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Dissenters, therefore, as well as the Roman Catholics, being deeply interested in the decision of Parliament, I should be extremely sorry to misinterpret their intentions, though I have thought it my duty to state, what I conceived would be the effect of the required concessions on our ecclesiastical Establishment. I apprehended, that as well Protestant, as Catholic Dissentients, when their political wishes were obtained, and we were all equal citizens of the state, would soon begin to complain of the supposed injustice of then withholding from them a proportionate share in the revenues of the Church. The more we obtain, the more do we in general desire; it is the property of ambition to increase by gratification; objects, which at first were far removed from our view, excite in us a thirst for possession on a nearer approach; and since the power to obtain increases with the wish, when every single acquisition is the means of acquiring more, I contemplated a probable order of things in this country, in which our Ecclesiastical Establishment would cease to retain its present form.
But in performing what I considered as my duty to the Church, I carefully endeavoured to abstain from language, which might offend either Catholic or Protestant Dissentients. I have never expressed myself in the terms, which you have adopted on your title-page as declarative of my opinion of the views entertained by the Protestant Dissenters. You yourself, Sir, admit at p. 4, that they are only deduced from various passages of the pamphlet to which you allude. But was it fair to state my opinion on your title page in any other than my own words? You should consider, that the Title of your pamphlet is advertised in the public papers, and that it will be read by thousands, who will never see either your Letter or my Reply to it; who will take my opinion from your statement; and will condenin me for the use of language, which I have not employed. Many things are true to a certain extent, beyond which they cease to be true; and an accurate writer will select his expressions with a view to this line of demarcation. But if those expressions are exchanged for others, which have a more extensive meaning, the author is carried beyond the bounds, which he himself had prescribed: what was simply the truth may acquire an admixture of falsehood; what was innocent may be... come offensive; whence it follows, not only that a proposition,
though in itself defensible, is rendered easy of confutation, but that the reader, when prepossessed against the writer, is better prepared to receive the confutation. The gentlemanly and friendly manner in which you have written, prevent the smallest suspicion of intentional mis-statement, and you have candidly quoted in the body of your pamphlet the passages, which in your opinion authorise the statement in the title-page. But even if those passages will bear you out in the construction, and you have fairly collected my opinion, still you have not employed my language in the statement of that opinion. You have employed the language of irritation; and every reader of your public advertisements may mistake that language for my own. When I consider therefore the numerous enemies which my exertions for the welfare of the Church have already excited, I cannot but lament, that, however inadvertently, you have contributed to increase the number.
I observed, in the place to which you allude, (the Postscript of my Letter to Mr. Gandolphy,) that "when the making and the administering of the laws in this country shall be equally extended to all religious parties, it is easy to foresee that the honors and emoluments, which are now exclusively enjoyed by the Ministers of the Established Church, but which all parties are equally desirous of obtaining, would then be demanded by all parties; and as those demands would then be urged by the weight of political power, we should no longer be able to resist." Here are two assertions, the one relating to present desires, the other to future demands. In both of them I may be mistaken, and I heartily wish that experience may prove it. But whether I am mistaken or not, they hardly authorise you to say on the title-page that my opinion of the Protestant Dissenters is, that they are already "aiming at the subversion of the Religious Establishment." This amounts to the positive charge, that they have already formed a plan of open and direct hostility; a charge, which I have never made, in terms either direct or indirect. The contemplation of future probable events, in a regular succession of causes and effects, does not amount to a declaration of present hostile operations. You may at present be aiming at no other privileges, than what you call at p. 10. your "birth-rights as men, and as Britons:" and you may pursue this object without being conscious of further designs, till the posses
sion of it suggests to you, that something remains to be asked, the something unpossessed, the want of which embitters all the rest. But whether you are conscious of it or not, I think there can be no offence in saying, that Protestant, as well as Catholic, Dissentients, are desirous of obtaining a share in the emoluments of the Church. I never knew a Churchman, who did not think them worth possessing and I should not have supposed that the Dissenters were less desirous, on account of their present exclusion. Whether they will demand a share of those emoluments, if they shall hereafter possess the power of enforcing it, is a question on which at present we can form only a probable opinion. The absolute decision must be left to future experience. If I may conclude from your pamphlet, such demands will never be made; and as I really wish to be mistaken on this subject, I will not attempt to prove that I am right.
