ePub 版
[ocr errors]

the latter years of the reign of Henry the Eighth, and during the entire reign of the Sixth Edward. In Ireland the Catholics were stripped of their propertiesamtheir churches were plundered-their' altars, torn down-their worship prohibited-many of the laity and multitudes of the clergy were put to death, with circumstances of the most barba rous cruelty.

Amidst these : horrid scenes Edward died, and Mary ascended the throne, The Catholics were restored to power the Catholic worship was of course re-established. What was the conduct of the Irish Catholics? Protestant Dis: sèpters of England, listen to the fact. The Irish Catholics punished nobody. The Irish Catholics persecuted nobody. The Irish Catholics buried in generous oblivion the entire past, and the worst of the Protestant prosecutors, wholly unpunished, were allowed to sink into obscurity and neglect.

Nay, more-listen to this we entreat. Many English Protestant families, fled from persecution to Ireland. They were all received and protected bere, and allowed to enjoy their opinions and worship without molestation.

English Protestants-we, the Irish Catholics of this day, are the descendants of the generous Irish Catholics of the reign of Queen Mary. We enjoy but little indeed of the properties of our forefathers-fidelity to our ancient faith has been since punished with many and many a confiscation, and with not a few sacrifices of lives. We therefore enjoy but little of their property, but we inherit all their generous, and kindly, and Christian spirit ; and we want but the opportunity to imitate, and, if possible, to surpass their noble example. * That example we have an opportunity to imitate only on a small scale. What we can do, we are ready to perform ; and, to evince our sincerity, we have petitioned Parliament to grant you your rights. You will find a copy of that petition attached to this address.

Protestant brethren, there are other charges made against our tenets, which we do not stoop to contradict. Those who know us best are well aware how false and unfounded all such charges are. However, we subjoin accurate copies of the oaths taken indiscriminately by the Catholic laity and Catholic clergy, of every rapk, in Ireland. Read those oaths,' and then recollect that we are excluded from our just rights, and are degraded and trampled upon in our native land, by no other process than by tendering to us

eaths which we cannot conscientiously take. If we did not respect the sanctity of an oath, we should be instantly emancipated. Recollect this whilst you read the oaths which we do readily and universally swear.

Protestant Dissenters of England, we now take our leave. We have petitioned on your behalf. What return are we to expect? Will you join us to assert our principle of religions freedom? or will you selfishiy demand for yourselves that which you are unwilling to concede to others ?

We do not judge so ill of you. We offer you a bond of Christian charity. Reject it, and you injure yourselves and tarnish your own cause. Accept it, and you add one bright example more of Christian toleration, and of the combination in benevolence of Christians differing with each other in belief; a combination which may terrify bigotry into concession, and which will certainly cover the bigots with shame and confusion,

Whatever may be your resolve, our course, Christian brethren, is decided. We will ever assert the principle of freedom of conscience for all mankind. We will ever cherish and seek for civil liberty, the greatest of human blessings. And may that God whom all Christians adore, establish amongst the warring sects that peace, harmony, and mutual charity, without which the voice of truth is raised in vain, whilst error and vice are protected and continued by the contest and conflict of unhallowed passion and useless recrimination.

DANIEL O'CONNELL, Chairman, Feb. 1, 1828.



To the Right Honourable and Honourable, &c., 86., &c.

The Humble Petition of the Catholics of Ireland,

HUMBLY SIEWETA, That your petitioners respectfully, but firmly, beg leave to assert, tbat it is the unalienable right of every man to worship God as lis judgment and his heart direct-that neither legislatures nor society are entitled to restrict that right—that its infringement, if attempted, may convert unworthy men into hypocrites, and good men into martyrs, but can never produce a beneficial resultand that such infringement is attempted, and persecution introduced,

whenever peculiar honours, wealth, and rewards, are distributed by a state to the upholders of certain doctrines and forms, while exclusion and inconvenience inflict practical punishment on those who to those doctrines and forms conscientiously refuse to conform.

Your petitioners further respectfully beg leave to submit, that the laws called the Test and Corporation Acts have been passed, and are continued in direct and plain violation of the principles of liberty of conscience, and in derogation of the right which every individual feels most important to himself, namely, that of worshiping God in the sincerity of conscientious belief.

Your petitioners further respectfully allege, that the said Acts, called the Test and Corporation Acts, operate to prevent the crown and people from obtaining the benefit of the services of many valuable, meritorious and conscientious Protestant Dissenters, whilst they are of no avail whatsoever against the unworthy, the profligate, and the irreligious.

