Obrázky na stránke

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,

Yours, &c.






LAND, 1731.

When the oath of supremacy was repealed, which had been the church's great security, since the second of queen Elizabeth, against both papists and presbyterians, who equally refused it, it let in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 periodical

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 Protestant 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, givin pres tended Narrative," &c.

parliament, that there might 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 toleration; 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, where he died in 1728. His works are published in two es folio, in

the same year.

It was hoped that this signal defeat would have discouraged the dissenters from any farther attempts against the law, which had so unanimously passed both houses; but the contrary soon appeared : for, upon meeting of the parliament held by the earl of Pembroke, * they quickly reassumed their wonted courage and confidence, and made no doubt but they should either procure an absolute repeal thereof, or get it so far relaxed, as that they might be admitted to offices of military trust: to this they apprehended themselves encouraged by a paragraph in his excellency's speech to both houses (which they applied to themselves) which was, " that the queen would be glad of any expedient, for strengthening the interest of her Protestant subjects of Ireland.”

The advocates for the dissenters immediately took hold of this handle ; and, in order to prepare the way for this expedient, insisting boldly upon their merit and loyalty, charged the church with persecution, and extolled their signal behaviour in the late revolution to that degree, as if by their singular prowess they had saved the nation.

But all this was only to prepare the way for the grand engine, which was forming to beat down this law; and that was their expedient addresses.

The first of this kind was, from a provincial synod of the northern dissenters, beginning with high encomiums upon themselves, and as high demands from the public, “ for their untainted loyalty in all turns of government, which,” they said, " was the natural consequence of their known principles;" expressions, which, had they been applied to them by their adversaries, must have been understood as spoken ironically ; and, indeed, to have been the greatest sarcasm imaginable upon them (especially when we consider the insolent treatment given to her late majesty in the very same address ;) for, immediately after they pass this compliment upon themselves, they tell her majesty, they deeply regret the sacramental test; and frankly declared, that neither the gentlemen nor people of their persuasion could (they must mean would) serve her, whatever exigencies might arise, unless that law was repealed.

* His lordship's viceroyalty commenced April 7, 1707.

The managers for the kirk, following this precedent, endeavoured to obtain addresses to the same purpose from the corporations; and though they proved unsuccessful in most, they procured them from our most considerable conforming corporations; and that too at a critical juncture, when numbers of Scotch Presbyterians, who had deserved well in the affair of the union, and could not be rewarded in England (where the test act was in force,) stood ready to overrun our preferments as soon as the test should be repealed in Ireland.

But, after all, when it came to a decisive trial in the house of commons, the dissenters were defeated.

When the managers found the house of commons could not be brought into that scheme of an expedient, to be offered by them ; their refinement upon this was, to move for an address, “ That the house would accept of an expedient from her majesty;" but this also was rejected ; for, by this project, the managers would have led the queen into this dilemma, either to disoblige the whole body of the dissenters, by refusing to name the expedient, or else to give up the con

« PredošláPokračovať »