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taken such oaths to the king and queen, as by the faid articles they were obliged to take; that their submission was upon such terms, as ought to be then, and at all times, made good to them; and that therefore to break those articles, would be the greatest injustice for any one people in the whole world to inflict upon another, being contrary to the laws of both God and man. That the case of the Gibeonites, 2 Sam. xxi. 1. was a fearful example of the breach of public faith, which, above an hundred years after, brought nothing less than a three years famine on the land; and stayed not until the lives of all Saul's family atoned for it. That even among the Heathens, and most barbarous of nations, all the world over, the public faith was always held sacred and binding, and that surely it would find no less regard in that honourable assembly.”
The same, and other arguments, against the passing of this bill, were suffered to be pleaded at the bar of the house of lords ; but were equally disregarded by both houses. The petitioners were told,'
- that if they were to be deprived of the benefit of the articles of Limerick, it would be their own faults, since by conforming to the established religion, they would be entitled to these and many other benefits ; that therefore they ought not to blame any but themselves; that the passing of that bill into a law was needful for the fecurity of the kingdom at that juncture; and in short, that there was nothing in the articles of Limerick, that should hinder them to pass it.”
This answer of the commons needs no commentary ; the former part of it evidently exhibits nothing else · but downright mockery, and a public insult on na- •
tional faith. And by the latter, besides the notorious falsehood of it, a maxim seems to be adopted, that tends to destroy all trust and confidence among men, viz. that the most folemn engagements between parties may be violated or set aside by either of them, upon a feigned or groundless apprehension of danger from the
3 Debates, ubi fupra.
other, by keeping it. I call the apprehension of danger, in this case, feigned or groundlefs; because I think, I may venture to challenge the ablest and most zealous sticklers for this law, to produce even one instance of such misconduct of the Roman catholics of Ireland, from the year 1691, when the articles of Limerick were figned, to the year 1704, when this first act to prevent the further growth of popery was passed, as could occasion in the government any apprehenfion of danger or disturbance from them. That no such instance could be then produced, appears from hence, that one of the principal objections to their conduct was,
“ their not having congratulated her majesty queen Anne, by a dutiful address, on her accession to the throne, as her protestant subjects had done ;" which, as it may be reasonably accounted for, from their distressed, persecuted, and desponding condition at that juncture; so, had they actually addressed her majesty on that occasion, in the most humble and dutiful manner that could be devised, most probable it is, that their very accusers would have considered and represented it, as the meer effect of adulation and hypocrisy; if not of insolence and presumption in them.
Thus on the 4th of March, 1704, the royal assent was given to an act, which, besides its being a violation of national faith, has been hitherto productive of every species of private, as well as public, injury; by stripping men of their property, for not parting with their integrity ; by fining and imprisoning them, for conscientious dissent from settled forms of worship; or for holding tenets merely spiritual, and totally foreign
“ We agree,” says Dean Swift, speaking of the catholics, “ with our fellow difsenters, that perfecution, merely for conscience fake, is against the genius of the gospel
. And so likewise, is any law for depriving men of their natural and civil rights which they claim as men. We are also ready enough to allow, that the smallest negative discouragements for uniformity's fake, are so many persecutions. Because, it cannot be denied, that the scratch of a pin is in some degree a real wound,
from any interference with the civil government of the state. So that our courts of justice and equity resembled, in these respects, the Roman tribunal punishing the primitive christians for not disavowing the doctrine of Jesus Christ, and embracing that of human institution.
Soon after this act was passed, the commons entered into such wild and intemperate resolutions, concerning the execution of it, and of other penal statutes which it revives and confirms, as shew them to have been as little influenced and directed by the dictates of common sense, as they were by those of common humanity. On the 17th of March, 1704, “
they resolved unanimously, that all magistrates, and other persons whatsoever, who neglected or omitted to put them in due execution, were betrayers of the liberties of the
In June, 1705, they “ resolved, that the saying or hearing of mass, by persons who had not taken the oath of abjuration, tended to advance the interest of the pretender.” And that such judges and magistrates, as wilfully neglected to make diligent enquiry into, and discover such wicked practices, ought to be looked upon as enemies to her majesty's government.” And least the judges, if not the inferior magistrates, should be somewhat ashamed of executing this new office of enquiring into, and discovering these
+ Com. Jour. vol. iii. f. 289.
