« EelmineJätka »
THE Roman Catholics petition for a removal of all disabilities, by which they are excluded from Parliament, and from the highest functions of the State. We answer, that the admission to political power, of any persons professing, as they do, suba jection to a foreign spiritual jurisdiction, is contrary to the Constitution,-and to every principle of national independence ; —that, in a Protestant government, it is contrary to all reason and justice that Papists should legislate for Protestants, and altogether inconsistent with the security of the established Church.
SEPARATION from the Church of Rome was the foundation of our present Protestant Constitution. The intrusive power of foreign jurisdiction, which had exercised its usurped
authority for near four centuries, was at end, The REFORMATION restored to the King the entire sovereignty of his kingdom, and to the people their religious liberties,
In the progress of the Constitution from the Reformation to the Revolution, the laws provided against the return of Popery, first, by imposing severe penalties on the public profession of that religion, and, secondly, by restraining Papists from the possession of political power. The great functions of the State, legislative, judicial, and executive, as well as the chief commands in the army, were to be filled by Protestants alone. The King is not only not to be a Papist, but, for the security of the Protestant succession, his marriage with a Papist is illegal and null. By the Act of Settlement, and the Oath of Abjuration, the Protestant Establishment in Church and State is fully secured.
The REFORMATION was founded on the exclusion of the Pope; the RevolutION, on the exclusion of his adherents and subjects. The Reformation was perfected by the Revolution.
In the course of the present reign all penal statutes have been repealed. Papists enjoy the utmost liberty of conscience. They are tolarated and protected in the undisturbed exercise of their religion. If they do not possess all the civil privileges of conforming subjects, it is because their non-conformity to the Constitution withholds them from them; it is because the foreign jurisdiction to which they are subject, is inconsistent with the laws of the land, and with the essential principles of a Protestant Constitution.
The great functions of the State are guarded by the Oath of Abjuration. Papists cannot take this oath, because they are subject to the Pope's jurisdiction, which all, who have taken the oath, declare does not (legally) exist in this country, and ought not to exist. They cannot, therefore, be admitted to the privileges, which they seek, without violating the Constitution, and the existing union between England and Scotland, and between Great Britain and Ireland, in both which acts of Union the security of the Protestant religion is expressly guaranteed.
The Petitioners demand to be re-admitted into the bosom of the Constitution. They never were within the pale of the present Constitution, of that Constitution, which, for more than a century, has been the glory of Britain, and the envy of all other countries. . Their principles are as much at variance with the Constitution, as heresy is with the Church. They cannot unite with it. The Petitioners, therefore, cannot be admitted to the privileges they seek, without altering the fundamentals of the Constitution,
If Papists were to be admitted to the privileges of the Constitution, without renouncing the Pope's supremacy, the great acts of Union must be dissolved, the Constitution must be renewed, the Reformation re-formed and undone.
And what is the equivalent, which they offer for these important sacrifices ?-Nothing: absolutely nothing, but what as loyal and grateful subjects they already owe to. their country,—their talents and their services. Their amplest services are due to their country for the protection, which it affords them in the liberty of person,
of property, and of religious worship. Do they profess to have renounced, or do they offer to renounce, the obnoxious foreign jurisdiction, and
any of those other weighty differences between the two Churches, which caused our separation from the Church of Rome? Do
they not rather avowedly declare their Church to be unchangeable? We know that, without a public, general, and irrevocable act of the Church, and without the authority of the bishop of Rome, no change can take place Viewing, then, the Church of Rome in the same light in which our Reformers saw it, can we forget that the Reformation was not a . mere political change? Can we be so lost to the evils of Popery, as not to see, that, by admitting Papists to political power, we not only violate the Constitution, but contribute to the advancement of a system, which is adverse to the truth of the Gospel, and to the purity of religious worship.
We are told, indeed, that religion has nothing to do with the question respecting the claims of the Petitioners. Religion is certainly very deeply concerned with this question on their account as well as ours : on ours, because every religious consideration which made the Reformation necessary
* See the “ Address from the Roman Catholic Prelates to the Clergy and Laity of the Roman Catholic Churches in Ireland,” (Nov. 18, 1812.) quoted in the Bishop of Gloucester's Letter to Lord Somers, p. 160;--and given at large in the Protestant Adrocate for January, page 205, and in Detector's Refutation of the Second Part of the Statement of the Penal Laws, &c. Dublin, 1813.