Page images


and politically. The opponents of these statements have not dared to grapple with them ; neither priest nor layman has attempted to answer them. It is in vain for them to say that the statements were too insignificant for their attention, because when, on one unhappy occasion, one of the makers of those statements was beguiled into a mistake, they showed that all eyes were fixed upon him ; in that they fastened upon that blot; and in that they never reproached him anywhere else, they have allowed it to appear, as a positive proof, that they cannot answer what he alleged against them elsewhere.

And what then ? What has been done ? Sir, an opportunity offers now for action; and if the country do not support us—if nothing be really done,-1, for one, solemnly protest that I will not be a party to the hypocrisy that claps its hands here and does nothing afterwards. I fairly tell you, that if nothing be done, corresponding to the known convictions of Protestant men, after all that has been said, I will leave the issue to God, and leave you, as far as speaking is concerned, to your own devices. Now is the time to act, or never.

Sir, I saw two men, since I came into this Hall, who have suggested to me a dialogue, which I will imagine to have taken place yesterday, in a street of London, between two of the watchful and active brothers of the Society of Jesuits, who are at present in this country upon a special mission.

One said, “Will you go to-morrow to the Meeting of the Protestant Association ?"

The other said, “ Yes, I will. That Association is doing our work admirably. Its intolerant violence has enabled us to keep up the absurd delusion in the public mind, profitable to us, that the Catholics are an abused, misrepresented, and calumniated body."

“ Well,” said the other, “ but have not some of the speakers of that Association brought forward some very awkward things about us? Have they not said very plain and pointed things, and hit us

[ocr errors]

very hard ?"

[merged small][ocr errors]

The answer was, “ No doubt they have, because they have gone to our own documents ; they have shown what we are pledged to do, if we had the power to do it. But who believes them? We of course deny what they say, and John Bull, who has no great love for the controversy, believes us rather than them, because we say the controversy is needless, and plead the meekness of injured innocence.”

“ I perceive," said Brother Melipotamus, – that it is so. Charity in religion, and liberality in politics, have become our watch words, because we perceive that they are the idols of an ignorant and irreligious public. The people of England believe us, brother, because we say what we know they wish to believe ; and as for those speakers of the Protestant Association, the curse of Laocoon is upon them. It is almost enough for them to say it, for the press to deny it, and the public to reject it. We have managed capitally."

“Well, I believe you are quite right: nothing could have succeeded better than our plan of commending moderation. Oh! how fond are all people of moderation! Hence we are so moderate, so quiet, of such a good spirit, while they are so intolerant, that the public mind is turned against them, and with us. Now I have no doubt but that

to-morrow the same intolerance will be as rampant as ever ; therefore, brother, let us go to the Meeting with our mouths shut, and our eyes and our ears open likewise."'.

And so, Mr. Chairman, the gentlemen are here.

Now, Sir, the first thing I wish to say to these gentlemen, and to this great assembly, is this, that we are sincere lovers of moderation, in everything except religion. Holy Scripture is our guide. It tells us, concerning everything in this world, to “ let our moderation be known unto all men," because “ the Lord is at hand :" it tells us, that they who possess the things of this world should be as though they possessed not, that they who “ use this world” should be careful “not to abuse it,” because “the fashion of it passeth away." But in religion it tells us to be “always zealously affected;" it tells us, “ earnestly to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints ;" it tells us to “ love the Lord our God," not moderately, but “ with all our hearts;" it tells us to love our neighbour, not moderately, but « as ourselves."

Sir, moderation in worldly things is not very difficult to a real Christian, because his chief and lively interest is elsewhere; therefore in worldly things he can afford to be moderate, “not seeking his own.” For a similar reason, moderation in religion is not very difficult to a worldly man; his lively interest is elsewhere; he cares nothing in reality for his own soul, or his neighbour's soul; he cares nothing for the glory of God; and moderation in religion costs him nothing.

But, Sir, it will be asked, “ Are not these gentlemen, to whom I have alluded, very determined in their purpose ? and how, then, can they be moderate ?” That depends upon another question, What is their purpose? Their purpose is, the supremacy of their system. I cannot, and will not call it, as a whole, a Church, because it is a system aiming at civil, as well as ecclesiastical, supremacy. Their purpose is, the supremacy of their system. That must be pursued and obtained, per fas aut nefas ; and in order to attain it, they will be anything ; they will adopt any creed, or no creed, or every creed, and they will be zealous, or indifferent, or moderate, just as it suits the case.

