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we gave way to impressions of vanity, we might suppose ourselves of much greater importance in the political scale than our numbers and situation seem to indicate. It shows at least we are feared, which to some minds would be the next grateful thing to being beloved. We, indeed, should only wish for the latter; nor should we have ventured to suppose, but from the information you have given us, that
your Church was so weak. What! fenced and guarded as she is with her exclusive privileges and rich emoluments, stately with her learned halls and endowed colleges, with all the attraction of her wealth, and the thunder of her censures; all that the orator calls “the majesty of the church” about her, and does she, resting in security under the broad buckler of the state, does she tremble at the naked and unarmed sectary? him, whose early connexions and phrase uncouth, and unpopular opinions, set him at distance from the means of advancement; him, who in the intercourses of neighbourhood and common life, like new settlers, finds it necessary to clear the ground before him, and is ever obliged to root up a prejudice before he can plant affection ? He is not of the world, gentlemen; and the world loveth
All that distinguishes him from other men to common observation, operates in his disfavour. His very advocates, while they plead his cause, are ready to blush for their client; and in justice to their own character think it necessary to disclaim all knowledge of his obscure tenets. And is it from his band you expect the demolition of so massy an edifice? Does the simple removal of the Test Act involve its destruction? These were not our thoughts. We had too much reverence for your establishment to imagine that the structure was so loosely put together, or so much shaken by years, as that the removal of so slight a pin should endanger the whole fabric or is the Test Act the talisman which holds it together, that, when it is broken, the whole must fall to pieces like the magic palace of an enchanter? Surely no species of regular architecture can depend upon so slight a support. After all what is it we have asked to share in the rich benefices of the established church? to have the gates of her schools and universities thrown open to us? No: let her keep her golden prebends, her scarfs, her lawn, her mitres. Let her dignitaries be still associated to the honours of legislation; and in our courts of executive justice, let her inquisitorial tribunals continue to thwart the spirit of a free constitution by a heterogeneous mixture of priestly jurisdiction. Let her still gather into barns, though she neither sows nor reaps. We desire not to share in her good things. We know it is the children's bread, which must not be given to dogs. But having
these good things, we could wish to hear her say with the generous spirit of Esau, “ I have enough, my
brother.” We could wish to be considered as children of the state, though we are not so of the church. She must excuse us if we look upon the alliance between her and the state as an ill-assorted union, and herself as a mother-in-law who, with the too frequent arts of that relation, is ever endeavouring to prejudice the state, the common father of us all, against a part of his offspring, for the sake of appropriating a larger portion to her own children. We claim no share in the dowry of her who is not our mother, but we may be
pardoned for thinking it hard to be deprived of the inheritance of our father.
But it is objected to us that we have sinned in the manner of making our request, we have brought it forward as a claim instead of asking it as a favour. We should have sued, and crept, and humbled ourselves. Our preachers and our writers should not have dared to express the warm glow of honest sentiment, or even in a foreign country glance at the downfall of a haughty aristocracy. As we were suppliants, we should have behaved like suppliants, and then perhaps
No, gentlemen, we wish to have it understood that we do claim it as a right. It loses otherwise half its value. We claim it as men, we claim it as citizens, we claim it as good sub
jects. We are not conscious of having brought the disqualification upon ourselves by a failure in any of these characters.
But we already enjoy a complete tolerationIt is time, so near the end of the eighteenth century, it is surely time to speak with precision, and to call things by their proper names. -call toleration, we call the exercise of a natural and inalienable right. We do not conceive it to be toleration, first to strip a man of all his dearest rights, and then to give him back a part; or even if it were the whole. You tolerate us in worshiping God according to our consciences—and why not tolerate a man in the use of his limbs, in the disposal of his private property, the contracting his domestic engagements, or any other the most acknowledged privileges of humanity? It is not to these things that the word toleration is applied with propriety. It is applied, where from lenity or prudence we forbear doing all which in justice we might do. It is the bearing with what is confessedly an evil, for the sake of some good with which it is connected. It is the christian virtue of long-suffering; it is the political virtue of adapting measures to times and seasons and situations. Abuses are tolerated, when they are so interwoven with the texture of the piece, that the operation of removing them becomes too delicate and hazardous. Unjust claims are tolerated, when
they are complied with for the sake of peace and conscience. The failings and imperfections of those characters in which there appears an evident preponderancy of virtue, are tolerated. These are the proper objects of toleration, these exercise the patience of the christian and the prudence of the statesman; but if there be a power that advances pretensions which we think unfounded in reason or scripture, that exercises an empire within an empire, and claims submission from those naturally her equals; and if we, from a spirit of brotherly charity, and just deference to public opinion, and a salutary dread of innovation, acquiesce in these pretensions ; let her at least be told that the virtue of forbearance should be transferred, and that it is we who tolerate her, not she who tolerates us.
But this it is again imputed to us is no contest for religious liberty, but a contest for place; and influence. We want civil offices And why should citizens not aspire to civil offices? Why should not the fair field of generous competition be freely opened to every one? A contention for power—It is not a contention for power between churchmen and dissenters, nor is it as dissenters we wish to enter the lists; we wish to bury every. name of distinction in the common appellation of citizen. We wish not the name of dissenter to be pronounced, except in our