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clause, the military officers are obliged to receive the sacrament, as well as the civil. And it is a matter of some patience, to hear the dissenters declaiming upon this occasion : they cry they are disarmed, they are used like papists : when an enemy appears at home, or from abroad, they must sit still, and see their throats cut, or be hanged for high treason if they offer to defend themselves. Miserable condition! woful dilemma! it is happy for us all, that the pretender was not apprised of this passive presbyterian principle, else he would have infallibly landed in our northern parts, and found them all sat down in their formalities, as the Gauls did the Roman senators, ready to die with honour in their callings. Sometimes to appease their indignation, we venture to give them hopes, that in such a case, the govern
, ment will perhaps connive, and hardly be so severe to hang them for defending it, against the letter of the law; to which they readily answer, that they will not lie at our mercy, but let us fight our battles ourselves. Sometimes we offer to get an act, by which, upon all popish insurrections at home, or popish invasion from abroad, the government shall be empowered to grant commissions to all protestants whatsoever, without that persecuting circumstance of obliging them to say their prayers, when they receive the sacrament: but they abhor all thoughts of occasional commissions ; they will not do our drudgery, and we reap the benefit: it is not worth their while to fight pro aris et focis; and they had rather lose their estates, liberties, religion, and lives, than the pleasure of governing.
But to bring this discourse toward a conclusion: if the dissenters will be satisfied with such a toleration by law, as has been granted them in
England, I believe the majority of both houses will fall readily in with it; farther, it will be hard to persuade this house of commons, and perhaps much harder the next. For, to say the truth, we make a mighty difference here between suffering thistles to grow among us, and wearing them for posies. We are fully convinced in our consciences, that we shall always tolerate them; but not quite so fully that they will always tolerate us, when it comes to their turn; and we are the majority, and we are in possession.
He who argues in defence of a law in force, not antiquated or obsolete, but lately enacted, is certainly on the safer side, and may be allowed to point out the dangers he conceives to foresee, in the abrogation of it.
For, if the consequences of repealing this clause should at some time or other enable the presbyterians to work themselves up into the national church: instead of uniting protestants, it would sow eternal divisions among them. First, their own sects, which now lie dormant, would be soon at cuffs again with each other about power and preferment; and the dissenting episcopals, perhaps discontented to such a degree, as upon some fair unhappy occasion, would be able to shake the firmest loyalty, which none can deny theirs to be.
Neither is it very difficult to conjecture, from some late proceedings, at what a rate this faction is likely to drive, wherever it gets the whip and the seat. They have already set up courts of spiritual judicature in open contempt of the laws : they send missionaries every where, without being invited, in order to convert the church of England folks to Christianity. They are as vigilant as I know who, to attend persons on their
death-beds, and for purposes much alike. And what practices such principles as these (with many other that might be invidious to mention) may spawn when they are laid out to the sun, you may determine ať leisure.
Lastly, Whether we are so entirely sure of their loyalty upon the present foot of government, as you may imagine their detractors make a question, which however does, I think, by no means affect the body of dissenters; but the instance produced is, of some among their leading teachers in the north, who, having refused the abjuration oath, yet continue their preaching, and have abundance of followers. The particulars are out of my head; but the fact is notorious enough, and I believe has been published; I think it a pity, it has not been remedied.
Thus, I have fairly given you, sir, my own opinion, as well as that of a great majority in both houses here, relating to this weighty affair ; upon which I am confident you may securely reckon. I will leave you to make what use of it you please. I am, with great respect, sir,
OF THE SEVERAL ATTEMPTS, WHICH THE DISSENTERS OF IRE
LAND HAVE MADE, FOR A REPEAL OF THE SACRAMENTAL
BUMBLY INSCRIBED TO THL CONSORXING NOBILITY AND GENTRY IN IRE,
When the oath of supremacy was repealed, which had been the church's great security, since the second of queen Elizabeth, against both papists and presbyterians, who equally refused it, it let in such a current of dissenters into some of our corporations, as bore down all before them.
Although the sacramental test had been for a considerable time in force in England, yet that law did not reach Ireland, where the church was more oppressed by dissenters, and where her most sanguine friends were glad to compound, to preserve what legal security she had left, rather than attempt any new, or even to recover what she had lost: and in truth they had no reason to expect it, at a time when the dissenters had the interest to have a motion made and debated in
* This little tract was originally printed at Dublin in a periodi. cal paper called The Correspondent; and was annexed to the second edition of the Presbyterians' Plea of Merit : and, to make room for it, the Ode to Humphry French, Esq. (which stood in the first edition) was omitted in the second.-It may not be improper to observe, that it was answered, in “ A Vindication of the Prolestant Dissenters from the Aspersions cast upon them in a late Pamphlet, entitled, the Presbyterians' Plea of Merit, &c. with some Remarks on a Paper called The Correspondent, giving a pretended Narrative," &c.
parliament, that there inight be a temporary repeal of all the penal laws against them; and when they were so flushed with the conquest they had made in some corporations, as to reject all overtures of a toļeration; and, to that end, had employed Mr Boyse * to write against it with the utmost contempt, calling it " a stone instead of bread, a serpent instead of a fish.”
When the church was in this situation, the clause of the sacramental test was happily sent over from England, tacked to the popery bill; which alarmed the whole body of the dissenters to that degree, that their managers began to ply with the greatest artifice and industry, to prevent its passing into a law. But (to the honour of that parliament be it spoken) the whole body of both lords and commons (some few excepted) passed the clause with great readiness, and defended it afterward with
as great resolution. The immediate consequence of this law was the recovery of several corporations from the dissenters, and the preservation of others, to which the enterprising people had made very bold and quick approaches.
* The Rev. Samuel Boyse, a dissenting clergyman in Ulster, who had entered the lists upon the points of controversy between the Presbyterians and Church of England, and upon the Test Act. He was a native of Yorkshire, but settled in Dublin, wbere he died in 1728. His works are published in two volumes folio, in the same year.