I can fancy one of those gentlemen whispering to the other, “ Hush, now, this sort of speaking would damage us, if the gentlemen of the press were faithful. But, brother, do not tell,—they are on our side; we have noticed it. They give the best version possible of any mistake, any violence, any trip, any false step that is made, but not so with respect to a real telling statement on the public mind,anything that would be at all calculated to awaken the dormant heresy of the nation."

Now, Sir, the next thing that I would wish to say to these gentlemen, and to this great assembly, is this, that we are sincere lovers of religious liberty. We truly detest bigotry. “What! you detest bigotry? Did our ears serve us right?” Yes, and your minds too; and reluctant as some may be to receive the statement, it is true; we are the real friends of religious liberty ; we detest the notion that a man should be coerced for his creed. I will indulge the gentlemen with a little of their own sort of Latin ; we agree entirely with an

ancient writer, * who says, Religio cogi non potest ; verbis non verberibus res agenda est, ut sit voluntas ; " the English of which is, “ Religion cannot be forced; the thing is to be done by words, not by blows, that it may be free.” The same writer says, Defendenda est religio, non occidendo, sed moriendo, non sævitia, sed patientia ;" Religion is to be defended, not by killing for it, but by dying for it --not by cruelty, but by patience.” This is our creed with regard to religious liberty, and therefore we are in antagonism to Rome. .

There never was a more expert harlequinade practised upon the deceived eyes of juveniles, at a Christmas entertainment, than has been practised upon the grave eyes of John Bull, when they have represented us as bigots, and Popery as liberal. Romanism, Sir, as a system, (as you know very well,) is pledged to aim at, and if possible to obtain, both civil and ecclesiastical supremacy; and not only so, but having attained them, she is equally pledged to tolerate no heretics. Individuals in authority among them who do not come up to this mark, are themselves coerced. The system is more powerful than the individuals ; and a bishop, who had some relentings in his bosom, and seemed unwilling to cleanse his diocese from heretical pravity, must be superseded, and another sent into his place. Another, “Qui vult et qui possit hæriticam confundere pravitatem."

Now why should this be proved again? It has been proved, and I challenge any gentleman of the press, or of the periodical literature of the country, or any of those who hear, or may read what I am now saying, to grapple with the demonstrations made on this platform, published by my Reverend friend Mr. M‘Ghee, and laid up, labelled in their order, in the libraries of both Universities. They cannot do it, And yet, in the face of all this, what is going on now?

Sir, such a system as Romanism must be looked upon in the light of a great conspiracy in this country. Where it is dominant it is an intolerant tyranny, as in Spain and Madeira; and where it is aspiring, as in England, it is an elaborate sedition. On this ground we feel called upon to resist it. I do not mean to say on this ground alone; but on this ground alone we ask public resistance, or national resistance of it. As a false religion we resist it only by argument; as a conspiracy and a sedition we ask our rulers to help us to resist it. We believe that theologically considered it is utterly opposed to Scripture; so we reason, so we write, so we preach, so we speak: “ Verbis non verberibus.But in its political, in its social aspect, we want help; for however excellent a thing preaching may be, as regards theological truth, preaching is not a defence against sedition— preaching is no adequate defence against conspiracy

But are these meek gentlemen conspirators ? Why, Sir, that depends upon what you mean by a conspiracy. If men bind themselves together by a compact, which they conceal from the public, to obtain an end which they are afraid to avow, lest an avowal should cause a recoil which would defeat their object, what is this but a conspiracy? An open avowal of the project would defeat itself, because, notwithstanding the damages which have been sustained by our British Constitution, it has still some strongholds, and an attempt

* Lactantius.

to force them would produce a recoil. They must not be forcedthey must be undermined by a gradual and treacherous legislation; and therefore the grand object in view by the master-minds among the conspirators, is Parliament. Great Britain will bear almost anything from its Parliament. The object of these conspirators, then, is first to secure, and then to influence Members of Parliament.

Now, Sir, the gentlemen to whom I alluded at the outset, are perfectly aware of this, and they would rather not have it stated here; but they may consider themselves as having had a very happy escape if it be not printed. It is, however, a fact, that they are striving by every possible means to influence Members of Parliament. Their own Members, those who are actual members of the system of Rome, must not be prominent in the attack; for prudence' sake they must be very mild and moderate gentlemen ; and though sometimes, to save appearances, they may let off a flaming oration, yet they must show no violence in the case of measures to be proposed by the Romish Mémbers. Aggressive measures must be taken by nominal Protestants.

