Page images
[ocr errors]

testant churches, and put to death by Protestant magistrates. They never mention the description given of berėtics by Protestant writers; by Godolphin, the Protestant canonist, and sir Edward Coke, the Protestant lawyer, who both call heresy, « lepram animæ”the leprosy of the soul. No. Heresy is the Papist's favourite theme. No Protestant ever made any commentaries on it.

The fame uncandid fallacy that lurks under the word beretic, with which the Catholics are always taunted, is manifest in the strained construction of the canon of the council of Constande., A fpiritual cause is to be tried by ecclesiastical judges. They declare that “no “ safe-conduct granted by princes, shall hinder " heretics from being judged and punished," (with ecclefiaftical censures and degradation, for their power to punih can extend no farther) " and that when the person who has pro"mised them security” (from this ecclefiaftical punishment, for no other can be meant by a spiritual tribunal) “has done all that is in his “ power to do, shall not, in this case," (the case of securing from a spiritual or ecclefiaftical punishment inflicted by a lawful superior) “ be: obliged to keep his promise :" because a' pro- mise of the kind, made to one of their rebellious clergymen, who corrupts and falsifies their doctrine, is an unjust usurpation of their rights, and subversive of their spiritual jurisdiction.


1. And

And an unjust promise, injurious to the rights of another, is not binding, let the tie be'what it will. Herod proinised upon oath to give liis daughter whatever she would ask før. He was not bound to give her the head of John the Baptist. If the king of England, without even depriving a single man of his estate, bound limself by oath, to arrogate to himself the legiflative as well as the executive power ; every antagonist of popery, from the prelate down to the tub-preacher, would cry out, with the fathers of the council of Constance : “He is not, " in this case, obliged to keep his promise.”

[ocr errors]

In this sense, the canon of the council is to be understood. In this sense, the fathers themselves, the best interpreters of their own meaning, understood it. In this sense, the Catholic. doctors, all over the world, understand it: they who are more competent judges of their own creed, than either Mr. Locke or Mr. Wesley. Such of them as are of opinion, that the supreme power of the state can make heresy a capital crime, rise up with indignation against the false accusers who say that the council authorised breach of faith with heretics. They write in Catholic states where they have nothing 10 fear, and less to 'expect, from Mr. Wesley and his London rioters. ..

If Mr. Wesley construes this canon in a different fense, it is no reason for obiruding his

serebassicorda ino" shi tortured


tortured construction on me, as an article of orthodoxy. An Arian may as well persuade the public, that I do not believe in the Divinity of Christ, because he does not believe in it hiinself, and tortures the scriptures in support of his errors. John Huss was a priest, ordained in the Church of Rome, and said mass until the day of bis confinement. I suppose Mr. Wesley will not allow, that a temporal prince could deprive bis spiritual superiors from censuring and degrading him, if found guilty of an erroneous doctrine,

Every church claims to herself the power of inflicting fpiritual punishments independent of the civil magiftrate—The church of Rome, the confistories of Scotland, and all others. When the council of two hundred arrogated to themselves, the power of denouncing and absolving from censures, and in consequence intended to absolve one Bertelier, Calvin ascended the pulpit, and, with outstretched hands, threatened to oppose force to force ; exclaimed with vehemence of voice against the profanation, and forced the sea nate to resign their spiritual commission. Berte- . ' lier was punished in spite of the promise of the civil power. When Mr. Wesley refused the facrament to Mrs. Williamson in Georgia, for oppo. sing the propagation of the gospel, in giving the preference to Mr. Williamson, the layman, at a time when the clergyman intended to light Hymen's torch with a Spark of grace: a conflict

... of .

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

of jurisdiction between the clergy and laity was

the result. Mr. Wesley was indicted; and the · following warrant, copied by himself into his journal was issued. “GEORGIA. SAVANNAH. ff. “To all constables, tything men, and others

“ whom these may concern. " You and each of you are hereby required to is take the body of John Wesley, clerk, &c. “ &c. &c. Signed, Th. Christie.” "Tuesday, the ninth," says Mr. Wesley, Mr.

Jones, the constable, carried me before Mr. “ Bailiff Parker and Mr. Recorder, My answer “ to them was—that the giving or refusing the 5 Lord's supper being a matter purely ecclesial-, “tic, I could not acknowledge their power to “ interrogate me upon it."* If Mr. Wesley, then, thought himself justifiable in pleading the clerical privilege, let him not blame the fathers of Constance, for declaring their right to punijb with ecclesiastical censures and degradation, one of their own subjects, in spite of any safe-conduct granted by the civil power; especially at a time when this fuperiority over their own clergy, was confirmed to the bishops by the laws of the empire, with which Sigismund could no more dif

pense * See this whole affair in Mr. Wesley's Journal of the year 1737, p. 43. Bristol printed by Felix Farley.


pense at that time, than James the second could in his.

“But,” says Mr. Wesley,“ sure Huss would Co not have come to Constance, had he foreseen s the consequence.” That regarded himself. Obstinate persons seldom think themselves in error. Strange instances of this obstinacy can be met with in the trials of the regicides: some of whom declared, at the hour of death, that they gloried in having a hand in the king's death, and would chearfully play over the same tragedy. We have a more recent instance of this obftinaey, in one of Mr. Wesley's martyrs. Scarcely could the Protestant clergyman prevail on one of the rioters, who had been very active in plundering the city of London, last year, to take the blue cockade out of his hat, in going to the gallows. He cried out that he died a martyr to the Proteftant religion. We have daily instances of peos ple giving themselves up to take their trial, who are disappointed, without any imputation on their judges.

Jerome of Prague, who maintained the fame error with Huss, came to Constance, after his confrere's execution. The council sent him a safe-conduct, with this express clause: “ falvo “jure concilii"-reserving to the council its right to judge you. He came: and the council judged and punished him with degradation, as it had


« PreviousContinue »