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ing to the rites of the church of England, as it is limited 13 Car. II. according to the usage of the church of England, as it is expressed 25 Car. II.
1. It must here be observed that barely receiving the sacrament (as the bishop and some others suppose) is not the test required by the act: every man as a Christian is supposed to receive it somewhere, and therefore barely receiving the sacrament could be no test of any man's affection to the eccle. siastical constitution of this kingdom. But the test lies chiefly on these words, according to the usage and rites of the church of England ;' and it was supposed that no man would in such manner receive it but a member of the church of England.
2. That receiving the sacrament according to the usage of the church of England is not the qualification for an office within the intent of the act, but only the proof of such qualification: the qualification required is, that the person be well affected to the ecclesiastical state and constitution of these realms; and the receiving the sacrament according to the rites of the established church is the proof or test required that he
This is so clearly the case, that a man may receive the sacrament so as to give proof of the qualification made necessary by the corporation act, without knowing or even suspecting that he was then giving a test required by law; for that act appoints the receiving to be within one year before election to an office : so that one who receives the sacrament, not dreaming that he may or ever shall be elected to an office, yet if he is elected to an office within a year, such receiving shall stand and be accepted as the test required.
This is plain, I say, from the view of the acts ; but to put a matter of such consequence in the present debate out of doubt, I must refer the reader to the 3rd Jac. I. cap. 4.: the first act, I think, (though I pretend not to have carefully examined this particular,) that brought in a sacramental test.
The reason for it is set forth in these words : “and where divers persons, popishly affected, do nevertheless, the better to cover and hide their false hearts, and with the more safety to attend the opportunity to execute their mischievous designs, repair sometimes to church to escape the penalty of the laws
in that behalf provided for the better discovery of such per+ sons, &c. be it enacted—that every popish recusant—who shall conform, and repair to the church, shall once in every year at least-receive the sacrament.”
Here it is evident that receiving the sacrament is required only as a test of conformity; for this act does not require any thing more in popish recusants than conformity; which was the very thing by which before they became qualified for the advantages of English subjects. This act therefore introduces no new qualification, but requires a stronger proof or test of the old one.
The same thing appears yet more expressly by 7 Jac. I. cap. 2. “ Forasmuch as naturalising of strangers, and restoring to blood persons attainted, have been ever reputed matters of mere grace and favor, which are not fit to be bestowed on any others than such as are of the religion now established in this realm-"
Here, you see, the qualification for such favor is, that the person to have the grant shall be of the religion established : “ Be it therefore enacted,” says the statute, “ that no per
shall be naturalised or restored in blood unless he has received the sacrament within one month before any bill exhibited for that purpose :" that is, be it enacted that he shall receive the sacrament in order to prove his being of the established religion.
On the whole it is very plain that the receiving the sacrament was never esteemed a qualification in our law, but a proof and test of that qualification, (viz. conformity to the church established, which the law in many cases requires. Thus the case stands on the foot of these laws.
And if the reader will now turn his eyes to the bishop's strong declaration against the test, he will find him arguing (as is usual with him) against something which no law either supposes or requires. “I now repeat it,” says he “ before the world,” &c.
Here his lordship speaks as if he thought that the celebration of the sacrament ordained and confined by our lord, to the serious remembrance of his death, was ordained to something else by the above-mentioned laws; whereas they suppose
it to be received with such devotion and to suchi-purposes only as Christ ordained: and I desire his lordship to show that any of the acts mentioned forbid it to be received in remembrance of Christ's death, or require it to be received with any contrary purpose of heart whatever.
In like manner that worthy person Mr. Sykes, who may be supposed to know his lordship's meaning, tells us wherein the abuse of the sacrament introduced by these laws does consist. are, says,
“ to remember we are made justices or captains, or have civil employments or preferments bestowed
What is this but perverting the most sacred part and. most solemn duty of Christianity, to make it a tool to politicians ?”' &c.—Third letter.
I must leave this worthy person to justify this open attack on the honor of the legislature, by which they are expressly declared to be guilty of “ perverting the most sacred part and most solemn duty of Christianity;" since he will hardly accept of any excuse that comes from me in his behalf ; though, if he would permit me to do him a good office, I could very sincerely say that I believe he knew nothing of the matter.
