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N the variety of matter, which the nature
of my undertaking has obliged me to touch upon, I have unintentionally exceeded the limits, to which I originally meant to confine myself
. The importance however of the questions themselves will, I hope, screen me from the imputation of prolixity. I have throughout the work endeavoured to make a faithful and candid representation of every fact, that I had occasion to speak of; if any however shall be found to have been misconceived or misrepresented, I folemnly disavow the intention of misleading others, though I may have erred myself.
Attempts have been lately made with much rancour and much insolence to misrepresent and vilify our constitution.
I have exerted my humble efforts to counteract them; and I shall ever boast of my wishes to represent to my countrymen the constitution of this kingdom as the most perfect work of human polity. If in the gradual formation of it, we have been more fortunate or more wise, than our neighbours, we may also still boast of being the foremost towards attaining the highest possible 3
perfection of civil government. We have a basis still to work and improve upon, formed of the venerable materials of millennial experience, which time and circumstances have cemented, settled, and incorporated into a body of the most durable folidity. A basis widely aifferent from those composed of the crumbling plaister of Paris, upon which the modern state architects have been unable to erect with stability the Nightest temporary superstructure.
The alliance which our constitution has instituted between church and state has obliged me to enter further into the topic of religion, than a mere dissertation upon the civil conftitution of a country might seem to require. I am aware of the extreme difficulty of treating religious subjects in a manner satisfactory to all persons. It has neither been my province nor my intention to discuss the merits of any religious persuasion whatever; and if any reflection or observation have escaped me, that can displease or offend the theologians * of any
I am sensible, that in quoting the authorities of some of our constitutional and legal writers, I have sometimes adopted phrases, which may not itand the severe ordeal of theological precision : for instance, it is usually said, that the king of England appoints bishops, &c. : now neither in legal, constitutional, nor theological accuracy, is this word appoint proper; because it is not consonant with the fact. For if by the word appoint we are to understand the gift or collation of real spiritual power or jurisdiction, which the act of confecration gives not, and which contiits in the power of commanding in spiritual unatters under pain of on, spiritually
religious fociety, I trust in the spirit of that christian meekness, to which they all lay claim, that the unintended offence will be forgiven. But if in tracing and discussing the principles of civil government, I have endeavoured to caution my countrymen against the effects of certain political doctrines, which have already proved fundamentally injurious to our conftitution, I have done it from the conviction, that as the English constitution is not repugnant to the faith of a true christian, so principles subversive of this constitution cannot have been revealed by the divine author of that faith. I no more attribute these turbulent and anarchical principles to the doctrines and faith of any society
censuring and excommunicating, &c. it is evident, that the law veits no such prerogative, right, or power in the crown. For upon
the avoidance of a bihoprick, by itatute 25 H. VIII. c. 20. the king (Bl. vol. i. p. 379) sends to the dean and chapter his usual licence to proceed to election, called the congè delire, which was the constant usage for many centuries before the reformation; and this congè d'elire is accompanied with a letter mislive from the king, containing the name of the person, whoin he would have thein elect; and if the dean and chapter delay their election above twelve days, the nomination shall devolve to the king, who may by letters patent appoint fich person, as he pleases. Tiris election or nomination, if it be of a bishop, must be signified by the king's letters patent to the archbishop of the province; if it be of an archbishop to the other archbishop and two bishops, or to four bishops, requiring them to confirm, inveft, ana confecrate the person so elected." This conformation, in vefliture, and confecration are the acts, bywhich the conftirution iupposes the real spiritual jurifdiétion to be conferred upon the biñop. Before the reformation this confirmation and invefiiture were made by the bishop of Rome, as the Roman catholics held him to be the spiritual fupreme bend of their church, and from him deduced the gradations and regularity of their hierarchy. but though the nation have renounced that religion, and have Nansferred in their king whatever part of the headihip of the civil
of christians, than I lay to their charge chę maxims and practices of robbers and pirates.
To prove, that any human institution has attained its ne plus ultra of perfection is to produce internal evidence of a radical deficiency or vice in the system ; and to prove a continued progress in the melioration or improvement of a fystem is conclusive evidence, that the ground-work of the superstructure is in its nature firm and permanent. I have endeavoured to trace and mark the advances, which our conftitution has been gradually making since its first institution towards the perfection of civil
establishment of religion they formerly allowed to the pope, yet it is evident beyond cavil or doubt, that they neither atienpted nor intended to inveft, nor did they by law inveft the king with a power of collating spiritual jurisdiction ; for they expressly direct the bishop to apply to the archbishop or other bithops for that, which was not in its nature conferable by the laity; for though the law lubjects the arc'hbishop and bishops to the fevereit penal. ties and forte:tures, if after luch election or nomination they refuse to confirm and invest the person elected or nominated, yet it autho, rizes not the king or any other persons to confirm and invest, or to grant or collate the real fpiriruzi jurisdiction, nor does it fay or Juppose, that the perfon elected or nominated becomes a real spiritual pastor of Christ's church without fich confirmation or investiture. When the bishop has been elected or nominated, and confirmed and invested, he then is to sue to the king for his temporalities, which as appendages of the civil establishment of religion were holden by our Roman catholic anceltors, as well as by the nation at this day, to be at the disposal an 1 under the controul of the state, and not of the supreme or other fpiritual minifters of the church of Chrift; for in the year 1350 (25 Ed. 111.) though they then did and for many centuries afterwards, continued to acknowledge the spiritual supremacy of the pope, they · complained, that he assumed a right to give and grant church benefces to aliens and denizens, as if he had been patron and alvowee of the said digrities and benefices, as be was not of right by tbe law of England,
liberty; and in this progress do we find the fureft earnest of future improvements, as the exigencies of times and circumstances shall require them.
To the blessings of our happy constitution do we at this moment owe the exalted situation we hold amidst surrounding nations envying, distracted, and distreft. Who then but an avowed enemy will attempt to force or seduce us from the sure hold of such an unparalleled tranfcendency? The continuance alone of the means, by which we have attained the glory can ensure it to our posterity. Let every true Englishman therefore join in the patriotic wish for the conftitution,