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or by repealing a law, which, however well intended, is found to be of no use, and which they are ashamed to exe
Is it not poffible to abrogate what is acknowledged to be wrong, without authorizing another wrong? What a poor legillator would Mr. Madan be? You must certainly see, though Mr. Madan cannot, that the repeal of the law of king William, by which we are now forbidden, under the penalty of confiscation of goods and imprisonment for life, to declare our disbelief of the doctrine of the trinity, would only give us the liberty of avowing our principles, and would by no means imply an approbation of them. Will Mr. Madan say that the Aet of Toleration implied any
probation of the principles of Disfenters? If so, he himselt must approve of them.
rove of them. On the contrary, the legislature would by this generous conduct express their confidence in the solid reasons on which the established faith was founded. It would be saying, - We have no occasion “ to enforce our principles by penal laws, having no doubt “ but that the clergy, the proper defenders of thein will be « able to support them by reason and argument,''
But, my friends, this has not been the conduct of the legislators, or of the clergy. Not trusting to reason, or the scriptures, they must enact laws, with heavy penalties, to enforce the belief of their doctrines. And though, through the liberality of the times, and not any particular generosity of their own, they are ashamed to execute them, and we, confiding in this, and not in any proper moderation of theirs, even turn their obsolete laws into ridicule, yet you see that, like the laws of the Medes and Perfans, they must remain unaltered, together with every thing else that bears the least aspect towards the church. This looks as if they themselves considered it as no better than a castle of cards, which they are afraid of touching, left it hould all fall to pieces. If good reasons cannot be alleged for retaining what is most manifestly absurd, and what they themfelves are ashamed to execute, yet you see that fomething must be laid ; and weak as it is, I do not know that any
thing better can be alleged, than what is here advanced by Mr. Madan, viz. that the repeal of this improper and unjust law to defend the do&trine of the trinity, would be to give a virtual sanction to our conduct in writing against it.
There is another curious and inconsistent circumstance in what Mr. Madan advances on the subject of this famous law. All who believe Christ to be a man, and not God, must necessarily think it idolatry to pay him divine honours. We have no other definition of idolatry, than to worship as God that which is not God. Do not all Protesants say it is idolatry in the Catholics to pray to the Virgin Mary, to Peter, Paul, or any other faints, or even to angels and archangels? Do you not continually charge the Catholics with idolatry on this principle ? Now, it is upon the very fame principle, and no other, that we, who consider Christ as being a man, such as Peter and Paul were, say that it must be idolatry to worship, or to pray to him. This is only the necessary consequence of avowing our belief. Yet Mr. Madan will allow us the one, without the other; as if he would allow us to think Trinitarians to be idolators, without perunitting us to call them fo. " They insult us," he fays, p. 19, “ with the charge of idolatry, on account of “this doctrine," viz. the trinity, “they are at liberty fo to « do, through the mildness of our principles, though per
haps they have not a right to do it, upon any principle « whatever ;'' that is, we have no right to say what we cannot help thinking. Where then is our toleration? Alas, it exists only in the mildness of men's principles, that is in their good nature, which is a very changeable thing, and not in the laws. If this mildness which Mr. Madan boasts of was any thing of a stable nature, and was meant to be perpetual, it would certainly lead them to repeal the law, and not merely to suspend the execution of it.
If this law against those who declare their disbelief of the doctrine of the trinity is never designed to be executed, common sense will say that it ought to be repealed, and thar it ought not to remain as a disgrace to our statute book
any longer. While it is suffered to continue there, it will always be thought by us that it is intended to be carried into execution, though not at present, yet at some convenient opportunity. If I be absolutely determined never more to correct my child, and wish that he should know my resolution, I burn the rod. If I keep it, I certainly do it with the idea that some time or other it may be wanted. We Unitarians should never think that any proper toleration is intended for us, while a law, by means of which it is in the power of any man to persecute and punish us as such, thall remain unrepealed. And yet you see very clearly that the clergy, boasting of their mild and tolerating principles, would not fail to make as ftrenuous an oppofition to the repeal of this law of king William, which makes it confifcation of goods and imprisonment for life, to declare our disbelief of the doctrine of the trinity, as to the repeal of the Corporation and Test acts. Though neither of them are in fact, of any service to their church at all, yet trembling at every shadow, and dreading they know not what, they are determined to oppose every thing that we apply for. Imagining, as it should seem, that we are much more quick lighted than themselves, they suspect that there is something more in any thing that we ask for than they are able to see.
