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resistance of the unqualified and he would not only have his mind severe would afford an additional expanded, but become practically a argument for interference with their better man, and be more ready to at present ill-confided authority. regard with indulgence the infirmi-.
If every officer would read “ Bec- ties of human nature. caria on Crimes and Punishments,"
LORD SIDMOUTH's BILL. who officiate in them; the great incons
venience and heavy expences of which AT A MEETING OF THE GENERAL Con- we have already felt. If this system of MITTEE OF THE SOCIETIES OF THE' persecution should be persevered in, the LATE Rev. JOHN WESLEY,
subordinate teachers of our body, to the Convened for the purpose of taking amount of many thousands of persons, inio consideration a "Bill, brought into in the united kingdom, will be driven to the House of Lords by the Right Ho apply for certificates to protect them nourable Lord Viscount Sidmouth, inti- from the penalties of the Conventicle tuled, “ An Act to explain and render Act, which indeed they can obtain unmore effectual certain Acts of the first der the existing laws without obstruc, year of the reign of King William and tion; but if the present bill should be Queen Mary, and of the nineteenth year passed into a law, it will be utterly imof his present Majesty, so far us the same possible to consider such persons as disrelate to Protestant Dissenting Minis- senting ministers, and to certify them ters;" held at the New Chapel, City Road, under the said act: therefore, either an London, the 14th of May, 1811; it end will be put to the functions of a most wus Resolved,
valuable and useful part of our commuI. That the said bill, if carried into a nity, or they will be exposed to all the law, will be a great infringement of the penalties of the Conventicle Act; the laws of religious Toleration, and will be consequence of which will be, that as subversive of the most valuable rights the people cannot, and ought not to re-, . and privileges which we as a religious frain froin acts of social worship, and society enjoy.
meetings for religious instruction, the II. That the said act will in future penalties cannot be paid, and the pris, curtail the privileges and exemptions of sons will be peopled with some of the our regular preachers, who are wholly most peaceable and pious characters in devoted to the functions of their office, the country. and to which they are legally entitled V. That a great number of the perunder the letter and spirit of the Act of sons mentioned in the last resolution (as, Toleration.
well as a large proportion of our socie III. That the said act will render it ties) considering themselves as members. very difficult, if not impracticable, to of the established church, to which they obtain certificates for the great body of are conscientiously attached, will feel it local preachers and exhorters, and who quite incompatible with their sentiments, are not only an useful part of our socie- to apply for certificates under the terms ty, but whose aid is essentially neces- of the said act, which requires them to sary in the very numerous chapels and be certified and to declare themselves as meeting-houses in which our congrega- dissenting ministers. tions assemble.
VI. That the offices alluded to in the IV. That with great grief of heart we fourth resolution, are an essential part have observed of late, a growing dispo- of the economy of our societies, which sition in different parts of the country, has for its object the iustruction of the to disturb our meetings, even those ignorant and the relief of the miserable, which are held only for prayer to Al- rather than the creation or extension of mighty God, and to enforce the penal- a distinct sect of religion ; and without cies of the Conventicle Act upon those whose aid the various chapels of our so
cieties in the united kingdom, which quences of the bill as it now stands, so have cost an immense sure of money in we cannot see that any modification of their erection, cannot be supported. it can meet the views of its right ho
VII. That our chapels have been nourable and poble proposer (whose built, and large sums of money, due character we respect) without essential, upon the same, for which the respective ly deteriorating the indefeasible rights trastees are now responsible, have been and privileges of those who are the oblent and advanced under the most per- jects of the toleration laws. fect confidence that our system, so ne. XII. That inasmuch as this act will cessary for their support, would remain most deeply affect our societies, whose undisturbed; and that those rights of moral character and loyalty are unimconscience, which our most gracious peachable, we feel it our duty to deSovereign, op his accession to the throne, clare, that we do not believe there exista declared should be maintained in viola: among them any practice or disposition, ble, would, in this happy and enlight- to warrant a legislative measure, which ened country, ever be held sacred, and would abridge onr rights and privileges, preserved uninfringed.
