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hefore our eyes.
Eftablished Church; which laws he considers as necessary for the protection and support of our ecclesiastical and civil constitution. He praises his Majesty for the determination which he has avowed, in this important particular, of adhering to the wife policy of his ancestors, and for pronouncing, in the firt instance, what he properly denominates their “cautionary sentence,'
cautionary sentence," Nolumus leges Angliæ mutari. “ A determination to preserve the Constitution as it is, must ever be al. lowed, at least, a safe policy, it is only going on as we have done: but the experiment of an alteration may lead us into mischiefs, which the innovator himself never intended ; such as no human foresight could predict, and no human ingenuity may ever redress. The wisdom of not doing' is, therefore, a wisdom that should ever be respected : it gerierally is coupled with knowledge, and with experience ; and it is sure of this good effect, that it makes a pause, in which others may have leisure to learn caution and prudence.
“. To make a true judgment of such a design, as the measure now projected, a little more should be known than the scene which is daily patsing
We live in an age when there is not much earneftness about differences in religious opinions. Whether this is a good or bad symptom, I will not take upon me to decide ; at any rate, we have the benefit of the symptom, whatever may be the latent malady; we call it liberality of senti. ment, and we compliment ourselves upon the enlightened times, in which we have the happiness to live, when we no longer quarrel about such matters as religion ; which indicates how much we are advanced beyond our ancestors in all the better endowments of the mind. Such a self-deception as this, is, I believe, very general ; and it is too flattering not to prevail, especially among persons who are busied only with what is before them, and rarely find leisure to look back upon thote transactions, which employed the time, and engaged the most anxious thoughis of their less discerning ancestors. A joyous world, so pleased with itself, finds no difference in the happy persons who compose it, though they are of different religious sects. Upon such in. sufficient evidence, men grow into a belief, that any political distinctions to the prejudice of persons, who are so much like themselves, is injurious, and hould no longer be fuffered, in such an improved age. Nonie are so generous as those who have nothing to give, or who give that upon which they set no value; it is easy for those to give up a struggle about modes of religion who do 110t themfelves possess the substance ; and those who dislike our form of government may be liberal of it at very
at very little expence." Our readers will perceive that this judicious writer appreciates the spirit of this degenerate age.
That the support of the Established Church is farther essential to the existence of that fpirit of toleration, which is fo frequently invoked, fo grossly calumniated, and to much abused, must be evident to every man who will take the trouble to investigate her doctrines, and the practice of her true and faithful Sons. But our reflections on this subjeät are fortunately supported by those historical facts, which must banish all doubt from the mind, and incontestibly prove, that the Established Church is the only one which has either understood
or pra&ised the Christian duty of toleration. Indeed, it is poffible, that the indifference which to unhappily prevails on religious matters may, in a great measure, have been engendered by the too great extent to which toleration has been carried, and which, in many instances, has lost its genuine character and degenerated into encouragement.
- We have had three forms of religion in this country, which have each had their time of domination. The Popish had a long reign without a rival
, till the reformation produced our present church. During the reign of Queen Mary, he old church again obtained a short ascendency. When the rebel parliamen:arians overturned the church of England in Charles the first's time, they set up Presbyterianisın as the governing church. It is in the histories of these respective periods, that we are to look for the characters of these three forms of religion; and surely, if the whole period from the beginning of the reign of Henry VIII. to the present time is narrowly examined, it must be confessed, even our enemies being judges, that the times, when there was most moderation in the governors, and most liberty, civil and religious, enjoyed by the governed, were those, in which the church of England was the established church. It is invidious and unnecessary to bring together particular instances, which had better be forgotten; the broad plain result is known full well. Whatever may be said of our Protestant brethren, it is well known that Presbyterianism in England has been equally intolerant with Popery, and has only differed, in the manner in which it has sewn its fpirit. Should it be alledged that these two religions have since improved in temper and character, I would answer, that so have we; and if we were intitled to the ascendency in worse times, much more are we entitled to it in better; and further, that the evidence of our improvement is manifest in our government; while theirs, from the nature of their situation, can have no existence, but in promise and supposition. Judging from the experience of what is pait, it would be policy to support the ascendency of such a church as our owri,
if it was only to protect the others against one another, and preserve all descriptions of persons in the enjoyment of true religion and real liberiy,
“ But this I have said only incidentally, for it is not upon pleas of merit, nor upon the Itrongest pretenfions, whether of expediency or neceflity, in a political view, that I mean tu argue this question ; I look only to the law and constitution of the realm, which has grown out of the historical pafiages, I have alluded to, and which has imposed upon us a necessity much more imperious than
any which the claimants can pretend, I mean a confitutional neceflity of keeping Catholics out of all offices, which can poflibly enable them to prejudice the church establishment, if they should be so inclined.”