Mr. Madan, quoting my Letter to Mr. Pitt, p. 26, endeavours to alarm you with our farther claims, when those we are now making shall be granted; and as he drops the quotation, he leaves you to imagine that those claims are absolutely endless, and might lead to the total ruin of the constitution in church and state. Now in that Letter, which I would wish you all to look into, I have distinály marked what are all our claims as Disenters, distinct from those improvements which I imagine might still be made in the laws relating to religion in this country, after every thing that we can wish for as Disfenters shall be granted. These are, first, adınissibility to all civil offices at the nomination of the crown, the discretion of which we are not difposed to question; secondly, full liberty to profess, and
teach, all cur religious principles, without the fear of such Jaws as that of king William ; and lastly, to celebrate marriage among ourselves, as the Quakers are allowed to do.
Now this is the full extent of all our claims as Dienters; and what is there so very alarming in it? And till these three articles be granted, our toleration is manifestiy incomplete, because we remain exposed to civil penalties on account of our religious principles, which is the precise definition of prication. And if all the three claims above mentioned were granted, your established church would stand not the less, but in reality the more, firm for it. Your church is guarded by its peculiar laws, and no person can derire any emolument from it, but those who submit to thoie laws, and ubicribe to its articles. When we Dirsenters thail ask for any thing that your church has to give, without submitting to its laws, or subscribing its articles, then, but not before, say that we are attacking the eitablish
We do not defire the repeal of the Aet of king William any farther than it respects ourselves. As the doctrine of the trinity is unquestionably an important article of ysur faith, let your clergy by all means be bound in the firistet manner to the profeiñon of it. They receive their emoluments on that condition. But why should sce, who do not receive these emoluments, be bound to their duty, or be subjected to their names?
Mír. Vladan has thought so little on this subject, that he is not able to distinguish the claims of Dilsenters as such, which would leave the church just as it is, from those claims which ate at the very vials of it. His confulon of ideas on this subjea is esident in the following paragraph p. 21, « The last pretended grievance which I shall at present no" tice (and perhaps it is the chief of their grievances) is the
payment of tithes, and fees to the ministers of the church
of England; that is, the Difienters complain that the pro“ vifion vbich is appropriated to the support of those minis"ters who di charge the offices and duties of the religion of < this country as established by law may be reduced, and
- withdrawn, at the caprice of sectaries, for the support of ( nonconformists."
To say nothing of the contemptuous language, unworthy of a gentleman, and a scholar, and much more of a christian, in which this paragraph, like the rest of the Sermon, is written, it is evident from the whole of it, that Mr. Madan miitakes the very nature and object of our complaints. While there is a religion lo established by law as to be supported by any public fund, to which all shall equally contribute, the appropriation of that fund cannot be changed without affecting the established religion. If we fe&taries, as Nir. Madan contemptuously calls us, demand that our proportion of the tithes be given to our own ministers, how equitable foever the thing may be in itself, it is nothing that we could ask as Disenters. We, and others, members of the established church, may be convinced that such a measure as this would be reasonable in itself, beneficial to our country, and favourable to the interests of religion (as I shall proceed to shew that it would be) but then this is a speculation of a very different nature from any thing that concerns Dislenters as such. The whole body of them formerly, and a great proportion of them at present, approve of an establishment, and since it cannot be that of their own religion, they think that the present may do as well as any other, and would even prefer it to that of many other Ditlenters; and therefore they have no farther with than such a fuil isleration as Mr. Madan says they atually have, but which they find they have not, and which they would be very glad if he could procure for them.
In my opinion, however, and that of many others it would be much better for the country, and for christianity in general, if there was no such thing as any civil establishment of religion at all, but that every man ihould be left to provide for himself with respect to religion, using his own beit judgment, as he does in things of a different nature. I see no reason why any one man should be compelled to pay for the religion of another man, any more than for his