XIII. That the introduction of the VIII. That it does not appear to us, present measure is as unseasonable, as that the present toleration laws are ei- it is needless and oppressive. At any. ther so ineffectual, or the interpretation time religious rights form a most delicate of them so uncertain, as to render any subject for legislative interference, but bill necessary to explain them, much at such a time as this, when not only less to curtail the benefits intended to unanimity, but affection for the governbe conveyed by them; but on the other ment and laws of our country are more hand we are satisfied, that if the present than ever essential for the patient endubill should pass, the whole law of reli- rance of the pressure of the times, and gious toleration will become more ob- the repulsion of the bitterest enemy scure, and its meaning more uncertain; with which this country ever had to conand thus a fruitful source of litigation tend, the discussion of these rights is and oppression will be opened.
most feelingly to be deprecated. Much IX. That the returns of the archbi- irritation, eyen worse than political shops and bishops, of the number of irrigation, would be produced, and the places for divine worship, &c. in their ardent affection of many a conscientious respective dioceses, upon which the pre- and ļoyal subject would be involuntarily sent measure appears to be founded, diminished. We are impressed with are far from furnishing evidence of the these sentiments the more deeply, as necessity of restricting the operations of not the shadow of a charge is brought religions societies; but on the contrary, against our very numerous body, and they contain the most decisive proots we can challenge the most rigid inquiry (from the inadequacy of the parish into the moral and political character of churches to contain the inhabitants of our preachers and our people, the kingdom) that the increasing popnie XIV. That, abstaining from all oblation calls for all the means of religious servations on the abstract rights of cu. instruction, which well disposed per- science, but with the views and feelings sons, of all denominations of christians, thus expressed, we are most decidedly base in their power to afford.
of opinion that the present measure in X. That from the manifest effect radically objectionable, and does not which the diffusion of religion has had adinit of any modification; and we canç for the last fitis years, jo raising the nut but feel it our duty to oppose the standard of public morals, and in pro- bill in all its stages by every constitu; moring loyalty in the middle ranks, as tional means. well as subordination and industry in XV. That we reflect with high satisthe lower classes of society, which so faction on the liberal, enlightened, and powerfully operate upon the national religious declaration of our most gram prosperity and public spirit, we dread cious Sovereign, on the commencement the adoption of any measure which can of his reign." Born,” said bis Majesty, in the least weaken these great sinews in bis first speech from the throne, " and of the nation, or restrain the patriotic “educated in this country, I glory in the efforts of any of the religious communie “name of Briton, and the peculiar hapties of the country,
"piness of my life will ever consist in XI. That as we deprecate the couse- “ promoting the welfare of a people,
" whose loyalty and warm affection to “tablished principles of that ancient
me, I consider as the greatest and “and excellent constitution, under which “ most permanent security of my throne; "the people of this country have bither. " and I doubt not, but their steadiness “ to enjoyed a state of unrivalled prose “ in those principles will equal the firm- " perity and happiness." "ness of my invariable resolution to ad- XVI. That a sub-committee be ap"here to, and strengthen this excellent pointed to carry these resolutions into u constitution in church and state ; and effect. « to maintain the toleration inviolable. XVII. That these resolutions be printe " The civil and religious rights of my ed, and with circular letters on the sub" loving subjects are equally dear to me ject, be immediately transmitted to our “ with the most valuable prerogatives societies throughout the united kingdom,
of my crown ; and as the surest foun- if the sub-committee judge it to be ne “dation of the whole, and the best cessary. " means to draw down the divine favour XVIII. That before any active mea. “on my reign, it is my fixed purpose to sures be taken, a deputation do wait on “ countenance and encourage the prac- the right honourable Lord Viscount Sic “ tice of true religion and virtue." This mouth with a copy of these Resolutions, declaration of our beloved Sovereign and earnestly entreat his lordship to has been religiously fulfilled during a withdraw his bill. long and beneficent reign, and has been Signed by order of the Committee, humbly met by our societies with the Joseph BUTTERWORTH, Secretary. affection it was calculated to inspire. We have built with confidence upon At a General Meeting of Protestant this gracious declaration, and our confia Dissenters, and other Friends to Redence has not been misplaced. His ligious Liberty, at the London Tavern, Majesty has been a shield to the reli Bishopsgaté-street, on Friduy, May 24, gious of all