Page images



On the Obligation of an Oath.

Catholics are charged with holding, that they are not bound by an oath, and that the pope can dispense them from all the oaths they may have taken.

[ocr errors]

We cannot sufficiently express our astonishment at such a charge. We hold that the obligation of an oath is most sacred; for by an oath, man calls the Almighty Searcher of Hearts to witness the sincerity of his conviction of the truth of what he asserts, and his fidelity in performing the engagement he makes. Hence, whosoever swears falsely, or violates the lawful engagement he has confirmed by an oath, not only offends against truth or justice, but against religion. He is guilty of the enormous crime of perjury.

No power in any pope, or council, or in any individual or body of men invested with authority in the Catholic Church, can make it lawful for a Catholic to confirm any falsehood by an oath; or dispense with any oath, by which a Catholic has confirmed his duty of allegiance to his SOVEREIGN, or any obligation of duty or justice to a THIRD PERSON. He who takes an oath is bound to observe it, in the obvious meaning of the words, or in the known meaning of the person to whom it is sworn.

[ocr errors]

"owe the highest CIVIL HONOR," (page 59.) in other words, "their allegiance is DIVIDED." And this is a FACT which should never be lost sight of.


[ocr errors]


Allegiance relates not to SPIRITUAL, but to CIVIL duties."] This is certainly a very modest assertion, for "the vicars apostolical in this country! But it conveys a proposition, which no good Protestant, who duly feels the inestimable blessings he enjoys by living under the British Constitution, will for one moment allow it is, in itself, palpably false, as applied to the Protestant subjects of the empire. In fact, ALLEGIANCE is the tie, or ligamen, which binds "the subject to the king, in return for that protection which the king "affords the subject.' "I It is founded in reason, and in the nature of government. According to Bracton, and agreeably to the law of the land, "Rex est vicarius et minister Dei in terra: omnis quidem "sub eo est, et ipse sub nullo, nisi tantum sub Deo;"—the king is the representative and minister of GOD within his dominions; he is supreme over all, and is subject to none, but GoD only. Allegiance therefore includes every thing which regards his royal person, his crown, dignity, and prerogative. But one essential part of his style and title is, that he is "the supreme head of the Church" established by law within the United Kingdom; and by virtue of this supremacy, he swears at his coronation, that he will," to the utmost of his power, "maintain the laws of GOD, the true profession of the Gospel, and "the PROTESTANT REFORMED RELIGION established by law; as also, that he will preserve to the bishops and clergy of this realm, "and to the Churches committed to their charge, all such rights and "privileges, as by law do, or shall appertain to them, or any of them." Are not THESE DUTIES, then, of an ecclesiastical and spiritual nature; and does not ALLEGIANCE relate to" THESE?

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Is it justifiable in these popish dignitaries, now that (in order to do away many of the penalties and disabilities under which they, and other Romanists, must otherwise have laboured) they are permitted to swear, that "they do not believe that the pope of Rome, or any


Bracton, as cited by Sir Wm. Blackstone, in his Commentaries, Vol. i. p. 241. edit. 15. See also Vol. iv. p. 74. of the same work. 2 See the form of the oath, 31 Geo. III. c. 32.



On Allegiance to our Sovereign, and Obedience to the Pope.

Catholics are charged with dividing their allegiance between their temporal sovereign and the pope.

Állegiance relates not to spiritual, but to civil duties; to those temporal tributes and obligations, which the subject owes to the person of his sovereign, and to the authority of the state.

[ocr errors]

"other foreign prince, prelate, or potentate, hath or ought to have any TEMPORAL or CIVIL jurisdiction, power, superiority, or pre"eminence, directly or indirectly, within this realm;"-THUS being, with great liberality, excused, on acount of their unalterable religious principles, from swearing allegiance to the KING as SUPREME HEAD of THE CHURCH established by law;-is it justifiable in them to turn round, and tell the British nation, that ALLEGIANCE relates not "to SPIRITUAL, but to CIVIL duties?"


Doubtless, the nation will say to them, in reply:-" Your allegiance, "from your own account, is very different from ours: you pay "not ALLEGIANCE to the KING in relation to the SPIRITUAL "duties he has to perform; but to the POPE of ROME; and there'fore your ALLEGIANCE IS DIVIDED."

[ocr errors]

Having shown the insidiousness and utter falsehood of their position, I will now let them proceed to work upon it as they will; merely referring the reader to pages 21, 42, and 70, where this subject of divided ALLEGIANCE has been already discussed.

"Is perfect and undivided."] For the truth of this assertion, as relating to their SOVEREIGN, I refer to what has just been said. The whole of what is here asserted is a miserable quibble, beside the mark, founded entirely upon the erroneous explanation they have given of the term ALLEGIANCE.


Being absolutely distinct," etc.] How long have they remained so in former times, whenever the bishops of Rome have possessed the power of asserting their own supremacy in ecclesiastical matters ?

By the term spiritual, we here mean that which in its nature tends directly to a supernatural end, or to produce a supernatural effect. Thus the office of teaching the doctrines of faith, the administration of the sacraments, the conferring and exercising of jurisdiction purely ecclesiastical, are spiritual matters.

By the term temporal, we mean that which in its nature tends directly to the end of civil society. Thus the right of making laws for the civil government of the state, the administration of civil justice, the appointment of civil magistrates and military officers, are temporal matters.

The allegiance which Catholics hold to be due, and are bound to pay their sovereign, and to the civil authority of the state, is perfect and undivided. They do not divide their allegiance between their sovereign and any other power on earth, whether temporal or ecclesiastical. They acknowledge in the sovereign, and in the constituted government of these realms, a supreme civil and temporal authority, which is entirely distinct from, and totally independent of, the Pope, and of the Catholic Church. They declare that neither the Pope nor any other prelate or ecclesiastical person of the Roman Catholic Church, has, in virtue of his spiritual or ecclesiastical character, any right, directly or indirectly, to any civil or temporal jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence, or authority, within this realm; nor has any right to interfere, directly or indirectly, in the civil government of the United Kingdom, or any part thereof; nor to oppose, in any manner, the performance of the civil duties which are due to his Majesty, his heirs and successors, from all or any of his Majesty's subjects; nor to enforce the performance of any spiritual or ecclesiastical duty by any civil or temporal means. They hold themselves bound in conscience to obey the civil government of this realm in all things of a temporal and civil nature, notwithstanding any dispensation or order to the contrary, had, or to be had, from the POPE, or any authority of the Church of ROME.

Hence we declare, that, by rendering obedience in spiritual matters to the POPE, Catholics do not withhold any portion of their allegiance to their king, and that their allegiance is entire and undivided; the civil power of the state, and the spiritual authority of the Catholic Church, being absolutely distinct, and being never intended by their Divine Author to interfere or clash with each other.

"Render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's, and to GoD "the things that are GOD's."

« PreviousContinue »