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the New ; fisaż · 361
Catholics and Protestants. .. 8 Repeal Rent and the starving Irish 122
— why Roman Catholics
205 ment Grant for Education . : 355
Roman Catholics in Parliament , 389
Roman Catholics, query, fellow-
subjects . . . . . . . . 241
19 Rome, aggressive system against . 383
Catechism in Italy . . . 250
Chapels in England. .. 328
College of Oscott...
Priesthood in Ireland . .
Charity, or the dead before
- Rampant . . . . . . 156 Salisbury, É. D., Esq., Speech of. 191
1688 . . . . . . . . . 69
Scriptural caution against Popery 16, 49
cipation . . . . . . . . 156
Ireland . . . . . . . . . 260
26 Thankfulness : . ::.:. 354
223 tures . . .
· .. 349
291 Watson, Mr., Bill in favour of Po-
. . . . . 98
ments there . . . . . . .
for a Student for the Church 92 of Popish Penalties. ..: 288
liament, January .. .. .
THE PROTESTANT CHARACTER OF THE BRITISH
CONSTITUTION. BEFORE we again address our readers, Parliament will probably have reassembled, and, ere the close of the year, will be dissolved. The electors of the United Kingdom will then be called on to exercise their privilege, or rather, to discharge their duty as voters,—a solemn duty, conscientiously to be discharged to their God and their country, and that too, under circumstances of the most thrilling interest, and importance.
Upon the measures of the next Parliament rests the fate of the empire ;—whether we shall still continue a Protestant nation, retrieve past errors, and enjoy the Divine blessing, by acting nationally, in conformity with the requirements of Scripture, or shall assimilate our policy more and more to that of neighbouring, and less favoured States, till our essentially Protestant character shall entirely be lost, and England again be reckoned amongst the kingdoms giving her power, and support to the Papal apostasy.
This remains to be considered. In all human probability this will be decided in the next session of Parliament, and it rests with the electors of the empire to determine the nature of that Parliament. The electors have protested against the ruinous and Anti-protestant proceedings of their leaders; let them vote in consistency with their petitions, that they may thus themselves be free from the guilt of supporting Popery.
If, conscious of their duty, they resolve at once, promptly, energetically, unitedly, to make a bold and vigorous stand in defence of our Constitution ;-if they determine to hold patriotism above party,-religion above politics,-principle before expediency ;-if they will exercise the elective franchise as a talent for which, in common with other talents, they are accountable to Him who gave it ;-then we shall see the next Parliament presenting a phalanx of Christian men, resolved not further to betray, but to defend, the Constitution; not to ruin, but to retrieve, and to carry out, upon Christian principles, a policy worthy of this great Protestant nation.
But we are here met with the assertion of some, that our Constitution is no longer Protestant. This, however, is assertion, and nothing more. That inroads have been made upon Vol. IX.-January, 1847.
New Series, No. 13.
its Protestant character, we readily admit; that its Protestant character is destroyed and gone, we must deny.
The word, “Constitution,” may be taken to signify the state of being, the established form of government, or the system of policy, laws, and customs, under which the administration of public affairs is carried on.
Protestant, in its etymological sense, signifies one who protests. In its popular sense, it is one who protests against the theological and political errors of the Church of Rome; more generally, perhaps, all in this country who are not Roman Catholics.
We cannot here, however, stop to notice the ordinary objections to the use of this word, and the taunts applied to those who use it, by men who have forgotten or betrayed the sacred cause of the Reformation. Protestantism is not a mere negation. It is positive in its assertion of the great truths of Christianity : it is negative, as denying the corruptions and falsehoods of Popery. Protestantism, as understood by us, is primitive Christianity. It is Christianity without Popery ; the religion of Scripture, as opposed to the religion of tradition; the true and ancient faith, established in this country before the errors of Popery were known.
We have here, then, to consider the Protestant character of the British Constitution, and will briefly investigate three points,
1. Was there at any time any mark by which it could be designated as having a characteristic protestantism?
2. If so, at what time, and wherein did it consist ? 3. Is there any such now?
1. The first portion of this subject involves so much of antiquarian research, that however interesting it may be to some, we feel compelled here to pass it by, with only a short remark, in order to arrive at other not less interesting, and more important points.
To pass over the various struggles for freedom from Romish tyranny, to which the records of our country bear witness, whether in civil or spiritual matters, and coming down to the period of the Reformation, we find the foreign interference of Papal Rome thrown off, and the independence of our Church and nation reasserted. . These measures, from whatever cause undertaken, were beneficial to the country. We assumed a still more Protestant character under the reign of Edward VI.; and though the accession of Queen Mary dimmed for a time the prospects of the Reformation, yet during the reign of her immediate successor, Queen Elizabeth, the cause of the Reformation rapidly advanced, and our Constitution assumed a more decidedly Protestant character, advancing yet further in the reign of King James I., till, by the Bill of Rights and Act of Settlement, regulations were made intended permanently to engraft Protestantism with the Constitution of the country, in Church and State.
