Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

upon the catholics, and their repeated burnings of churches and monasteries. Doctor Heylin mentions the calvinistic massacres of the catholic priests at Pamiers, Montauban, Rodez and other places. I have read with pleasure your lofty and eloquent eulogy of archbishop Laud: but did not he conduct the cruel prosecution of doctor Leighton. "That learned man," says doctor Robinson in his History of Persecution, "wrote a book against "the hierarchy, and felt, to his cost, that his good mother was inclined to chastise as much as "to cherish her offspring, when they called in "question her high authority. He was sentenced "in the High-commission in a fine of ten thousand pounds, perpetual imprisonment and whipping. "1st, He was whipped, and then placed in the 'pillory: 2dly, One of his ears cut off: 3dly, One "side of his nose slit: 4thly, Branded on the "cheek with a red-hot iron, with the letters S. S.

66

66

66

Whipped a second time and placed in the pillory; "about a fortnight afterwards, his sores being yet "uncured, he had the other ear cut off; the other ❝side of his nose slit, and the other cheek branded. "He continued in imprisonment till the long par"liament set him at liberty."-Why did you not mention these? Why were you silent on the cruelties exercised by the protestant episcopalians on the Scottish presbyterians, throughout the reign of Charles II, notwithstanding his solemn promise of toleration at Breda ? Can you read without horror Mr. Laing's account of them? Or can Vol. 27, p. 163.

[ocr errors]

*

""

you read without compunction the sufferings of the English protestant non-conformists in the same reign? In the preface to De Laune's "Plea "for Non-conformists," it is said that 8,000 of them perished in this persecution. Perhaps, when you read Mr. Laing's account of "the treachery, "and almost unexampled perjuries of the first "ministers of the church and state of Scotland,' --and of "the absolute and undistinguished massacre voted by the privy council," and of "the warrant for it signed by the king," and of "the execution of it, not inferior to the spirit "by which it was dictated," you may think that the catholic massacre on St. Bartholomew's day has been equalled by more than one protestant enormity.

66

[ocr errors]

you

I beg leave to ask you, whether think it consistent with historic impartiality, to keep out of sight the outrages committed by protestants, while you bring forward, in the most glowing language, those committed by the roman-catholics? Read doctor Milner's "fourth letter to doctor Sturges," his forty-ninth letter in his "End of Controversy," his "twenty-second letter to Mr. Grier," and the excellent letter in the "Edinburgh Review" on the toleration of the First Reformers; then let me adjure you, as a christian and a gentleman, to say on which side the balance of religious persecution lies,-the catholic or the protestant? Or what better reason there is to ascribe catholic persecutions to the catholic

Laing, vol. 2, p. 83. 151.-and through the whole of book VII. & VIII. of his history.

religion, than to ascribe protestant persecutions to the protestant?- Pardon me the solemnity of this address it is known that nothing tends to prejudice the public mind in this country against the roman-catholics, so much as making it believed that the lawfulness, and even the duty of religious persecution, is one of the tenets of their creed. To this accusation, all who wish us evil never fail to resort. That you, a man of real learning, should attack us with such a weapon, gives me surprise and

sorrow.

But, Sir,--for the subject is so serious that I cannot yet quit it, if you are not yet convinced that you share the guilt of religious persecution, at least equally with us, turn your eyes westward, and contemplate IRELAND!!!

There, you will see a people to whom Nature has been profusely kind. She has blessed them with the most genial climate, the most fertile soil, the boldest coasts, the most navigable rivers; with strength, industry, energy, virtue, talent! With all these blessings, they have, for three hundred years, been the most miserable nation on the habitable globe; and present, at this moment, a scene of appalling wretchedness;-a wretchedness so bitter, so deep, and so extensive, that even the enemies of their name shudder at beholding it; but, at the same time, a wretchedness formed by the original artificers of it with such fiendish skill and contrivance, that it seems almost beyond human ability to remove it. To what is this owing? Let lord chancellor Clare answer in his own words,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

1

"The division of Ireland," says his lordship, "be"tween those who adhered to the catholic, and "those who adhered to the protestant religion, is "the grand schism, which has been the bane and pestilence of Ireland, and rendered her a BLANK among the nations of Europe."

66

66

Mentioning the persecutions of queen Elizabeth, you assert, that "no church, no sect, no individual " even, had yet professed the principle of toleration." Now, it had been repeatedly professed by writers of the roman-catholic church: Sir Thomas More had established it in Utopia; the fourth council of Toledo had declared, that "it was unlawful and "unchristianlike to force people to believe, seeing "it is God alone who hardens and shows mercy to "whom he will."-"Neither saint Ambrose, nor "saint Martin," says Mr. Alban Butler, in his lives of those great men, "would communicate with

[ocr errors]

Ithacius, or those bishops who held communion "with him, because they sought to put heretics to "death.-Saint Martin besought Maximus not to

spill the blood of the guilty; saying, it was suf"ficient that they had been declared heretics, and "excommunicated by the bishops; and that there " was no precedent of an ecclesiastical cause being "brought before the secular judge."

In all these instances, was not the true principle of religious toleration professed? Were not those, who thus professed it, roman-catholics?

[ocr errors]

The doctrine of religious toleration is now so generally admitted, at least in theory, that it surprises me to find a person, who openly professes

[ocr errors]

the doctrine of religious intolerance. Yet such persons are sometimes met with. Bishop Sparke, addressing himself to the synod of Canterbury, in July 1807, denounced "the roman-catholics," who form at least one fourth of the population of the empire," as enemies of all laws, divine and "human, and who, as such, should be driven from "our courts and armies." You, in the chapter now before me, eulogize the celebrated John Fox; you call him "the good old martyrologist ;" you mention him as the only person who raised his voice against queen Elizabeth's persecution of the anabaptists. But, what was the persecution against which he raised his voice? "There is," (I transcribe your own citation of his words), "There is," he says, "imprisonment, there are chains, there are

66

[ocr errors]

brandings and stripes, and even the gibbet: this "alone I earnestly deprecate, that you would not "suffer the fires of Smithfield, which, under happy "auspices, have slept so long, should be again re"kindled."-Surely, "the good old martyrologist," as you call him, did not raise, in favour of toleration, his voice very high.

His "Acts and Monuments" have, from the time of their publication, been the great armory of the weapons wielded against the roman-catholics, to bring them and their religion into odium. An excellent answer to them was published by father Persons. Another, is now publishing in numbers, by Mr. William Eusebius Andrews; it shows great learning and great power of argument. It seems to be admitted, that doctor Milner triumphed in

!

« VorigeDoorgaan »