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PROTESTANT MOVEMENT IN THE WEST OF ENGLAND.
(Abridged from the “ Exeter Flying Post.”) On Tuesday, 12th Jan., a highly respectably attended meeting was held at the Subscription Rooms in the city of Exeter, for the purpose of forming a Protestant Alliance for the western counties of Dorset, Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall.
The Earl of Cavan was in the chair; and on the platform, and among those in the room, we noticed Sir Digby Mackworth, Bart., W. H. Peters, Esq., J. Axford, Esq., J. Bacon, Esq., W. Trenchard, Esq., G. H. Harvey, Esq., Dr. Deshan, Captain Wright; Revds. J. Hatchard, W. H. Howard, R. H. Kendall, R. H. Tripp, P. Douglas, S. Rowe, H. A. Simcoe, D. Nantes, - Lundy, T. Dixon, W. G. Heathman, — Whidbourne, Prebendary Tottenham, R. A. Taylor, Humphrey Allen, G. P. Despard, Harvey Marriott, Hobart Seymour, - Whish, W. Hockin, W. Strong, W. Bagnell, Mr. Cowie, J. P. Haswell, J. J. Topham; W. C. Barnard, Esq. (Clifton), Guy Everard, Esq., James Lord, Esq., E. Henning, Esq., Lieut. Brokenshire, R.N., W. Porter, Esq., Wm. Wreford, Esq. (Clannaborough), Samuel Wreford, Esq. (Chulmleigh), E. P. Pridham, Esq., R. Arscott, Esq., Capt. Berkeley, &c., &c., &c.
Prayers were read by the Rev. PHILIP W. DOUGLAS, Minister of Escott Chapel.
The Noble Chairman then rose, saying, that in accordance with a notice to this effect they were met there that day, and he could have wished that to preside over them some gentleman had been found possessed of more freedom of speech, and greater abilities than he could pretend to. But so far, he felt this to be a call of duty, from which he dared not shrink. Did he do so, he should be unworthy the name of an Englishman, since the cause on which they met was in itself most holy, being the cause of the Bible. (Applause.) For 300 years, under Protestant principles, had this country enjoyed prosperity, and been blessed in its privileges and liberties. It was these blessings which it was desired should go down to posterity; and for this purpose a greater means would, in all probability, shortly present itself. An election could not be far distant; and he did hope that when this should take place, the electors of England would not be led away by offers of silver or of gold—by the plausible pretences of this, or by the sophistical arguments of that; but would remember that it was a sacred duty they were about to discharge, and in doing this, what they owed to their country and their God. (Applause.) He said nothing about Conservatism, or Whiggism-of Radicals, or any other of those political terms that were so profusely handed about, and obtruded on the public ear; but what he wanted, and what he wished the electors of England to see, and to insist upon, was, that the man who obtained their votes was in truth and indeed a Protestant-one who would maintain the principles of Protestantism in all their integrity, and protest strongly against any further concessions to Popery. The subtlety of the arts of persons of that persuasion rendered it necessary that every one should be on his guard; but as other gentlemen would address them upon this subject, he (the Chairman) would now request attention to what they might say.
