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I He awful crisis, at which we are now arrived, should call every friend of his country to the most serious and unbiassed reflection. Standing erect among the convulsions of empires, our country still seems preserved by an Almighty arm, as almost the last asylum of liberty and virtue. Still we bid defiance to the thunder that rolls at a distance, and fondly hope to survive the wreck of surrounding nations, and to renovate them by the benevolent diffusion of religion and happiness. The Christian patriot, who sees a merciful God riding in the whirlwind, and directing the storm, anticipates the dawn of light from the midst of darkness, and the purification of the world from the hurricanes that are hurling to the ground the proudest monuments of Time. His hope for his own country is not for the extension of her unwieldy possessions, or the brilliancy of her evanescent glories--but that she may increase in virtue, pure religion, and internal happiness-that she may be secured by union from external dangers-and be the means of diffusing the promised blessings of universal peace, order, and happiness, to a grateful and an admiring world.
With such feelings, my Christian brethren, you will behold with wonder and alarm a large body of your countrymen excluded from serving the State, becoming daily more uneasy under their supposed fetters, and more alienated from those who refuse to break them. When nothing but a spirit of union and har. mony-nothing but an ardor, which none but freemen can ever feel-nothing but the devotion of every soul, and the kindred feeling of every heart, can insure the stability of Britain, it becomes a question of the most solemn import, whether we are to be deprived of the talents of a large part of the population to hear their discontent rising in suppressed, but awful, murmurs--and perhaps to incur the guilt of persecu. tion in the name of the God of Love. An empire kneeling asks for her rights—she appeals to our justice, our policy, and our faith—she points to the wounds she has suffered for us-and shall we proudly refuse to listen to her complaints, or seriously, to consider her petitions ?
It is with the hope of calling your attention to this important question, that I now presume to address you. The following plain arguments are not offered to the high church zealot, or flaming partizan of one establishment, which he may fear to oppose to another
of higher antiquity-not to those who are perhaps too nearly related to the Catholics to be their friends not to the corrupt and worldly, who only care for the paltry honors of a court-nor to the intolerant bigot, who can hear of no toleration but for his own opi. nionsbut to you, who know the value of religious freedom from its loss to you, who profess a supe. riority over the world - to you, who are bound by every tie of consistency and interest to support the claims of your brethren. In addressing you, to enter deeply into the abstract principles of liberty of conscience, would be unnecessary; you have received them with your earliest impressions, and they beat on every string that vibrates in your bosom ; enobling your best feelings, and consecrating your finest sympathies : all I shall do will be to show the bearing of this particular case on those general propositions you have so often and so nobly defended.
In order to do this as clearly and concisely as possible, I shall aim at establishing the following propositions :
ist. That all civil disqualifications for opinions merely
religious, partake of the nature of persecution,
and are as impolitic as unjust. 2ndly. That the opinions of the Catholics are of this
description--and that they are in the same situa
tion with ourselves. Brdly. That our duty as Christians, our interest as
Dissenters, and our feelings as Patriots, form irresistible arguments to induce us to support the great cause in which they are laboring,