Having thewn the necessity and effect of the various laws againt Diflenters S; Mr. R next proceeds to consider the nature of the Cu ronation Oath, and particularly of that part of it which binds the King to maintain and preserve the established religion of the country. For his reasoning on this head of the subject we must refer our readers to the tract itfett
. The following just inference is drawn from that reasonirig and the facts on which it is founded.
“ I think, therefore, I am warranted in concluding from the wording, and
fair construction of the whole, when compared together, that this clause lays upon the King an obligation to watch over any laws, that may be proposed to him by his Parliament, for alteration in church matters, with more conscientious folicitude, than he exercises on other occasions of legislation. In fact, the clause was to understood at the time ; for, it appears, when it was under debate in the House of Commons, there was an amendment proposed, that instead of religion established by Law, it should be worded, AS SHALL BE established by law; in order, say they who argued in support of this amendment, that the King may not be restrained by this Oath, from confenting to the alterations, which it was then in contemplation to make, for tolerating Proteftant Diffenters, in the free exercise of their religion : those, however, who were for the original motion, seem to have considered this point as sufficiently saved to the King, by the wording as it stood, and the amendment was accordingly thrown out. (See Grey's Debates, March 28, 1689.)
“I think, then, I am fully warranted, as well by the letter of the clause, as this history of its formation, to conclude, that its object was to bind the King, in the article of legislation, to maintain the church as eftablished by law, at the time of his taking the Oath, and not merely to direct him in the execution of laws when made ; though, I think, the words would pot have their full force, and the evident design of the framers would be maç terially disappointed, if the Oath was not construed to comprehend every exercise of the royal function, where the intereits of the church may be concerned."
Mr. Reeves makes a very proper distinction between the effect of the Coroļiation Qath on the King's conduct respecting the secular affairs of the state, and its effect on it in ecclesiastical matters.
“ But it is different with regard to religion, and the Church ; in these concerns, he may be more competent than any subject in his dominions, and may safely become his own privy counsellor. Who shculd know so well as himself what influence it would have upon the interests of the Church, if his counsels were governed by Popish Officers of State, or by a Parliament popishly inclined ? Surely he can judge as clearly as any of his advisers, what is likely to be the consequence, if the ancient endowments of the Church, which give the ciergy a itation and consequence in the country, were converted into funded property ; and who fo fit as the head of the Church to in. tcrpose, and prevent such perversion of a venerable establishment? Whoever sits on the British Throne will always be able to judge for himself in these affairs of the Churchi, and discharge his duty of guardian to it, not only with a good conscience, but with a good understanding also.”
The author nexts adverts to the extreme jealousy and caution displayed by the English and Scottish parliaments, at the time of the union between the two kingdoms, in providing for the security and permanence of their respective ecclefiaftical establishments, Nor is it easy to conceive terms more expressive, forcible, and binding, than those used, for the same purposes in the late act for uniting the kingdom of Ireland with that of Great Britain. "That it be the fifth article of Union, that the churches of England and
Ireland, as now established, be united into one Protestant Episcopal Church, to be called The United Church of England and Ireland; and that the doce erine, worthip, discipline, and government of the said united church shall be, and shall remain in full force FOR EVER, as the same are now by law eltablished for the church of England, and that the continuance and preservation of the said united (burili, as the eitablished church of England and Ireland, 111all be deemed and taken to be an effential and fundamental part of the Union, and that in like minner, the doctrine, worship, discipline, and vernment of the church of Scotland shall remain and be preserved, as the fame are now established by law, and by the acts for the Union of the two kingdoms of England and Scotland.” Stat. 40. Geo. 3. ch. 67.
“ From these express and successive declarations of parliament in favour of our established Proteitant' Church, we may collect, that it was intended thereby to close for ever the debate with the Church of Rome. The highest authori:ies in the state feem, upon these occasions, to have passed, as it were, a Finalis Concordia, which mould secure us and our heirs for ever in the quiet pofleffion of our religious rights and privileges, and should for ever bar the Romish Church of all claim or pretension to be admitted into any lot or part in our ettablishment. Our establithed Religion was thereby placed among
the l'acta conventa regni, nerer to be changed. But where is the guarantee for this perpétuiry, which of itself is mere words, and is liable to be cut off in every Seffion of Parliament ? It is in the Crown, and in every succeflive Monarch, who wears it ; who at his Coronation takes an oath to maintain inviolably this establishment to the utmost of his power, in the state in which he found it at his accession to the throne. This sacred trust remains with the king alone; our anceitors have deposited it, where, they believed, would ever be found, to the latest time, Truth and Honour, Firmness and MagDaniinity, to preserve it.
