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assurance and evidence of their having received the sacrament according to the usage of the church of England.
And this shows that a better or stronger test was not to be found; for when this was evaded, the legislature had nothing to add to it, and could only by an after provision secure it against a practice which was an open affront to the law of the country.
The occasional bill therefore is only a guard to the test act; and those who plead for the repeal of this bill only, do in effect desire that all men may be at liberty to give the proof required by the law of their adherence to the established church, and yet be at liberty not to adhere to it. Whether this can pro-, çeed froin a concern for sincerity, or for the honor of the gospel institution, I leave the world to judge.
Thus the case stands with respect to the laws now in force ; and it remaiņs on his lordship and his friends to show that any abuse of the sacrament is introduced by these laws; and on his lordship in particular to make good his heavy charge, that this
is to turn it (the holy sacrament) from its original and natural. design, to a purpose against its own nature, and contrary to the end proposed by the ordainer himself.”
As to the abuses brought in by the iniquity of men, who approach the holy table merely to answer the letter of these laws, without any piety or devotion, or true sense of what they are doing, I see them and I lament them; and they are sad instances of the decay of the spirit of Christianity among us: but still I say these men are not made wicked by the law; but þeing wicked, they abuse as well the law of their country as the institution of the gospel : and if the iniquity of men in abusing any law be sufficient reason for abrogating such law, I would fain know what law ought to stand in force. What perjuries, what frauds, what cheats, are made use of to elude the many ławs for imposing customs on trade? Let his lordship then turn advocate for the removal of these laws also; and let him say that no temporal advantage or convenience to the state can, justify the great abuse, of religion, and the manifest breach of plain duties occasioned (or to express his own sense, introduced) by these laws : let him plead also for abolishing the use of oaths, since perjury is not a more crying than it is a common
sin; nay, let him go through all the laws of his country till he has settled the state on the same bottom that he has placed the church, and can say with respect to both, that “no one more than another hath authority to judge, censure, or punish the servants of another master.”
The profanation of the Lord's Supper creates a horror in every serious Christian mind'; and God forbid that any word, should drop from me, as if I could be easy
and contented in: seeing so much hypocrisy and wickedness. This is a case: which wants a. remedy; but as the laws requiring the sacramental test do not make men wicked and profane, so neithers will removing those. laws make them pious, or holy. The remedy must be applied to the men; it is the wickedness of the receiver that calls for correction; and his lordship has it to: consider what service he has done to religion: by beating down the authority both of church and state to preserve true religion, in an age that seems to want it so very
much. In the meanwhile I will go on (since his lordship calls on me so to do,) to declare my sense in this matter, and the reasons: on which it is founded; hoping that it may be at least: as in-> offensive for me to endeavor to justify the laws: of my country, as it is for his lordship to arraign and to condemn them. And should all I say prove to be vain words and of none effect;: should I see the church left naked and defenceless, its walls broken down, and the hedge which was placed about it pulled: up; yet my fruitless pains shall yield me this satisfaction, that I labored for the peace of Jerusalem ;' nor shall: any man be able to suggest that I was bribed by the prospect of honors and preferments.
The questions arising from the true state of this case, are (as I before observed) two.
The first is this :
I. 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.
This question will be determined by the resolution of two points.
1. Whether it be lawful in any case to make laws by which some persons shall be rendered incapable of offices.
2. Whether it be reasonable in the case before us.
There is nothing that more nearly affects the good and welfare of every good government, and consequently nothing that ought to be their more immediate care, than to see the
powers (which must necessarily in every community be trusted somewhere) placed in proper hands. Every man has an interest in desiring that there should be upright judges to execute the laws already in force; and wise, prudent, disinterested men to make new laws or abrogate old ones, as the good of the whole shall require. It is a right vested in every community as such, to consider and declare what conditions and qualifications shall be required in all persons to be admitted to offices of trust and power in the government; and therefore a capacity to serve the public in places of trust and power, which is not limitable by the constitution, when there are just reasons to limit it, is such a capacity as is inconsistent with all forms of government in the world. As men in a state of nature (for I am willing to argue on that hypothesis) are on a foot of equality, so are they when they enter into a formed government, and lay equal claim to all the advantages arising from thence. Say then that all, considered merely as members of the society, have a claim to be equally capable of serving the public, yet still this is such a capacity as nature herself has set bounds and limits to by the very distinction she has made in the natural parts and abilities of men. It requires wise men to manage the public concerns, and men of courage to conduct the public arms; it is therefore necessary to exclude fools from the council-board and cowards from the army. This, I say, is a limitation made by nature.
