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a certificate so signed could not fail to be successful. But, as my information goes, " the king's two librarians, and many church dignitaries came to vote against him," and he was rejected, even by a majority of the votes, when onethird would have been sufficient. Unfortunately, he was known to be not only a friend of mine, but to have been active in the measures to procure a repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts, and was sent to London as a delegate from the Dissenters in a northern county. Had my own election been depending, it would certainly have met with the same fate. I will venture, however, to say, that had the clergy looked through the three kingdoms, they could not have found an abler man to put an affront upon. It therefore shews, what is much to Mr. Madan's purpose, the superiority of those who oppose the repeal of the Acts in question over those who desire the repeal, not only in the House of Commons, but even in the Royal Society.*
On the idea of the claims of the Dissenters being unjust, and their principles unfavourable to the constitution of this country, Mr. Madan now justifies the very harsh epithets he gave us in his Sermon, and also because “ in the Scriptures themselves," as he says, “ many strong accusations are alleged against evil-doers. He adds, that they are “expressions of reproof, which are warranted by truth, and required by necessity.”+ Now, my good neighbours, they who are called evil-doers in the Scriptures, are wicked men, or persons of immoral lives, and not men of unsound political opinions. Whether, therefore, Mr. Madan can be justified in applying the same, or similar language, in cases so very different as these are, do you judge. Every history will shew you that there have been very many virtuous men engaged in actual rebellions, from mistaken principles of policy. But, surely, though these persons are justly condemned by men in this world, they are not liable to the wrath of God in the next, which will be the certain doom of all those whom the Scriptures call evil-doers? It is happy for us Dissenters that we are not at the mercy of Mr. Madan, either in this world or the next. He may sentence all Dis.
In my first account of this transaction, my iuformation was vot quite correct, and some are of opinion that my friend was rejected for some other reason than I first conceived. But let any impartial reader judge, wliether an attestation of philosophical merit, by Mr. Kirwan, Mr. Watt, Dr. Crawford, and Mr. Watson, (to say nothing of myself,) all men of science, and several of whom were known to have been acquainted with the candidate several years, could be treated as this was, without some manæuvres originating in party, political or religious ? (P.)
+ Letter, p. 20. (P.)
senters, and all Unitarians, to the fate of evil-doers hereafter ; but I hope he will not find any power to put his sentence in execution.
On the subject of the Corporation and Test Acts, Mr. Madan makes a long quotation from Bishop Horsley's pamphlet, recommending it to my particular notice. Now i have read it, as I have done many other things of this same bishop's, with much more attention than I have found they deserve, and I see nothing worth notice in it. All that Mr. Madan has quoted from it goes upon the idea that the Dissenters must be enemies to the state, because they are enemies to the church. But we are so far from allowing this consequence, that we are rather disposed to maintain the direct contrary; thinking the principles of the church to be in opposition to those of the state, as a free and equal government, and giving the crown a very undue degree of power; a subject on which I shall, probably, enlarge in the course of these Letters.
Bishop Horsley should not have written about the Dis. senters till he had known them better than he does, and Mr. Madan should not have copied after him, till he had read what myself and others have replied to him. He quotes the bishop as “ having fully proved that the genuine Calvinists among our modern Dissenters are very few.”* Now, if he had read what Mr. Palmer of Hackney, † and myself, have repeatedly replied to him, he must have been satisfied, that no assertion was ever more unfounded. This town of Birmingham alone is an abundant refutation of his confident assertion.
There is no place, I believe, in England where the Dissenters who are not Calvinists are so numerous in proportion to those who are, as here. But in this place there are but two congregations that are not professedly Calvinistical, besides a very small one of General Baptists; whereas there are three congregations of Independents, or proper Calvinists, two of them numerous, and a fourth is forming ; and there are two of Particular, or Calvinistic Baptists, one of them very numerous. In most other places, and especially in London, the Calvinists exceed all the other Dissenters in a much greater proportion. It is, I believe, lessening. But great bodies of men do not change their opinions so soon as the bishop's argument required ; and hence his obstinacy in not admitting so evident a fact,
Sermon, p. 28. (P.) + Where he died in 1813, after having been fifty years minister of the Independent congregation there. See Mon. Repos. IX. p. 65; Vol. XVIII. p. 800,
I See Vol. XVIII. pp. 276, Note *, 300, Note 11.
Mr. Madan, as well as the clergy in general, take it for granted that I ain smarting, as he says, under the lash of this bishop. * This is only a proof that he has not read my last “ Defences of Unitarianism.”+ There he would see that this bishop's blows, so far from being those of a whip, or any thing that can give pain, are only those of a feather, which tickles and amuses me, and that it would gratify me, and all Unitarians, very much to have a few more of them.