" The King is thus made more peculiarly the guardian of the Church, Than le is of the State; and happily, he can completely execute this office by kimself, without the aid of the many advisers who are necessary towards the conduct of civil affairs. The Church wants only to be preserved---to be kept as it is--which is effectually obtained, when the Monarch fets himself against innovation. The Church covers no augmentation; needs no fpeculating, none of the contrivances of finance, to foster and suppport it; it is not ar enterprizing protector, full of resources and expedients, that the Church either feeks or wants ; let her enjoy what she has, and then the expectations of our ancestors, and her own, will be equally satisfied. It was from a con. viction, that the Church Establishment was made as complete as it was well capable of being, that our forefathers came to the resolution of closing the question of improvement, and thought they did fufficient, when they only ftipulated with the Crown for maintaining it, as then established by law, Ai the time when the Church was in her maturity, Trade, Commerce, and Navigation were only in their infancy ; these had every thing to gain, and Jittle to lose; and to have put them under a like protection with the Church, would have been to fline them in their growth, These objects, therefore, are left at large, for the advisers of the Crown to alter and model
, from time to time, as temporary circumstances happen to fuggeit or require. The concerns of the Church have long been stationary ; they require no improvement, they only expect protection. " When our ancestors came to the resolution of declaring, that the Pro
testant Churches of England and Scotland should endure for ever, they certainly meant to extinguish all hopes of De Papists to be admitted into the Civil Government; because it had been feen, that, under a government popishly in virad, ihere could be no safety for a Protestant Church. King James had made this experiment; and he endeavoured to colour it, by declaring, in the famous instrument, which was the immediate cause of his losing the Crown, that he had brought Papists to his Privy Council for the purpose of promoting a broiherhood of affection, and a conciliation of religious differences. It was not till after the sad experience of the evils attendant upon such contests, as Protestantism was forced to sustain with Popery, that our ancestors thought it wife to extinguish all such warfare by the measures which have just been mentioned. In private discussions, there must be an end of debating upon first principles; in national concerns also, there are certain fundamentals that ought to be finally agreed, and no longer brought into queltion, This is one of those fundamentals ; it appears, from the above-mentioned Acts, that the Proteftant Churches of England, and Ireland, and Scotland, are of the essence of the Union, and that they are to continue un. alterably for ever.
“ If the Church of England is to continue for ever, as a fundamental part of our Constitution, there can be little doubt, in what state and condition it ought to continue. To maintain it in mere existence, with little more than the form and the name, His Majesty will never think is maintaining it to the ut most of his power. To be â Church, as established by law, it must be in peace and in honour ; proiected not only from aliual encroachment, but from the danger of it; without, fears or jealousies : not trembling for its ordi, nances, or crouching for the security of its rights and privileges. Yet such was the state of the Church, even with the law on its side, when King James took Papists into his Privy Council contrary to law; and who can doubt of the like consequences, when the law fhall directly authorize Papifts to fit with Protestants in the national councils, for the alleged purpose of once more promoting a brotherhood of affection, and a conciliation of religious differences.' In proportion as the Church of England lost its consequence under such a change, the Romilh would rise; and, in time, there would become an equality and full participation of rights and privileges. No such consequences, I dare vouch, are apprehended, much less intended, by the promoters of this genercus scheme of comprehension ; and yet they are much more probable than any of the happy effects which are imagined to result from it, because there is example for the one, and none for the other."
The cautionary reflection with which Mr. R. concludes this valuable tract, is entitled to particular actention.
“ There is something fatal in this speculation for a conciliation of religious differences.' It loit King James his Crown ; and it has now removed from his Majesty's councils an administration which has long enjoyed the confidence bath of King and People, and whose talents and experience were the principal reliance of the nation for conducting us through our present arduous conteit.
But, great as they are, there is something will more valuable to us-our laws and our fiberties, civil and religious. We all feel, that these are intimately connected with the Church of England; and we shall not think that Church any longer herself, than while the remains entire, the fole