Page images
PDF
EPUB

it is evident, he wished his Catholic subjects to enjoy religious liberty. Lord Mansfield, on making a report to the king, of the conviction of Mr. Malowny, a Catholic priest, who was found guilty, in the county of Surrey, of celebrating mass, was induced, by a sense of reason and humanity, to represent to his Majesty the excessive severity of the penalty which the law imposed for the offence. The king, in a tone of the most heartfelt benignity, immediately answered, “God forbid, my Lord, that religious difference in opinion should sanction persecution, or admit of one man within my realms suffering unjustly ; issue a pardon immediately for Mr. Malowny, and see that he is set at liberty.” This interesting circumstance clearly shows that George III. was the enlightened friend of religious toleration. Usurping a power over conscience, by denying subjects the liberty of judging for themselves in matters of religion, is a measure that can never be reconciled to either truth or justice. Truth, as it bears a near relation to human happiness, is the object of universal concern; and therefore every man must naturally think, he has a right to inquire after it. It is on this persuasion, men become inquisitive into the nature of truth, not thinking it safe to receive things, in which their happiness is concerned, on the mere ipse diarit of pthers. And from the different views with which men examine, from the different exertions they make, and from their different capacities, it unavoidably happens, that they embrace opinions in some respects different from one another. This variety of sentiments, which, in the present state of things, is probably unavoidable, might be innocently permitted, if men would agree to differ. But some men grow peevish and angry, when others contradict their religious opinions; nay, break into the persecution of those who differ from them. Thus it is, that Christians are divided against Christians, and the religion of Jesus, which was intended to preserve the lives and liberties of men, is made the instrument of slavery and death. It is owing to this magisterial tyrannical spirit, that many learned and pious men have been destroyed, to serve the interest or ambition of a party. Some, perhaps, may object, that persons who dissent from the established religion and worship of their country, are justly persecuted for their opinions, when they interfere with the welfare of society; and so the calling in the assistance of the civil magistrate to restrain those opinions is not designed to break the peace, but to maintain it. In answer to this we may observe, that men are sometimes punished for opinions which do not in the least tend to injure society. Experience sufficiently shows, that men have been punished, in some way or other, merely for their principles, though at the same time their persons and characters were blameless; they lived faithful subjects, quiet neighbours, and in all respects well-wishers to mankind. But admitting it lawful to punish men on account of such opinions as do indeed interfere with the welfare of the community; yet the magistrate ought not to exert his power till these principles are reduced to practice: for mere opinions can do no harm, unless they are industriously propagated, and rudely imposed on others. But, to speak properly, it is the actions, not the thoughts of man, into which the civil magistrate is concerned to inquire. The mind of man is in its own nature free, and not to be controuled by outward force. The body may be imprisoned and tormented even to death; but all this can never make any man think otherwise than as things appear to his understanding. The mind owns no sovereignty but that of God, and will R.

still assert its liberty, in opposition to all the restraints that men vainly attempt to put on it. So that to usurp a power over the understanding and conscience, is no less foolish and ridiculous, than unjust and destructive. Kings should not therefore treat any of their subjects with rigour, merely because they are of a different opinion from others; for if men have a natural right to judge for themselves, in matters of religion, the consequence is plain, they have the same right to think differently from others; and if this difference of sentiment in lesser matters, as all differences among orthodox Protestants are, is not patiently tolerated, the bands of society will inevitably be broken. After reigning fifty-nine years, three months, and nine days, George III, died 29th January, 1820.

“Sacred by lengthened years,
And venerable by sufferings, he hath reach'd
In Heaven's appointed time, his last abode—
The Paradise of GoD, where every tear
Is wip'd from every eye.”

A journalist has very appropriately observed on the affecting occasion, “All of us, except the very old, were born beneath the sceptre of George III. The whole people of this country, with still fewer exceptions, were formed and educated since he began to govern. His name and image had identified themselves with our earliest remembrances, and made part of our happiest associations. He was the great, the living—almost the sole remnant of our loved forefathers—of all that hallowed generation of parents and instructors, who had given us life, and fostered our infancy, and sowed in our youthful minds the seeds of loyalty and piety—of truth and honour. To us, the offspring of his reign, therefore, the death of our aged monarch” is an event

which cannot but deeply interest our best feelings, and excite in our hearts a sympathetic condolence.

George III. was succeeded by his son George IV. whose coronation-day will long be remembered by a loyal, a free, and a grateful people. He breathes the spirit of his royal ancestors of the Brunswick family. He has hitherto guarded our rights and privileges, both civil and sacred, and we believe he will continue to do the same to the end of his reign; which, may it please God, of his great goodness, to render both long and happy

244

(Thapter #9.

THE SACRED OFFICE FREE FROM PRIESTLY DOMINATION.

“ Apply yourself, with special diligence and vigilant guard over your thoughts, and earnest prayer, to correct the self-exalting imaginations and the anti-Christian frame of soul, which the merely scientific or classical reading is of itself apt to generate."—Bishop Ryder's Third Charge, p. 94.

MANY ministers, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, have officiated in this church since its erection ; who possessed a diversity of talent, and performed the sacred functions with different degrees of fidelity and success. Each had his day of service and responsibility; and on being removed from this field of labour by the hand of death, immediately entered on a suitable recompence in the invisible state.

Of those who once had the pastoral care of this parish, how many of them saved their own souls, and were the honoured instruments of saving those who heard them P This is the grand question concerning them now, however it might affect them when resident in this world, attending to the important duties of their high station. How many human souls now occupying heavenly mansions, were within this sacred pile instructed in the way

« PreviousContinue »