« PredošláPokračovať »
Church has ever formed a part of the constitution of the country; she is the promoter of learning, the preserver of the splendid memorials of the piety of our ancestors ; she is now become the encourager of the arts; she “discharges many important duties besides those of her immediate vocation, and supplies what would otherwise be a chasm in the administration of public justice."
being imputed to me that I am hostile to the establishment in this country. You would wrong me by such an imputation; I have no unfriendly feeling towards it when it does not exceed it's constitutional limits; but as an Englishman, viewing with conscious exultation the proud pre-eminence of my country, founded on her free institutions; I execrate, with unfeigned reprobation, every attempt to trench upon the civil and political rights of the meanest individual in the community, be his oppressors who they may. And if a church establishment, of any form of worship, in any country, requires the sacrifice of the recognized rights of the subject, to uphold its power, in my opinion it cannot fall too soon. A Church distinguishing itself by the apostolical virtues of its leaders; by its abstractedness from earthly pursuits, and preaching peace and Christian concord, serves well the cause of good government, and might, not only with safety, but with great benefit, be closely allied to it. But establishments, like most other things, must stand each on its own merits; they may be blessings, or they may be curses." (Letter of Edward Blount, Esq. to a Protestant Gentleman ; published in the Catholic Miscellany, for February, 1828.
The property of the Church in the hands of laymen, or in possession of the sectaries, neither would nor could be half so advantageous to the country as it is now. I have already said why we have no wish to see it in our own. The sacrifice of the Church Establishment is, therefore, a sacrifice which we neither desire as Christians, nor as members of the State.(A) While in all this I deliver only the sentiments of an individual, at
(h) There is certainly some difference in the relative connection between the Church and the State, in Catholic and in Protestant England. In Catholic times, the Church was invariably the opposer of the encroachments of the crown, and, in many cases, the able and effectual supporter of the liberties of the people; whereas, the system of translating from one Bishopric to another, (a system which exists in no other Christian state) and which has been subsequently introduced, has entirely altered the character of the Episcopacy; by destroying its independance, and by depriving it of the power of throwing its weight where it might be serviceable to the interests of the country. But this is an abuse, which, great as it is, the crown has always the power to remedy. It is the Minister and not the Church, who is the greater delinquent; and we must hope to see the day when England shall
possess a premier, virtuous enough to overturn this system, which marks her prelacy as a dependant class, and which certainly is not calculated, either to promote dignity in the hierarchy, or respect towards it in the people.
the same time I believe that I speak those of the body to which I belong; at any rate I am sure that what I have said, I have said in the sincerity of my heart.
I have one word to offer upon à circumstance which is frequently advanced as a mark of the liberality of the times, and as a proof that the Question of Catholic Emancipation is now permitted to stand upon its own merits, and to be decided by the unbiassed judgment of the public. I mean the neutrality of the Cabinet; which has long been a mere delusion, sounding plausible in theory, but being absolutely contradicted in practice; since THE WHOLE of the Church patronage has ever been showered down solely upon the professors of ascendancy principles. For it cannot be supposed that it has all fallen by accident on those only, who see imminent danger to the establishment in equalizing the distribution of civil rights throughout the country, and of satisfying all classes of the people, that they have no longer any thing to fear from ecclesiastical tyranny. We know—and for the honour of the establishment be it said that individuals do exist in this kingdom in sufficient numbers, of irreproachable conduct, and of competent learning to fit them for the most elevated
order of the hierarchy, and yet believing that emancipation from civil thraldom would neither make Catholics nor dissenters more dangerous to the revenues of the Established Church; nay, who think that a generosity of conduct on her part, would altogether overcome the hostility of both. Is it therefore probable, that, while the existence of such men is known to all others, the first Lord of the Treasury alone should never be able to discover them? But, till he does accidentally light upon them, or rather, till every vacant see be filled with a liberal candidate until the episcopal bench be equally divided in opinion upon the question of emancipation, there can be no virtual neutrality in the Cabinet.
It is mere mockery to talk of the hopes of emancipation from the neutral qualities of the ministry, while we see every particle of Church patronage thrown with force into the scale against us, and while bigotry is still the chief climbing ladder to preferment; for it is now self-evident, that the Bishops, and the Bishops alone, are the bar to our success. We are confident it will soon appear that we have the House of Commons with us; we have a decided majority amongst the Irish members; we should even triumph in the Lords, if the bishops would but give us their six-and-twenty votes. We only ask them to repay in kind what twenty-six Catholic peers
so freely gave them, in 1661. They have enjoyed the fruits of this liberality for upwards of 150 years, without making any acknowledgment in return; and the repayment now,
instead of costing them any thing, would be a gain to them, as well as to us. It would assure them a firm and lasting support, founded on the solid basis of reciprocal generosity. As it is, they provoke us to hostility, not only by a violent and ungenerous opposition as spiritual peers, but as spiritual pastors, by deserting their duty to their own people, to attend to us, who belong not to them ;-they abandon their flocks to the wolf, while they go in pursuit of an imaginary foe; they put on the helmet instead of the mitre-seize the lance in lieu of the crozier-and the pulpit, which ought to breathe peace and charity, resounds with the angry notes of war and slander.
Would it not much better accord with the vocations of their ministry, to strive more earnestly against that torrent of crime and immorality which is gaining so rapidly upon the country, than to waste their energies, as they do now, in a mad crusade against Catholics? It is a notorious fact, that the hostility of that portion of the people who are opposed to us, is to be ascribed almost entirely to the influence of the clergy; the apathy of those who are indifferent, proceeds from ignorance of Irish and of Catholic affairs; while we have good reason