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Third. The advantages which the nation has to gain from a removal and a discontinuation of all legislation upon the subject of religioa are immense. The expence saved, the bickering and wrath removed, the time so much better employed, would give new vigour to the nation and make it rise resplendent above other nations. A wasteful expenditure of at least thirty millions would be saved. The government would find a means to relieve many of its present financial embarrasmients without new imposts 'upon the people. The country would wear a new and cheerful face within a year, from the relief from such a grievous' and deadly burthen.' A nation without a legislative religion would contain but one political party. I know of no possible ground of contention in politics separated from religion. The politics of a' minigs ter may be judged of by their cost; and these, with a house of the representatives of the people, would be sure to be reduced to the smallest amount that would produce the greatest amount of public utility. But, in matters of religion, in the contentions between the sects, in their everlasting strnggles for mastery over ench other, in their uvintelligible doctrines, who is to decide rightly otherwise than in'rejecting the whole ?. - It is the deadly property of religion to entwine itself around every act of the human being, where it be cherished. But for the religion of this country, but for the abuses which it has engendered, there would be no desire on the part of an individual to preserve an ill-constituted and corrupt legislature, such as is now preserved. There is not one of you, who will now say: "I feel myself to'be at member of a wise and honest legislature.” There may be many of you individually wise, honest and well disposed; but not one of you can say so much for the body and its constitution,
Since then this is the real state of the case; since great and lamentable distress pervades large bodies of the people; since all admit that these distressed bodies of the people are entitled to have some relief extended to them; there is nothing so conveniently tangible, at this momente as the property accumulated by religion; no more effectual barthen for all the industrious classes can be removed than the taxes which are paid to its support, including tithes and every other religious på ymeaton,
I may be told that Iami prématute immy proposition; that there are many considerations to be associated with it;: that some proui vision for the existing clergy should be made ; and that such a great object should be accomplished gradually. adid.ee's
To the point of prematureness, I answer, that there is nothing premature in checking the progress of a wrong, and that the earliest is the most proper time.
- As to any considerations that may be associated with it, such as the religious state of mind of the people, &c.; I can see, that, if a legislature were to entertain such a question, as to the
good or bad foundation of that religion, taking, upon the question, the knowledge of the most wise and honest men or women known to exist, the religion of the people would vånish like the spirits which superstition drives at cock crowing. Religion is a mere spirit, and an evil «pirit. It has no relations beyond the body which it inhabits and torments, and I AM AMBITIOUS OF EXORCISING THE WHOLE RELIGIOUS WORLD,
With respect to a provision for the clergy, it can only be necessary for that portion of them which has no fortune, no accumulated property, whereupon to exist. And for the remainder, what if they were put upon the footing of workmen out of employ, through the change of the position of the demand for labour, or through a diminution of labour, or through too many of one kind of labourers ? What, if they were to feel for a year or two what thousands of distressed labourers have felt through many years ? What are they, of consequence in a state, wben compared with the husbandman or handicraftsnsan? Can there be any right in making the useful man starve, that the useless man may be put to no inconvenience? Can there be any wrong in putting poor clergymen upon the casual footing ofother poor labourers? They boast of being educated in the school of humility; they boast that their God was a humble vagrant, without house, hone, or pillow whereupon to lay his head; that he sought neither scrip nor money, and lived upon the common charity of the people.' Let their sincerity be once tested, and let them be placed in the con. dition in which they once placed their God. Let them for once practise that which they preach. I have no sympathy for a poor priest, while I see a labourer willing to labour, and still in distress ihrough want of proper employment.
As to the gradual accomplishment of the object proposed; 1 answer, that a good can never be too rapidly done : that a house on fire is to be quenched in the most speedy manner, even if a part of it suffer injury in the extinction. All admit that some change must take place in this country; some propose one thing, some another, just as their narrow views or individual interests impel them--but none seeni disposed to probe the evil fully and fairly. A bold motion before either branch of the Legislature, that religion as a principle was deserving of its investigation, as to its good or bad foundation, would setile the thing at once.
You would come at once at the root of all the evils. Begin at * this point, and not one word more will yoa hear about Roman Catholics. The Catholic Priests would say : --- Rather be as we are than see this done. Begio at this point, and you will have every religious man in the country at your feet incapacitated for murmur. The Protestaut will no longer fear Catholic ; nor the Catholic envy the privileges of the Protestant. You will make them one sect, and that a harmless.one. Here.is a glorious work
worthy of a Legislature in its utmost purity. Be honourably ambitious, British Legislators, and go to it immediately. : The country is ripe for it. It will become the source of domestic peace and prosperity--and the curses which now fall heavily upon you will be converted to blessings,
RICHARD CARLILE. 62, Fleet STREET,
Nov. 30, 1826.
