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liament, with all the plenitude of its power, is competent to legislate for the Church; though the privilege is now supposed, by the concession of emancipation to devolve on a Parliament of Papists. While the Coronation Oath guarantees the integrity of all “ the rights and privileges of the Church, " the Royal Declaration prefixed to the Articles,”. (to which the King is a party, though the Lords and Commons have not consented to pass them into a law,) is a full recognition, that the legislative power of the Church is vested in the King and the Convention, from which the Romanists are excluded, by the declaration against transubstantion, and the. oath of supremacy. This “ Declaration of the King” I shall now beg to transcribe: if it fail in : illustrating the knowledge, it will atleast evince the prowess with which the adversaries of emancipation transfix their opponents; or as Erasmus expresses it “ plumbeo jugulant gladio.” ,
“That we are Supreme Governor of the Church of England: and that if any difference arise about the external policy, concerning the Injunctions, Canons, and other Constitutions whatsoever thereto belonging, the Clergy in their Convocation is to order and settle them, having first obtained leave under our Broad Seal so to do, and we approving their said Ordinances and Constitutions ; providing that none be made contrary to the Laws and Customs of the Land. . . ..
That out of our princly care, that the Churchmen may do the work which is proper unto them, the Bishops and Clergy, from time to time in Convocation, upon their humble desire, shall have Licence under our Broad Seal to deliberate of, and to do all such things, as being made plain by them, and assented unto by us, shall concern the settled continuance of the Doctrine and Discipline of the Church of England now established ; from which we will not endure any varying or departing in the least degree.
4. In advancing towards the last difficulty aria . sing from the royal scruples, on the subject of the coronation oath; I confess I am witheld by a religious dread of approaching too rudely and inconsiderately the sacred inviolable precincts of conscience, the " sanctum penetral animi.”
But if any force be allowed to what I have ad-. vanced, and it may be admitted, (for it is natural,) that I should be the last to perceive its weakness : I shall be pardoned for expressing my private sense, that all danger to the established religion from emancipation being removed, and it strikes me as a perfect chimera, no valid objection to any civil concession, exists in the coronation engagements. And did not the conscience of Him, who bound himself by so solemn an act, exist under that suceptibility to scruples, which disqualifies the judgment for a dispassionate examination; I dare even presume, it could be viewed in no other light, by any royal personage, who may enter into the obligation.
While I deprecate the daring culpability of prescribing to the Sovereign's conscience, in giving or witholding its assent, any bounds but those dictated by his inward sense of justice and mercy : were mine the exalted, privilege to be admitted into his council, my own conscience could not feel itself discharged, without submitting, in humility, its own convictions. I should then deem it my sacred duty to observe,—That in the coronation engagements, a provision was generally made against danger to the Established Church, not against concession to his R. Catholic subjects. That if it appeared more particularly directed against them, it arose from the accidental circumstance of the danger apprehended, at the time, from Jabobite intrigues and influence. That the apparent and accidental objection having vanished,
as the source of it expired ; His Majesty was left to the unfettered exercise of his clemency and mercy. That if even a shadow of apprehension remained, the legitimate mode of removing it, lay, not in his excluding the R. Catholics from a share in the deliberations of Parliament; but in the unchangeable obligation he contracted of witholding his assent from any of its acts, which menaced the security of the Establishment. The counsel, thus humbly offered, however it might be rejected as repugnant to the true interests of the realm, conld not be condemned as failing in a due sense of the dignity of the crown; “non quicquam est quod Imperatorem melius commendat gentibus quam clemetia :hæc Cæsarem deum fecit, hæc Augustum consociavit divis.”
P. S. After dwelling so long upon the subject of the sacred obligation which binds the subject to allegiance, no labored defence will, I trust, be required, to shelter 'me from the obloquy of having entered into this discussion, with warmth and vehemence unfitting the occasion. For 1, (with all Ecclesiastics, whatever be their rank,) have bound myself, not merely by the oath of allegiance, but supremacy : and under the divine in-, junction, to “be subject, not only for wrath, but conscience sake.” If, therefore, I conceived a cabal organised against the Administration, with the object of limiting the King, in the exercise of his prerogative of confiding the trust in those which he might deem fit; (and it matters not whether this opposition was express or indirect, whether conceived in the conclave of the Lateran or the Trullus, in a tavern of Bishopsgate, or of Brentwood;) in discharging my conscience, were I regardless of the opinions of man, I should be impelled by my fear of God, and fealty to my King, “ to defend him to the utmost of my power, against all conspiracies, and attempts whatever, that shall be made against his person, crown, or dignity.”
Prittlewell : at the private Press of the Rev. F. Nolan,
On the Correspondence of his late Majesty with Mr.Pitt,
and the late Lord Kenyon.
In examining the consequences apprehended from concession to the R. Catholic claims, my observations, as directed to an ecclesiastical view of the subject, were necessarily partial and limited. The consideration of the question, in its legal and political bearings, I left to them, who, from their pursuits and opportunities, were best qualified to do justice to its merits. From an enquiry into the grounds of the scruples excited by the coronation obligations, I designedly abstained, as furnishing matter merely of speculation, to indulge in which would have been equally vain and irreverent.
By the publication of the Correspondence of his late Majesty with Lord Kenyon and Mr Pitt, the scruples which I then felt are in some respect dissipated. While the subject is there treated by these able advisers of the crown, with those powers which distinguished them in their respective departments ; it is considered with a specific view to the scruples of the King, which arose from his coronation engagements. In furnishing not merely a statement of the difficulties felt by His Majesty, but disclosing their foundation ; it may afford matter of respectful investigation, how far his decisions were supported by the cold deductions of jndgment, or were swayed by the tender scruples of conscience. But whatever delicacy may be felt, in assuming so invidious an office, it must yield to the consideration of the source from whence the King's objections were expressly derived; as deduced by His Majesty, from the State of the Question,” which he submitted for the opinion of the Chief Justice “as drawn up by a Right Reverend Prelate” of the Kingdom of Ireland. A document proceeding from such hands furnishes a legitimate subject not only of examination but for animadversion : to it I beg to be understood as confining my observations.
In no other view, indeed, can this subject be matter of examination or enquiry, consistently with the principles of the Constitution ; which in determining that “the King can neither think nor do wrong,”* supposes Him superior to the sentence of every earthly tribunal, whether exercising a private or public jurisdiction. In supposing him thus possessed, not indeed of a moral impeccability, but of a political perfection, it provides for his being placed above all responsibility, as well to natural as to positive law; in order to secure the sovereignty of his authority and the sacredness of his person.t This political irresponsibility of the Sovereign, is however ascribed, by the writers who assert it, a tacit opposition to the responsibility of his councilors ; I in this view of the subject every other consideration of it would consequently merge, had not his Majesty placed it on its true foundation, in handing over “the State of the Question, as drawn up by a Rt. Rev. Prelate,” to the Chief Justice, and Attorney General, for the benefit of their legal opinion.
On abstracting this document from the reverence
the Vid. Blackst. Com. I. vii. 2. p. 246. ed. Oxf. 4to. . + Id. ibid. 1. p.242. Montesq. Espr. des Loix IX. vi. p. 216. ed. Lond 4to. Blackst. ibid. p. 244. Montesq. ibid.