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Liberty of conscience, and the rights of conscience, are sacred things, and, in this country, are held in deserved veneration. But even conscientious scruples may be unfounded ; and, in that case, however they may be entitled to tenderness and respect, in one party, they afford no ground of acquiescence to others, who differ from them, especially where important interests are concerned. Our Roman Catholic brethren have scruples of conscience, which forbid their entire conformity to the British Constitution, and induce them to acknowledge a foreign spiritual jurisdiction ; and, on account of these scruples, they petition Parliament to dispense with the established laws of the realm, laws enacted for the security of the Protestant Establishment in Church and State, When these scruples, therefore, are placed in the balance against constitutional laws, it becomes those, who are disposed to favour such scruples, to consider seriously, whether they are founded or not.
We cannot do this more impartially, than by a careful examination of the reasons, which Papists themselves allege for their non-conformity to the Protestant Religion. If it can be made appear that their reasons for adhering to the supremacy of the Pope, and for not conforming to
the Protestant Religion, are groundless ; and that the differences between the Churches of England and of Rome are much greater than some imagine, who think favourably of the Popish Petition ; it will follow, that the Petitioners are not entitled to the exemptions, and the privileges, which they claim.
In the following pages the members of the Church of Rome are distinguished by the term Papist, because it is their appropriate name, and marks the chief ground of their non-conformity; and because the term Catholic belongs to all Christians, who adhere to“ the faith once delivered to the Saints," und have one Lord, one faith, one baptism ; as is evident from the testimony of Ignatius, who was a contemporary of the Apostles. “ Wherever Christ is,” that is, wherever Christ is worshipped, “there is the Catholic Church."*
* Epist. ad Smyrnæos, $ 8. Ignatius defines the Church by its form of government ; the Catholic Church by consent in doctrine. Of the latter he says, in the passage above translated, ónou a v mng (for Antiochus has ovouco.In) Exel Ý καθυλικη εκκλησια. .
of the former : χωρις τουτων (επισκοπου, πρεσβυτερων, διακονων) εκκλησια ου καλειται, ωthout a Bishop, Priests, and Deacons, there is no Church, or without them the name of Church is not given to any society of Christians. (Ad Trall. § 3.) To the same purport are the following passages of the same Father: είς επισκοπος άμα των πρεσβυτερια και διακονοις. (ad Philadelph. $ 4.) Το επισκοπω προσεχετε και τω πρεσβυτερια και διακονοις. (ibid. $ 7.) ο χωρις επισκοπου και πρεσβυτεριου και
πράσσων τι, ου καθαρος εστι τη συνειδησει. . (ad Trall. $ 7.) The lavguage of Tertullian is equally definite. (De Baptismo, c. xvii.)
A POTESTANT'S REASONS For the Independence of the Ancient British Church,
1. St. Peter possessed no supremacy over the rest of the Apostles; therefore the Church of Britain, established by St. Paul, was independent of St. Peter,
2. St. Paul says of himself, “that he had the care of all the Churches" of his own foundation; and therefore the Church of Britain was dependent on him, and not on St. Peter.
3. The Bishoprick of Rome was established jointly by St. Paul and St. Peter, after St. Paul's return from Britain; and therefore the Church of Britain was prior to, and independent of, the Church of Rome.
4. The Church of Britain was established before the Bishop of Rome had any authority beyond his own Diocese; and therefore was independent of the Church of Rome,
5. In the fourth century, Jerome declared the Churches of Rome and Britain to be ejusdam meriti et Sacerdotii, of the same condition, and merit, and pastoral authority.
6. The Church of Britain was subsisting in the fifth and sixth centuries, when Britain ceased to be a part of the Roman empire; and therefore was independent of the Church of Rome,
7. The Bishop of Rome derived the title and power of Universal Bishop from an emperor in the seventh century; and therefore the Church of Britain was independent of the Church of Rome, prior to the existence of such power,
8. The Bishop of Rome attempted to establish ą spiritual jurisdiction over the Church of Britain in the seventh century, which the British Bishops indignantly rejected; and therefore the Church of Britain was independent of the Church of Rome,