The Rev. JOHN HATCHARD, Vicar of St. Andrew's, Plymouth, now rose for the purpose of moving the first Resolution, and addressing the Noble Lord in the chair, and his Christian friends comprising that Meeting, proceeded to say, He had been called on by the voice of his fellow men, by the voice of his brother clergymen, and he believed by the voice of God, to come there and take some part in these proceedings; and his heartfelt prayer was, that they might be so guided by the Spirit of God, that they might be enabled to speak openly, fairly, firmly, and scripturally, on the great matter on which it was necessary that Meeting should be addressed. He spoke it unfeignedly, but had felt that he ought not to take this upon himself, but had been called to it, he believed, because he was among the oldest incumbents in this diocese ; and, therefore, it was that he had been placed in the very front of the battle, and to this, and in the name of God, had he come. This then was not a political meeting in the sense in which the term was so frequently used, but it was a political meeting, and a political question of the highest import to the present and eternal interests of man was about to be brought forward in it. Had it been for the discussion of some mere point or question connected with Whig or Tory, then would he not have been there. There was another question, however, mixed up with this. It had been said the clergy ought not to meddle with politics, but he did not assent to this; on the contrary, it could be shown on the very highest authority, that the clergy most especially were called on to discharge their duty to their country and to their fellow men in this respect. He would refer them to Scripture in proof of this, and it was upon the ground of this command that he now came forward to agitate. His design was to agitate as to the means by which to avert the evils with which the kingdom of England all that is holy and sacred in it—and the throne itself is threatened. To show the Meeting, and he hoped the public also, that the clergy were the parties whose bounden duty it was to arouse the people in all seasons of danger, and more especially of danger such as that with which they were now menaced; he would refer them to the 33rd chapter of the book of the Prophet Ezekiel, where it would be found written, “ The word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: if when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people ; then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning ; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning, his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned ; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand. So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.” The clergy were thus imperatively commanded and called upon to discharge their duty; they were the regularly appointed
watchmen for the people, and they were to warn them, their children by their firesides, their neighbours as opportunity was afforded for this, and their congregations from the pulpit. My Lord, said Mr. Hatchard, I love those who are Papists, I love those who are Tractarians; but I hate Popery, and I hate Tractarianism. I will now then read to the Meeting the Resolution which has been placed in my hands, and it is this, " That this Meeting do express its gratitude to Almighty God for the blessings of Protestant light and liberty enjoyed by ourselves and our forefathers during the last 300 years; and deeply regrets that state of moral insensibility to those blessings which has been manifested by every succeeding ministry for many years past; and more especially that our Parliaments, elected by a Protestant people, should so far forget the sacred nature of the trust committed to them both by God and their constituents, as to carry by increasing majorities every measure which has been brought forward to aid the ambitious efforts of Popery to regain her ascendancy in this Protestănt land." He would ask, who could tell the wonderful blessings which had been introduced into this country by the Reformation ? Previous to that glorious era, the Bible was shut up from the people of England. It was to be found in monasteries and religious houses, but to which, or to that blessed book, very few among the people had access. And yet how stood the fact now? Why that in one town in England alone, in one year, there had been distributed and circulated 90,000 copies of the Bible, and this, they owed to the Reformation. He would not vote for a man who would not first so pledge himself, in the University of Cambridge, in the county of Devon, or the borough of Plymouth, in all which places he had the privilege of a vote. He did not say for whom he would vote, but this he did most distinctly say, that he would not vote for a man who would not first pledge himself to support, in all its integrity and rights, our Protestant Established Church, and oppose to the utmost every further concession to Popery.-This, then, was the medium,—this the means by which Popery was to be arrested in its course, and resolutely, fearlessly, manfully carried out at the next election, and he had no fears for the result. The effect must be very great and immediate, and eventually would greatly alter the tone in other places. Mr. Hatchard now touched on the several bills that have passed the Legislature, giving encouragement to Popery: on the subject of Maynooth ; and on the dangers arising in the education of youth, from the principles of indifference to matters of the most vital moment, implanted in their minds by those under whom they are placed. He adverted to the insidious nature of many works that are now placed in the hands of the young,—to the novels, the poems, and other works, speciously drawn up, but pernicious in character, which with fine showy outsides, and engravings and wood-cuts, serve but to poison the minds of those in whose way these are placed, and either beget in them a desire for alliance with religious error, or cause an indifference to all holy things, and to religious truth. He advised that great care should be taken as to the parties with whom young persons were placed, and this particularly as regards females, relating instances of the mischief which has followed the neglect of this. He combated the doctrine also which has been so frequently and spe. ciously advanced, that mankind are now too much enlightened to render it possible that Popery can ever more rear its head, and exercise its cruel and tyrannical power in this country. Some men, indeed, were fond of saying this, but facts were opposed to it, when you could scarcely take up a newspaper without meeting with some paragraph headed “ Conversions to Popery." His advice to all then was, to keep close to the word of God, to keep close to the Prayer-Book of our Church, and to study the Homilies. He believed it was owing to the want of attention in this respect that we were in our present state. He invited all, then, to live much in prayer ; to pray for the people ; to pray for the Tractarians, that they may be led to see their errors ; to pray for all who are not of the Protestant faith ; to pray for the fall of all error, so that at last it may be enabled to be proclaimed throughout England with a loud voice, Babylon is fallen. Mr. Hatchard concluded by moving his Resolution.
