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If, however, any of the gentlemen concerned shall wish to separate the sermon from the resolution, they know how to acknowledge the one, and to disavow the other. They may do it: I
For my part, I looked on that sermon at the public declaration of a man much Connected with literary caballers, and intriguing philosophers; with political
with political theologians, and theological politicians, both at home and abroad. I know they set him up as a fort of oracle; because, with the best intentions in the world, he naturally philippizes, and chaunts his prophetic song in exact unison with their designs.
That sermon is in a strain which I believe has not been heard in this kingdom, in any of the pulpits which are tolerated or encouraged in it, since the year 1648, when a predecessor of Dr. Price, the Reverend Hugh Peters, made the vault of the king's own chapel at St. James's ring with the honour and privilege of the Saints, who, with the " high praises of God in their mouths, and a “ two-edged sword in their hands, were to execute * judgment on the heathen, and punishments
upon the people; to bind their kings with chains, « and their nobles with setters of iron *." Few harangues from the pulpit, except in the days of your league in France, or in the days of our solemn league and covenant in England, have ever breathed less of the spirit of moderation than
. Plalm cxlix.
this lecture in the Old Jewry. Supposing, however, that something like moderation were visible in this political sermon; yet politics and the pulpit are terms that have little agreernent. No found ought to be heard in the church but the healing voice of Christian charity. The cause of civil liberty and civil government gains as little as that of religion by this confusion of duties. Those who quit their proper character, to assume what does not belong to them, are, for the greater part, ignorant both of the character they leave, and of the character they assume. Wholly unacquainted with the world in which they are so fond of meddling, and inexperienced in all its affairs, on which they pronounce with so much confidence, they have nothing of politics but the passions they excite. Surely the church is a place where one day's truce ought to be allowed to the dissensions and animosities of mankind.
This pulpit style, revived aster so long a discontinuance, had to me the air of novelty, and of a novelty not wholly without danger. I do not charge this danger equally to every part of the discourse. The hint given to a noble and reverend lay-divine, who is supposed high in office in one of our universities, and to other lay-divines "of “ rank and literature," may be proper and seasonable, though somewhat new. If the noble Seekers should find nothing to satisfy their pious fancies
* Discourse on the Love of our Country, Nov. 4, 1789, bya Dr. Richard Price, 3d edition, p. 17 and 18.
in the old staple of the national church, or in all the rich variety to be found in the wellassorted warehouses of the dissenting congregations. Dr. Price advises them to improve upon non-conformity;, and to set up, each of them, a separate meeting-house upon his own particular principles *. It is somewhat remarkable that this reverend divine should be so earnest for setting up new churches, and so perfectly indifferent concerning the doctrine which may be taught in them. His zeal is of a curious character. It is not for the propagation of his own opinions, but of any opinions. It is not for the diffusion of truth, but for the spreading of contradiction. Let the noble teachers but dissent, it is no matter from whom or from what. This great point once secured, it is taken for granted their religion will be rational and manly. I doubt whether religion would reap all the benefits which the calculating divine computes from this so
great company of great preachers." It would certainly be a valuable addition of nondescripts to the ample collection of known classes, genera and species, which at present beautify the hortus siccus of dissent. A sermon from a noble
• ". Those who dislike that mode of 'worship which is pre“ scribed by public authority ought, if they can find no wor“ ship out of the church which they approve, to set up a “ feparate worship for themselves; and by doing this, and os
giving an example of a rational and manly worship, men " of weight from their rank and literature may do the greatest 6s service to society and the world.” P. 18. Dr. Price's Sere
duke, or a noble marquis, or a noble earl, or baron bold, would certainly increase and diversify the amusements of this town, which begins to grow satiated with the uniform round of its vapid dissipations. (I should only stipulate that these new Mess-Johns in robes and coronets should keep some sort of bounds in the democratic and levelling principles which are expected from their titled pulpits. The new evangelists will, I dare say, disappoint the hopes that are conceived of them. They will not become, literally as well as figuratively, polemic divines, nor be disposed so to drill their congregations that they may, as in former blessed times, preach their doctrines to regiments of dragoons, and corps of infantry and artillery. Such arrangements, however favourable to the cause of compulsory freedom, civil and religious, may not be equally conducive to the national tranquillity. These sew restrictions I hope are no great stretches of intolerance, no very violent exertions of despotisin.
But I may say of our preacher, " utinam nugis “ tota ilia dedisset tempora sævitiæ.” – All things in this his fulminating bull are not of so innoxious a tendency. His doctrines affect our constitution in its vital parts. He tells the Revolution Society, in this political sermon, that his majesty " is almost the only. lawful king in the “ world, because the only one who owes his “ crown to the choice of his people." As to the kings of the worlds all of whom (except one) this archpontiff of the rights of men, with all the
plenitude, and with more than the boldness of the papal deposing power in its meridian fervour of the twelfth century, puts into one sweeping clause of ban and anathema, and proclaims usurpers by circles of longitude and latitude, over the whole globe, it behoves them to Consider how they admit into their territories these apostolic missionaries, who are to tell their subjects they are not lawful kings. That is their concern. It is ours, as a domestic interest of some moment, seriously to consider the solidity of the only principle upon which these gentlemen acknowledge a king of Great Britain to be entitled to their allegiance.
This doctrine, as applied to the prince now on the British throne, either is nonsense, and therefore neither true nor false, or it affirms a most unfounded, dangerous, illegal, and unconstitutional position. According to
this spiritual doctor of politics, if his majesty does not owe his crown to the choice of his people, he is no lawful king. Now nothing can be more untrue than that the crown of this kingdom is so held by his majesty. Therefore if you follow their rule, the king of Great Britain, who most certainly does not owe his high office to any form of popular election, is in no respect better than the rest of the gang of usurpers, who reign, or rather rob, all over the face of this our miserable world, without any sort of right or title to the allegiance of their people. The policy of this general doctrine, so qualified, is evident enough.