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successive efforts for the recovery and maintenance of our religious and civil rights.
The REFORMATION of our Church, while it retained the primitive and apostolical form of Church government, restored to us the full and unrestrained use of the Scriptures, relieved us from many unscriptural doctrines and usages, delivered us from the horrors of the Inquisition *, gave us liberty of conscience and freedom of enquiry, and liberated us from the tyranny of a foreign jurisdiction, which not only usurped a supreme controul over our national Church, but, through its spiritual influence, often exercised an insolent domination over the civil rights of the King.
To our separation from the Church of Rome, we owe the inestimable privileges of our Protestant Establishment, which our ancestors guarded by penalties, restrictions, and disabilities, with an anxious solicitude to exclude from power the adherents of the Pope and of his Church. The penal statutes have been long abolished; and no other sestrictions and disabilities are retained, but up, by that
* Though there never was any permanent establishment in this country, called the Inquisition, its arbitrary power, with all its sanguinary consequences, was in full exercise in Mary's bloody reign,
what are necessary to the security of the Protestant Establishment. These barriers we are now called upon to throw very Church against which they were specially provided : and this is demanded without. any attempt to shew that the Church of Ronie has renounced, by any general council, or by any competent act of the Church, the right of jurisdiction over the Papists of this country, or any of those doctrines and
usages, which were the causes of our separation.
The danger of removing the disabilities of Papists did not cease with the life of the Pretender. These disabilities are not directed against an individual family, or individual person, but against all families and persons who hold the same disqualifying principles, and are subjects of the same foreign jurisdiction.
The repeal of these disabilities is not simply a measure of danger, but of destruction ; - immediate destruction to the present Constitution. For if Papists should become admissible to Parliament, and to the great offices of government, and to the Throne, (the removal of all disabilities, of course,
, admits of no restriction,) we should no longer have a Protestant Establishment. To abrogate the excluding statutes for the sake
of those, who are subject to the Pope's jurisdiction, is to acknowledge the supremacy of the Pope.
The removal of the disabilities, would not, indeed, put the Papists in immediate posses sion of the Throne, or the great offices of government, but it would give them the capacity of possessing them; and if such possession be subversive of our Constitution, can it be consistent with political prudence, or with justice to the great body of the Protestant community, to grant such capacity by the removal of the restraining disabilities?! ::
The for granting the
great argument Popish Claims' seems to be the increuse of the political strength of the empire. That increase itself is too problematical to justify the hazard of any great change in the Constitution. Bat what if the grant of these Claims should end in a great defalcation of our political strength ? What if it should end in the Popish ascendancy in Ireland, the extinction of Irish Protestantism, and the total separation of the two countries? The subject is of too great magnitude to dwell upon ; but the apprehension is not too improbable to be suggested.
Before the great sacrifice be made, whichi is demanded, it is but reasonable to consider, what great change has Popery undergone, which can justify this extraordinary transition froin our ancient dread and aversion to unlimited confidence and favour. Are there any symptoms of conciliation and concession in the opinions and conduct of the Popish Church, which should induce us to think, that her doctrines and usages are more scriptural, and her principles more friendly to Protestantism, than they were at the time of the REFORMATION ? We know that Popery has undergone no change whatever. Her doctrines of supremacy and infallibility are insuperable obstacles to all change. If, then, Papists be admitted to the highest offices of government, and to the throne ; and yet Popery continue, in all its disqualifying principles, what it was three centuries ago; to what purpose was our much honoured, much boasted, and blessed REFORMATION? What senseless enthusiasts must our Reformers have been in devoting themselves to the cruel sufferings, and painful deaths,
, which they endured ? Nay, of what enormous injustice was the Legislature guilty, in depriving of the honours and emoluments of the Ciurch the adherents of the Pope? But if' none of these things be so; if the Legislature was not unjust, in establishing the Protestant religion, and in providing for its security; if our Reformers were not senseless enthusiasts, but holy and undaunted martyrs to the Gospel, and to the independence of their country; and the Reformation, not a causeless separation, but a necessary vindication of the purity and simplicity of Christian worship, and of our ancient rights and privileges; we cannot but oppose the concession of Claims, which would extinguish all the fruits of the REFORMATION.
When we are asked what danger there can be in granting the Petition of the Papists, we might content ourselves with referring, for an answer, to the opinions of our brethren, the Irish Protestants, who have spoken out fully and feelingly on the subject, and whose patriotic and spirited example has contributed greatly to the activity and vigour of the Protestant cause.
When a Protestant argues against the Pope's supremacy, his fears are misunderstood, if they are supposed to attach solely or chiefly to the individual head of the Romish Church. He is afraid of violating constitutional principles-of infringing oaths repeatedly taken ;-of making hazardous ex