Imatges de pÓgina

marriages to be entered into by Protes. mit to it only, because, without it, we lant Dissenters, and solemnized by the cannot enjoy a civil right, which ought Protestant teachers of their congrega- to be common to all." How preposte. tions, as good and valid to all intents rous was this; when, from this country, and purposes—as such contracts would we had but to cross the Tweed, and be, if celebrated by the clergy of the throw ourselves on the mercy of a blackEstablished Church.” This was signed smith, or a Methodist, and, when we by individuals holding the highest offices came back, we had a good and valid in the Irish Protestant Church at that marriage, giving our children all the time; but their opinion was different benefits of inheritance, legetimacy, &c., from that of the Honourable Gentleman. the same as if the marriage had taken This question was not to be put upon place according to the most solemn rites the same footing as the question with of the Church of England! This shewed respect to the Roman Catholics, or the the Honourable and Learned Gentleman question as to the right of voting at elec. that the true principle of the Constitution tions; but it was a question of religious was never to compel the Dissenters to toleration; and two modes had been submit to a ceremony revolting from suggested to alter the law upon this sub. their own principles of conscieuce. He ject, which had been objected to. The did not approve of the details of this one was to alter the Liturgy; the other measure, but he should support the sewas to permit the Dissenters to be mar. cond reading of the Bill. He thought it ried by their own clergy. With respect ought not to be made subsidiary to the to any alteration of the Liturgy, that performance of secret marriages ; neither would be repugnant to the feelings of ought it to give just cause of offence to the the clergy of the Established Church, clergy of the Established Church. Upon whose opinions on such a subject, the the whole, he conceived the Marriage Hon. and Learned Gentleman thought Law generally was a subject of deep imought to be regarded. The other mode portance to the country at large; but he was objected to, because it was truly thought it was impossible to adapt the said, if you let in the Unitarian Dissenter law to the religious persuasion of every to the privilege of being married by his man who took separate objectious as to own clergyman, other Dissenters will form, according to his own conscience; expect a similar boon; and it would be and, between the Protestants and Cathoimpossible for human ability to form a lics, it would be a great advantage to marriage service to please all. In the adopt some measure which might have earliest times, the solemnization of mar- the effect of conciliating the prejudices of riage was not conducted in the presence all parties. of a priest. That custom was first in- Mr. Peel said, that he would willingly troduced in Popish times, and com- concede to the proposition for going into menced under Pope Innocent I., and he a Committee on the Bili, in order that (Dr. L.) considered, it would be no the Hon. Mover might have an opportuviolation of the religious scruples of the nity of obviating the objections to which, Church of England, to allow the mar- it was at present liable. He admitted the riage of Dissenters in the way pointed truth of the distinction taken in favour of out by this measure. He would ask, inarriage, as compared with other cerecould it be consistent with true piety, monies. It was a natural right, and therethat a man should be obliged to utter fore stood upon stronger grounds, but he with his mouth at the altar, that which should have felt much more gratified if he abhorred in his heart? Nothing could the Unitarians, after an acquiescence of be more disgraceful than the scenes that forty or fifty years in the marriage cerehad taken place at the marriages of Dis. mony of the Church of England, were senters. Nothing could be more injuri. still prepared to continue that acquiesous to the character of the Established cence. There was, as he conceived, great Church, or to the feelings of its minis. difficulty in determining to what extent ters, than to be compelled to receive the the state ought to admit religious scruprotests of Dissenters to the established ples. Some time ago, a class of Chrisforms of marriage. If it were not tres. tians had felt a scruple against the taking passing upon the patience of the House, of an oath; and who could judge to what he could state four or five instances where extent religious scruples might go when protests had been made in the face of the individual who felt them inust be the the Church, and at the moment when the only judge of them? It was to be wished marriage ceremony had been about to be that the Bill had been so formed as to solemnized. Parties had openly avowed, allow relief to all Dissenters, for then “We come here by compulsion; and we they would have a general principle berepeat a form, which, in our conscience, fore them, and would understand the full we repudiate and reject. This form is a extent to which the measure was likely to violation of our conscience, and we sub. operate. But so far was this from being

the case, that it did not even provide for bond of marriage, it would strengthen it, the religious scruples of all classes of both in a religious point of view, and as Unitarians. The Honourable and Learn- a civil contract. ed Gentleman had said that some of the Unitarians objected to marriage by a Priest

HOUSE OF LORDS. at all. This Bill afforded no relief to the scruples of such persons; as to the rea.

