« AnteriorContinua »
nation, not a single foreign Jew will think it expedient to take any benefit of that act; and therefore, the repealing of it is giving up nothing. I assented to it last year in hopes it might induce some wealthy Jews to come and settle among us: in that light I saw enough of utility in it, to make me incline rather to approve than dislike it; but, that any man alive could be zealous either for or against it, I confess I had no idea. What affects our religion is indeed of the highest and most serious importance. God forbid we should be ever indifferent about that! but I thought this had no more to do with religion, than any turnpike act we passed in that session; and, after all the divinity that has been preached on the subject, I think so still.
Resolution and steadiness are excellent qualities; but it is the application of them upon which their value depends. A wise government, Mr. Speaker, will know where to yield, as well as where to resist; and there is no surer mark of littleness of mind in an administration, than obstinacy in trifles. Public wisdom on some occasions must condescend to give way to popular folly, especially in a free country, where the humour of the people must be considered as attentively as the humour of a king in an absolute monarchy. Under both forms of government, a prudent and honest ministry will indulge a small folly, and will resist a great one. Not to vouchsafe now and then a kind indulgence to the former would discover an ignorance of human nature; not to resist the latter at all times would be meanness and servility.
Sir, I look on the bill we are at present debating, not as a sacrifice made to popularity (for it sacrifices nothing), but as a prudent regard to some consequences arising from the nature of the clamour raised against the late act for naturalizing Jews, which seem to require a particular consideration.
It has been hitherto the rare and envied felicity of his Majesty's reign, that his subjects have enjoyed such a settled tranquillity, such a freedom from angry, religious disputes, as is not to be parallelled in any former times. The true Christian spirit of moderation, of charity, of universal benevolence, has prevailed in the people, has prevailed in the clergy of all ranks and degrees, instead of those narrow principles, those bigotted prejudices, that furious, that implacable, that ignorant zeal, which had often done so much burt
both to the church and the state. But from the ill-understood, insignificant act of parliament you are now moved to repeal, occasion has been taken to deprive us of this inestimable advantage. It is a pretence to disturb the peace of the church, to infuse idle fears into the minds of the people, and make religion itself an engine of sedition. It behoves the piety, as well as the wisdom of parliament, to disappoint these endeavours. Sir, the very worst mischief that can be done to religion, is to pervert it to the purposes of faction. Heaven and Hell are not more distant, than the benevolent spirit of the Gospel and the malignant spirit of party. The most impious wars ever made were those called Holy Wars. He who hates another man for not being a Christian is himself not a Christian. Christianity, Sir, breathes love, and peace, and good will to man. A temper comformable to the dictates of that holy religion has lately distinguished this nation; and a glorious distinction it was! But there is latent, at all times, in the mind of the vulgar, a spark of enthusiasm; which, if blown by the breath of a party, may, even when it seems quite extinguished, be suddenly revived and raised to a flame. The act of last session for naturalizing Jews has very unexpectedly administered fuel to feed that flame. To what a height it may rise, if it should continue much longer, one cannot easily tell; but take away the fuel, and it will die of itself.
It is the misfortune of all the Roman Catholic countries, that there the church and the state, the civil power and the hierarchy, have separate interests, and are continually at variance one with the other. It is our happiness, that here they form but one system. While this harmony lasts, whatever hurts the church, hurts the state; whatever weakens the credit of the governors of the church, takes away from the civil power a part of it's strength, and shakes the whole constitution.
Sir, I trust and believe, that, by speedily passing this bill, we shall silence that obloquy, which has so unjustly been cast upon our reverend prelates (some of the most respectable that ever adorned our church) for the part they took in the act which this repeals. And it greatly concerns the whole community, that they should not lose that respect, which is so justly due to them, by popular clamour, kept up
in opposition to a matter of no importance in itself. But if the departing from that measure should not remove the prejudice so maliciously raised, I am certain, that no farther step you can take will be able to remove it; and therefore I hope you will stop here. This appears to be a reasonable and safe condescension, by which nobody will be hurt; but all beyond this would be dangerous weakness in government. It might open a door to the wildest enthusiasm, and to the most mischievous attacks of political disaffection working upon that enthusiasm. If you encourage and authorise it to fall on the synagogue, it will go thence to the meetinghouse, and in the end to the palace. But let us be careful to check it's farther progress. The more zealous we are to Support Christianity, the more vigilant should we be in maintaining toleration. If we bring back persecution, we bring back the antichristian spirit of popery; and when the spirit is here, the whole system will soon follow. Toleration is the basis of all public quiet. It is a character of freedom given to the mind, more valuable, I think, than that which secures our persons and estates. Indeed, they are inseparably connected together: for, where the mind is not free, where the conscience is enthralled, there is no freedom. Spiritual tyranny puts on the galling chains: but civil tyranny is called in- to rivet and fix them. We see it in Spain, and many other countries; we have formerly both seen and felt it in England. By the blessing of God, we are now delivered from all kinds of oppression. Let us take care that they may never return.
