Page images
PDF
EPUB

hindrance out of the way, so that bequests for spiritual purposes may be legalized in England. Then you would have large sums left for saying masses for the souls of the dead, according to British law.

o We gave them," this extract continues, we gave them political power as a shield for themselves ; they have turned it into a sword wherewith to attack and destroy their benefactors." · I ask, Sir, What inore would they have? There is something more that they want; and I protest that, upon the principles advocated in the House of Commons, I do not see how it can be kept from them, On what principle, maintained on either side of that Honourable House, can the Act of Settlement he kept? Is it not an insult to our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects, that the Sovereign on the throne cannot be a Catholic? Is it not an insult to that Church, that the Lord Chancellor cannot be a Catholic ? Oh, shame, on these enlightened days! Why retain such a rag of intolerance on the Statute-book ? Why is it absolutely necessary that the Sovereign should still be a Protestant? It is very easy to applaud such a question, but I should like to get an answer. Why should it be? I would not wish to involve you, Sir, in any more trouble than is forced upon you, but I should be exceeding glad if you would ask Sir Robert Peel or Lord John Russell to tell you, and to tell the country, on what principle must the Sovereign be a Protestant still ? I think the answer to this question would involve a principle very inconvenient to the Right Hon. Gentlemen at other times. There is a great principle involved in that question, and I should like to hear it stated; it would do the country good to hear it stated. It would be a very awkward question for them to refuse to answer,-it would be a very awkward question for them to answer,—and it would be a very proper question for you, Sir, to put. · The “ Times” proceeds :

“In the speech of Sir James Graham to the people of Glasgow, delivered a few days ago, on receiving the freedom of that important city, the Right Honourable Baronet employs the following language with reference to the conspiracy now disclosed and proclaimed by the Roman Catholic leaders throughout Great Britain and Ireland against the Protestant religion, which he justly calls the foundation of the British monarchy, as professedly recognised by all our national statesmen since the expulsion of the Popish tyrant James :- You have referred in your address to my attachment to our national Protestant religion. The pillar of our greatness rests, as I think, on this religion, established in these realms. This is the source of all moral and intellectual improvement, and if you allow the foundations to be shaken, the superstructure must fall. But it will be said, Why mingle religion with political strife ? My answer is, that the national religion is studiously blended with all our national institutions; that it was the avowed object of our forefathers to render the State itself an oblation not unworthy the Most High; and this connexion between the Church and State is the ancient policy of these realms, under which our native land has consolidated her strength, matured her happiness, and acquired her glory.'”

Such was the language of Sir James Graham when he was appointed Rector of the University of Glasgow-- I think in 1839.

“The Right Hon. Baronet proceeds to show, that every occasion during the last three centuries, since the soul of man within Great Britain was released, and his reason set loose from the shackles of Popery,—since Luther and Calvin taught men to think, and Cranmer, Latimer, and Rid. ley, left them an example how to suffer and to die '—the power which moved the national mind of this country in all great crises was religious feeling. The Reformation, says the Right Hon. Gentleman-the great Rebellion—the union with Scotland--the Act of Settlementthe union with Ireland, are one and all evidences of this main truth. The Scotch Covenanters fought for their national religion against Charles; those who politically were Jacobites sacrificed James II. to their zeal for the national religion; for the sake of the Kirk and Pres. bytery, recognised by Parliament, the Scotch, justly proud of their national independence, consented to an incorporating union with this country : for the sake of securing the Protestant Establishment in Ireland, the Protestants of both islands brought about the union of 1801. It is vain and childish, therefore, to preach to the sound sense of Great Britain about 'voluntary' principles, or harmless' Poperyabout new experiments in religious institutions, heretofore untried by fact, though condemned by the clearest à priori reasoning—or about old experiments, which, having been tried for ages, are too well known from their disastrous consequences to be further hazarded at the price of civil and intellectual liberty, of practical morality, and eternal truth."

O Sir, these are weighty words; but the extract contains the words of another Right Hon. Gentleman :

“Thus it is,” says the writer in the “Times,” “that our magnificent Reform Bill, aided and followed up by a general system of Whig "liberality,' has ended in destroying Gatton, Old Sarun, and some similar nomination boroughs, of which the patrons were Englishmen at least, while it has supplied their places by the creation of one gigantic boroughmonger-he, too, a foreigner—the never-changing Toe of our monarchy in Church and State, viz., the Rev. George Spencer's spiritual sovereign, from whose hands that Rev. convert will one day receive the hat,' or at all events the .mitre'-viz., his Holiness Pope Gregory XVI., who is actually patron of no less than sixtyfive or seventy seats in the Imperial Parliament of Great Britain,"

I still quote from the “ Times,” called the “ Thunderer:"

“Was it for this,” the writer asks indignantly, “that the Legislature of our once Protestant country passed the Bill for arming Popery from the arsenal of the Constitution itself? Was it that by forsworn and perfidious traitors the weapons thus generously given might be pointed at the vitals of the monarchy?

