Page images

Third : ** Has God revealed that I am to he

n Iieve that popes and fore'ign princes ought to

" have any civil authority within this realm ?"

Fourth: " Has God revealed, that kings cart (* be deposed and murdered by their subjects, " because they are excommunicated by the '* pope and council ?" v A

There is the' whole substance osvthe oath: and as God has not vrevealed any of those' aslsertions, but commanded the 1 re've'rse, the church 'can never declare them as articles of saith. Did St. Paul mean' to renounce the au-i thority of Heaven, when he said, " Should an " angel from Heaven preach another doctrine, V do not believe him?" Does a Catholic renounce the authority of the church, in not thinking that she can allow perjury? But if such be the case, you will ask me, " why some " people have written against this oath F " or', ** why the small number of Catholics have not " united with the great number who have " taken it ?" '

I can assure you, fir, that the Catholics who havenot taken the oath, look on the deposing

power as a dream ; the murder of heretics as

an impious slander, calculated in times OF-turbulence, to murder the character of the inno

cent, and only adapted to those distant eras, ' when

when " Papists attempted to blow up a river,with gun-powder, in order to drown a city." * In fine, they are ready to sweat allegiance to' George the third, and renounce any aIl'egiance to the Stuarts.

But the chief exception to the oath'is-the manner in which it is worded. It must be taken in " the plain and ordinary sense of the " words." This cannot be reconciled with" authority whatsoever." A Catholic ahjurezupon oath a doctrine he never believed. Ahjuration implies the belief of a previous error. " Foreign princes ought not have," &cHow can" subjects know? or what is it to: them? " Without any dispensation already " granted;" You suppose then that we have a' dispensation to perjure our-selves ; consequently it is nugatory to sweat, when' you are enabled' not to believe us. It is too dangerous to sport with the awful name of the Divinity : and if a freethinker reverenced the supreme Being, his'

'conscie'nce would be fere-wed in taking an oath _which minces a syllable, and requires a long

Commentary. Further : Every invader, every usurper, would avail himself of a simil'ar oath. In Ireland, he would find it framed to his hand, and make us. swear " that George the

a third ought to have, no authority within this

Ft realm," though the lawful king would be at:

Wauffl': P. 349. , Hume,' Hist. of England, Vol. I. the'

ihe same time asserting his right in: England. The alternative would be-death or perjury.

Such are the exceptions of the se*w who have

not taken the oath : exceptions not to be dis-v '

regarded by those, with_whom they may have any weight. For an oath is dreadful' in? itself'z and we can never act against the dictates of an' erroneous con'science,z till our scruple's' are re: moved. " Wod non est ex fide,£peccatum ei .'l'

Here below 5* we'see in a glass darkly," says St. Paul. Providence has_thrown' a fable veil over the human ifr'tell'ect.£ The scripture itself, this' law of spirit and lise, proposed as a rule t0 the learned and ignorant, is'-becor'ne the subject of disputes and' controversies'.'_ All legal' acts are liable to inconvenien'cies. It is impossi'ble for the legislator's' who devise them, to read in the 'rnin'ds of other men, the doubts' which may arise concerning the sense and force of some expresfions. Hence, new acts to' exr' plain and amend former laws.

Should the wisdom' of the legiflativel powers deign to reduce the oath to a few plain twords, whereby we should swear alle'giance to his r'najefiy,-renounce' any to the Stuarts'si-swear never to maintain nor abet any doctrine incon-l

sistent with the rights of sovereigns, the security.

Yf our fellow-subjects, nor ever to accept_ of

Gz anY'


any dispensation to the contrary,-all the ends of government would be fully answered, and the few scrupulous Catholics, who caval about words, would join the great numbers who have proceeded upon more enlarged and liberal


Should our neighbours doubt the delicacy of our consciences, when we swear, we have no argument to convince them, but the following.

We groan under the yoke of misery and oppreffion, throughout the long and trying periods of six succeffive reigns. We suffer for crimes we have never committed. The punishment, which according to all laws should finish with the delinquent, is entailed on the innocent posterity to the fourth and fifth generation, by a rigorous severity, similar to that of those Tuscan princes, who used to fasten living mento dead bodies. The laws which in other countries are the resource and protection of the errant pilgrim, are here the mortal enemies of the settled natives. These abortives of the Stuart race reign uncontrouled a long time after the death of their inauspicious progenitors. On every part they spread penal bitternesscs, with an unwearied hand; deal out transportation to the clergy ; poverty and distress to the laity. They continually hang as so many swords, over our heads. The lenity of the magistrates,


with the humanity of our Protestant neighbours, are the only clouds that intercept the scorching influence of those blazing comets, kindled in times of turbulence and confusion. Were it a principle of our religion to pay no regard to the dictates of conscience,-were our pastors and clergy such as they are described, V people " who dispense with every law of God and V man, who sanctify rebellion and murder, and " even change the very nature and essential " differences of vice and virtue." Were we people of this kind, the penal restraints would be soon removed. One verbal recantation of Popery, backed with a false oath, would dislolve our chains. In three weeks you would see all the Catholics at church, and their clergy along with them. Liccnsed guilt would soon kick in wantonness, where starving innocence shivers without a covering. A remedy neglected from motives of conscience, is a proof of the patient's integrity. Our sufferings and perseverance pleadaloud in favour of our abhorrence and des testation ofperjury : and though our Protestant neighbours, may laugh at the seeming errors of our minds, yet they will do justice to the integrity of our hearts.

Now, as in the primitive ages of the church, it is our principle and duty to pray for our

'if Leland, b. 5, ch. 3. kings,

« PreviousContinue »