But it equally concerns the public to have men well affected to the government in places of power and trust. A courageous man who hates his country, is at least as unfit to be trusted with the military force as a coward ; and a wise man who would betray his prince, ought rather to be excluded from his councils than a fool, The consequence of which is, that either no government has a right to preserve itself against the disaffection of any subject, or else that every government has a right to exclude from offices of power and trust such as shall render themselves justly suspected of disaffection to the public. To talk then in the present case of the common rights of subjects is begging the question, and supposing that dissenters are excluded without any reason, which is making a short case of it indeed. The true point is this : allowing all subjects to be equally capable, as such, of serving the public, and that the government ought not to limit this capacity without good reason, to inquire whether the corporation and test acts are founded on reasons sufficient to justify the legislature in the Jimitations by them made on this capacity of some subjects.
His lordship's reasoning from the common rights of subjects, and his general declarations against debarring men from their civil rights, are arguments which do by no means come up to the present purpose.
A submission of private rights to the public is the fundamental article of government; and therefore no subject has a right to defend even his life or property as he thinks fit, but must go in the method prescribed or permitted by the law. How absurd is it then to talk of a right to be capable of places, not subject to the like restraints or limitations ? The matter is not mended by calling this a natural right, (a phrase much in fashion,) for there is no natural right that may not be lost in whole or in part. Nay, some rights are restrained merely for the sake of public convenience, without supposition of any fault or transgression in any member of the community.
*There is not, I presume, a stronger natural right than the right to food and raiment; this is founded in the common necessity of nature ; and it is not to be thought that God sent men into the world merely to starve, without giving them a right to use in common so much of it as their necessities require. But now we see that this right is limited and restrained by all governments in the world : property is secured every where by humane laws, and a very unequal division of the good things of life is introduced; the far greater part of mankind live on their labor or by charity; hard as this is, yet the necessity of government justifies the provision; and ar Apostle of Christ has given us a rule in consequence of it: “ If any man will not work, neither let him eat.'
Is it lawful then to restrain the natural right that every man
has to food and raiment? and is įt unlawful to limit the capacity which subjects have to places of power and trust in the government? There is indeed so much compassion and equity left for cases of natural necessity, that in the last extremity we' still say, necessity has no law; but it must be a sad world, whenever avarice and the lust of power obtain the same privilege.
His lordship perhaps will say that he does not plead against restraints of this sort in general, but that he confined himself solely to the sacramental test, and to cases where religion is concerned: I have the more reason to expect this, because I: have been already so served, when I argued against a general principle laid down by himself, that religion ought not to be a civil test; the next time his lordship appeared in public, he affirmed that by religion he meant solely the sacramental test. .. But let the reader take notice that the argument against the sacramental test drawn from the right of all subjects to a capacity of holding offices of power and trust, is an argument against this test considered as a limitation of that right; and it is founded in this, or in nothing, that all such limitations are unlawful: for if all are not unlawful, perhaps this may not be unlawful ; and consequently no argument can lie against it, considered merely as such a limitation. It is one thing then to object against the sacramental test because religion ought not to be made an instrument of excluding men from offices, and another to say in general that men ought not on any account to be exeluded : his lordship has declared against both very distinctly: “ I have professed my judgment - against such unjust or false security as either debars men from their civil rights, or debases a solemn institution of Christ,” &c. .. Here are plainly two things which in his lordship's opinion render all methods used for the security of any establishment unjust or false : the first is, when men are debarred from their civil rights; the second is, when a solemn institution, &c. is debased.
It is then, it seems, his lordship's judgment that all security is unjust which debars men from their civil: rights ; that is, that makes them incapable of holding offices of power and trust : the consequence of which is, that.no government has