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THE word of God is at once the truth and the test of truth. The claims of the church of Rome have, long since, been tried by this test; they have, again and again, been fully and impartially weighed in the scales of reason and revelation, and they have been "found wanting." Not only her faith, but her constitution has, for several ages, been deemed adverse to man's best interests. An idea, however, has of late prevailed, that the authority and influence of the Pope are so much and so hopelessly impaired,
that no evil can arise from the admission of Roman Catholics to the highest offices of the state. This is a question of great moment in a protestant kingdom: it is a consideration of vast importance, involving subjects of temporal and eternal concern. In the first place, the liberation of a large body of our fellow-countrymen from the most galling restraints; and, lastly, the protection of that reformed faith which a protestant Christian values more than even life itself. But the limitation of our views to either of these points, will give a bias to the mind which must prove prejudicial to the search of truth.
The strong party-spirit and intemper, ate zeal displayed by too many advocates of emancipation, have been injurious rather than beneficial to their cause. These turn a deaf ear to argument, and load all objectors with coarse and indiscriminate abuse. Moderate spirits are thus tempted to esteem that cause weak which stands in need of such extravagant support. If we are to credit
such advocates, we must believe that the bishops are neither judges nor guardians of those spiritual interests which a nation has, nevertheless, entrusted to their jealous custody. And why is this obloquy cast on the venerable hierarchy of the established church? Have our bishops less knowledge of this subject than other men; or have they done aught to forfeit their sacred title to our confidence? Surely such a question as Roman Catholic Emancipation may well enough be thought to compromise the interests of a protestant church: such apprehensions are not very far-fetched, but still they furnish no apology. The cry is, "Their possessions bribe the bishops to pronounce an unfavourable verdict!" This is an unlucky accusation; for the most substantial evidence an interested party can offer, is the dread he manifests lest his possessions should be endangered. Now, if the bishops apprehend no injury to the established church, what possible reason can they have for considering their revenues to be
hazarded by emancipation? not naturally court abuse.
Men do Grant but
to this respectable body the common feelings of humanity, and it will be allowed that they would most gladly admit their Roman Catholic brethren to a participation of their own privileges and blessings, and would rejoice to see those barriers levelled which keep us separated, if they could be removed without injury to the protestant faith and the British constitution. Is there no middle course between these conflicting opinions? If there be, justice and self-interest concur in promoting its discovery. The nature of Roman Catholicism remains unchanged. We may feel assured that really pious and charitable, as well as bigoted individuals of the Romish faith, will seek to propagate their opinions. Now the great consideration appears to be, whether or not such designs would be much forwarded by emancipation. I humbly
Emancipation is an event which the
generality of protestants contemplate with terror; and yet every calm observer may be led to anticipate its final accomplishment. The following arguments are not intended to hasten this event, (as the subject of the work itself will fully testify,) but they may help to allay some of that great anxiety which its opposers feel, and to direct the observation of its advocates to the point which an overstrained liberality and zeal have induced the latter to abandon.
Let it be supposed that the papal chair were filled by the most able pontiff that ever wore the triple crown; let it be admitted that the whole community of emancipated British Romanists were unanimous in the promotion of this pope's designs, and that these designs were directed against the religion or constitution of our country; force or persuasion are the means which supply the end desired. But is it reasonable to suppose that the open and forcible efforts of so comparatively small a body