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'that is m his power to do,' prove that lawful promises are to be fulfilled?
Such jurisconsults, whether Catholics or Protestants, such as Prenus, Speklam, and others, as I have accidemiy read, concerning the nature of safe-conducts, lay down for a general rule, that they are never granted to suspend the execution of the laws. Salmis conductus contra jus non datur. It were nugatory in the Emperor Sigismund, presumptive heir to a kingdom, which Huss's doctrine had changed into a theatre of intestine wars, to grant a safe-conduct, the meaning and sense whereof would be equivalent to the following pass: 'Although you have set kingdoms in a blaze, by strik'ing at the vitals of temporal authority, and overthrow the 'established religion of the land, yet go to Constance and 'comeback, without appearing before your lawful judges, 1 or retracting doctrines which have caused such disturbances 'in church and state.' Safe-conducts then are not granted to screen delinquents from punishment, when legally convicted; much less, to countenance disobedience to the laws, and disorder, by impunity. * '-,
The Council was the most competent judge of Huss's doctrine, in which he steadfastly persevered. Neither king nor emperor could deprive the bishops of privileges inseparably annexed to their characters, viz. spiritual jurisdiction, and the right of judging doctrines. Huss was degraded, and retrenched, according to the usual formalities, from a communion from which he had separated himself before. This is all the bishops could have done; this they acknowledge after the sentence of Huss's degradation was pronounced. 'This 'sacred synod of Constance, considering that the church of • Christ has uothing further that it can do, decrees to leave 'John Huss to the judgment of the state.' His execution was in consequence of the imperial laws, enforced by the civil magistrate, as the execution of heretics in England and other Protestant states, has been in consequence of the imperial laws adopted by such powers. The Protestant clergy, as well as the clergy of Constance, decided upon points of doctrine, and went no farther.
Thus we see, that this- superannuated charge of violation of faith with heretics, resembles those nightly spectres which vanish upon a nearer approach. We find nothing in this Council, relative to such a charge, but a dispute about a pass granted to a man who goes to takes his trial before judges whose jurisdiction could not be superseded. Qr if we intend to do justice to men with the same eagerness that we are disposed to injure them, we must acknowledge that the fathers of that Council condemned lies, frauds, perjur}-, and those horrors which Mr. Wesley would fain fix upon the Roman Catholics. The foundations, then, on which Mr. Wesley has erected his aerial fabric, being once sapped, the superstructure must fall of course; and his long train of false and unchristian assertions are swept away as a spiderxs web, before the wind of logical rules. From absurd premises follows an absurd conclusion.
What greater absurdity than Mr. Wesley's insisting upon a general Council's disclaiming a doctrine it never taught? If Mr. Wesley be so credulous as to believe that the Pope has horns, we must convene a general Council to declare that his forehead is smooth? Is it not sufficient to disclaim the truth of the odious imputation, when the false creed is fixed on us? We are really of opinion, that whoever be>lieves us capabla of harbouring such sentiments, is capable of putting the horrid maxims in practice. He must have studied the human heart, not in the books of nature, but in Hobbes's Leviathan; and should curse his fate that Providence had been so unkindly partial to him.
Rousseau declares, that if he had been present at the ressurrection of Lazarus, he would not have believed it. 'The
• apparation,' says he, 1 would have made a fool of me, by 'frightening me out of my senses, but it would never have
• made a convert of me.'
If a general Council were held in order to disclaim the ridiculous and^ abominable creed imputed to Roman Catholics, the sceptic, who gives no credit to their doctors and universities, to the oaths and declarations of millions, would give no credit to a convention of Bishops with the Pope at their head.
Let the appeal be made, not to stubborn sceptics, but to those who listen to the voice of reason, and consult the heart. This interior monitor, when passion and prejudice are hushed into silence, is seldom consulted in vain. Let us not travel into Catholic States where perjury is punished with death, and every argument tending to prove that the Pope can absolve subjects from oaths, and grant a dispensation to commit all kinds of crimes, is confuted with a halter. Let us look nearer home, and compare what we see on one hand, with what is supposed on the other.
. . We see a million and half of Roman Catholics smarting under the most oppressive laws that the human heart could ever devise. When they were enacted, our ancestors had the lands of their fathers and the religion of their education. If perjury had been an article of their belief, they could have secured their inheritance, by taking an oath of abjuration. If papal dispensations were, in their opinion, lenitives to an ulcerated conscience, when, or where could they have been more seasonably applied, than at that time and place, where the properties of millions depended on the application?