JOHN BACON, Esq., seconded the Resolution, following up the arguments of the Rev. mover, and pressing upon electors the duty they owe to God and to their country, at the coming election, to vote for no man, be he whom he may, or however he may be accompanied, or by whomsoever recommended, if he will not in the first place distinctly and clearly pledge himself to oppose all further concessions to the Roman Catholics, and all grants to Maynooth. Mr. Bacon typified the Papal Church by relating the fable of the countryman and the snake, which though harmless when frozen, yet no sooner had the sense of vitality returned, than it proceeded to sting the hand by which it had been nurtured and restored to life. The Resolution was put from the chair, and adopted unanimously.
The second Resolution was moved by the Rev. Prebendary E. TOTTENHAM. The Rev. Gentleman supported this Resolution at considerable length, pressing this consideration on the meeting with much force of argument, that Romanism is a system of persecution, and opposed to civil and religious liberty. He showed also that Popery has never changed, but to the present hour possesses the same character it has ever done. He further called on all electors at the coming election to show that they are really Protestants,--that they understand their principles, and come what may, are resolved to do their duty to their God, their Sovereign, and their Church,-in rejecting every man who will not pledge himself to resist all further concessions to the Roman Catholics.
Lieut.-Col. Sir DIGBY MACKWORTH, Bart., seconded the Resolution, reiterating the arguments which had been used by the preceding speakers, and pointing out to the electors of England the manner in which it will be their duty to act at the next election, if they desire to retain the character of true Protestants, in refusing their support to every candidate who will not pledge himself to oppose all further concessions to the Roman Catholics.
The third Resolution was moved by the Rev. P. W. DOUGLAS. WM. H. PETERS, Esq., seconded the Resolution, which was also adopted unanimously.
The next Resolution, which was moved by the Rev. HENRY A. SIMCo, was seconded by JAMES LORD, Esq., in an able address, and carried unanimously.
EXETER EVENING MEETING.
The evening Meeting was more numerously attended than that held in the morning. The Earl of Cavan again presided, and after prayer for the Divine blessing, the Meeting was addressed by Sir Digby Mackworth, Bart., Rev. M. H. Seymour, James Lord, Esq., Blake, Esq., and Rev. J. Hatchard.
Mr. Lord dwelt at much length on the fact, that Popery was increasing, and with its unchanged nature was grasping after the supremacy it had at one time held in this country. Its increase, however, was no more to be welcomed than the approach of pestilence, nor any proof that Popery was true. Its progress was owing to the too great supineness of Protestants, who seemed to think their privileges could not be lost, that Popery was powerless and harmless. Greater errors, however, could not be fallen into. Churches had lost their purity, and nations their freedom, and were now as beacons to us to shun the same dangers.
The Protestant feeling out of Parliament was, however, he regretted, no index to the feeling in Parliament. Some sacrificed to party claims, what individually they believed right, and in their public capacity endowed Popery, though in their private capacity they would hesitate and shrink from the guilt of doing so.
He trusted the electors would, at the next election, return those to Parliament, who would alike in their private and public capacity act upon sound Protestant Constitutional principles.
He referred to the subject of pledges to maintain the Protestant Constitution as being what electors had a right to require, for the purpose of knowing the real views and principles of those who sought their suffrages.
No man was more opposed to making the House of Commons a Meeting of Delegates than he was. But he contended it was not more unconstitutional to require a candidate to promise not to vote for the endowment of the Romish priesthood in Ireland, than it was for each member to take an oath, before taking his seat to support the Crown and Protestant succession. .,
He referred to the nature and designs of Popery in Madeira, Ireland, France, and especially the discussion in the Chamber of Deputies, as to the rights of Colporteurs to circulate the Scriptures, and the speech of Count Agenor Gasparin on the subject, and asked if one of such views, would object to satisfy every enquiry and reasonable request of his constituents ? If, indeed, he would not be before-hand with them, that neither he nor they should be wanting in every possible exertion to avert the national evils which Popery, nationally encouraged, ever brought upon the nation that was first her patron, then became her victim and her slave. He strongly urged upon all who supported religious and missionary Institutions, to exert themselves to prevent the funds of the country being applied to the education or support of Romish priests, who would seek to put a stop to all the efforts of Protestant missionaries.
SCRIPTURAL CAUTION AGAINST POPERY.
(Concluded from page 19.) We are perfected, “By one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Heb. x. 14)—and complete in him,—“Ye Vol. IX.-February, 1847. E
New Series, No. 14.