persuasions, and he has re- 1811, convened to receive the Report spected the rights of conscience in all. of the Committee appointed at a former And we cannot doubt that his royal Meeting, to prevent by every legitihighness the Prince Regent, with those mate effort the successful progress of a just sentiments of truth and sincerity, Bill introduced into parliament by which he has graciously declared shali Viscount Sidmouth, relating to the be the guide of his character and every Acts for Religious Toleration ; action of his life, will feel it his happi SAMUEL MILLS, Esq. in the Chair. ness lo recognize the high natural rights The Committee reported, That by of conscience; and should it please the great exertions, aided by the geuerous wise Disposer of all events to restore sentiments which were universaily excihis afflicted father to the personal exer- ted, they had obtained in 48 hours 336 cise of his royal functions, his royal petitions from various congregations highness will feel it amongst the many within 120 miles of the metropolis, signblessings of bis benevolent and liberaled only by males exceeding 16 years of administration, that he has, agreeably age (exclusive of many petitions that to the ardent wishes of a great portion have been subsequently received), that of his Majesty's loyal subjects, preserved those petitions had been presented to those sacred rights entire, and returned the house of Lords on Tuesday; and to his beloved father the Toleration in- that in consequence of the number and violate. We have too much confidence respectability of the petitioners, of the in the wisdom and justice of parliament, attention of his Majesty's government to imagine that a measure will be adopt- and of the assistance of many liberaled so obnoxious to such a large propor- minded peers, the motion that the bill tion of the nation, as our societies and should be read for the second time was congregations constitute; but if unhap- negatived without a division, and the pily we should be disappointed, and in bill was consequently rejected the dernier resort, we should be driven Resolved, to submit our case to his royal highness, 1. That the report of the Committee we have already the gratification of his is highly satisfactory to this meeting : royal assurance, that he will “ be ready that, loving religion, liberty, and their “ to listen to the complaints of those native land, they rejoice at the speedy "s who may think themselves aygrieved, rejection of a bill that would have limi 65 and regulate his conduct upon tbe eso ed che diffusion of religious light, have
en feebled the energy of freedom, and persons assembling under the act ofToleby producing internal dissentions have ration throughout England and Wales, inflicted upon their country a dangerous to defend themselves against these evils, wound; and that they particularly re- and that any balance of monies which joice that this effect has resulted from the committee, appointed by the former the zeal displayed by the friends to reli. meeting, may eventually retain, be apgious liberty of every denomination, and plied by them towards the formation, that complete success has conferred on and for the purposes of such society. their labours an adequate reward.
5. That the same committee be re2. That this meeting congratulate quested to prepare the plan of such soministers, and other friends resident in ciety; to invite the concurrence of every every part of the empire, on this memo- congregation asseinbling under the Acts rable result, on the just displeasure they of Toleration; and. to carry any plan have manifested at the first effort of re- they may deem eligible into inmediate viving intolerance, on their consequent effect. attention to the recommendations of the 6. That, as expences have been unaformer meeting, on their liberal pro- voidably incurred to an amount certainly hises of pecuniary aid, and on the great, although unascertained, all genpledges they have given of their determi- tlemen present at this meeting be renation to resist any encroachment on the quested to subscribe such sums as their acts of Toleration, and every future at- liberality may suggest; and that all coutempt to restrict useful and pious teach gregations be requested to transmit their ers from disseminating christian princi collective contributions, or individual ciples, and thereby promoting the sale assistance, to the Treasurer, Robert vation of men.
Steven, Esq. at 101, Upper Thames3. That anxious to vindicate Protes street, or at ihe London Tavern, Bishopstant Dissenters from the unmerited im gate-street; or New London Tavern, putation of having acted with insincerity Cheapside; or to Sir James Esdaile and or from caprice, this meeting declare Co. and Messrs. Robarts, Curtis, and that all communications alleged to have Co. Lombard-street; and Messrs. Down, occurred between individual dissenters Thornton, and Free, Bartholomew-lane, and the framer of the bill, were unautho- without any avoidable delay; and that rized by any body of Protestant Dissen- the committee appointed at the last ters; and that any favourable opinions meeting he solicited to continue to exeof the measure which such persons might cute all the powers with which they were avow bave never obtained the sanction then invested, and which they have so of general approbation..
