Page images
PDF
EPUB

In fine, the opinion of a learned Protestant bi-' shop: "Among all the heresies this age has "spawned, there is not one more contrary to *' the whole design of religion, and more de"structive of mankind, than is that bloody "opinion of defending religion by arms, and "of forcible resistance upon the colour of re"ligion."

However, upon closer inspection into those persecutions which have changed Europe into a scene of Gothic barbarity, we shall find a combination of various causes, amongst which religion was a pretext, passion and .policy the main springs.

To clear religion from those bloody imputations, let us contrast the present to the past times: the Huguenots, formerly victims to the policy of Catharine de Medicis, live now in peace and opulence, enjoy their rich estates in Poitou, Lower Normandy, &c. The order of Military Merit is instituted to reward the valour of their officers: and in France no man's religion is a bar to his promotion in the career of military honours, whereas nothing more common than to fee the French legions commanded by Protestant generals. Here in Ireland, the Catholics, formerly drove by thousands into woods and caverns, and their clergy hunted like wild beasts, live unmolested, though debarred of the

privilege

privilege of becoming soldiers or mayor's serjeants. The respective Itgions of the two kingdoms are now what they were then : whence proceeds this happy transition from persecution to lenity? Not from the Christian religion, whose spirit never changes; but from the different characters of its professors.

The French Huguenots are now under Lewis XVI. They have been formerly under the sway of a Medicis. Formerly under the Stuarts, we are now governed by the Brunswicks. Our magistrates are Protestants, but quite different fiom those who, instead of redressing grievances, used to foment the rebellion, with a view of enriching themselves by . the spoils of oppression. In fine, fir, let us divest ourselves of paflion: Religion will never arm our hand with the poniard.

ART V.

"I further declare, that it is no article of my "faith, and that I do renounce, reject, and "abjure the opinion, that princes excommu'* nicated by the pope and council, or by ** any authority of the fee of Rome, or by "any authority whatsoever, may be deposed tr or murdered by their subjects, or by any . ** person whatsoever: and I do promise, that lz "lwill "I will not hold, maintain, or abet any such "opinion, or any other opinion, contra'ry to "what is expressed in this declaration."

This article of the test requires a peculiar discussion: as the pope's deposing power has caused such confusion in Europe, during the great struggles between the priesthood and empire, and is often an engine employed in parliament, to defeat the good intentions of the members, who, from principles of humanity and zeal for the prosperity of the kingdom, endeavour to remove the heavy yoke of penal restraints. The question is—Whether the deposing power be an article of the Catholic faith? For my heart startles and my hand recoils, at the words, "murdered by their subjects." As if the principles of any sect of Christians authorized a gloomy ruffian to plunge the dagger in the royal breast. To determine the question, let us enquire, first, Into the doctrine of the* church concerning the deposing power: secondly, Into its origin.

Resistance to princes has been an early charge against the church: and from her infancy down to this day, her pastors and doctors have repelled the calumny. An imputed doctrine then, yet still disclaimed, can never be an article of her faith.

It

It is true that the concessions of princes to the Apostolic fee,—an excessive veneration sop the first pastor of the church,—flattery in some, i—rash zeal in others,-—have raised up Bellarmin and some other champions sor the deposing power beyond the Alps. But the deviations of some individuals should be considered as spots in the fun, or the misconduct of a citizen whose fault should not be charged upon a large community.

The apologists of the deposing power (now grown obsolete) are few: and their doctrine must either stand or fall with the evidence or inevidence of their arguments, unsupported by authority, and contradicted by the practice and doctrine of all ages and nations.

In the Apostles time, the Jews began to revolt, and sow the feeds of that rebellion which assembled the Roman eagles round their walls, and involved their nation in final destruction: their great pretence was—the seeming impropriety of the subjection of God's chosen people to a heathen dominion: and, as the first converts sprung from the Jews, the Heathens consounded together Jews and Christians, and charged them alike with the doctrine of resistance to subordination and government. The great St. Paul vindicates the Christians, and

lays lays down for a general rule, "that every soul "must be subject to higher powers; that there "is no power but from God; and, that those. "who resist receive damnation unto them"selves."* Should any one reply, that " the *' church has more power over Christan kings, *' as by baptism they become her children," it can be easily answered, that dominion and temporal power are founded in free-will and the laws of nations, but not conferred nor taken away by a spiritual regeneration: and Bellarmin himself is forced to acknowledge, that '* the gospel deprives no man °f his right and "dominion, but gets him a new right to an *' eternal kingdom."'t

The apostolical constitutions, whether genuine or spurious, are certainly of an ancient date, and give us great insight into the discipline of the primitive times. They command "to fear the king as God's institution and ordi-' "nance. J". "The Christians worship God "only," says St. Justin Martyr, "they arc "subject to the emperors in all things else."*} "By whose command men are born," fays St. Irenæus, "by his commands also are kings "ordained, as suits the circumstances of those

"over

, * Romans, xiii.

f BeHarmin, de Rom. Pontif. Lib. T. C. 3. t Lib. VII. § Apolog. 2.

« PreviousContinue »