PETITION OF THE REVEREND ROBERT TAYLOR.
HOUSE OF COMMONS, NOVEMBER 29. Mr. Hume said, he had an important Petition to present, in which the rights of a British subject and the cause of civil and religious liberty were deeply concerned. The right of which the Petitioner complained he was deprived, was that enjoyment of religious freedom which it was consistent with the spirit and practice of the British Constitution that every British subject should possess. The Petitioner was Mr. Robert Taylar, wbo had been canonically ordained a Clergyman of the Established Church. He was also a Bachelor of Arts of St.
Jobn's College Cambridge. He stated in bis Petition, that after the most mature consideration, he could not give a conscientious credence to the doctrines of Christianity. That this was the result of a conscientious conviction on the part of the Petitioner, was shewn' by his having resigned a cure, which he held in a parish in Susa gex, in consequence of his sincere disbelief in the tenets of the Established Church. The Petitioner further stated, that he had arrived at that state of mind that he could conscientiously declare himself a Deist. He declared, that in various instances, that those who were of the same faith with him had experienced hardship and injury from being deprived of protection in Courts of Law on account of the profession of Deism. This was more a subject of just complaint, as under the act of Toleration they were entitled to protection, unless their mode of faith was opposed to morality, or was inimical to the interests of the State, The Petitioner, set forth an example of the hardship experienced by persons professing Deism, and in the instance of a sbopman of Mr. Carlile, who was preventa ed from prosecuting in a Court of Justice, in consequence of his adherence to the tenets of Deism--and because he would not take an oath according to the forms of law. The Honourable Member proceeded to argue, that by the Resolution of that House, unanimously passed in 1680, the Acts of Elizabeth and of James did not extend to Protestant Dissenters, and that the enactments of the Penal Laws were not to be put in force against them. Under these Resolutions, in his opinion, the Petitioner was entitled to protection, and to a freedom from the oppression of which ħe so justly complained. It was inconsistent to refuse the oath of a per-, son who disbelieved in Christianity, and at the same time to receive, as appeared from proceedings in the Court of Chancery and from proceedings at the Lord Mayor's, those of the Hindoos, who were infidels, and whe were sworn after the form of their faith and after the manner of their country. The profession of a belief iy God was surely sufficient for the
purpose of taking an oath in a Court of Justice, if those who did not believe in God were permitted to be sworn there. He (Mr. H.) had himself
to seen the natives of India sworn on the head of their child, on the water of the Ganges, and a variety of other forms, which were found tot answer all the purposes of justice before British Tribūnals in India. Hera saw no reason, therefore, why a person's evidence should be excluded from a a Court of Justice, who declared bis belief in a Deity. The Petition was à reasonable and respectful one, and entitled to the attention of tbed House, which was peculiarly bound to favorably entertain every application upon the subject of civil and religious liberty, considering the opposition wbich their ancestors made, and the devotion of zeal with which they resisted the doctrines which the Romans sought formerly to introduce and establish in this country.
Mr. Serjeant Onslow could not concur in the opinion of the Hon. Gentleman had no just ground of complaint why he was not placed on a footing with Protestant Disseh ters. He could not be regarded in the light of a Protestant Dissenter; and if the Honourable Gentleman had read the Toleration Act, he would have seen a setiled form of faith that there should be divine protection under it, should be of
religious sanction by which they should be bound. But of what forin of faith was a Deist? The profession of a Deist was too vague, too general, to determine wliat description of persons were comprehended under it. What form of oath could bind him? [hear, hear!) The Hon. Gentleman had, in a manner, answered himself
, for he had said, that Jews
ford and Mabometans were sworn in Courts of Justice; and he added the reason for admitting their evidence that they were of a particular form of faith, and that they were sworn according to the customs of the community in which they lived. Now what hie [Mr. Of complained of was, that the Deist was of no determinate or defined profession. [hear!] He did not see why the House should be called upona to interfere in favour of a person who abjured alt those doctrines which contributed to the greatest happiness and comfort of the community in which he lived. They is did not know what were the principles of this Petitioner, who professed himself a Deist. Did he believe in a future state !-
ចំនRIGq0 Mr. Hume." He does."
3d guard st"
moitos T SHT Mr. Serjeant Onslow resumed. It was impossible to ascertain the principles of a Deist, for he had no fixed principles. He couid be bound by no form, for he disallowed all forms, and bis oath could not be received by a Magistrate in a Court of Justice, for be held in mockery every thing that could give a sound reliance in his veracity. (hear, hear!)
