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cution, (1) on a frivolous charge, which, as I shall fhew, you yourself have incurred in a greater degree than I have.
This being the plain case, is it not ridiculous, Sir, to hear you professing so emphatically, as you do more than once, your utter dislike of religious controversy, and filling whole pages with arguments against it? There was not the shadow of an existing controversy when you thought proper to attack me, and the religion which I profess, in the violent and unwarranted manner that I have stated. Such a controversy, however, in the existing circumstances, you have rendered unavoidable. Honour, injured inno. cence, the truth of history, the respect and allegiance which I owe to my king and country, all oblige me to repel your charges, and to make use of
fair weapon that history and argument furnith me with for this purpose. Should the production of any of these give offence to you, or to any other person, I fhall be sorry for it; but the blame must evidently reit with yourself. It is true, you describe me as the aggressor in this contest, but the futility of such a pretext is evidently seen in what has been already faid. Indeed, it is the constant practice of persons in a state of hostility, of whatever description, to aim at fixing on each other the odium of the first aflault. Thus the present disturbers of the universe tell us in their manifestoes, that it was only by way of repelling injuries, and of defending themselves, they have invaded and oppressed so many other powers, allies and friends, no less than rivals and enemies. ·
injuries, in the aforesaid notes. He knows also, that the perfon alluded to has an intimate friend of sufficient poetical merit to have composed the verses, which have been pleasantly called pegs to hang the neits apont.
(1) P. 91.
Notwithstanding the state of this matter is exactly as I have represented it, yet, Sir, if I must tell you the whole of my mind, I do not think that I ought to entertain that absolute and unqualified dislike to every kind of religious controversy, which you profess. If the different communions of Christians are not to discuss the subjects and the foundations of their unhappy divisions, how are these ever to be terminated? The divine author of Christianity employed a great proportion of his public lessons in refuting the errors of the scribes and pharisees. The apostles and ancient fathers were also indefatigable in labouring to convert the heritics and schismatics of their respective times. This they performed without any breach of charity; on the contrary, fuch zeal was the greatest proof of their being poffeffed of it. It is true, that controvertists of later times have too often manifested a contrary spirit, and have defended their respective modes and rules of faith in such manner as to prove themselves utterly destitute of the aforesaid more sublime and excellent virtue, making religion a mere party distinction, a business of this world, rather than of the next, and being more anxious to gain credit to themselves, by confounding their adversaries, .than to discover the truth upon the most important of all questions. But these faults, however incident to the discussion of religious questions, are by no means inseparable from them. What then should hinder
you and me, Sir,
fince we must contend together, from avoiding them, and thereby precluding a common objection of infidels. In the present stage of our controversy, this indeed will appear more difficult from the nature of the objections, which you have brought against me. For now I must necessarily follow wherever you are pleased to lead me. But should I have occasion to make another reply to you, I will try if it be not possible to put the whole question at itsue between us, into such a shape as fhall remove the danger of irri. tation on both sides, and still enable us, if we are mutually fo disposed, to agree together in the acknowledgment of the same religious truths.
After all, Sir, you acknowledge that “there are times when religious controversy is necessary;" (1) but by your restriction of this to the periods of the Reformation and the Revolution, (2) and by your practice and reasoning on the present subject, it is plainly your meaning, that you ought to be left at Jiberty to make use of this weapon, whenever it suits your ends, and even for the purpose of attack, but that no one else ought to be permitted to take it up against you, even in his own defence. You accordingly proceed to state, with much greater eloquence than consistency of argument, several confiderations, the tendency of which, in my opinion, is to deter me from giving an answer to your book of Reflections. The two first of these, grounded on the detri. ment you think charity on one hand, and the common cause of Christianity on the other, may receive from
discussing discussing religious differences, (1) it is for you, Sir, to answer, who have sei on foot this discussion, and have on most points calumniated the religion of your pious ancestors; whereas the chief fault which you yourself find with me is, that my History presents it in too favourable a light, and thereby tends to appease the common prejudice and acrimony against it.
(1) P. 2.
A third reflection, which you adduce for the same purpose, seems to be equally misapplied, where having mentioned the “ war that has been declared against the Catholic religion, by the unprincipled governors of France,” as likewise from the degraded state of the Roman Pontiff, and the character of the English people and government, you conclude, “ that no time is more unfavourable than the present for the success of the religion in question in every part of the world.”(2) How this reasoning tends to appease your jealousy on the score of that religion, I can readily fee; but how it militates against my wiping off the aspersions that are thrown upon it, I cannot understand.
A fourth argument you draw from the situation of the French emigrant clergy, (3) whose deep-felt obligations to the hospitality and bounty of this coun. try, and to yourself, Sir, amongst their more generous friends, is not lessened from the accidental concurrence with them of the maxims of found policy. (4)
(3) P. 54. (4) I do not mean to depreciate, in the smallest degree, the generosity of my countrymen to these viëtims of antichristian
(1) P. 3.
On this head, I must first remark, that the condition of the native Catholics is very different from that of the emigrants in question. We are in our own country, Englishmen by birth and principle, the descendants of the men who founded the constitution of this kingdom, which constitution we ourselves endeavour to support, in our respective stations, to the utmost of our power. In the very article of religion, the only one in which we differ from our countrymen, we are not persons who have introduced a new system; on the contrary, we barely maintain that of our Saxon progenitors, as it was, according to the acknowledgement of all parties, established by our apoftles with the Christian name itself, at the close of the fixth century.(1) If then, in refuting your heavy charges brought against me, if in proving myself to
tyranny. It proceeded from a sudden impulse of pity and virtuous indignation, before reflection had leisure to calculate consequences. Still, however, it is true, and even the envenomed writer of the Pursuits is forced to allow, that felf-preservation has concurred with more noble motives to direct the measures of government particularly with respect to the priests. It is confessed, that the grand obstacle to a peace with France does not arise so much from the difficulty of settling the terms, as of ensuring the continuation of it, and the idea of having an Algiers at Calais has alarmed more politicians than Mr. Burke. It is equally obvious, that the only effectual remedy for this evil would be the re-establishment of Christianity in that country. But where are the men to be found of sufficient zeal and other qualifications to undertake that meritorious work, unless the former pastors, who indeed pant for the moment when they may begin to devote their lives to it, regardless of temporal rewards and fearless of dangers.
(1) A Night inspection of Venerable Bede’s Ecclefiaftical His. tory of the English Nation, written soon after its conversion, will fuffice to thew, that the religion of Catholics now is the very fame that was preached to our ancestors by our first apostles.