$ Ib. f. 319.
as much as a stab through the heart. In like manner, an incapacity by law for any man to be made a judge, a colonel, or justice of peace, merely on point of conscience, is a negative discouragement, and consequently a real perfecution. For, in this case, the author of a pamphlet [Reasons for the repeal of the Sacramental Teft], puts a very pertinent and powerful queltion: That if God be the fole Lord of the conscience, why should the rights of conscience be subject to human jurisdiction ? Now to apply this to the catholics: The belief of transubstantiation is a matter purely of religion and conscience, which doth not affect the political interest of society as such. Therefore, why should the rights of conscience, whereof God is the sole LORD, be subject to human jurisdiction ? And why should God be deprived of this right over a catholic's conscience, any more than over that of any other diffenter.” Swift's Works, vol. viii. p. 56.
wicked practices of saying and hearing mass, on account of that infamy which is commonly annexed to the trade of priest-catchers, discoverers, and informers, these commons had before taken care to resolve unanimously,
“ that the prosecuting and informing against papists, was an honourable service to the govern
Such was the good faith, good sense, and avowed honour of those bigotted times !
How very different from this, has been the state and condition of the protestants in Germany, ever since the famous treaty of Munfter, in 1648? which was concluded with them by the emperor Ferdinand, for liberty of religious worship; and guaranteed by their most christian and catholic majesties, and other Roman catholic princes and states in Italy and Germany:
“ By this treaty,' not only all their immunities, lands, territories, and dignities, together with the absolutely free and uncontrouled exercise of their religion, but also power to bear offices, and enjoy church livings, even bishoprics and archbishoprics were granted, and for ever secured to these protestants."
" From hence it appears,” to use the words of the same writer,* “ how unftudied those men are in the great book of the world, who think that popish princes will not go on in the course of their politics, though the pope should assume a temporal jurisdiction to obstruct them."
Yet soine there are, presuming to call themselves the only true protestants, who, not conVOL. II.
Sir Peter Pet's Happy Future State of Engl. Pref.
b « Informers (says a distinguished Law Lord in the British House of Peers) are an infamous and odious set of people ; and in fact, the Irish popery laws, and the construction put upon them by the Irish iawyers and courts of justice, are a confused heap of oppression and nonsense, and have very much contributed to corrupt the morals of the people of that country.”
c« And whereas another author among our brethren the diflenters, hath very justly complained, that by this persecuting test act, great numbers of true protestants have been forced to leave the kingdom, and fly to the plantations, rather than
tent with Roman catholics abjuring all civil power and temporal jurisdiction in popes over other princes, insist that it is absolutely necessary for the safety of every protestant government, under which they are suffered to live, that they should also renounce the pope's spiritual supremacy (the belief of which is an effential article of their religion, and has not the least connexion with, or relation to the temporal dominion of other princes); at the same time that those men, under a false notion of their christian liberty, and a strange presumption that they are authorised to interpret the scriptures in their own private sense, and to square their conduct accordingly, even in the highest political affairs, have themselves often usurped a spiritual authority (not controulable by any earthly power, as imagined to be founded on facred writ), in virtue of which they have often excited, and afterwards justified, the most dangerous tumults and commotions ; I may say, the subversion of government, civil and ecclesiastical.
CH A P.
stand here branded with an incapacity for civil and military employments. We do affirm, that the catholics can bring many more instances of the same kind; some thousands of their religion having been forced by the facramental test, to retire into other countries, rather than live here under the incapacity of wearing swords, fitting in parliament, and getting that share of power and profit which belongs to them as fellow christians, whereof they are deprived merely upon account of conscience, which would not allow them to take the facrament after the manner prescribed in the liturgy. Hence it clearly follows, in the words of the same author [Reasons against the Test], that if we catholics are incapable of employments, we are punished for our dissent, that is, for our conscience, which wholly turns upon political confiderations.” Swift's Works, vol. viii. p. 56-7.