Mr. Batty thought it would be disgraceful for a British House of Commons to entertain such a Petition as that now presented by the Hon. Member. He regretted that some Honourable Member did not interpose in limine, and prevent the subof a to the
House. belief in Christianity in the being
The Petitioner professed a dis
Saviour, and in those doctrines and te do nets on which the best and highest hopes of the community rested. Jews and Mad hometans cording to form of
respective faiths; but the Deist could give no such sanction to his oath, for de professed no settled form of worship..
Sir Edward CARRINGTON, expressed the horror with which he had heard suclirio statements, as those contained in the Petition, in a Christian country, The cause of the Petitioner was not the cause of Deism; it was the cause of Atheism. It was se1 a Petition which ought not to be received; for it attempted to set up what were called the the Laws of Nature against the Laws of God.
apoda Mr. Secretary Perl said, he rose principally for the purpose of bringiug back the consideration of the Huase to the question immediately hefore them. There of were two questions which had been agitated. The first was, if it was proper to acise cade to the prayer of the Petition; the second, whether it was proper to receive the Petition. With respect to the first question, he certainly had a strong opinion.
He would no: then state it ; But if ever the Hon. Gentleman should bring in a Bill for the purpose of relieving any man in the situation of the Petitioner from the obligation of an oath, he for one should be prepared to meet that Hon. Gentleman, and those Hon. Gentlemen by whom he might be supported, and to contend, that for the preservation of the rights and safety and best interests of the community, such a Bill ought to be most decidedly rejected. But that was not the question now before the House ; which was simply whether or not the Petition should be received. Now he was not prepared to say that it would be wise to reject a Petition because the House might not be disposed to accede to his prayer. Nor did he think it would be wise on the present occasion to attach so much importance to this Petition as its rejection might involve, Whatever might be the feelings which the House laudably entertained on this subject, he thought it would be prudent on their part to restrain themselves from expressing themselves at the present moment with reference to a question which, although it had been mixed up with the other, was not aetually before them. [hear, hear!)
THE 91192 FM Mr. W. SMITH observed, that in his conduct on the present occasion the Right] Honourable Gentleman had afforded another instance of the prudence and moderation which had signalized his Parliamentary career. All that he regretted was that the Right Honourable Gentleman had not set an example to the other Honourable Gentlemen wbo had spoken on this question. With respect to the Honourable Member under the Gallery, he was a young Member, and when he was more expe. s rienced in the House would learn to treat such subjects with more temper. With a regard to the other Honourable Gentleman, when he had been engaged in British legislation as long as he had been engaged in British jurisprudence elsewhere, he would find that there was a palpable difference between allowing a Petition to be brought up, and acceding to its prayer when brought up. The Honourable and Learned Guntleman, under the Gallery, seemed to make no difference between an Atheist and a Deist, The difference was nevertheless considerable. An Atheist might perhaps be incapable of affording to his testimony the sanction of an oath; bnt a Deist might assuredly do so. And he would add, that in his opinion, the State, and the interests of all who were connected with the State, wonld be in infinitely greater danger from the oaths of those who did not believe the Christian religion, but who did not avow their disbelief, than from the oaths of those who openly avowed their opinions. The Petition was tben brought up.
Mr: Hume moved that it should be read, for the purpose of shewing how groundless was the statement of the Honourable and Learned Serjeant, that the Petitioner did not believe in a future state. locations The Petition was then read as follows: 9 y tezlotala " The Petition of Robert Taylor, Clerk, of Carey Street, Lincoln's Inn,
., vd h91-970 WU. -06 SNEWETH,
: "70041?): 01 b.b rin.
ulot, "That your Petitioner was canonically ordained a clergyman of the Established Church; that he is a Bachelor of Arts of St. John's he is a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons,
Johns College, Cambridge, and that Petitioner is a Chaplain of the Societs, called the Un
Universal Bcuor5 volent Society, which is " That your
laborious investigation and philosophical research, that he cannot give credence to the Christian faith, and that he seceded from motives of honour and conscicace, and not from obstinacy, singu. 7 Jarity, or prejudice.
" That your Petitiorier is in the habit of performing Divine Service before the above Society on every Sunday, after the principles of Deism.
“That your Petitioner has ascertained that he cannot give evidence in a Court, touching any matter, suit, or cause, depending therein, in consequence of his not believing in Revelation, although yonr Petitioner has carefully investigated its evidences, but cannot conscientiously believe in its truth,