number was the 80 far.-No, Sir, differences must always hon. baronet, told him, that the protection exist; and the removal of the present of him (the Dissenter) depended on this matter of grievance will only bring the whether or not the ruling power should at discontent one step nearer. I therefore any time consider, that the conduct, not prefer that the contest shall still continue of the individual himself, but of his party, about the out-works, and that we should continued to be such as to entitle him to not surrender them, because I am too indemnity, or subject him to punishment. sure that, in that case, we should have to The hon. baronet had said, that it was fight for the citadel.
extraordinary, if the Protestant Dissenters Mr. Fergusson said, that, during the had any practical grievance to complain greater part of the speech of the hon. of, that their voices had not been heard baronet, who had just sat down, he had within the walls of that House for the reckoned on his vote in favour of the mo- space of thirty-seven years.
But under tion of the noble lord; for he had not what circumstances was it, that the Disthought it possible, until the hon. member senters had ceased to urge their claims behad so declared it, that setting out as he fore that House and the public. In the did by laying it down as a principle, that years 1787, 1789, and 1790, they on three the question was one of political expedi- different occasions attempted to awaken ency, and admitting that the least possi- the legislature to a sense of the justice of ble restriction should be put upon the Pro- their claim. On Mr. Beaufoy's second testant Dissenters, that was consistent with motion in May, 1789, the question was the public security, and the protection lost by a small majority, 22 only; but on which was due to the religion of the state, Mr. Fox's motion, in March, 1790, the the hon. baronet should come to the con- majority had increased to 189. Importclusion, that the Dissenters ought to be ant events had occurred in the interval