Your petitioners do most respectfully insist, that the said laws are in themselves unjust, senseless, and impiousthat they are unjust, because undeserved--that they are senseless, because a security against nothing--that they are impious, because the most sacred observance of the Protestant religion, instituted in remembrance of the greatest sacrifice that ever was made, or ever can be made to love and charity, are by them enjoined to be taken for profane and unworthy objects, and thus the most solemn rite and sacrament of the Protestant Established Church is degraded into the service of promoting venal and profligate ambition, and reduced into the vulgar formality of official qualification.

Your petitioners further shew, that the principle upon which the Protestant Church is founded, is the alleged right and duty of private and individual interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures; and although your petitioners do not concur with this Honourable House in the admission of such right or duty, yet they can distinctly perceive, and most respectfully submit, that it is not only unjust, but manifestly absurd, for one set of Protestants to assert that right and duty for themselves, and whilst they so assert at the same time to persecute, or in anywise to punish other Protestants, for asserting or exercising the same identical right of private interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures.

Your petitioners beg leave further to state, that the total and unqualified repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts cannot in anywise injure the rights, revenues, stability or duration of the Protestant Church, as by law established; and they are the more confident in this their assertion, inasmuch as they do not speak from theory, but from practical knowledge. The Protestant Dissenters in Ireland have been totally released, near fifty years ago, from the operation of the said statutes, and freed from all pains, penalties, and disabilities, for not taking the Sacramental T'est; and yet your petitioners are able to assert, with undoubted certainty, that the rights of the Established Church have not been affected thereby, nor its wealth decreased, nor revenues diminished, nor its stability lessened, by reason or ineans of the perfect civil equality bestowed upon Protestant Dissenters in Ireland ; neither have the numbers of Protestants of the Established Church been at all diminished in consequence of such wise liberality on the part of the Irish Legislature, but, on the contrary, many of the more wealthy and influential Dissepters have, since the repeal of the said laws, conformed to the Established Church; and much of the spirit of animosity and resistance of the Establishment which at one time animated many of the Protestant Dissenters of Ireland has been mitigated, if not wholly extinct, and the natural result of a system of wise and conciliatory policy has been to produce a closer union of sentiment, and a greater spirit of harmony and cooperation, among the various sects of Protestants in Ireland.

That the object of your petitioners, by this their humble petition, is to obtain for their Protestant brethren of England the rights, privileges, immunities, and freedom from persecution and penalties, which your petitioners are happy to be able to say, are, and have been, daring near fifty years now past, enjoyed by the Protestant Dissenters of Ireland.

Your petitioners claim on behalf of the Protestant Dissenters of England, the benefit of the universal principle of liberty of conscience.

Your petitioners also claim on behalf of the Protestant Dissenters of England, the benefit of the Protestant principle of the right which you assert for yourselves, of private interpretation and private judgment in matters of religion.

And although your petitioners by no means waive or abandon their own claims or rights, yet, whatever may be

come of those claims or rights, they most respectfully implore this Honourable House to abolish for ever, and blot out from the statute book, the foul reproach of one set of Protestants persecuting another set of Protestants, merely for acting on Protestant principles.

May it therefore please this Honourable House totally to repeal the Corporation and Test Acts, and all other laws that aggrieve the Protestants in England.

[ocr errors]

DECLARATION AND OATH. “I, A. B., do hereby declare, that I do profess the Roman Catholic religion."

“I, A. B., do swear, that I do abjure, condemn, and detest, as unchristian and impious, the principle that it is lawful to murder, destroy, or any ways injure any persons whatsoever, for or under the pretence of being a beretic; and I do declare solemnly before God, that I believe, that no act in itself unjust, immoral, or wicked, can ever be justified or excused, by or under pretence or colour that it was done either for the good of the church, or in obedience to any ecclesiastical power whatsoever. I also declare that it is not an article of the Catholic faith, neither am I thereby required to believe or profess, that the Pope is infallible, or that I am bound to obey any order, in its own nature immoral, though the Pope, or any ecclesiastical power, should issue or direct such order, but on the contrary, I hold that it would be sinful in me to pay any respect or obedience thereto: I further declare, that I do not believe that any sin whatever committed by me can be forgiven at the mere will of any pope or any priest, or of any person or persons whatsoever, but that sipcere sorrow for past sins, a firm and sincere resolution to avoid future guilt, and to atone to God, are previous and indispensable requisites to establish a well-founded expectation of forgiveness, and that any person who receives absolution without these previous requisites, so far from obtaining thereby any remission of his sins, incurs the additional guilt of violating a sacrament; and I do swear that I will defend, to the uttermost of my power, the settlement and arrangement of property in this country, as established by the laws vow in being: I do hereby disclaim, disavow, and solemnly abjure any intention to subvert the present Church'establishment, for the purpose of substituting a

« 上一頁繼續 »