IN PRAISE OF VIRTUE.
VIRTUE is of intrinsic value and good desert, and of indispensable obligation; not the creature of will, but necessary and immutable; not local or temporary, but of equal extent and antiquity with the Divine Mind; not a mode of sensation, but everlasting Truth; not dependent on power, but the guide of all power. Virtue is the foundation of honour and
esteem; and the source of all beauty, order, and happiness in nature. It is what confers value on all the other endowments and qualities of a reasonable being, to which they ought to be absolutely subservient, and without which, the more eminent they are, the more hideous deformities and the greater curses they become. The use of it is not confined to any one stage of our existence, or to any particular situation we can be in, but reaches through all the periods and circumstances of our being.-Many of the endowments and talents we now possess, and of which we are too apt to be proud, will cease entirely with the present state; but this will be our ornament and dignity in every future state, to which we may be removed. Beauty and wit will die, learning will vanish away, and all the arts of life be soon forget; but virtue will remain for ever. This unites us to the whole rational creation, and fits us for conversing with any order of superior natures, and for a place in any part of God's works. It procures us the approbation and love of all wise and good beings, and renders them our allies and friends.But what is of unspeakably greater consequence is, that it makes God our friend, assimilates and enites our minds to his, and engages his almighty power in our defence. Superior beings of all ranks are bound by it no less than ourselves. It has the same authority in all worlds, that it has in this. The farther any being is advanced in excellence and perfection, the greater is his attachment to it, and the more he is under it's influence.-To say no more; it is the law of the whole universe; it stands first in the estimation of the Deity; it's original is his nature; and it is the very object that makes him lovely.
Such is the importance of virtue.-Of what consequence therefore is it, that we practise it!-There is no argument or motive, which is at all fitted to influence a reasonable mind, which does not call us to this. One virtuous disposition of soul is preferable to the greatest natural accomplishments and abilities, and of more value than all the treasures of the world. If you are wise then, study virtue, and contemn every thing that can come in competition with it. Remember, that nothing else deserves one anxious thought or wish. Remember, that this alone is honour, glory, wealth, and happiness. Secure this, and you secure every thing. Lose this, and all is lost.
THE SPEECH OF BRUTUS ON THE DEATH OF CÆSAR.
ROMANS, Countrymen, and lovers! hear me for my cause; and be silent, that you may hear. Believe me for mine honour, and have respect to mine honour, that you may believe. Censure me in your wisdom, and awake your senses, that you may the better judge. If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of Cæsar's, to him I say, that Brutus's love to Cæsar was no less than his. If then that friend demand, why Brutus rose against Cæsar, this is my answer: Not that I loved Cæsar less, but that I loved Rome more. Had you rather Cæsar were living, and die all slaves; than that Cæsar were dead, to live all freemen? As Cæsar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was valiant, I honour him; but as he was ambitious, I slew him. There are tears for his love, joy for his fortune, honour for his valour, and death for his ambition. Who's here so base, that would be a bondman? If any, speak; for him have I offended. Who's here so rude, that would not be a Roman? If any, speak; for him have I offended. Who's here so vile, that will not love his country? If any, speak; for him have I offended.—I pause for a reply.
None?-then none have I offended-I have done no more to Cæsar, than you should do to Brutus. The ques tion of his death is enrolled in the Capitol: his glory not extenuated, wherein he was worthy; nor his offences enforced, for which he suffered death
Here comes his body, mourned by Mark Antony; who, though he had no hand in his death, shall receive the bene fit of his dying, a place in the commonwealth; as which of you shall not? With this I depart, that, as I slew my best lover for the good of Rome, I have the same dagger for myself, when it shall please my country to need my death.