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serve the army and the navy ; we perform every civil duty demanded of us, and even ask leave to perform more. If this does not place us in a situation of civil relationship with the state, what can? It is not our fault that we do not serve our country as senators, &c., or hold offices of trust or power; if therefore we be deficient, it is bigotry and intolerance which make us so. If it was no crime in St. Paul, or in our Saviour, to dissent from the religion of the state, because they knew it to be false; it is no crime in us: and as long as the religion of the state requires us to forswear ourselves, before we can serve that state as senators, or in offices of trust and power, I am confident we are not wanting in our civil duty for refusing to do so. We do not ask for political rights as Roman Catholics, but we ask for them as good subjects of the king, as useful members of the state, and as fulfilling all the duties of civil relationship towards the government and the institutions of the country, of which the Protestant church-establishment is one. Neither do we ask, as the Bishop of Peterborough would imply, for offices of trust and power: these, the sovereign must always bestow or withhold at his pleasure. We ask only for those rights which belong to us in virtue of the constitution of our country,—for eligibility to office,- for those privileges which belong to our respective states,for that liberty to serve our fellow-subjects which
all others of our own class in the commonwealth possess :-in fine, for that, and that only, which we should enjoy, were we not Roman Catholics. Is it not, then, bigotry and intolerance to deprive us of our birth-right, not because we are bad subjects, but because we conscientiously differ from the religion of the state? It is much rather the opposers of emancipation that are deficient in their civil relationship to the government, by disfranchising many whom the constitution invests with senatorial rights ; by circumscribing the prerogative of the crown in the choice of its officers; and by defrauding the state of her intrinsic right to avail herself of the worth and talent of every individual member of her community.
While the accusation, therefore, will not stand, as far as it regards us, it applies with double force against our political opponents.
If, however, there be not bigotry in this, there is, at least, selfishness and injustice in the next position in which the Bishop places himself, as the enemy of the civil rights of Catholics. “And if the clergy,” says he, “in particular, have reason to apprehend that additional power conferred on the Roman Catholics, would endanger their own Church, they are surely entitled, without being branded as bigots, to petition the legislature against measures injurious to themselves.” This is a candid, manly avowal, doing equal credit
to the Bishop with the general temperance and propriety of his language, which forms so pleasing a contrast with the rhapsody and abuse which too often has been, and still is, poured out upon us by the dignitaries of the Established Church. I have long thought that the fancied danger to their own Church, and the risk of seeing “ themselves and their families reduced to beggary,” had, at least, an equal share in the very active opposition we met with from the prelates and ministers of the establishment, with the desire which they must necessarily have, as members of the “True Church, to support it for its own sake.” Are they not here acting the part of the chief priests and Pharisees, gathered together in council, and saying to themselves : “ What shall we do? if we let these men alone, all will believe in their doctrines, and they will come and take away our place and nation.”(1) If the property of the Church were only proportioned to its necessities, or if its surplus revenues were voluntarily applied, as formerly, to the erection and endowment of hospitals and colleges, and the establishment of other useful institutions, we could not fairly prefer an accusation of selfishness from the avowal of such a motive: we could only say it was unjust. For it is undoubtedly unjust to sanctify the means by the end, when
those means are a direct penalty upon one half of the population of the empire, and a visible deterioration of the well-being and prosperity of the whole state. Even supposing the premises to be true, that emancipation would endanger the temporalities of the establishment, it must surely be unjust to defend them by such means as these; but when, even in the opinion of their present possessors, it is only problematical, it amounts to tyranny and injustice of the very first order, to punish men for crimes, not only before they have committed them, but of which it is not known that they will ever be guilty. They might as well arrest every poor man in the kingdom, and throw him into prison, lest he should be tempted to rob his richer neighbour upon the first opportunity. But I trust to show, that, far from there being any reasonable ground of danger to the establishment from reinstating the Catholics in their civil rights, it would equally be our interest and our inclination to uphold the honours and temporalities of the Church of England.
In the first place, we most solemnly disclaim even the most remote idea of ever being repossessed of the temporalities of the church in these realms ; and in proof of the sincerity of this disclaimer, we state both the utter impossibility of the thing, and the probable inexpediency of it, even were it possible. It is impossible, from the
present state both of religious and political parties in the country. Supposing emancipation to introduce eight Catholics into the House of Peers, and ten or twenty into the Commons; what is this against hundreds ? Catholicity must indeed work by enchantment, to gain the ascendancy over such an opposing mass; at least it would be a novelty in the history of mankind. It is equally improbable that we should unite with the dissenters for the purpose of despoiling the establishment, and dispossessing “a party which,” it is said, “will then [when the cause of religious liberty shall be achieved] have lost its ascendancy, and have become a sect among sects.” The Bishop of Peterborough cannot surely be serious in asserting that as long as the establishment retains her temporalities, with the influence necessarily attached to them, together with the Universities, and her paramount political privileges, that she can ever fall from that immense ascendancy which she now enjoys over every other religion in the state. The only ascendancy she would lose, is a hateful lording it over all who presume to differ from her; an ascendancy which teaches her to insult and oppress those whom, in her fears, she fancies to be her enemies; an ascendancy that marks her for the scorn and pity of her victims. I am sure that every true friend of the establishment will acknowledge, that the sooner she falls from such an ascendancy as