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periments in politics, where the Constitution is the stake. The consequence of the concession, which he deprecates, is, that by abolishing the Protestant securities, and by the admission of Papists to Parliament, to high office, and the Throne, we shall no longer have a Protestant Constitution.
The question before the public is not a question of mere state policy. 'It involves the safety of Church and State. It affects the integrity of the Protestant Establishment, in which the Church and State are essentially united. In what did the REFORMATION consist, as far as Church goverňment was concerned ? In the rejection of the Pope's supremacy, and in restoring to the King the entire sovereignity of the realm, ecclesiastical and civil. The privileges, which the Papists claim, are indeed altogether political; but the restriction, which excludes them from those privileges, is wholly spiritual ; it is their acknowledgement of the spiritual sovereignty of the Pope. To grant, therefore, the Petition of the Papists, is to undo the great work of the REFORMATION; it is (immediately, in principle, and eventually, in fact,) to separate again the Church from the State, to recognize a power supe
rior to the State, and to dissolve the Pro. testant Constitution.
Great difficulties, therefore, attend thic very admission of this question as a subject of deliberation, by those, who have taken the oath of supremacy. They have sworn, that no foreign prelate hath, or ought to have, any jurisdiction, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm. Papists cannot take this oath, because they acknowledge the Pope's spiritual jurisdiction.
When we propose, therefore, for the sake of them, to dispense with this oath, what do we do? We recognise the jurisdiction which we have sworn does not (legally) exist. And when we take this dispensation into consideration, we deliberate about the propriety of allowing, what we have sworn ought not to be allowed.
In the difficulties, which attend this dispensation, we see, why in a Protestant government no equivalent substitute can be found for the obnoxious disabilities. Their obnoxiousness is the proof of their efficacy and necessity. There can be no proper substitute, which is not an equivalent. What is the effect of these disabilities at pr sent? They exclude all Papists from politici powr.
. Any substitute, therefore, which does not
answer this end, would not be an equivalent; a substitute which does exclude, would be no relief to the Petitioners.
Papists would readily take an oath abjuring the Pope's civil jurisdiction. They would abjure what has no existence in this country, (nor ever did exist, I
other country, except within the Pope's own temporal dominions,) instead of that, which, by their subjection to it, they shew does exist, but which the laws declare, (and which all who have taken the oath of supremacy, bave sworn,) ought not to exist. This country needs no security against the Pope's political sovereignty. It is the spiritual supremacy, which assumes the title of God's vice-gerent, which cancels covenants and promises, and annihilates public declarations; which arrogates to itself the sole right of interpreting the Scriptures; which excludes Protestants from the "6
pale of the Church, from all authority to preach the word of God, and from all share in the promises of Christ's heavenly kingdom.” Against such spiritual despotism the Constitution has provided by the oath of supremacy, for which Papists can find no equivalent, without renouncing their subjection to the Pope.
İt is said, indeed, that the Irish Papists have renounced the supremacy of the Pope. What portion of the Romish Church in Ireland this protest comprehends, does not appear. It is, perhaps, confined to some inconsiderable district. But if the whole body of Irish Papists were to declare themselves Protestants, as to the Pope's supremacy, such declaration, to be of any avail; , must be by some general act of the Church. Without some public, authentic, irrevocable act, the declarations of the present body of Irish Papists cannot bind their posterity, even of the next generation, nor even themselves, as is evident from the revocation of a similar declaration of the English Papists not many years since, and from some later transactions respecting what has been called the Veto, and still more recently from the acknowledgment of the Roman Catholic Prelates : “ As we are at present precluded from
intercourse with our supreme any Pastor, we feel ourselves utterly incompetent to propose or agree to any change in the long established mode of appointing Irish Roman Catholic Bishops. (Nov. 18. 1812.)"
It has been sometimes said, that the excluding statutes exclude only the conscientious Papist. It may be so.
The more conscientiously devoted to his Church any Papist is, the more hostile he must be to a Protestant Establishment. But who can say, that a Papist, who conforms to a Protestant Church, does it not from conscientious motives ? Conformity to the laws of our country is at least an act of civil virtue, which entitles the conformist to the privileges of the Constitution. And it is a virtue, which the conscientious recusant (however numerous his other virtues) has not. But if for want of this conformity he is excluded from such privileges, the exclusion is his own voluntary act.
It is said too, that the time may come, when the disabilities may be removed ; a change of circumstances may render them unnecessary. This seeems to be all delusion. . What change of circumstances can render them unnecessary? I know but one; the removal of their cause, -subjection to a foreign jurisdiction. Let the persons, who think themselves aggrieved, renounce this jurisdiction ; and become conformists to the
; Protestant Constitution of the empire; and their disabilities will cease of course. There will then bé no need of an act of Parliament for their relief. Till such change takes place, the excluding statutes can never be unneces