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'the person who has promised them security' (from thisecclesiastical 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 ecclesiastical punishment inflicted by a lawful superior,) ♦ be obliged to keep his promise:' because a promise 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.— And an unjust promise, injurious to the rights of another, is not binding, let the tie be what it will. Herod promised upon oath to give his daughter whatever she would ask for. He was not Dound to give her the head of John the Baptist. If the king of England, without even depriving a single man of his estate, bound himself by oath, to arrogate to himself the legislative 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: 4 He is not, in this case, obliged, to keep his promise.' .
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, understand 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 hreach of faith with heretics. They write in Catholic states where they have nothing to fear, and less to expect, from Mr.Wesley and his London rioters.
If Mr. Wesley construes this canon in a different sense, it is no reason for obtruding his tortured construction on me, as an article of orthodoxy. An Arian may as well persuade the public, that I do not believe the Divinity of Christ, because he does not believe in it himself, 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 his confinement. I suppose Mr. Wesley will not allow, that a temporal prince could deprive his spiritual superiors from Censuring and degrading him, if found guilty of an erroneous doctrine.
Every church claims to herself the power of inflicting spiritual punishments, independent of the magistrates. The church of Rome, the consistories 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 Toice against the profanation, and forced the senate to resign their spiritual commission. Bertelier was punished in spite of the promise of the civil power. When Mr. Wesley refused the sacrament to Mrs. Williamson, in Georgia, for opposing 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 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
"You and each of you are hereby required to 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—th^t the giving or 'refusing the Lord's supper being a matter purely tjcclesi
* astic, 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 punish' with ecclesiastical censures and degradation, ode of their own subjects, in spite of any safe-conduct granted by the
* Se« this whole affair iu Mr. Wesley's Journal of th» yeat 1737, p. 43.
civil power; especially at a time when the superiority over their own clergy was confirmed to the bishops by the laws of the empire, with which Sigismund could no more dispense at that time, than James the Second could in his.
'But,' says Mr. Wesley,' sure Huss would not have come 'to Constance, had he foreseen 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 cheerfully play over the same tragedy. We have a more recent instance of this obstinacy, 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, to take the blue cockade out of his hat, in going to the gallows. He cried out that he died a martyr to the Protestant religion.— We have daily instances of people giving themselves up to take their trial, who are disappointed, without any imputation on their judges.
Jerome of Prague, who maintained the same error With Huss, came to Constance, after his confrere's execution.--— The Council se nt him a safe-conduct, with this express clause: 'salvo 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 done with regard to Huss: and left him to the secular arm: as Calvin, Queen Elizabeth, and King James I. did to the heretics whom their consistories and mshops had judged and found guilty of hereticalpravity. 'But was not the Emperor Sigismund cruel in puttiug * those men to death?' It is not his lenity or cruelty that we examine: I. only vindicate myself and the Catholic Church from a slanderous doctrine. He was not more cruel for putting seditious men, one of whom had committed wilful murder, to death, than Protestant sovereigns who doomed old women to the stake, for a kind of gibberish about the incarnation. My sentiments on that subject t have explained. „ .. ,
Jerome of Prague's coming to the Council, 9hews that it did not violate faith with John Huss. Neither tloth any one accuse the Council of violating faith with Jerome. They were both more obstinate than Mr. Wesley, who ran away from the bailiffs of Georgia, and would not return to them. In this he followed Sancho's maxim: • Many go to the 'market for wool, that come home shorn.''
My design, in the following sheets, is, to throw open the gates of civil toleration for all Adam's children, whose principles are not inconsistent with the peace of civil society, or subversive of the rules of morality; to wrench, as far as in my power lies, the poniard so often tinged with human blood, from the hand of persecution; to sheath the sword, which misguided zeal has drawn in defence of a Gospel which recommends peace and love; to restore to man the indelible charter of his temporal rights, which no earthly power has ever been commissioned by Heaven to ^deprive him of, on account of his mental errors, to re-establish the empire of peace, overthrown so often by religious feuds; and to cement all mortals, especially Christians, in the ties of social harmony, by establishing toleration on its proper grounds.
The history of the calamities occasioned by difference in religious opinions, is a sufficient plea for undertaking the task. But time does not allow me to enter into a detail of those melancholy scenes, which misconstrued religion has displayed, The effects are well known: but it is high time to remove the cause.
The mind shrinks back at the thoughts of the cruelties exercised against the Christians by Heathen Emperors, for the space of three hundred years. Scarce did the Christians begin to breathe, under the first princes who embraced their religion, than they fell out amongst themselves, about the mysteries of the hcriptures, Arianism, protected by powerful sovereigns, raised, against the defenders of the Trinity, persecutions as violent as those raised formerly by the Hea