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the following manner: 'Let every man be subject to the 4 higher powers; and they that resist receive unto themselves 4 damnation.'* A strong conviction then that, in obeying our rulers, we obey God, (who leaves no virtue unrewarded, as he leaves no vice unpunished) sweetens the thoughts of subjection; and under the hardest master, obedience is no longer a hardship to the true Christian.
So great was the impression made by this doctrine on the minds of the primitive Christians—so great was their love for public order, that, although they rilled the whole empire and all the armies, they never once flew out into any disorder. Under all the cruelties that the rage of persecutors could invent; amidst so many seditions and civil wars; amidst so many conspiracies against the persons of emperors, not a seditious Christian could be found.
We have the same motives to animate our conduct; the same incentive to piety, godliness, and honesty: the same expectations that raise us above all earthly things, and put us beyond the reach of mortality. 'For, here on earth,' says St. Paul, 'we have not a lasting city, but expect a * better.'—Let not public calamities, bloody wars, the scourges of heaven, and the judgments of God, be incentives to vice, plunder, rebellion, and murder; but rather the occasions of the reformation of our morals, and spurs to repentance. Let religion, which by patience has triumphed over the Caesars, and displayed the cross in the banners of kings, without sowing disorders in their realms, support itself without the accursed aid of insurrection and crimes. Far from expecting to enrich ourselves at the expence of justice, and under the fatal shelter of clouds of confusion and troubles, let us seriously reflect, that death will soon level the poor and rich in the dust of the grave: that we are all to appear naked before the awful tribunal of Jesus Christ, to account for our actions; and that it is by millions of times more preferable to partake of the happiness of Lazarus, who was conveyed to Abraham's bosom, after a life of holiness and poverty, than to be rich and wicked, and to share the fate of that happy man who, dressed in purple, and after a life of ease and opulence, was refused a
* Rom. Chap. xiii.
drop of water to allay his burning thirst. In expectation that you will comply with the instructions of your bishop and clergy, not only from dread of the laws, but moreover from the love and fear of God.
I remain, my dear brethren,
Your affectionate servant,
Cork, August U, 1779.
REV. JOHN WESLEY S LETTER,
Containing the civil principles of Roman Catholics; also, a De~ fence of the Protestant Association.
To The Printer.
Some time ago, a pamphlet was sent me, entitled, ' An 'Appeal from the Protestant Association to the people of * Great Britain.' A day or two since, a kind of answer to this was put into my hand, which pronounces, 1 its style con. 'temptible, its reasoning futile, and its object malicious.'— On the contrary, I think the style of it is clear, easy, and natural; the reasoning, in general, strong and conclusive; the object, or design, kind and benevolent: and, in pursuance of the same kind and benevolent design, I shall endeavour to confirm the substance of that tract, by a few plain arguments.
With persecution I have nothing to do. I persecute no man for his religious principles. Let there be 'as boundless 'a freedom in religion,' as any man can conceive: but this does not touch the point. I will set religion, true or false, utterly out of the question: suppose the Bible if you please, to be a fable, and the Koran to be the word of God. I consider not, whether the Romish religion be true or false, I build nothing on one or the other supposition: therefore away with all your common-place declarations about intolerance and persecution for religion! Suppose every word of Pope Pius's creed to be true—suppose the Council of Trent to have been infallible—yet, I insist upon it, that no government, not Roman Catholic, ought to tolerate men of the Roman Catholic persuasion.
Lprove this by a plain argument: let him answer it that
That no Roman Catholic does or can give security for his allegiance or peaceable behaviour, I prove thus: it is a Roman Catholic maxim, established, not by private men, bat by a public Council, that, 'no faith is to be kept with here'tics.' This has been openly avowed by the Council of Constance, but it never was openly disclaimed. Whether private persons avow or disavow it, it is a fixed maxim of the church of Rome: but as long as it is so, nothing can be more plain, than that the members of that church can give no reasonable security to any government of their allegiance or peaceable behaviour; therefore, they ought not to be tolerated by any government* Protestant, Mahometan, or Pagan.
You may say, 'nay, but you will take an oath of allegi'ance.' True, five hundred oaths; but the maxim, 'no * laitn is to be kept with heretics,' sweeps them all away, as > a spider's web; so that still, no governors, that are not Roman Catholics, can have any security of their allegiance.
Again, those who acknowledge the spiritual power of the Pope, can give no security of their allegiance to any government; but all Roman Catholics acknowledge this; therefore they can give no security for their allegiance.
The power of granting pardons for all sins past, present, and to come, is, and has been, for many centuries, one branch of his spiritual power: but those who acknowledge him to have this spiritual power, can give no security for their allegiance; since they believe the Pope can pardon rebellions, high treasons, and all other sins whatsoever.
The power of dispensing with any promise, oath* or vow, is another branch of the spiritual power of the Pope; and all who acknowledge his spiritual power, must acknowledge this; but whoever acknowledges the dispensing power of the Pope, can give no security of his allegiance to any government.
Oaths and promises are none: they are light as air; a dispensation makes them all null and void.
Nay, not only the Pope, but even a priest, has power to pprdon sins! this is an essential doctrine of the church of Rome, but they that acknowledge this, cannot possibly give any security for their allegiance to any government. Oaths are no security at ail; for the priest can pardon both perjury and high treason.
Setting-, then, religion aside, it is plain, that upon principles of reason, no government ought to tolerate men, who cannot give any security to that government for their allegiance and peaceable behaviour; but this no Romanist can do, not only while he holds, that 1 no faith is to be kept with 'heretics,' but so long as he acknowledges either priestly absolution, or the spiritual power of the Pope.
'But the late act,' you say, 'does not either tolerate or 'encourage Roman Catholics.' I appeal to matter of fact. Do not the Romanists themselves understand it as a toleration? You know they do. And does it not already, let alone what it may do by-and-by, encourage them to preach openly, to build chapels, at Bath and elsewhere, to raise seminaries, and to make numerous converts, day by day, to their intolerant, persecuting principles? I can point out if need be, several of the persons: and they are increasing daily.
But 'nothing dangerous to English liberty is to be ap'prehended from them.' I am not certain of that. Some time since a Romish priest came to one 1 knew, and after talking with her largely, broke out, 'You are no heretic! 'You have the experience of a real Christian!' 4 And 'would you,' she asked, 'burn me alive V He said, 'God 'forbid! Unless it were for the good of the church*'
Now, what security could she have for her life, if it had depended on that man? The good of the church would have burst all the ties of truth, justice and mercy; especially, when seconded by the absolution of a priest, or, if need were, a papal pardon.
If any one please to answer this, and to set his name, I shall, probably reply: but the productions of anonymous writers I do not promise to take any notice of.
I am, Sir,
Your humble Servant,