These are hard wordsm forsworn and perfidious traitors." The next passage, however, brings us to the words of the Right Hon. Gentleman to whom I have alluded, Sir James Graham, quoted in the same speech from a former speech of Sir Robert Peel :

“Sir Robert Peel, indeed, as quoted by Sir James Graham, had manifestly in his mind's eye an outline of the state of things which was to follow from the Bill of Emancipation, even at the moment when he reluctantly introduced that measure. Towards the close of his remarkable speech, the Right Hon. Gentleman, then Home Secretary under the Duke of Wellington, used the following words."

· I know how tiresome reading is, but I want you to listen to these very important words, used with reference to the Bill of 1829, by Sir Robert Peel. He said,

“If, unhappily, my expectations" (of domestic peace) “shall be disappointed, if, unhappily, civil strife and contention shall take place

if the differences existing between us do not arise from artificial distinctions and unequal privileges —if, on the contrary, there be something in the character of the Roman Catholic religion not to be intrusted with a participation in equal privileges, or anything short of superiority, still I shall be content to make the trial. If the battle must be fought, if the contest cannot be averted, let the worst come to the worst-the battle shall be fought for other objects, the contest shall be on other ground; the struggle will be not for equality of civil rights, but for the predominancy of an intolerant religion ; and I say, we can fight that battle to greater advantage if, indeed, these more gloomy predictions shall be fulfilled, and our more favourable hopes shall not be verified, we can fight that battle against the predominance of an intolerant religion more advantageously after this measure has passed than we could at present.”

According to this showing, after yielding in the struggle, which was avowedly for equality of civil rights, the Right Hon. Bart. was prepared to stand his ground, and maintain the fight against the predominance of an intolerant religion.

Sir, this is our ground now; we ask the country to stand on this ground now; and it is precisely that we may be defended against an intolerant religion that we ask this compact for the next electionthat we have invited the signing of this electoral pledge.

Are you, then, thoroughly prepared to go through with this matter? Not simply to sign this card yourselves, or to say you approve of it, but every man to work it? Let every man determine to get at least ten or twenty electors to sign it; and ask each of the twenty you get to get ten more. Ohl my friends, take it seriously to heart that you have given this pledge, in the face of God and your country, this daythat you have not been merely amusing yourselves, spending a few hours in this hall listening to speakers, and then going away, acting as if you had heard nothing about it. It is tampering with spiritual things, it is hardening your own hearts, it is searing your own consciences, to hear and give such pledges, and then do nothing. Why should we come forward and ask you? Why should a minister of religion occupy such a place as I have consented to occupy, and have been standing in for the last hour of this day? Why, Sir, it is because everything most sacred to the interests of religion is at stake. Do you value true religion in our country, with all its great and blessed advantages ? Do you value the power of sending Christian missionaries to the heathen? Do you feel that it is right for the members of the Church to combine to support the Church Missionary Society ? Do you value the Society for Propagating the Gospel among the Jews ? Do you value the Church Pastoral-Aid Society, for helping our over-worked pastors at home? Where are the sinews of all these glorious works to be found, if the Protestantism of England be relaxed ?

I would, before I sit down, ask one favour more. I may have said

something rather disrespectful, as touching the comparative influence of the fair sex in this matter. But, Sir, they have influence. A timely remembrance, “a word spoken in season, how good is it?" when spoken with tenderness and affection. A word of remembrance, at the moment when the crisis is upon us, or before it comes ; a word to-morrow morning in the ear of a brother, or father, or friend, who has shouted his coincidence in the pledge to-day—“John, my love, what have you done with that card ? ” Help us, then, you can all help us. I do not want you to go and carry the card about; do not do any such thing, my friends; but tell John, and Tom, and Dick, and Harry, that every one of them should go and get these cards signed. And so it shall come to pass, that the Resolution passed this day is not merely a form ; but the electors, as they have been invited, and as they will be pledged, if they pass this Resolution, will “ exercise the elective franchise as a solemn and sacred trust reposed in them, for the glory of God, and for the good of their country.”

The Rev. Gentleman was most enthusiastically cheered throughout the whole of his address.

