« PreviousContinue »
bodies to prison, death, banishment, or hunger, are collateral proofs that we have those bodies, and that we feel their existence by means of painful sensations. Yes; the inmortal Berkley, bishop of Cloyne, has proved by arguments ". hitherto unanswerable, that there is no demonstration for the existence of one single body in nature. He has reconciled the Catholic and Protestant philosophers and divines, about the real presence, by cutting off, at one blow, both body and place.
Our whole life, according to this system, adopted by several learned men, is but one continual scene of delu. sion. Objects we never saw, during the day time, are present to us in our sleep, and make a deep and lasting impression. Who knows, then, but all the actions we perform, when we imagine ourselves awake, are real dreams? We are spirits created millions of years before the Mosaic account.
In that pre-existent state, we gloried too much in our knowledge; and, as a just punishment, we are given up for, a short time to dreams and deceptions, not on earth, or in corruptible bodies, for there are no such things, and whoever says there are such things, can never prove this assertion : but the great theatre on which we play the sportive farce, is nothing else but God's immensity, which can never fall within the reach of corporeal organs, eyes, ears, hands, &c. for the existence of such organs is a mere delusion.
Origenes, the most learned of the fathers, who wrote six thousand books, and was complimented by Porphyry, the heathen philosopher, was of opinion, that the souls of men were angels, who, in the great conflict between the good and bad spirits, observed a strict neutrality, and were doomed to corruptible bodies, in order to try their sincerity. Had Origenes been as well versed in philosophy, as our modern writers, he would have confined himself to spirits, and granted bodies no existence in the class of beings. .
Happy for millions were the philosophers' system founded in reality, and that we had no bodies! For the disputes of theologians have destroyed and famished a good part of the creation. We have every respect for the Christian religion and its ministers of all denominations, and without any
doubt, for that system in which we have had the happiness of being reared up. But we are extremely sorry that religion has ever been made a pretext for persecution or opo pression. .
We have taken the liberty, in the course of this treatise, to glance at some religious as well as philosophical systems, to shew the weakness of reason, and the impossibility of establishing universal orthodoxy.
Should this treatise fall into the hands of any of our legislators, in whose power it is to ease the necks of their inoffensive subjects from the galling yoke of oppression; we expect from their wisdom and feelings, that they will no longer consider difference in religion as a sufficient reason for hindering the young gentleman from purchasing a pair of colours, and fighting the battles of his king and country; the industrious citizen from realizing the fruits of his labour, in getting landed security for his money, and purchasing an estate, descendible to his children; the physician, the opulent farmer, the man of property, from carrying a gun, a sword, a case of pistols, for their defence from the attacks of the midnight assassin or highwayman; the clergyman, who instils the principles of good morals into the minds of the ignorant who would follow the fierce instinct of savage and un-' cultivated nature if they were deprived of their pastors, from the protection of the laws, which now leave them exposed to the caprice and fury of every ruffian, in whose power it is to shut up their chapels, and get them transported: When it is obvious that such restraints arise from speculative points disputed on a narrow ridge by the greatest men the world ever produced when philosophers themselves are bewildered in their notions and when the learned are at variance, about matters far beyond the reach of the bulk of mankind.
Should it be said that these laws are seldom put in force; it can be answered that the liberty of the subject, which is the birth-right of man, should not depend on the capricious benevolence of his neighbour. The law should be the .common mother whose arms should be open to all; and the ghost of intolerance, more destructive than Attila's sword, should vanish on the approach of the rays of benevolence,
which are now blazing all over the continent. Attila's sword destroyed but such as it met in its way : but the rage of religious feuds has thinned the world of fifty millions of human beings; and is still trampling, in these kingdoms, on compassion, on equity, on national interest..
In Ireland, where such scandalous scenes have not been exhibited, as last year in Scotland and England, the ghosts of those legislators who enacted the penal code, are still looking, with a clouded, malevolent joy, over the long wastes and desolated pastures they have made in a fruitful country : and supplying the want of sword and fagot, with a more lasting and tedious torment I mean, the hunger and distresses of thousands. They have renewed and perpetuated the torments invented by the former princes of Tuscany. They make the living expire in the arms of the dead.
The liberality of the times, the interest of the kingdom, the wisdom and humanity of our rulers, every thing cries aloud for the repeal of the laws enacted on the score of conscience. If subordination and policy require what, in every country, is called a religion of state, though in fact an encroachment on the natural rights of man, when it excludes from him the privileges to which he is entitled by nature: yet this happy system of toleration should be introduced by excluding in this kingdom the Catholics from any high offices under the crown: secondly, from the privilege of sitting in the senate : thirdly, if the use of arms gives any umbrage, from the privilege of carrying them, except to such as have a mind to serve their country in the army, or such persons as are possessed of a real personal estate, amounting to whatever value the legislature thinks fit to determine : all other laws, heretofore enacted, to be null and void. The kingdom would soon flourish: and the brilliant example, set to such princes as have not as yet thrown open the gates of toleration, would rescue mankind from the heavy yoke which misconstrued religion has laid on their necks.
The Author of nature intended men for society; and entitles every man to the advantages of that condition, who is free from all principles and practices injurious to the civil good of society. The great Giver alone can repeal the universal charter. He has not done it: and I hope that I have sufficiently proved that he has not delegated that power to any of his creatures.
The rulers of the earth, whether Catholics or Protestants, Ówe all social benefits to their loyal subjects of every deno. mination. If one of these powers withhold their people's native rights, it is no excuse for the other, that their conduct is countenanced by their neighbours' example. Honour, hu. manity, and the rights of mankind, should suggest to modern legislators to repair the losses, caused by their predecessors? misguided zeal. And as the clergy of all denominations, consider themselves the delegates of heaven, and invested with the commission to prescribe a mode of worship to man, let them propose it in a manner that may secure its triumph over the heart; brighten it up with the genial rays of humanity, benevolence, and love, and not cloud it with the sullen gloom of severity, oppression, and distress. For Christ who is the Creator of all, has not declared in his gospel, that one should be excluded from the protection of the laws, and persecuted for his worship; and the other au. thorized to famish, starve, and insult the weakness of a felbw creature.
A VINDICATION OF HIS CONDUCT AND WRITINGS
DURING THE LATE DISTURBANCES IN MUNSTER.
Mathew wirza Hunt
FULL JUSTIFICATION OF THE ROMAN CATHOLICS,
AND AN ACCOUNT OF THE
RISINGS OF THE WHITE BOYS.
MR. O'LEARY'S ANSWER
FALSE ACCUSATIONS OF THEOPHILUS,
AND THE ILL-GROUNDED INSINUATIONS
RIGHT REV. DOCTOR WOODWARD,
LORD BISHOP OF CLOYNE.