« PreviousContinue »
which reason, as far as I can see at present, I shall, I believe, at all times, think it a very dangerous experiment to repeal the feptennial bill.
C H A P. XI.
LORD LYTTELTON'S SPEECH ON
MR. SPEAKER, I.
SE E no occasion to enter at present into the merits of the
bill we past the last fefsion for the naturalization of Jews; because I am convinced, that in the present temper of the 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
I assented to it last year in hopes it might induce fome 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 part in that feffion ; and after all the divinity that has been preached on the subject, I think so ftill.
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 refiit : and there is no surer mark of littleness of mind in an adminiitration, 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 honeft miniftry will indulge a small folly, and will resist a great
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 facrifice made to popularity (for it facrifices nothing) but as a prudent regard to some confequences arising from the nature of the clamour raised against the late act for naturalizing Jews, which seem to require a particular confideration.
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 paralleled in any former times. The true Christian spirit of moderation, of charity, of univerfal benevolence, has prevailed in the people, has prevailed in the clergy of all ranks and degrees, instead of those narrow principles, those bigoted prejudices, that furious, that implacable, that ignorant zeal, which had often done so much hurt both to the church and the state. But from the ill understood, insignificant act of parliament you are now moved to repeal, oceafion has been taken to deprive us of this inestimable advantage. It is a pretence to disturb the peace of the chuch, to infuse idle fears into the minds of the people, and make religion itself an engine of fedition. It be hoves the piety, as well as the wisdom of parliament, to
disappoint those 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 diftant than the benevolent fpirit of the Gospel, and the malignant fpirit 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 Chriftian. Christianity, Sir, breathes love, and peace, and good-will to man.
A temper conformable 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 Thould 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 fyftem. While this harmony lafts, 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 its strength, and shakes the whole conftitution.
Sir, I trust and believe, that, by speedily passing this bill, we shall filence that obloquy, which has fo unjustly been caft upon our reverend prclates (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 a popular clamour kept up in opposition to a measure of no importance in itself. But if the departing from that measure should not remove the prejudice so maliciously raifed, I am certain that no further step you can take will be able to remove it ; and therefore, 1 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
govern, ment. 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 from thence to the meeting-house, and in the end to the palace. But let us be careful to check its further progress. The more zealous we are to support Christianity, the more vigilant Thould we be in maintaining toleration. If we bring back persecution we bring back the anti-christian fpirit of popery; and when the spirit is here, the whole system will foon folle w. 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 :yranny 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.
с н А Р.
IN PRAISE OF VIRTUE
IRTUE 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 fubfervient, 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 beings. Many of the endowments and talents we now possess, and of which we are too apt to be proud, will ceasc entirely with the prefent 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 forgot ; but virtue will remain for ever. This unites us to the whole rational creation, and fits us for converfing with any order of fuperior natures, and for a place in any part of God's works. It procures us the approbation and love of all wife 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 unitesour minds to his, and engages his almighty power in