“ And how shall we get the right sort of men ?” I can tell you, though it is what you know, gentlemen, and have been working upon; but I will tell all this Meeting. There are different classes of men that suit you. There are nominal Protestants, Members of Parliament, who are ignorant or incredulous of the conspiracy; there are nominally Protestant Members of Parliament who are reckless of all consequences, provided they acquire for themselves in the meantime, a public notoriety; and more and more practically still there are nominally Protestant Members of Parliament who desire to maintain for themselves a seat in the House, who wish to secure a return again for an Irish borough, not because they value Popery; they do not care a straw for it, pro or con, but their object is to keep in Parliament, in order that they may be eligible for public legal appointments. These are the men to be wrought with,—these are the men to put forward to attack the Established Church. And what if some of these men should be in the very antipodes to Romanism ?-what if they should be Liberals of the first water ? what if they should be Socinians ?-what if they should be Jews ? not yet in Parliament, but that will be mooted next. These gentlemen, and all the master spirits of the conspiracy, know very well that they have nothing to fear from Socinians or Liberals,—that there is no organization there which is dangerous to Romanism. They say secretly, “ Oh, what has our system to fear from such men as Messrs. Roebuck and Ward ? They have no backing; they are like weak grains of sand, we throw them in people's eyes. Let us make use of them to pioneer attacks on the Established Church-that is our enemy,--that confounded Establishment, that has a foundation to stand upon, that can break down our own footing if we attempt to talk of antiquity—it is older than we. Let us play off these light gentlemen to carry on attacks against it. It is very desirable for our purpose that the public mind should be accustomed to attacks upon the Established Church; and such men as Sir Robert Peel or Sir James Graham will not make the attacks, although they are kind enough to afford us facilities for making them."

Now, do you believe all this ? (" Yes, yes.") Do you? You do

believe it? Well, Sir, I take this large assenibly of Christian men at their word, and I firmly say, that if this response be from the heart, this is a great day for England. God, in his infinite mercy, give you power to act upon such a declaration! It is no child's play, Sir!

What is to be done, then ? An election is near, and an organization for it not as fully made as it ought to be, though there are some steps towards it in some places. Can anything be done that offers a prospect of usefulness? Can anything be proposed that is feasible, practicable in itself, and likely to be of real use if obtained? There is no use in proposing what is impossible,—the consequence is apathy, for if a proposal be made of a thing that you cannot have any reasonable expectation of attaining, then you fall back and do nothing. Therefore, what we now propose should not be looked upon as the very best thing possible under better circumstances, but as the best thing attainable now.

I rejoice much in the declaration made by our Wesleyan friend and brother, who spoke a little while ago (Rev. C. Prest), when he told his own convictions, and what he would do in the way of voting for a man whose politics in secular matters were opposed to his, provided that man would promise to vote against Popery. And particularly, Sir, I was delighted with one thing that he said; he said, “I have no doubt of myself.” That is a great thing to say, "I have no doubt of myself.” Now, if every man who professes Protestantism,-every man who is ready to clap his hands and shout “ Hear, hear,” when a good, faithful, plain, honest statement is made in this Hall,-if every such man would come to this point, that he has no doubt of himself, we should have a phalanx prepared, and there would be no doubt of the result. But it is the shillyshallyness of men that are doubtful of themselves that we have to fear; it is the hesitation of Protestant men, who whisper, “What will so-and-so say ? What will my Lord this say? What will my employer say? What will my patron say ? What will the Bishop say?"-I can tell you, that men who hesitate so before they act, as Protestants, are the dry-rot of the Church; and I can tell you more,—that our great men, notwithstanding their own conduct, and our bishops, too, despise such temporizers. I can tell you that they have good sense enough to know, that if there be safety in the great conflict for the institutions of the country, for the Protestant Church of this land, they know to whom they will ascribe it; they will not ascribe it to the half-and-half gentlemen who are afraid to offend them, but they will ascribe it, however reluctantly, to the bold, unflinching, faithful Protestant champions who are not afraid to offend them by telling them the truth. And I am bold to add to that, Sir, that while I rejoice to reiterate this sentiment of my friend, I rejoice to say that I am not doubtful of myself, at the same time I would not yield to any of the most cautious guarders against giving offence to a bishop in my attachment to the Episcopal Church of this land.

Well, what can be done, after all ? because I must keep these gentlemen in view. So long as we act only in general terms upon a public Meeting,—so long as we are acting only upon a number of persons, however influential, who, nevertheless, have not the elective franchise,—so long as we are steering clear of the real sinews of the election, these gentlemen are merely enjoying the joke. “See how

« PreviousContinue »