2. This Protestant character consisted in protesting against the spiritual and temporal evils of Popery.
The Reformation, in the sixteenth century, preceded the Revolution of the seventeenth century. A knowledge of the errors of Popery, and of Rome's determination, by intrigue or violence, to force those errors again upon an enlightened and protesting nation, compelled our ancestors to see that the spiritual power of the Church of Rome, exercised upon temporal matters, was dangerous to the peace of the State, and led to the settlement of the Constitution upon the basis in which it was placed in 1688. . The Statutes of the realm,—the Canons of the Church,—the Articles of the Church,—the Coronation Service, the declaration made by our most gracious Sovereign on her accession,—are all proofs of this.
We had prepared to go at full length into these, but want of
all pipe had preparou doing the King's suprataint
in this te, thirdly; acter of the but
Canon 1,* ordains that the King's supremacy over the Church: of England in causes ecclesiastical be maintained, and that all foreign and usurped power be taken away and abolished; and Canon 66,* that ministers shall endeavour to reclaim Roman Catholics from their errors.
Not to mention all the articles of our Church which bear reference to the errors of Popery, it is expressly laid down in Art. XXXVI. that the Bishop of Rome “ hath no jurisdiction in this realm of England.”
3. But, thirdly; we are told, that whatever may once have been the Protestant character of the British Constitution, it no longer retains any such characteristic marks. It is frequently and confidently asserted by our opponents, and too often timidly assented to, and lamented by our friends, that the Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1829 has totally destroyed and annihilated every vestige of the Protestant character of the British Constitution.
This, however, on the part of our opponents, is assertion without proof and against proof-on the part of our friends a needless admission, which, while it is inconsistent with fact, tends to discourage those who should be our supporters.
Our Constitution even now retains its characteristic Protestantism. What! some will say, now that Roman Catholics are admitted to Parliament, to almost every office of dignity and emolument ? Yes, we reply; and, not desirous that our readers should receive anything merely on the strength of our assertion, proceed to give the reasons for our arriving at such conclusionthe plain and invincible proofs that our Constitution, though encroached upon, has not been destroyed.
* As the substance of these two Canons is given in the report of Mr. Gordon's speech, in our December number, we do not here quote them at length,
But whe, King Hihe time of Were we notarles I., the Charles Deco
Now, it is clear that Roman Catholics were not excluded from Parliament till 30 Car. II., 1678.
But had our Constitution nothing of Protestant character till then ?
Yes, most assuredly it had ;-the removing, then, of that which was only an additional item in the formation of the Protestant character does not destroy it.
The Roman Catholic Relief Act removed many disabilities under which Roman Catholics had been placed. It removed the declaration against Transubstantiation, imposed by 30 of King Charles II.
But we were a Protesting nation in the time of that half-popish monarch, King Henry VIII., of his Protestant successor, King Edward VI., in the time of Queen Mary, and yet more in the time of Queen Elizabeth. Were we not also a Protestant people in the reign of King James I., King Charles I., the protectorate of Oliver Cromwell, and during the reign of King Charles II.? Most assuredly we were. Charles II. found the country Protestant; and, notwithstanding all the efforts made by Romish intrigue at Court, he left it so. But it was not till the thirtieth year of his reign, 1678, that the Act passed by which Roman Catholics were excluded from seats in Parliament.
Now it is abundantly clear, that if we were a Protestant people - if our Constitution had a Protestant character in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, when Roman Catholics had seats in Parliament
-their being re-admitted does not destroy the Protestant character of our Constitution in the reign of Queen Victoria.
Yet further; as ably remarked by Mr. Perceval, the oath now taken by Roman Catholic Members of the House of Commons, distinctly shows that they were admitted by a Protestant Parliament to seats in a Protestant legislature, on condition of their coming under Protestant obligations, and taking an oath, * intended for the security of our Protestant Institutions.
In point of history and fact, then, it is clear that our Constitution had a Protestant character, and that it still retains it.
We would, however, direct the attention of our readers to principles, rather than mere authorities. We feel bound to express our conviction-a conviction strengthened by daily experience and observation—that things will not stand because hitherto they have stood. We live in times of change and peril; we have almost daily instances, that what Parliament has done, Parliament may undo—-varying our commercial regulations—chang. ing our colonial, foreign, or domestic policy-altering the Constitution, so as may seem to suit it, more and more to the varying nature of the times in which our lot is cast. We must therefore look to principle-resolve to do even little things, as they are
* See post, where this oath is given at length.