usefully employed. 4. That the inconveniencies which 7. That the energetic and judicious have long resulted from the want of uni- exertions of that committee, who have on and co-operation among Protestant awakened with so inuch advantage a Dissenters for the protection of their re- laudable spirit among Protestant Disligious rights, the necessity which has senters, and the friends to religious liheen demonstrated for the appointment berty, merit the highest approbation; of persons authorized vigilantly to watch and present an example for universal against innovation on their privileges, as imitation, whenever the smallest inwell as the constructions that have been fringement to the most extensive Toleraput on the acts of Toleration; the as- tion be bereafter attempted. sumption by magistrates of judicial au- 8. That the thanks of this meeting be thority in the execution of some of the presented to the Right Hon. Spencer provisions of those acts, as to which Perceval, for the politeness with which their power is only ministerial; the re- he attended to the representations of cent violent outrages which have been their committee; and to every member committed against their meeting houses of his Majesty's government, for withand preachers, in Suffolk and Kent; holding from the bill their important and the harsh revival of the intolerant support. provisions of the Conventicle Act in 9. That this meeting cannot adequate Berkshire, against persons guilty only of ly praise the Right Honourable Earls assembling to pray to God, induce this Stanhope and Grey, and Lords Holland meeting to recommend that a society be and Erskine, for their manly and eloformed of the ministers of congregations quent opposition to the principles and of Protestant Dissenters, and of other provisions of the bill, and for their un
answerable defence of religious liberty Body of Protestant Dissenting Mini-but that they be requested to accept sters, of the three Denominations, resiof their warmest thanks.
ding in and about the cities of London 10. That his Grace the Duke of Nor. und Westminster, regularly summoned folk, the Most Noble the Marquis of to receive the Report of their CommitLansdowne, and the Right Honourable tee, appointed to oppose Lord Side Earls Moira, Lauderdale, and Rosslyn, mouth's Bill for altering the Provihave, by their prompt and generous as sions of the Tolerution Act, the followsistance excited in this meeting the most ing Resolutions were unanimously ardent gratitude.
adopted : 11. That the committee for guarding 1. That the members of this body the privileges of the Methodists in the receive the report of their committee, connection of the late Reverend John
respecting the rejection of Lord SidWesley, having essentially contributed mouth's bill, with the most cordial satisto this important success by their con- faction and gratitude; regarding this Current efforts and cheerful co-operation triumph on behalf of religious liberty, as have increased the esteer which this av earnest of its security against any fumeeting previously entertained, and hate ture measures of intolerance. proved themselves to be sincere friends
2. That while the members of this to the best interests of mankind.
body' are duly sensible of the protection 12. That this meeting are also grate afforded to their cause by his Majesty's ful to those clergymen and other mem- ministers, they consider themselves as bers of the established church, who by under peculiar obligations to those noble their strenuous opposition to the rejected peers, who, with an eloquence flowing bill, have evinced their unfeigned at- from a comprehensive view of the subo tachment to the cause of religious liberty. ject, and animated by the most lively
13. That the attentions of the wor- ferlings of its importance, defended the shipful the Mayor, and other gentlemen interests of religious freedoin; and also of Bristol, and of the members of seve- to those nobile peers who were disposed, ral corporations, have made an indelihle if it had been necessary, and the time imuression on this meeting, and are en- had allowed, to bave taken a part with titled to gratitude, permanent and sincere. their other advocates.
14. This this meeting are most happy 3. That a deputation, consisting of torenew their grateful acknowledgments. One minister from each denomination, to Sainuel Mills, Esq. the chairman, for be appointed to wait on the Right Hon. the liberality of principle and the pro- Earls Stanhope and Grey, and Lords priety of conduct which he has mani Holland and Ersine, to present the refested on the present and on the former spectful acknowledgments of this body occasion.
for the pre-eminent ability and ardour, 15. That the able, unwearied, and and eventual success, with which those disinterested exertions of Thomas Pelo
poble peers vindicated their cause, and latt, Esq. and John Wilks, Esq. the se
prevented the progress of a bill, which, cretaries to the committee, have procured whatever be the motives from which it for them the respect of this meeting, and
originated, tended very materially to alter merit universal approbation.
and restrain the toleration established 16. That these resolutions be commu- by the acts of the first year of the reign nicated to the noblemen and gentlemen of King William and Queen Mary, and to whom they relate, and that they be of the nineteenth of the reign of his preprinted, advertised in the newspapers, sent Majesty : and, with deference to and circulated at the discretion of the the superior judgment of the tried and committee; and that they be also re- approved friends of their cause, to es quested to collect and publish all the
press their hopes, that when a proper proceedings which have occurred, that
occasion offers, they will, by' a similar a record may remain to gratify contem exercise of distinguislied talents, proporaneous enquiry, and to excite and di mote the abolition of all penal laws in rect the efforts of future generations. the province of religion, and a substitue SAMUEL Mills, Chairman. tion of the benefits of complete libertý,
for those of a now restricted and partial LIBRARY, RED CROSS STREET, toleration.
May 28, 1811. 4. That the members of this body disAt a numerous Meeting of the General approve of the conduct of any ministers, VOL. IX.