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and the consequent changes which property undergoes by any alteration of its value, deny, because they cannot understand, that the distresses of the people arise from taxation, and that this is the real meaning of the cry which they have raised for Reform, yet that such is the true state of the case has been asserted by all the most intelligent writers and speakers on every side of the question; as may be seen by consulting the Edinburgh, Westminster, and Quarterly Reviews, Cobbett's Register, and the Speeches of Mr. Atwood and Sir R. Vivyan. Instead, however, of undertaking any series of measures for the purpose of diminishing the amount of the public burdens, the Ministers have undertaken the unparalleled task of devising a new constitution for the country. The measure which they have brought forward goes greatly beyond that of the Marquis of Blandford, against which most of the present Ministers voted as going too far: it is directly in the teeth of the doctrines maintained in the historical Essay of Lord John Russell : it is opposed to, and far exceeds, the plan of Lord Brougham; and effects a complete revolution in the country—a revolution incompatible with the existence of a monarchy.
In order to judge of this correctly, it is necessary to bear in mind that the essential of a monarchy does not consist in the head of the government having the title of Consul, King, Emperor, Sultan, or Lama, but in political power being lodged in those hands which possess the largest amount of wealth : while, on the other hand, the essential of a republic consists in power being lodged in the hạnds of numbers, irrespective of wealth.
Mr. Hallam points out that this constitutes the essential difference also between representatives and delegates. Representatives are persons chosen to represent certain classes of proprietors: delegates are persons sent, not to represent interests, or kinds of properties, but to speak the opinions of those who sent them. Thus all the constitutions which have been framed for Continental states have failed, because they have attempted to unite the impossibilities of delegation and monarchy. Representation may subsist with a monarchy, but delegation cannot. At this very moment that we are writing, mobs are threatening to assemble, in order to intimidate the House of Commons, and oblige it to pass the Reform Bill with greater rapidity than it is at present inclined to do. Thus the mob are already looking on the delegates as their servants, upon whom they may execute speedy and condign punishment whenever they please.
It is nothing to the purpose here, whether the power of nominating members of the House of Commons was a good or a bad mode of effecting the end; but it was the means by which, for the most part, political power was · lodged in the hands of the opulent classes; while, at the same time, there was no bar to
men in the humblest walks of life attaining to the highest honour; as we find in the cases of Lord Eldon, Lord Stowell, Lord Brougham, Sir R. Peel, and many others. The effect of the Reform Bill is avowedly to put an end to this state of nomination for ever: and, since it provides no substitute by which power shall be preserved to the possessors of wealth, it follows that they, as a class, will possess it no longer. But it is not by mere annihilation of that which already exists that this effect will be produced ; for the bill also enacts positively, that certain places shall possess the power of returning members of Parliament, which places never possessed it before ; and that they shall possess it according to their numerical amount of inhabitants. Neither is this all ; for, in the towns, every person who possesses a house of the annual value of 101. has a vote ; while the whole class of great capitalists have no more, and while the former are, in Birmingham, Glasgow, and most other places, five to every one of the latter.
That this measure constitutes a revolution, and not a reform, was avowed from its first promulgation by the Radicals, and defended and admired on that ground. This description of it, however, was for some time denied by the Ministers; but they too now acknowledge it to be so, and justify it. Mr. Macaulay's speech, which was by far the ablest that was delivered in the new Parliament, took this ground, and argued, that, as our whole history was a series of revolutions, this measure being a revolution did not therefore make it wrong, or bad. This argument is good; but it is fatal to the honesty of those who have called it Reform, while in their hearts they knew it to be Revolution : and, being a Revolution, its merits and demerits must be tried upon another ground. All that we have to establish is, that the measure called Reform is not reform ; that is, is not a re-stating of the legislature in a position which it occupied at any previous period. Whether the new constitution will be worse or better than the old, is another question : the fact that it is new is fatal to its re-form.
A chamber of delegates can obviously do nothing but register the edicts of their masters who depute them. They can exercise no deliberative function : and the very ground on which the bill is supported, both by the avowed revolutionists and by the ministers, is, that by it the people will be able to exercise a more direct controul over the House of Commons. It will therefore be impossible for the House of Commons to differ in opinion with the mob out of doors; and the more violent and inflamed and unreasonable the passion of that mob may be, the more impossible will it be for their delegates to resist them. Already meetings have been held immediately after several members have given votes of which those who returned them did not approve; and these members have received lectures, scolds, and censures, such as menials only receive from their superiors. If no difference can subsist between the House of Commons and the people, still less can any difference subsist between the Houses of Commons and of Peers : the latter must give way to the former, or the collision will instantly break the whole machinery of government to pieces. It is, therefore, impossible to resist the arguments of those who will declare, under the new contitution, that the House of Peers is useless, or, rather, only a clog upon the wheels of democracy. It is as impossible to shew the propriety of a House of Peers after the Reform Bill shall bave passed, as it is to shew the fitness of having the hierarchy of only one sect in the legislature after the legislature has declared all creeds alike. No consistent reasoner can advocate a House of Peers, or an Established Church.
Passing by the political folly of this measure ; the ecclesiastical characteristic of it is, that it is as completely without reference to God, or to God's truth, as if no God existed, or as if He did not intermeddle in the affairs of men.
It is hailed by every Atheist, by every anarchist, by every Dissenter, by every blasphemer, in the kingdom, as the harbinger of the days of confusion, wherein ungodliness shall reign uncontrouled, the ministers of religion be no longer supported by the state, and men of all creeds and no creeds be alike the rulers of a Christian community.
This characteristic of the measure and of its supporters is seen more clearly by coupling it with other measures introduced by the same parties. The Record of July 7th very properly observes :
“We look upon the event, deeply important as it is, as an isolated measure; rising into its true and gigantic dimensions only when viewed as one of a series of changes, introduced and to be carried through by the spirit of the age in which we live.
