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the empire; which can never be true to herself, or great in the eyes of foreign states, till she cancels every trace of that barbarous code which has so long disgraced her statute book, and thereby drives that spirit of bigotry from the world, 'which has chosen England for her last and solitary haunt.
REMARKS ON THE BISHOP OF PETER
BOROUGH'S LATE CHARGE. The charge of the Bishop of Peterborough, delivered in July of last year, and printed at the request of his Clergy, having within these few days fallen under my observation, and conceiving it to be a document of importance at this juncture, I beg leave to offer the following observations upon it.
The Bishop observes that Roman Catholics are excluded from parliament “ not because they believe in Transubstantiation, but because they who believe in that doctrine, believe also that a foreign Potentate hath or ought to have jurisdiction in the dominions of his Majesty, King George.” His Lordship, however, does not show how this practical principle, as he calls it, affects the allegiance of Roman Catholics to their sovereign, or the exercise of their duties as civil members of the state. He does not state it openly, and I trust he does not
mean to insinuate that, in violation of their oaths, Roman Catholics acknowledge any but a purely spiritual jurisdiction in the sovereign Pontiff. Hence, we have not to prove that the jurisdiction of the Pope is only spiritual, but that this spiritual jurisdiction is not a practical doctrine, hostile to the liberties of those countries in which it is exercised, and incompatible with those civil duties which, as subjects, we owe the state. Now, if the doctrine itself be not considered a sufficient guarantee -- if the renunciation, by all Catholic Divines, of every iota of temporal sovereignty, either directly or indirectly, in the supreme head of the Church; and the duty of civil obedience to every form of government under which our lot may be cast, as inculcated by all Catholic moralists be not enough to satisfy the most timid and the most prejudiced; let us examine the machinery of this practical principle, and see how it works, and how it has worked, ever since the deposing power, (which was a temporal and not a spiritual power,) was abandoned by the general concurrence of Christendom. The spiritual authority of the supreme head of the Church neither entitles him to appoint to a single Bishopric, nor a single Curacy-gives him no power over any portion of the temporalities of the Clergy-nor any right to interfere with the discipline or government of any national Church : -- it only invests him with a
general superintendance over the Christian world, in spiritual concerns, and places him under an obligation, as far as in him lies, to see that the doctrines and morality of the Gospel are both preached and practised by his subalterns in the hierarchy. He rules not as a despot, but is compelled to regulate his conduct by the canons of the Church; he possesses no power of punishment, but that of suspension from the performance of spiritual functions ;--no power of removal from temporalities, but with permission of the sovereign, or commonwealth. In point of fact, I believe it to be true, that not a single instance is upon record, in any state, whether Catholic or Protestant, in which any inconvenience has arisen from the exercise of the spiritual supremacy of the Bishop of Rome. The Protestant states of Prussia, Holland, Hanover, Germany, Switzerland, &c. have all entered into a concordat with the Pope, for the exercise of his spiritual supremacy amongst their respective subjects. As well as Russia, they all retain accredited agents at the court of Rome ; leaving England a solitary example of the infraction of the common rules of propriety and courtesy, in the intercourse between civilized nations. We send ministers to the Turk and the Idolator, to the worshippers of the sun, and perhaps to the votaries of Juggernaut, while we esteem it a crime, worthy of punishment by the laws of the land, to hold any communica
tion whatever with the most ancient and most dignified sovereignty in Christendom!
But, to pursueourargument;—what is no treason in Prussia, Holland, or Hanover, cannot surely be treason in England. If the exercise of the spiritual supremacy of a foreign Potentate neither tarnishes the lustre of those crowns, nor impairs their authority, what is to infect it with it's blighting and destructive quality the moment it arrives within the atmosphere of the British Isles ? Does the Bishop of Peterborough suppose that his Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects in Hanover bear him a divided or qualified allegiance, because he has placed them upon an equality with their Protestant brethren, and legally permits the exercise of the spiritualsupremacy of the head of their Church amongst them? Or does such a supposition exist in the minds of any one of the Protestant sovereigns of continental Europe, who have all been wise enough to act with the same good sense and liberality? Are they not rather assured thereby, of the encreased affections and loyalty of their people, of the augmentation of their strength, and of the stability of their government? Are the same tried and sacred principles to be true every where else, and false only in England ? why are the feelings and dispositions of men to be regulated here by the laws of contrariety? Are wisdom, justice, prudence, benignity, and mercy, to be virtues in Germany, and
follies in Great Britain? While the experiment has been found to fail every where else, is England alone expected to thrive upon the heart-burnings, , jealousies, humiliations, and contentions, growing out of unjust and invidious legal distinctions between man and man? Are religious feuds and domestic strife to be the eternal, cherished, and hopeful inheritance of these realms? Is England, and only England, to be that cursed hot-bed of intolerance, which shoots up her rank and poisonous herbage, to the very infecting of the air we breathe!-It is absurd to attempt to explain it; and for this reason I suppose it is that the Bishop of Peterborough does not attempt to explain how a system of justice and liberality is to weaken the allegiance and alienate the affections of the people how this practical doctrine of the spiritual supremacy of the Pope is thus to run riot amongst Englishmen, while it passes soberly through the imaginations of the Dutch, the Prussians and the Hanoverians. Really it would seem to have become an axiom amongst us that, while the rest of the world were triumphantly advancing in the science of legislation, we were compelled, as a matter of duty, to retrograde, for the sake of preserving an example of the perverse fatuity of man: and, as if a period of almost unparalleled political embarrassment, together with the common ills of mortality, were not sufficient to torment us, that we