THURSDAY, APRIL 21. sonableness of such a scruple, it was not Conduct of Dissenters with regard to a question for that House to decide,

Catholic Claims. thou he feared, that if every man was permitted to select the person by whom The Earl of LIVERPOOL presented a he should be married as he pleased, the petition against the Catholic Claims from marriage vow would not be regarded with certain Dissenters (as we understood) of the same sanctity as at present. The Margate. Jews and Quakers were exempted from Lord King thought it somewhat strange the performance of the Marriage Cere. that the Dissenters should stand forward mony, according to the Church of En- as they had done, against the Catholics, gland; but this Bill did not place the and in support of an Establishment that Unitarians on the same footing with had never evinced any very kindly feelthem. It required that the publication ing towards them. He remembered a of bands and the registration of Mar- great ornament of the Right Reverend riages should take place as usual in the Bench saying, that the Catholies were Church of England, so that they would far nearer and dearer to them than the still keep all the advantages of marriage Dissenters. He read an extract from a in Church, while they excluded the cere- placard which his Lordship alleged to mony itself. Besides, anxious as he was have been posted up in Nottingham, for to afford relief to such as really enter the purpose of indaming the minds of tained conscientious scruples, he feared the people against the Catholics. In one that the pretext might be made use of to part of the placard were these words: avoid the regulations intended to prevent is What do these Papists want? Does clandestine marriages. In Jews and Qua- any one prevent them from worshiping kers there were certain external demon- their Gods and Godesses, and all their strations, appearances, quod nequeo mon- Saints, and all their Devils?"-This, obstrari, which prevented imposition if it served the Noble Lord, shewed the efforts should be attempted. But the same was that were now making to excite the pubnot the case with the Unitarians. He lic mind upon a question of the highest was persuaded that the House would feel importance, though it was alleged that the possibility of religious scruples occur. no such efforts were made. ring on the part of the Established Clergy, Lord HOLLAND presented a petition when they were called upon to register from the Protestants of the town and the marriages of persons who did not neighbourhood of Lewes, in favour of consider marriage à religious ceremony, farther concessions to the Roman Cathoand who denied the divinity of our Savi- lics. He could not say under what parour. Why not at once determine that ticular denomination of Protestants the the Church of England should have no- petitioners came. He certainly agreed thing to do with the registration any with his Noble Friend in the surprise he more than with the ceremony? Why had expressed at Nonconformists coming not call upon the Unitarian Clergyman forward to petition against the Catholic to forward the registry of the marriage Claims; and considered it very unfair directly to the proper office, without re- on such petitions being presented, to quiring any other interference? He res- consider an opinion expressed by a few pected the scruples of the Hon. Gentle. individuals as that of a whole sect. man who opposed the motion (Mr. Ro- There were several sects called Dissenbertson), but he did not apprehend the ters, which were not included in any same danger to the Church of England. of the divisions of the three great de (A laugh.) But he would not oppose the nominations of Dissenters, from whom second reading of the Bill, as he wished he had not heard that any petition had it to go into a Committee, in order that yet been received. He had formerly had they might understand the full extent of the honour, and he did think it a very the principle which they were called great honour, to present a petition front upon to legislate.

the three denominations in favour of the Lord G. CAVENDISH agreed that it Catholic Claims. They might change would be right to adopt some means of their mind, but it was too much to infer guarding against clandestine marriages, the opinion of whole bodies from petiafter which the measure was such as that tions signed by a small number of indivi. House, iu these enlightened times, ought duals. to provato So far from weakening the The Bishop of CHESTER held in his

hand a petition against the Catholic Lord CALTHORPR observed, that many Claims, and it was singular that it came of the warmest friends of the Church of from a congregation of one of those de, England supported the Catholic claims on nominations w which the Noble Lord the very ground stated in the petition, had just alluded—namely, the ministers, namely, the wish of securing the church deacons and congregation of Jewry-Street itself. Bclieving as he did, that the Dis. chapel. As each congregation of the sect senters of England had rendered most to which the petitioners belonged was in- essential service to the cause of Protesdependent of the rest, he must acknow- tantism, and to civil and religious liberty ledge that the opinions of the whole body-believing that they had produced a becould not be ipferred from what was ex- neficial re-action on the Church of Enpressed by one congregation. But the glaud, and had greatly contributed to the petitioners not only deprecated the re- revival of true religion in this country, moval of the present restrictions on the he could not but be glad to hear them Roman Catholics, but wished those under spoken so favourably of from that bench which they were themselves placed to where not very long since they had been reinaiu. They expressed their perfect treated in a very different manner. He acquiescence in the present state of did not meau this observation to apply to things. They desired no change, because the Right Rev. Prelate who spoke last, they believed that in proportion as the who from his liberality and candour could Church of England was made strong, in never be supposed to adopt such a course. so much was the interest of the great He rejoiced however, to see this spirit of body of the Protestants secured. He was cordiality towards the Dissenters; but he aware that there might be a difference could not believe that the great body of of opinion among Dissenters on this that important class of the people were question, but he firmly believed that great against farther concessious to the Canumbers concurred with the petitioners, tholics. not only because they believed that they The Bishop of Chester disclaimed, in were indebted for their own security the name of his brethren and himself, to the Church of England, but also be the compliment of the noble lord. At no cause it was their persuasion that with it time had it been the habit of the bench they enjoyed more freedom than they to which he belonged to speak disrespectwould under any other system. It was fully of Dissenters. If there were an with great satisfaction he presented this overflow of cordiality towards that body, petition to their lordships.

it was a return due to the fairness and Earl GROSVENOR asked what was the candour which had been experienced. number of signatures to the petition ? On such an occasion could the clergy of

The Bishop of CHESTER said it was the Church of England be expected to do signed by the whole congregation, which otherwise than to hold out the right hand was not very numerous.

of fellowship to their brethren?



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