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REV. JOHN VVESLEY, M. A.
S O M E time ago, a pamphlet was sent me, entitled, " An appeal from the Protestant Also" ciation to the people of Great Britain." A day or two since, a kind of answer to this, was put into my hand, which pronounces, " Its " style contemptible, its reasoning futile, and " its object malicious." On the contrary, I think the style of it is clear, easy, and natural; the reasoning, in general, strong and conclusrve; the object,' or design, kind and benevolent. ' And, in pursuance of the same kind and benevolent design, namely, to preserve out happy constitution, Ishall endeavour to confirm the substance of that tract, by a few plain arguments.
A 2 ' With NVith persecution I have nothing to do: l persecute no man for his religious principles. Let there be " as boundless a freedom in reli" gion," as any man can conceive : but this does not touch the point. I will set religion, true or false, utterly out of the question : suppose the Bible if you please. to be a fable, and the Koran to be the word of God. I consider not, whether the Romish' religion be true or false: Ibuild nothing on one or the other supposition : therefore, away with all your common-place declamations about intolerance and persecution for religion ! Suppose every word of pope Pius's creed to be true,-suppose the council of Trent to have been infallible,-yet, Iinsist upon it, That no government, not Roman catholic, 'ought to tolerate men of the Roman Catholic persuasion.
' _, I' prove this 'by a plain 'argument : let him 'answer it that can :
That no Roman catholic does or can give security for his allegiance 'or peaceable beha
viour, I prhve thus: It is 5a Roman Catholic
'F' maztim, estsiblished, not by private men, but V'by a-public council, that, " No faith is to be *w kept with heretics." This has been openly
*'vavowed by the'council of 'Constance: but' it'
'hever'was'' openly disclaimed. Whether prifflvate Persons avow or disavow it,' it is a fixed maxim of the churc'zh of Rome: but as long as
it is so, nothing can be more plain, than that'.
the members of that church can give no reaj sonable security. to any government of their
allegiance or peace'able behaviour : therefore,'
they ought not to be tolerated by any government, Proteflant, Mahometan, or Pagan.
You may say, " Nay, but you will take an " oath of allegiance." True, five hundred_ oaths : but the maxim, ** No faith is to be'kep't " with heretics," sweeps them all away, asa spider's web : so that still, no governors, that are not Roman catholics, can have 'any security
of their allegiance. ' . I
Again, those who acknowledge the spirituai power of the pope, can give no security of their allegiance to any government : but all Roman ca'tholics acknowledge this ; therefore, they can' give no security for their allegiance. '
The power of granting pardons for all (lusi past, present, and to come, is, and has been, for many centuries, one branch of his spiritual power ; but those who acknowledge hirnto have this spiritual power, can give no security
for their allegiance ; since ' they believe the '
pope can pardon rebellious, high treasons, and all other sms whatsoever. *
The power of dispensing with any promise, oath, or vow, is another branch of the spiritual power of the pope ; and all who acknowledge his spiritual power, must acknowledge this: but whoever acknowledges the dispenfing power of the pope, can give no security of his allegiance. to any government.
Oaths and promises are none: they are light as air : a dispensation makes them all null and void.
Nay, not only the pope, but even a priest, has power to pardon sins ! this is an essential doctrine of the church of Rome : but they that acknowledge this, cannot poffibly give any security for their allegiance to any government. Oaths are no security at all; for the priest can pardon both perjury and high treason.
Sctting, then, religion aside, it is plain, that: upon principles of reason, zno government ought to tolerate men, who cannot give any security to that government for their allegiance and peaceable behaviour : but this no Romanist can do, not only while he holds, that " No 't faith is to be kept with heretics," but so long as he acknowledges either priestly absolution, or 'the spiritual power of the pope.
"But the late act," you say, a does'not either tolerate or encourage Roman Catholicsr'f I appeal to matter of fact. Do not the Romanists themselves understand it as a tolera-A tion ? You know they do. And does it not already, let alone what it may do by-and-by, encourage them to preach openly, to build chapels, at Bath and elsewhere, to raise feminaries, and to make numerous converts, day by day, to their intolerant, persecuting principles ? I can point out, if need be, several of the persons: and they are increasing daily.
But " Nothing dangerous to English liberty " is to be apprehended from them." I am not certain of that. Some time since a Romish 'priest came to one I knew, and after talk.ing with her largely, broke out, "You are no he: *t retic! You have the experience of a real ** Christian l" " And would you," she asked, ** burn me alive ?" He said, N God forbid ! N Unless it were for the good of the church."
Now what security could she have for her life, if it had depended on that man P The good of the chu*rch would' have burst all the ties of truth, justice and mercy ; especially, when ses conded by the absolution of a priest, or, if need were, a papal pardon.