If oaths against conviction, dispensations with perjury, and anticipated absolutions from future crimes, were articles of their belief, they would have prevented the blazing comets which scorch the living, and spread their influence to the dormitories of the dead, from kindling in their native air; and hindered cruelty, which is disarmed in the tyrant's breast at sight of the expiring victim, from pursuing them to the grave, and depriving them of the cold comfort of of mingling their ashes with those of their ancestors.*
Those laws which have banished our nobility from the Senate; deprived our gentry of the liberty of wearing a sword, either as a means of defence against the midnight assassin, or as a part of dress in the open day; the merchant of the power of realizing the fruits of his industry, in obtaining landed security for his money, or the liberty of purchasing; the lower class of people of the liberty of becom
* The penal laws offered the most galling- insult to the Roman Catholic gently, at the time of their being- enacted. Their burying- places were in the ruins of old abbeys, founded by their ancestors. A law was euacted, prohibiting to bury in those dreary haunts of cats and weasels, and a fine often shillings was to be levied on every person who assisted at the funeral. v
mg common soldiers, mayor's scrjeants, or coal-measurers, and the valiant youth of serving his king, and reaping laurels in defence of his country—these laws are all still in being. It is true, to the honour of the Irish senate, they have staunched the blood flowing this long time past from one of the most tender veins of the human heart, by putting it out of the power of the profligate son to betray and rob his tender and hoary father. But, still the insidious neighbour can seize his neighbour's horse; the unfaithful husband can banish his chaste and virtuous wife, after the oath pledged in presence of Gad, at the nuptial solemnity; the designing villain can set fire to his house, and build a new one, at the expense of his Catholic neighbours, who were asleep whilst he himself was lighting the fagot.*
Thus like a running evil, in a successive gradation, they ulcerate every part of the body; and, though the lenity of the magistrate is a kind of mollifying application, that may assuage the sore for a certain time; yet whilst the noxious humour lurks within the recess of the law, we can never expect a radical cure.
* It is needless to comment upon the spirit of such laws.— 4 The very recital chills with horror.' So remarks my learned and worthy acquaintance, Doctor Campbell. 4 Let it
* not be argued, that these laws are seldom put in execution.—
* Is property to depend upon the courtesy of an avaricious, 4 malignant neighbour! Damocles was, perhaps, safe enough 'under the suspended sword of Dionysius; but the appre4 hension of danger scared away those visions of happiness
* which he had seen in the envied pomp of tyranny.f 4 Laws,' says the President Montesquieu, 4 which do all the mischief *that can be done, in cold blood;' and to which Lucretius might allude in his famous Epiphonema: Tantum religiopotuit suadere malorum! Could religion be productive of such mischief! That philosopher, who in reading the epitaph of a voluptuous monarch, cried out that it was better suited to
* Mr. O'Leary was present when the ease was tried in the county Court-house of Cork. He has likewise seen the venerable matron, after twenty-four years marriage, banished from the perjured husband's house, though it was proved in open court, that for six months befom his marriage, he went to mass. But the law requires that he should he a year and a day of the same religion.
\ Philosophical Survey of the South of Ireland, p. 251, 2.
an ox than to a king: Bove quam rege dignius, in reading the penal code, could form another antithesis: 'The seal •that gave a sanction to such laws, should rather bear 'the impression of the claws of a lion than the head of a 'queen.'*
Such are the laws to whose unrelenting rigour we are every day exposed. The disposition of man, so averse to restraint, would soon suggest a method of dissolving the odious chains, which like those used by the Tuscan princes, Who fastened living men to dead bodies, punish for an entire century, the living for the dead. The disposition of man, so averse to restraint, would soon shake off the oppressive burden, if the importunate voice of conscience did not silence the cries of nature, and intimate to the CattiOlic, that, 'death is preferable to perjury.* The remedy is in our own hands, and we daily refuse to apply it, though a small bandage could soon close up the bleeding veins of oppression, and a slight palliative remove the temporal grievances of which we complain. The churches are open, and though Mr. Wesley says, that 'our oaths are * light as air,' yet one oath taken against the conviction of our consciences, would level the fences, and sweep away all the penal laws, as so many spiders' webs, to use his delicate expression. This is an argument which speaks to the feelings of man, and which no sophistry can ever refute. The priests themselves are interested in the profanation; for, by entering into a collusion with their flocks, and using their magic powers to forgive all sins, past, present, and to come, they could permit them to graze on the commons of legal indulgence; and by turning them into a richer pasture, expect more milk and wool. Avarice has ever been the reproach of the sanctuary: it is recorded in Scripture, that the priests of the old law used to take the best part of the victim to themselves, before it was offered to the God of Israel, and
* Queen Anne, the last sovereign of the Stuart line, who, after combining«gainst her father, anJ violating the articles of Linieriok, under pretence ef strengthening the Prutestant religion, gave a sanction to those laws; though her chief aim was to secure herself against the claims of her brother. Thus, religion often becomes an engine of policy, in the hands of sovereigns. Quere to Civilians: Should not oppressive laws cease, when, the motives that gave rise to tbein subsist no more > •