According as individuals look upon that spirit, as the offspring of truth and righteousness, or the spawn of scepticism, which is making a fresh, and we trust a last, effort to shew that men can govern the world better without God than with him; by their own wisdom, philosophy, and virtue, than in the acknowledgment, fear, and love of God, and a humble reception of his truth and his pure conımandments—we say, according as men judge of the spirit of the age, which is carrying onwards a succession of measures acknowledged by all to be of most momentous import, so will they judge of the probable safety and probable issue of the measures themselves. Expose to us the principles of a man, and we shall tell you the probable end of his operations. Expose to us the principles which have the rule and sway in a mighty nation, and the issue of events brought into existence by these principles may be predicated with unerring confidence.”
When Sir Robert Inglis brought forward the subject of the omission of all mention of God in the Speech from the throne when speaking of so extraordinary a visitation as that disease, the cholera, which is causing devastation and death throughout all Europe—the House with
one voice deprecated the discussion as extremely injudicious, and a great name in the religious world, Mr. Robert Grant, recommended its discontinuance !
When Mr. Perceval moved the House of Commons to address the King to appoint a day of national humiliation for our sins, and prayer to avert the danger threatened to our land from every quarter, this too was stigmatized as injudicious; and one of the ministers of the Crown-virtually, at least, if not in direct terms -requested that the subject of religion might be decently interred, and there remain for ever, without intruding its hateful sound within the precincts of the house where a Christian legislature assembled.
When Mr. Tait moved the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland to appoint a day for public fasting and humiliation, Dr. Chalmers opposed it; although he said, that the manner in which “ the higher assembly of the land” had treated the subject “indicated that the nation was on the eve of being forsaken by its God.” The Doctor's reasoning was as strange as his opposition ; for although he
“ Was confirmed in the belief of the efficacy of prayer, he doubted whether the present circumstances of the country were such as to call for a public and authoritative act from the Presbytery ;-an act which, if adopted, would compel every minister, whatever were his private opinions, to hold a public service; and would be compulsory on every layman, whatever were his opinions, to suspend for a whole day his worldly business. He thought that, until the country was in a state to secure a far more general acquiescence in the measure than they could at present hope for, it would be far more agreeable to leave each person to offer up the willing piety of his heart; and he would prefer that every minister who felt like the Rev. Mover should hold a congregational fast
among his own people: that was the course he himself would adopt if he had a congregation. He believed there was a loud call for public and for individual prayer; but there did not appear to him to be such a degree of sympathy on this subject as led him to hope that they could carry the whole body of the people along with them. It was not the burnings in Kent, it was not the disturbances in Ireland, it was not the heavings abroad, that foreboded judgments on the land ; but it was the fearful symptoms of rapid infidelity reaching to our high places; it was the rapid march of irreligion and heresy, which would disown the great God in his ascendancy over the management of human affairs."
When Mr. Gordon presented a petition against paying the Popish college of Maynooth, from some Scotch clergy, which characterized the Church of Rome as idolatrous, the House almost unanimously stigmatized the petition as libellous upon the creed of eight millions of our countrymen, as betraying a bigotry worthy only of the Inquisition, and as disgraceful to the present enlightened days.
The united deliberations of the ministers upon all great questions of policy are carried on in what are called meetings of " the Cabinet.” These meetings are now invariably held on the Lord's-day, which He has commanded to keep holy; and one of the persons systematically committing this breach of God's law is a most Evangelical speech-maker at Bible and Missionary Societies,–Mr. Charles Grant.
For the first time, we believe, in the history of the Church of England, certainly for the first time since the accession of George III., has a mitre been conferred upon a professed Socinian. So different was the conduct of that excellent monarch, that it is reported of him that he would never yield to the remonstrances of some of his ministers on behalf of Dr. Paley, whom they were anxious to place on the episcopal bench. For a long time nobody knew the King's reason, until at length a note in pencil was observed against a passage of Paley's Works, in the hand-writing of the King, stating, that that passage proved him to be a Socinian: and this, no doubt, led that monarch to refuse invariably all solicitations for Paley's advancement.
We do not, however, see upon what pretext any one, who has sanctioned the concessions to the Papists and the repeal of the Test Act, can object to these things. The legislature has declared all creeds alike: the Christian says, all creeds are not alike, for one only is true: the legislature, as a body, is bound to stop bickering and quarrels amongst its members: the body, as a body, is based upon an anti-Christian principle, namely, that the professors of all creeds are equally entitled to be the governors, legislators, and rulers of a Christian nation : it is obvious, therefore, that that same legislature never can allow any
that one half of its own body is unfit for those very purposes for which the whole has already declared that it is fit.
Such is the state of affairs political and ecclesiastical of Great Britain in the year 1831; a state exactly answering to that in which the Prophets charged all the several nations of old with being, at the time that God's judgments came down upon them -namely, corruption amongst the rich, oppression of the poor, and turning away from the exclusive worship of Him ;-and we now proceed to examine the approaches of those judgments which such a state of affairs must produce.
There are three special instruments of infliction upon a nation's sins which God has particularly indicated as marks of his handnamely, pestilence, the sword, and famine (2 Sam. xxiv. 13; Jer. xxiv. 10; Ezek. v. 12–17; vii. 15.) These are all now on the point of meeting in this devoted land, and thus beginning in their accumulated vengeance at the sanctuary of the Lord.
First in the order of time is that Pestilence which broke out in the eastern extremity of the British dominion, and whose progress has been marked with circumstances without a parallel in the history of nosology. It proceeded, from the spot in which it first arose, at the rate of about ten English miles a day, in the