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"mitation is rendered evident in the case of the "Roman Catholics of this kingdom, who now "renounce many of the principles, and condemn "the persecuting conduct, of their ancestors. But "were they still to retain the principles of their "forefathers, and to believe it to be their duty, whenever they had opportunity, to oppress and injure those who differ from them in religious "sentiments, no other restraint upon them would "be necessary than to deprive them of the power of doing mischief, by carrying their principles "into effect. To do any thing farther than this, "would be to punish them for their opinions, which "are not in their own power, and come not within "the jurisdiction of any human tribunal. They "are the actions of men, and not their sentiments, political or religious, which are the proper objects " of civil laws. Wherever the state assumes to it"self an authority to examine into the private "creed of its members, and to grant or withhold “civil privileges, according to the ideas which may "be formed of their good or evil tendency, it goes "out of its province, and opens a wide door to in"justice and oppression: for every one thinks his "own opinions safe, and those of the persons who "differ from him dangerous."
Against granting the free exercise of their "religion to Roman Catholics, it has been alledged, "that they not only profess subjection to a foreign prince, the Pope, and acknowledge his authority
"to absolve them from their allegiance, and from "every other obligation by which they may be "bound to obey the supreme power in this country, but likewise that they have been in the habit of "acting upon this principle."
"To this it may be answered, that whenever c Papists have thus offended, the whole force of the "law ought to have been directed against the delinquents: but that if the Roman Catholics of "the present day renounce all subjection to the Pope of Rome in civil concerns; if they deny his "authority to absolve them from any moral obligation, and are ready to give the same security "for their peaceable behaviour as is required from "other subjects; no good reason can be assigned
why they should not enjoy equal privileges. "That they hold many corrupt and absurd religious "tenets, cannot affect their claim to any civil right."
"the law lately passed in their favour, repeal"ing former sanguinary laws, and placing them nearly upon the same footing as the Protestant "Dissenters, in respect to the exercise of their re
ligion, was a just and equitable measure: the "only thing to be lamented is that the relief "granted did not extend so far as the rights of "conscience and the principles of universal liberty " required."
The steady and well-directed zeal of Mr. Kenrick prompted him in the same year to devise and attempt the establishment of an Unitarian Book Society, in the West of England, upon the plan of one which had been instituted some months before in the metropolis. Convinced of the desireableness of a provincial association for the like purposes, he exerted himself in recommending it to his friends, took an active part in framing the rules of it, drew up the simple and perspicuous statement which stands at the head of them, and, to his death, discharged the office of its secretary with the utmost vigilance and punctuality. It was no trifling satisfaction to him that he witnessed the gradual enlargement of the catalogue of its members from small and apparently unfavourable beginnings. The Western Unitarian Society has flourished amidst opposition which has not always been manly, generous and consistent; and the persevering labours of Mr. Kenrick were principally instrumental to its success: for having once put his hand to the plough, he was not accustomed to look back. Great benefit has also been found to accrue to the institution from the custom of holding its annual meetings in different towns of the Western counties, and of joining, upon these occasions, in a religious service.
On the second anniversary of this institution, September 3, 1795, Mr. Kenrick delivered a ser
mon*, at Taunton, which, a few months afterwards, was committed to the press, and the object of which is to shew that the period is probably arrived for the revival and diffusion of those two important truths, the unity of the Divine Being and the humanity of Christ: the expectation that the latter doctrine, in particular, will speedily- prevail in the world, seems to be justified, observes the writer, by the simplicity to which it is now reduced, by "the conduct of those who embrace it, in making "an open profession of their faith, and by the tem
per and circumstances of their opponents :" this reasoning is enforced in a manner highly creditable to the talents and feelings of the preacher; and one of the notes contains an interesting account of the present state of the Unitarians of Prussia and Transylvania.
Among the useful publications circulated by the society of Unitarian Christians in the West of England are a volume of Prayers for families, and another of Prayers for individuals: both these works were compiled by Mr. Kenrick, partly from printed forms already in existence, and partly from communications in manuscript by himself and several of his friends: both have been warmly approved and. encouraged by the class of persons for whose advantage they were principally undertaken; and it may be presumed that they have in many instances
Discourses, Vol. ii. No. xxxix.
fulfilled the editor's design, by enkindling and cherishing the spirit of pure devotion.
Soon after the beginning of 1795 he printed "An address to young men, &c." which has been published since his death, in the first volume of his Discourses, and some extracts from which will enable the reader to perceive the judgment and impartiality with which he conducted his lectures, and his zealous regard for the highest interests of the rising generation.
Concerning the means of improvement in piety he says",
"It is a truth which cannot be too strongly in"culcated upon young persons, that a regular and frequent performance of the exercises of devotion "is particularly necessary for them; upon this plain principle, that the less there is of a devotional spi"rit, the more cultivation it requires. Those who "have long performed these exercises with proper "attention, who have acquired just notions of the "Divine Being, and impressed them deeply upon their "hearts, may almost venture to trust themselves to "the habits they have already formed: these will "dictate to them such a temper and behaviour to"wards God, upon all occasions, as it becomes human "creatures to maintain; or at least tend to strengthen "and confirm the dispositions they have already ac
quired. The occasional omission of a religious * pp. 5, 6.