Obrázky na stránke

vicissitudes of things, it should be her fate to fall, she would at least fall with honour and regret ;

plicable to the relief of the Dissenters, or what argument it is that can be advanced in their behalf, which will not apply to Catholics with double force. Will those who assert the contrary, avow the motives upon which they acted? It was said, I believe, that the grievances of the Dissenters were imaginary ; that they only asked to hold that de jure, which they had long enjoyed de facto; and, therefore, that there was no longer any thing to concede. But why, after looking upon the question in so very dif. ferent a light for so many years, did they, all of a sudden, conceive it to be necessary to grant the prayer which they had so long refused? Why were the Dissenters to have de jure, what they had so long held de facto ? If it were not upon the principle of justice and sound policy ; if it were not upon the principle that civil distinctions on account of religious opinions were incompatible with the spirit of the times, and inimical to the best interest of the country, we must look to some other accounting cause ; and in so doing, we can see nothing to which to ascribe this mighty change, but to the magical effect of a just and powerful intimidation. That ministers, and men who had for years strenuously opposed every adjustment of these claims, should, by the force of a strong majority against them, suddenly discover the propriety of granting de jure, what they had so long declared ought not to be conceded upon that title; and that right reverend and learned prelates, with their attention continually turned to the subject by the very nature of their daily avocations, should only then see for the first time, the guilt of sacri

[ocr errors]

at present she would meet her ruin deservedly and unlamented; and as long as the question be,

lege and profanation in what had so long been passing under their own eyes as a harmless pastime, must be attributable to some very novel and all-powerful cause; a cause which had no immediate connection with the general question of religious liberty. Surely, it was not that they suddenly discovered that the Dissenters were, and ever had been, more exemplary for their loyalty and attachment to both king and state, than their Roman Catholic fellow-subjects ! Surely, it was not that these religionists had taken a retrograde movement in their doctrinal belief, and had made approaches towards the 39 articles! No; it was the unconquerable spirit of these men that dissipated prejudices, that taught wisdom to folly, and liberality to bigots; that overwhelmed every opposing power, and rendered resistance fruitless.

Such, too, ere long, will be the effect of that formidable and undaunted front which Ireland now presents to her enemies. Hitherto, the ascendancy faction has ever taken a most ungenerous advantage of the tried and deep-rooted integrity and loyalty of the men, whom they are ever ready to vilify as possessed with a spirit of outrage and rebellion, that only seeks for an opportunity to revenge her wrongs. I know of no feature in the whole history of their insolence and oppression, which throws a darker shade over their conduct, than this hypocritical denunciation of the existence of a state of things, in which if there had been any truth, they had never dared to pursue their tyranny and injustice to the extremities to which they have done; or having pursued it, which would not have produced

[ocr errors]

whether the Church of England shall perish, or seven millions of the king's subjects be emancipated from civil thraldom, we shall not hesitate to exclaim, Fiat justitia, ruat cælum.As the established religion, like the Greek schism, began by a simple act of separation, so, saving this exception, has she deviated less widely from the parent church than any other, and so, in proportion, will she find the professors of the ancient faith more ready and willing to defend her, when they can do so with advantage to the country, and with honour to themselves : they are now the most numerous of

very different consequences. Let them learn, however, that no system of unjustifiable coercion, especially one which offends the sensibilities of a highly-gifted and generous people, can long be pushed to extremities without recoiling upon its authors. Though the people of Ireland may not have power to slay and to conquer, they may yet have strength enough to pull down the temple upon our heads as well as upon their own. A wise government would not provoke them to it.

() “ What is it but the consciousness of injustice, or the innate weakness and inconsistency of any church, which can require in the present times that she be fenced in with laws and terrors, and rendered secure, not by her own truth and virtue, but by the oppression and humili. ation of those who refuse to bow down and worship her like some golden calf. Let the church perish that thrives by oppression, and visits with temporal penalties the consciences of men !!”—(Reply to Dr. Magee.)

[merged small][ocr errors]

herenemies, and may be easily transformed into the most powerful of her friends. But if she is obstinately bent upon her present course of injustice, at least let her cease to make us the victims of calumny and misrepresentation; for it is calumny and misrepresentation alone that have reduced us to what we are. As credulity is one of the prevailing weaknesses of human nature, it is no wonder that the unjust accusations of our enemies should have been so successful in deceiving ;—that, while our religion remains pure and untainted as when it emanated from the revelations of heaven, it should be condemned by the credulous and the ignorant as superstitious and idolatrous;(()—and that, though we remain as loyal members of the state as when we enjoyed our inheritance in full, we should be regarded as the disaffected and ill-omened of the creation. It is through interested defamation, working upon extravagant fears, that we have been brought to this, that almost all who speak of us, deride and insult us—all who write of us, calumniate us—all

[ocr errors]

re) See a few specimens of the hideous calumnies in vogue against us, in the 32nd Letter of The End of Religious Controversy; calumnies which have reached the cottages of the poor as well as the houses of the rich, and which no one can read without blushing to belong to the religion of the men who propagated them, or to the society of Christians who receive and believe them : and they are still to be met with in almost every publication of the day.

who read of us, or hear of us, imbibe the poison, and reject the truth. How many, by the abuse of Catholicity, have paved their road to preferment both in church and state ; and have found ample gain in so disgraceful a traffic. How many prelates have forfeited the title of CHRISTIAN by their anti-christian illiberality! How many statesmen have abandoned their dignity and honour by prostituting their talents in the cause of cruel and unjustifiable oppression! But at the same time that we find many to condemn, it is a pleasure to find others to commend. How illustrious are those many virtuous and patriotic senators, who have scorned to be any thing but the honest advocates of religious toleration ;-how benign amongst his colleagues is that venerable member of the Prelacy, who, in the true spirit of a Christian bishop, has ever known how to unite charity and benevolence with a dissent in religious tenets—who is now calmly journeying to the grave, eminent in wisdom and virtue, and who, when he is removed from amongst us, will, perhaps, leave Charity to seek in vain for another associate amongst the hierarchy of the establishment. Would to God

(2) That charitable and benevolent individual, who a few years ago so laudably signalized his zeal, and exerted his talents in the cause of religious unity and peace, also bears most ample and liberal testimony in our favour. “

By the reflecting members of the Church of England,” says this

« PredošláPokračovať »