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those of my fellow-citizens who have been the active promoters of the measure alluded to. I am ready to acknowledge that they are distinguished for private worth, and that they deserve the high rank they occupy in the public estimation. But while I thus do justice to the purity of their motives, I shall without ceremony animadvert upon the tendency of their measures.
Now, in the first place, I confess that it appears to me a very ungracious, if not an unchristian, step, to come forward to oppose the petitions or claims, for I have no objection to the word, of some millions of our fellow-subjects, not for any exclusive advantages, not for any peculiar privileges, but merely for the common privileges and advantages of other British subjects, and to do this merely on account of their religious opinions. This position would, perhaps, be conceded in the abstract, but then it would be contended that some of their religious opinions are of so dangerous a nature, that it is necessary that this vast proportion of our fellow-subjects should be treated as strangers and foreigners in the land of their nativity: The sentiments here alluded to I shall proceed to examine presently; but something more remains to be previously said on the subject of the Petition, and the mode in which it was brought forward.
A few years since a book was published under the singular title of Legal Despotism-upon which it was observed by some critics, that the syllables howled with affright at finding themselves coupled together. Striking as is the incongruity between these two ideas, an incongruity no less palpable seems to me to exist between the first sentence of the Petition and its subsequent clauses. The former recognises the rights of eonscience in their fullest extent; the latter contend,
not precisely for the restriction of those rights, but that political disabilities may continue to be inflicted upon those who presume to exercise them. This contrast reminds me of a satirical sketch, which I have somewhere met with, of the liberty of the Press enjoyed in France : a foreigner is represented as enquiring whether the freedom of the press exists in that country, and he is informed that it'is established by an absolute decree. The stranger exults at the intelligence, but his complacency is somewhat abated when his informant adds, that he may give free scope to his thoughts, and that if he will only take care not to discuss any question of Government, nor find fault with the constituted authorities, nor investigate the conduct of any man in power, he may exercise his pen with all imaginable freedom.
It was obviously the intention of those who brought forward the petition, to avoid all discussion as to its propriety or impropriety. Into the motives for this it is not my business to enquire. Probably they apprehended that discussion would be inconvenient; still it would seem to be nécessary; for it cannot surely be admitted as a self-evident truth, that the most approved method of curing an intolerant spirit in others, is to'assume the semblance at least of intolerance ourselves. In fact many persons were rather surprised at the turn that the debate took. Censures of an intole- . rant'spirit seemed to come with a peculiarly ill grace from the supporters of Catholic disabilities. Yet the intolerance of the Catholic Church was a prominent topic in the speeches both of the Mover and Seconder of the Petition; the former asserted that it was a doctrine of that church that it was not only lawful but meritorious to persecute Heretics: the latter conceived that if it were only properly stated to a child
of ten years old, that Papists believed that the Scriptures did not contain, alone contain the word of God, and that all good men would not go to heaven, the impression made upon his mind would be sufficiently strong to prevent him from ever adopting their creed in after life, unless he were exposed to undue influence. Upon the first of these points I shall only remark that the Catholic writings uniformıly express the highest reverence and value for the Scriptures; but from an apprehension that the endless variety of private opi · nions and interpretations miglit lead to injurious consequences, and estrange their brethren from the faith, they seem formerly to have permitted the perusal of them to persons of discretion only, unless when accompanied by suitable comments or explanations. But this apprehension does not appear pecu- .. liar to Catholics; for its principle seems to have been adopted by some eminent Members of the Establishment; who, as is well known, have warmly objected to the plan adopted by the Bible Society of circulating the Scriptures and the Scriptures alone, without note or comment. Surely it must proceed from a wish to add something of human invention, something of the traditionis of men to the written Word of God, that so many excellent men withdraw from, and indeed actively oppose, a Society founded on a principle so grand, liberal and extensive (that it would appear capable of embracing every Christian sect, and directing their united energies to one object) because the Liturgy, excellent and admirable as it is almost universally acknowledged to be, is not added to the Bible. It ought however to be stated, that the Catholic Church no longer discountenances the free circulation of the Scriptures. The correspondent of the Bible Society at Malta, who superintends the distribution of the various
translations of the New Testament, is a Catholic; and a letter from him which appears in their Eightli Report (appendix, p. 2) sufficiently manifests the zeal and earnestness with which he co-operates in their exertions. From the same report (p. 5) I have extracted two letters, which exhibit a more satisfactory proof of the value set by Catholics upon the Scriptures, than any arguments of mine could furnish.
The two following Letters, lately received from pious ROMAN
CATHOLICs in Bavaria, are addressed by the Writers, " TO ALL THE MEMBERS OF THE LONDON BIBLE
March 20, 1811. As it is your noble employment to spread the Book of books, and more especially the New Testament, among all nations, without having any thing else in view than eternal life, which consists in the knowledge of the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent; and as you proclaim nothing but God in Cbrist, I salute you most cordially, wishing you complete success in all your undertakings, and recommending myself to your united intercessions.
Your sincere Servant and Fellow-Pilgrim,
Professor of Divinity in the
March 20, 1811. " Your love to Christ, and your impartial and comprehensive love to all Christians, who sincerely profess our Lord Jesus, are known to me and many in Germany. I therefore embrace this opportunity of saluting you (though the least of your brethren) and of thanking you for the lively interest you have taken in our Ratisbon Bible Institution. Our New Testament goes off rapidly. Indeed, there still exists a hunger in the land after the heavenly manna ; and the Lord has promised to satisfy this bunger. The Scripture is also a bond of union in Christ: for whb hath - the words of eternal life,” but Christ alone! " To whom else, therefore, shall we go?” Whether the translation of the Bible be in Latin, German, or English, is immaterial : the great point is, whether we become better ; that is, new creatures in Christ, through faith in hiin, which workcth by love. This is not effected
by the Greek, Latin, German, or English letter, but by the Spirit of God, which we receive freely by faith, that we may work the works of grace and love. Surely the hand of the Lord is not shortened. In these times of general fermentation, when all'is shaking, and the vessel of Christ's church appears sinking, he arises with power, cheers his frightened disciples, and commands the winds and waves to be still. Let us show a noble courage ; confiding in Christ, we may risk every thing.
With us matters seem to proceed to such lengths, that we inust expect a persecution for our faith's sake ; but God will give us all needful grace. We encourage each other in faith, prayer, patience, confidence. Assist as with your prayers. We have to fight the same fight of faith, and have one and the same Lord, even our Lord Jesus Christ. United to him, we are united to each elker: neither continents nor seas, various forms of govern. mcnt, nor different outward confessions of religion, can separate us : all these things pass away, but love abideth.
Help us, therefore, to pray, to believe, to suffer, to love ; and all will go well: for it is a faithful saying, “that all things work together for good, to them that love God.” With these sentiments, which I trust you will receive kindly, I express to you my joy and participation in the success of your Bible works. May God give you bis Holy Spirit, by whom alone the dead letter can be quickened.
Roman Catholic Parish Priest in Bavaria.
I have given these extracts a place with the more pleasure, on account of the truly liberal and christian spirit which they manifest. Nor can I forbear expressing a wish that certain intolerant opponents of the intolerance of the Catholic Church, who with one band assail those who believe too much, and with the other launch their thunders against those who believe too little, had learnt their religion from this humble Catholic Parish Priest. Under his instructions they might have imbibed a more genuine Protestantism, for Protestantism is founded upon the sacred exercise of private judgment; and sure I am that they would have imbibed a spirit much more nicarly allied to genuine christianity.