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CORPORATION AND TEST ACTS.
We could announce only on the Wrapper of our last number the triumph of the Dissenters in the House of Commons in the Debate on Lord John Russell's Motion for the Repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts, on Tuesday, February 26. A great nuinber (we believe some hundreds) of petitions having been presented this evening, as there had been indeed for several preceding evenings, Lord John RUSSELL rose, and in a very able, perspicuous and conciliatory inander argued the case of the Dissenters, His motion was seconded by Mr. John Smith, the well-knowo London banker, in a deep tone of patriotic and Christian feeling.. Mr. MARSHALL, one of the new members for Yorkshire, followed in the saine track. Mr. WILBRAHAM made his maiden speech on the same side, a speech of grear ability, which produced a strong effect in the House. The first speaker in opposition to the motion was Sir RQBERT INGLIS, who pleaded for the ascendancy of the Established Church, and praised the wisdom of our ancestors. He was answered by Mr. FERGUSSON, the barrister froin India, who avowed himself a Dissenter from the Episcopal Church, and exposed the wrong to which Scotsinen were exposed by the Sacramental Test. Mr. R. PALMER, one of the members for Berkshire, who usu, ally votes with ministers, declared that he should give his vate in favour of the Dissenters. To the surprise of the House, Mr, Secretary HUSKISSON declared himself equally against the Test Laws and against their repeal. This was not the right time, and the grievante was not, as in the case of the Catholies, practical. Lords ALTHORP, Nugent and Milton, followed in succession, and left nothing in Mr. Huskisson's speech unanswered. After them rose Mr. Secretary Peel, and in a long bu feeble speech contended, that there was no practical: grievance, and that the silence of the Dissenters so many years proved this. There was an evident design on the part of Mr. Peelonot to offend those whom he thougut it right to oppose : and he was particularly anxious to weaken the effect of Mr. Fergusson's statements and reasonings with regard to Scotsinen. Sir Thomas ACLAND, one of the members for Devonshire, spoke very warmly against the Sacramental Test. If Mr. Peel wanted petitions from Scot land to convince him that the Scotch were aggrieved, he would promise that he should soon have abundance. In conclusion Sir Thomas alluded, rather obscurely, to certain securities to be given by the Dissenters. Mr. BROUGHAM, who had given way to the last speaker, now answered Mr. Peel, in a speech of great power and of exquisite sarcasm, He made merry with Sir R. Inglis's "wisdom of our ancestors." In reality, he left
nothing in the argument untouched, and certainly no objection unanswered. When he had concluded, Lord PALMERSTON, amidst much impatience of the House, took Mr. Huskisson's ground of the Test Laws being very bad laws, and of their being virtually repealed, and of the Catholics being worse off than the Dissenters.' The House then divided, when there appeared, Ayes
Majority for going into Committee to consider
By the Bill, as it now stands, the Sacramental Test is abolished, and in lieu of it the following Declaration is to be made and subscribed: “I, A. B., do solemnly declare, that I will never exercise any power, authority, or influence, which I may possess by virtue of the office of
to injure or weaken the Protestant Church as it is by law established within this realın, or to disturb it in the possession of any rights or privileges to which it is by law entitled.” This is not a Declaration, the reader will observe, for Dissenters only, but for all persons without distinction. It is to be made by all on taking otice in corporations, and by all who receive office, emolument or trust under the Crown, on its being required of them by the competent lawful authorities. It has been explained and is fully understood, that the Declaration is not designed to hinder any Dissenter from doing that for his own faith and worship which he is now protected by the law in doing.
A very pleasing feature of the present time, is the extinction of hostile feelings towards Dissenters in the House of Com. mons: they were complimented and eulogized by their oppo.
Some petitions from the clergy, and a few from snug corporations, have been presented against the repeal: one of these from Leicester is supremely ridiculous. On the other side, petitions are still coming in for the repeal, and pretty numerously from Scotland, where the minister's argument from silence is well-understood. The Town Councils of Edinburgh and Glasgow have led the way, and the other corporate bodies are fast following: If any thing were wanting to the success of he Dissenters, this would ensure it.
DISSENTERS' REGISTER OF BIRTHS. The Committee of the Deputies have for some time had under their consideration the subject of the Registry of Births, kept at Dr. Williams's Library, and they have taken opinions of the most eminent counsel as to its efficiency, and the means of its improvement.
After maturely considering the subject, they, in union with a Deputation of the Body of Ministers, lately came to the following resolutions :
*« That it appears to this Meeting, that the present systein of Certificates and Registry at Dr. Williams's Library is of a highly important and valuable character. That it is admirably adapied to the great majority of purposes for which it is likely to be resorted to, and that it is as useful for legal purposes, (both as a clue to the best evidence, and as containing within itself as inuch of that evidence as can be obtained from any record not sanctioned by Act of Parliament,) as it is at all likely under the present system of the law that such an Institution can be made to be.
“ That this Meeting therefore earnestly recommends to the body of Dissenters the use of the present Registry, and would exceedingly regret that any difficulty or defect in possible cases, which no voluntary institutions can avoid, should dininish its universality, and, consequently, its usefulness.