If, as you further observe, I have spoken in another passage of "the desire, which all men possess, to make their own the established religion," I have only asserted what is natural to man, and what is free from reproach. All parties believe their own to be the true religion, in reference as well to discipline as to doctrine: and for this very reason they must wish for its general adoption. Members of the Church, and Dissentients from the Church, agree in this common feeling. But it is one thing to suppose, that men possess a desire for the prevalence of their own religious worship; it is another thing to suppose, that they are prepared to gratify
When Lord Holland presented the Petition from the Presbyterian, Independent, and Baptist Ministers, for a repeal of the laws which now affect Dissenters on account of their religion, namely, the Corporation and Test laws, he observed, (according to the Speech ascribed to him in the Courier of March 5th), “ that numbers of the petitioners from their conscientious adherence to those principles of religion which they professed, had, under various reigns, excluded themselves from the most valuable ecclesiastical preferments." This exclusion implies a sacrifice on the part of those Dissenting Ministers; and shows, that under other circumstances those valuable preferments would have been deemed worthy of acceptance. And, since the Dissenting Clergy cannot want admission to civil offices, one should suppose, when they petition, that something ecclesiastical was at least in view.
that desire by the subversion of existing institutions. I have said indeed, as you again observe, that " an Anti-episcopalian Protestant must be adverse to our Episcopal Establishment." This is a selfevident proposition; and that the Protestant Dissenters really are anti-episcopalian was never doubted. Indeed they consider episcopacy as a relic of popery; and had it been doubtful, whether you yourself, Sir, were adverse to our episcopal establishment, you would have removed that doubt. You declare in general terms at p. 6, that you object " to all religious establishments." But then you argue from this very objection that I must be wrong in supposing that Protestant Dissenters can have any "temptation to overturn the Established Church." I really cannot help thinking, that such a temptation may exist. But whether the Dissenters will ever yield to the temptation, if they shall again possess the means of indulging it, is another inquiry. You assure me, that they never will; and you appeal to the Constitution of your Societies in proof of the assertion. You say at p. 11, «Neither is it possible in the very nature of things-there is an incongruity in the supposition, for Societies so modelled, without any connexion or dependence, and whose first and elementary principles are diametrically opposite to such claims and pretensions, to seek for domination. Principles like these, producing such feelings of soul, are too pure, spiritual, elevated, and refined, to admit such debasement, as to become the creatures of the State, and to be mixed with the selfish plans and views of worldly policy and aggrandisement."--I am so thoroughly persuaded of your good intentions, that I feel no disposition to examine the strength of your arguments. I will not observe, that the Independents, in the time of Cromwell, had the same constitution, the same unconnected societies, the same spiritual feelings, as you have here described, and yet-that they eagerly sought, and eventually obtained, the revenues of the Church. I will not observe, that, if the present constitution of your Societies, which you have taken pains to explain to me, and with which you suppose I was previously unacquainted, is really a bar to the subversion of the Establishment "in order (as stated in your title-page) to possess its honors and emoluments," it is a poor consolation to know, that you wish them not for yourselves, if your principles, as you admit at p. 6, induce you
to reject "all religious establishments," and consequently must induce you, if ever you obtain sufficient power for the purpose, to abolish those honors and emoluments altogether. But I will cease to dwell upon this subject, after the friendly declarations, which you have made in your pamphlet. I will hope, that Churchmen and Dissenters may long continue to preserve the habits of mutual friendship and affection; and that both parties may enjoy undisturbed repose, without interruption or encroachment of the one on the other.
But if I resign the apprehensions, which I once entertained, of danger to the Establishment from the Protestant Dissenters, you will allow me to state the authorities, on which I rested my opinions, that you may be convinced I did not adopt them, either lightly or unadvisedly. You will certainly admit that the Edinburgh Review is very great authority, and that on the present occasion its authority is the greater, as it is totally free from all prejudices in favor of the Church Establishment. "Superiority of strength (says this Review, No. xxxviii. p. 455.) is the only real security, which the Established Church of every country has for the maintenance of her pre-eminence. If that superiority be lost, she may entrench herself in parchment to the teeth, but the Dissenters will find a proper way to attack her. As soon as a religious party, which has been depressed, discovers that from the continual fluctuation of human opinions, and from the change of other circumstances, it has gained so great an accession of strength and popularity, as to enable it to cope with the established religion, it will either break out at once into open rebellion, or will begin by making a formal demand, that the prerogatives of the Establishment should be transferred, either wholly or in part, to itself. If the government does not think proper to accede to this demand, a civil war ensues, and the question is ultimately decided by the sword. If any man supposes, that in this respect there is any practical difference between the principles of Catholics and those of Protestants, he must have derived his knowledge of those principles, not from a cool and attentive observation of the conduct, which results from them, but from the partial and passionate de