I have heard much and just complaint of the iniquity of men who have come to the holy sacrament without devotion, nay sometimes with open contempt of it, merely to satisfy the letter of these laws; but never till now was the legislature so openly arraigned, and charged with establishing guilt and hypocrisy by a law. I presume his lordship and his friend may in the course of their lives have received the sacrament in order to give that test which these laws require: I desire they would tell the world whether, when they so received, they did it in remembrance only that some preferment was bestowed on them, and without remembrance of the death of Christ or no. shall answer for themselves that they received with no other sentiments than what are agreeable to and ought to attend on the celebration of this institution of Christ, why then are the laws accused as perverting the end and use of the institution, since the law and the end of the institution may and ought to be complied with at the same time? But if they did really receive with those worldly views which they charge the laws with introducing, I heartily lament their case, and wish they may
never be called on to answer to one greater than is on earth.
It is worth observing here, that the argument urged in this case by his lordship and others, is just as strong against the use of oaths; which ought not, on these principles, to be required as a test of a man's veracity, because thereby they become an instrument by means of which some particular sort of men, his lordship speaks, (especially atheists and infidels, get into estates, the titles to which are determined on oath. And the legislature may as justly be charged with all the perjury of corrupt witnesses as with the hypocrisy of corrupt communicants.
The two questions which naturally arise from the true state of the case are these :
1. Whether it be lawful to confine offices of power and trust in the government to such as are obedient and well affected to the ecclesiastical state and constitution of the realm.
2. Supposing this to be lawful, whether it be also lawful to require of any man who is willing to accept an office civil or military, that he should communicate with the established church, and particularly that he should receive the sacrament according to the usage of it, in order to prove such his obedience and good affection to the ecclesiastical constitution.
This last question the bishop intirely mistakes, and speaks as if receiving the sacrament were itself the qualification for an office, to which (office) he tells us, 6. this institution has no more relation than the complexion of men's faces, or the color of their hair;" and therefore seems to charge the legislature with perverting this holy institution.
But it ought here to be observed that receiving the sacrament according to the usage of the church of England, is not appointed to be a test of any thing but what it always ought (whether required by law or no) to be a test of : receiving the sacrament, &c. is not a test of a man's being a willing member of the established church, in force or in consequence of the law, but in force and in consequence of that sincerity which ought always to attend it; and this presumption, that he who receives in the church is of the church, is the ground and the foundation, and not the effect of the law. So in the parallel case, an oath
is not appointed by law to be a test of a man's veracity, but it is required in some cases by law, because it is in its own nature such a test.
Men are not supposed to be of one church, and communicate with another: his lordship has made use of this very argument in the case
Mr. Pilloniere, and concludes him to be no Jesuit, because he has often received the sacrament in the church of England. On this presumption the corporation and test acts are founded; they require the evidence of a man's receiving the sacrament according to the usage of the church of England, only to prove that he is a member of that church. They leave the sacrament to the uses for which it is ordained, and lay hold on the act of receiving only as an evidence of a man's being in communion of that church in which he receives.
When the doctrine of occasional conformity for places prevailed, it broke in on this evidence, just as the doctrine of equivocation and mental reservation broke in on the evidence of an oath ; and there was the same reason for the legislature to take notice of and prevent the one abuse as the other. The act against occasional conformity (as it is commonly called) does not forbid occasional conformity as such, but leaves all men to the same liberty they had before to communicate occasionally with the church; and therefore it is nothing to the purpose to consider whether occasional conformity be a lawful or unlawful practice. All that the legislature intended by that statute was to prevent their being imposed on by the act of an occasional conformist: they required the evidence of a man's receiving according to the usage of the church of England, as a proof of his being of that communion. The act of an occasional conformist in receiving, &c. came up to the letter of the law, and yet was no proof of what they expected.
When experience had shown how easily the law was evaded by the practice of occasional conformists, the legislature took care to prevent the abuse, and to provide that men in office, &c. should no longer continue in their offices than they adhered to the communion of the established Church : that is, that they should perform the condition required by the former laws, and for performance of which they were understood to give the