If a general pretend to have gained a victory, you never take his own word for it. You ask for the trophies, the slain and the prisoners. Now it is evident that there has been a very great increase of Unitarians since the commencement of our controversy, and that it has been in a great measure occasioned by it. I may venture to say, that it has been thirty-fold. It is an increase acknowledged by all, and greatly lamented by the Trinitarians. Now is not this more the sign of his defeat, than of his victory?
I will venture to say, that every publication on the part of the Trinitarians, has been the occasion of the dimunition of their party
An anonymous correspondent tells me, that, “ by accident, nay,” he says, “ from the singularity of the circumstance, by the direction of God, he met with my Letters to Mr. Burn, and that if it had not been for them, he might have been glorifying God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, which he now thinks not to be founded on reason or scripture.” Many others, I have reason to think, are under the same obligation to Mr. Burn, and many, I doubt not, will have reason to thank Mr. Madan, and these Letters of mine, to which his Sermon has given occasion.
In this very critical state of things, would it not be wisdom in the bishops, the natural guardians of the church and its doctrines, to interpose, and not suffer young men to engage in this important controversy, lest they should do more harm than good to the cause they wish to support? Injudicious friends often do more hurt than open enemies.
I am, &c.
Letter, p. 5. (P.)
+ Supra, pp. 1–110. Such was, probably, the opinion of the late Bishop Hurd, whose cautious policy has been already noticed. See Vol. XVIII. p. 7; supra, p. 52.
Of the Ecclesiastical Constitution of Ireland. MY FRIENDS AND NEIGHBOURS, The pretences for civil establishments of religion, which were the subject of some of the preceding Letters, have not always been the same, but have changed with the times. For if a thing must be supported, and one buttress is found to give way, another must be provided to supply its place. Now, till of late years it was always maintained to be the duty of the civil magistrate to support the cause of God and of truth, without any regard to the numbers that might be for or against it. But as all religions were maintained to be true, and therefore this maxim would furnish a pretext for continual hostility, (the partizans of each pretending to fight in the cause of God,) it has of late years been held by all the friends of these establishments, that they are to be supported not because they are founded on truth, but because they favour the religion of the majority of the inhabitants of any country. Consequently, they acknowledge that, if a majority of the inhabitants of any country were Mahometans, Catholics, or Presbyterians, these ought to be the persons favoured by the state; and that, in order to preserve peace, all the rest should be tolerated; meaning, that as many privileges should be granted them, as shall be necessary to keep them quiet.
Now it so happened that the Establishment of Ireland was settled before this new principle was thought of.
At least, no regard was then paid to it. For the great majority of the people of Ireland are Catholics, and yet the Establishment is that of the Church of England, the members of which are not so numerous as even the Presbyterians. To defend the Establishment of Ireland, therefore, on the new principle of the established religion being that of the majority, is evidently impossible, and yet the old principle of establishments has been long given up; and as the attention of the clergy has not been called to the subject, they are utterly at a loss what to say about it. Since, however, I have started the subject, Mr. Madan seems to have thought it incumbent upon him to say something ; but (perhaps, not having exactly settled his own judgment) it is not easy to develope his meaning.
“ Should you be disposed,” he says, “ to argue that, by the same mode of reasoning, the number of Roman Catholics should establish Popery in Ireland, (because the majority are Roman Catholics,) you must first prove the Pope to be a member of some Protestant sect of Christians.”* From the turn of this curious sentence, it should seem to be intended for wit or humour; and, as such, it
any thing that I know, have great merit; but what I am looking for is argument, and of this, as Mr. Madan has not thought fit to explain himself, I do not find the faiptest trace. And as this is unfortunately his final reply, we must guess at his deep meaning as well as we can. For my part, I must own myself to be entirely at a loss. I cannot even imagine on what principle the establishment in Ireland ought to be Protestant, when the people are Catholics ; but such as would make it equally proper that the established religion of Scotland should be Episcopalian, when the people are Presbyterians; or that the establishment in England should be Presbyterian, when the majority of the people are Episcopalians.
If there be any act of parliament (for such things, it seems, are reasons with Mr. Madan) which makes it wrong to establish the Popish religion in Ireland, it must be unjust, and ought to be repealed, as well as every thing else that is violent and tyrannical. For what is an act of tyranny, but that which is forced upon a people against their will ? And were the people of Ireland fairly polled upon the subject of establishing some system of religion, the votes would certainly be in favour of the Catholic, and not that of the Church of England.
Suppose a Catholic prince, the late pretender for example, should by an armed force expel the present reigning family, and in all the forms of an act of parliament, establish the Popish religion in this country, should we not pronounce this proceeding to be tyrannical, and such as ought to be resisted, whenever we should have the power of doing it? And should this be deferred till we had '“ proved the Pope to be a member of some Protestant sect of Christians”? Should we not laugh at such a proposal? Such, therefore, must be the case of the people of Ireland. But when any system is established, and a particular set of men derive advantage from it; be it ever so contrary to reason and common sense, it will by them be supported, as this is
* Letter, p. 34. (P.)