“That the whole scheme of Registration of Births, Marriages, and Deaths, in this country, appears to this Meeting to be radically defective; not only as being identified with the Establishment, within whose circle a great portion of the community are not comprised, and by whose institutions, therefore, their civil exigencies cannot be provided for, but also as being in its details defective in many important particulars, even for the liinited purposes which it is calculated to serve.
" That this Meeting feels that such a reform as would effectually remedy the evils complained of, (many of which affect Churchimen as well as Catholics, Jews, and every denon ination of Nonconformists, in a greater or less degree,) can only be looked to as likely to spring out of a inore liberal policy on the part of the Legislature, with regard to the greater questions which affect the political situation of persons differing from the Establishment in inatters of faith : and that, with this conviction, the Meeting looks with increased anxiety to the speedy agitation of those important topics in a new Parliainent,* throught he 'coinmon exertions of the Dissenting body, and of the friends of civil and religious liberty:
“ That this Meeting recommends to the Deputies to address circulars to congregations, founded on these Resolutions."
The “ Resolutions" were agreed to previous to the last Elec
MR. POTTER'S SPEECH AT THE ANNIVERSARY OPENING OF
SALFORD CHAPEL. The Anniversary of the Opening of the Salford Chapel took place on the 30th and 31st of last December. On the latter day, the friends and supporters dined together (and not on the 4th of January, as stated in Monthly Repository).
On the health of Mr. Richard Potter, the Local Treasurer of the British and Foreign Unitarian Association, being given, that gentleman, in acknowledging the honour, said,
That as his name had been united with the British and Foreign Unitarian Association, to which he had the honour of being Local Treasurer for this district, he would take leave very shortly to direct the attention of the meeting to that important and interesting Institution.
Since the different Associations connected with the Unitarian faith bad become united under the general name of the British and Foreign Unitarian Association, very important advantages had resulted from the union, and a far wider field of usefulness was opened.
The Society is, at all times, ready and most willing to come forward in support of missionary exertions, the circulation of books and tracts, the protection of the civil rights of Dissenters, assisting needy congregations, and last, though far from least, administering to the temporal wants of our necessitous and poorer brethren, on urgent and pressing occasions.
A most praiseworthy and splendid instance of this took place in our own county last year.
The Unitarians in Rossendale and its neighbourhood, consist almost entirely of weavers and others employed in the cottontrade, and, during the late panic, were involved in deep distress.
They had, in more prosperous times, been contributors to the British and Foreign Unitarian Association, but on their situation being inade known, the Committee granted to different congregations sereral donations. But this was not all: a subscription was promoted in London for their relief, and upwards of 2001. were raised there, (exclusive of the amount contributed at Liverpool and other places,) and remitted by the Society's Secretary for their support, and came in inost opportunelypreventing many poor creatures from enduring the severest prinations, if not dying of actual want.
This shews the great importance and advantage arising from the union in one central Society, which is always ready
to act promptly on any pressing emergency:
He (Mr. Potier) hoped sufficient had been said, to induce the company to think favourably of the Association and give it support.
The subscriptions, &c., in this district, are on the increase. Country congregations, particularly those in remote parts,
would find it highly advantageous to connect themselves with the Society by an annual subscription, or otherwise, by which means they will be identified with it.
He had only further to observe on this subject, that in a short time the annual subscriptions would be due, when he had no doubt the old subscribers would, as usual, come forward, and a number of new ones be added to the list.
Mr. Potter also wished to avail himself of that opportunity of reminding them, that the Monthly Repository was now attached to the Association, and its profits appropriated to the funds. The Unitarian public, by taking it in, would be assisting the general purposes of the Society, and putting themselves in possession of a valuable and useful work.
PROGRESS OF RELIGIOUS LIBERTY IN FRANCE. [From the “ Private Correspondence” of the Times, dated Jan. 29.]
A few days ago, the Royal Court pronounced a judgment of great importance to religious liberty, and the freedom of philosop! discussions. That Court has acquitted a writer accused of having insulted the religion of the State, “by denying the fundamental dogmas of the Christian faith." The defendant acknowledged the fact, but insisted that denial was not insult. His counsel, M. Borville, argued, that every Frenchman had the right of adopting whatever opinions appeared to him the most just, and of contending against every adverse opinion, provided he abstained from violence and insult. The Court held the same opinion. This decision would be no way surprising, had it been the verdict of a jury, or were our judges philosophers. But you will please to observe, that all the judges of the Royal Court are Catholics ; that they all manifest a stroug attachment to their creed; that the suspicion of hypocrisy has never been insinuated against them; and that they decided without the intervention of a jury. In consequence of their judgment, some of the liberal journals have taken occasion to reinark strongly on the difference in the law, or the administration of the law, in England and France. They consider it very strange, that the restraints on the expression of opinion should be greater on your side of the Channel than on this, and that religious liberty should be less complete in a Protestant than in a Catholic country.
LIBERALITY OF DIFFERENT SECTS OF CHRISTIANS IN
GERMANY. [From the New Moothly Magazine.] Tubingen.-In the University of Tubingen, both Protestant and Catholic Professors have their Chairs of Divinity. They