Mr. PLUMPTRE, having business in the House of Commons, vacated the chair, which was taken by Mr. Story.

Sir DigBy MacKWORTH seconded the Resolution. Within the last few weeks there had been a large number of applications from friends of Protestantism, requesting to be told who were fit persons to represent them. If there were any difficulty in getting candidates to come forward from the higher classes, let them go among the classes among whom were to be found the spirit and principles of real Protestantism. (Cheers.) Protestant feeling was fast spreading; and, if the Meeting acted up to its Resolutions, it would spread far wider.

The Resolution was carried unanimously.

E. D. SALISBURY, Esq., of Lancaster, in moving the vote of thanks, observed,--Mr. Chairman,-Did I not feel assured how agreeable the duty devolving upon me would be to this assembly, I should shrink from the performance as unable to do it justice. But I have only to speak of a vote of thanks, coupled with the name of Mr. Plumptre, to ensure a cordial response from all now present. (Cheers.) Yes, Sir, we have in Mr. Plumptre the portrait, the exemplification of a Christian statesman! One who, taking the Bible for his guide in public as well as private life, has never yet sacrificed principle to expediency. Faithful in his religion as his politics, he has no apostacies to answer for. True as the needle to the pole, but with this difference,-unmoved by the tossings of the ocean, he has never yet wavered or swerved from his consistency. Sir, I have much pleasure in proposing," That the cordial thanks of this Meeting be given to J. P. Plumptre, Esq., M.P., for his kindness in presiding on this occasion, and for his persevering, Christian, and consistent efforts in support of the Protestant institutions of the country."

The Resolution was seconded by the Rev. A. S. THELWALL, and carried unanimously.

A Doxology was then sung, and, the benediction being pronounced, the proceedings terminated.

A SHORT ADDRESS TO ELECTORS, IN THE ANTICIPATION OF

3. A GENERAL ELECTION. ..., PROTESTANT Electors of Great Britain! How do you mean to act at the approaching election ?

Much, depends upon you; remember your great responsibilities, and be faithful. . A single vote may decide the fate of a candidate. How important, then, that each man should vote aright!.. ir,

These are no ordinary times. Our country is at this moment visited by two of God's most awful judgments,-famine and pestilence. Your fellow-subjects in Ireland are dying by thousands, of fever and starvation; and the evil appears not yet to have reached its crisis, -" the plague is not stayed.”

In Scotland, again, the frugal, industrious inhabitants of the Highlands have suffered severely. , In England, distress is fearfully on the increase amongst the labouring classes; and while a stagnation in many branches of trade has taken place, the necessaries' of life are daily becoming dearer. The politicians of the country appear to be at their wits' end,—wisdom has departed from the wise. Why do we draw attention to this sad state of things ? Because it calls for deep consideration, and will force itself upon the attention, and excite the alarm of the most thoughtless ere long; and because it is our firm belief that God is now chastening us for our national sins, and that He will not withdraw his hand until we “ repent and do”. our “ first works." And what is the sin which, in an especial manner, has provoked the wrath of a long-suffering God? Let us answer the question by asking another. What was the sin which drew down God's heaviest judgments upon His ancient people, the Jews ? and for which they were visited with pestilence, fever, and famine. (see Deut. xxviii. 22, 23, 38—40), and finally carried into captivity by the Babylonians ? You answer without hesitation,-Idolatry. Surely " they were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works ;” and God said concerning them, “ Ephraim hath joined affinity to idols: let him alone.” And has not England been guilty of the same thing? Has she not encouraged the Roman Catholic religion at home and abroad? Is she not at this moment giving 30,000l. per annum from her treasury for, the education of priests of that idolatrous system which teaches its poor deluded votaries to pay divine honours to a woman, and invests its Pope, a fallen son of Adam, with the attribute of infallibility, which belongs to God only? thus aiding Rome in keeping the Irish peasantry in spiritual bondage, when hundreds of them are panting to shake off the yoke. We hesitate not to say this sin has been the peculiar cause of the judge ments which now so sorely afflict us. Look at the past history of our country, and learn that whenever Protestant principles have been acted upon by our Legislature, we have prospered, and that, on the contrary, whenever Popery has been favoured, disastrous have been the results. God has blessed England in a manner quite unparalleled in the history of any other country. He has given to this little island possessions so vast, that, as has been truly said, “ the sun never sets upon her dominions.” And why is this? Because, since the glorious Reformation, our country has been an essentially Protestant country-a land of Bibles. We might almost appropriate to our

« PreviousContinue »