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The Curate of Rotherham published a letter criticising the Chartists for holding meetings on Sundays. The Chartists replied with a justification of their actions and were very critical of the Anglican Church and other parts of the Establishment.
(COPY) "Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy." Exo. XX, 8.
The CHARTISTS intend to profane God's Sabbath again by another Political Meeting. Are they ignorant of the Command, "Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy"? Or do they mean to say that we are to treat God's word with contempt? Let them speak out plainly. Tell us, Chartists, are we to say the Bible is a lie; the religion of Christ an imposture? If not, why do you ask us to break the Sabbath by attending your Political Meeting, in opposition to the Bible. Why do you ask us to sin against Christ?
Whatever you may say in words, in practice you say Religion is priestcraft: the Bible is not God's Book, is not worthy of notice: we have right to do as we please. Practically you are infidels.
These Sabbath Politicians are Infidels in their practice, and "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." "By their fruits ye shall know them." They promise men LIBERTY, but "While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the Slaves of corruption, for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in BONDAGE." They promise men peace and plenty, but no man ever prospers by sinning. The man who casts off God is miserable here and hell awaits him hereafter.
The Sabbath was appointed for worshipping God, not for attending Political Meetings; it was appointed for preaching the Gospel, not for agitating on behalf of the Charter; it was appointed to be kept holy, not to be profaned. These men would have us despise it. Those who despise God are not likely to respect our Queen; those who do not respect a Queen, are sure to oppress her subjects. Society cannot be regenerated by practical Infidelity, but is sure to be ruined by it, for "The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked, but he blesseth the habitation of the just." These Chartists are practical Infidels. The French profanity - the French licentiousness - the French injustice and robbery - the French revolutions - the French bloodshed of the last 60 years, teach us what fruits such principles produce in practice. Let those then who have any love for their Country or their Queen, any reverence for their God, any hope of Heaven or any dread of Hell, let them set their faces against THE CHARTISTS' DESECRATION OF THE SABBATH.
Sir, the next time that you or any of your party take the liberty to instruct the people of Rotherham upon the principles of the people's Charter, now taught in every Town in England, understood by every intelligent man, and considered to be the only remedy for the social evils of society by every well wisher, of his country, - be kind enough, be honest enough, to speak the truth, or let your pen rest and attend to the business that a hireling, bloated, plundering church establishment has appointed you.
In the first place you commence your BILL, or placard, with a falsehood; who told you, or how can you prove, that to hold a political meeting on a Sabbath is profanity? where in the Bible are political meetings forbid? Point out the passage that forbids or makes it unlawful to hold political meetings on a Sabbath. Even if you could, then you would have to prove that, that same passage or doctrine was not a forgery, before you could prove it to be the divine will of God. The "Command" remember the Sabbath day to keep it Holy - is a good commandment, but is one day more holy in the sight of God than another? Does God view with pleasure any sinful or unlawful act committed on a work-day with more pleasure than if committed on a Sunday? Does not truth and justice clearly dictate that a wrong committed on a work-day cannot be a right on a Sunday? And does not truth and justice as clearly demonstrate that it is necessary to do good on a Sabbath day if it cannot be conveniently done on a work-day. The Chartists do not say the "Bible is a lie," nor "the religion of Christ an imposture," they have nothing to do with either so far as their political creed is concerned: PROVE that we by our "practice say Religion is priestcraft". It would not take a very deal to prove that your practice is Priestcraft of the most obnoxious kind; in its most repulsive form; of the most blighting tendency; of the most relentless character; cruel, intolerant, bigoted and blood-thirsty. Prove that "practically we are infidels" you vile Priestly plunderer, by our conduct.
"By their fruits ye shall know them" the Chartists, to their sorrow, know what the Priesthood are by their fruits - by the £10,000,000, sterling, annually abstracted from their hard earned toil: "they promise them liberty", yes you Wolf in Sheep's clothing, and we mean to have liberty too. But "while they promise them liberty, they themselves are the SLAVES of corruption." Yes, you venal hireling, but not the corruption you insinuate at, we are slaves bound hand and foot - politically - to the corrupt system of robbery and plunder you and your party have engendered; we are robbed daily and hourly of the fruits of our own labours, to keep such like you in mischievous idleness, and we intend the CHARTER to be a check upon your greediness for public plunder in the name of RELIGION.
"The Sabbath was appointed &c - and not for agitating on behalf of the Charter"; prove it out of the Bible; "those who despise God are not likely to respect our Queen": What do you mean by despising God? I can perfectly well understand what you mean by not respecting the Queen. You mean that we the Chartists do not intend that she (the Queen) shall be a disgrace to her sex by consuming as much on her household as would do for 8,000 heads of families, at one pound per week or more; that we, in fact, wish the Queen to hold that position in Society that a woman ought to do. The next time you favour the town of Rotherham with a specimen of your abilities as a public liar, just explain what you mean by "those who do not respect a Queen are sure to oppress her subjects." "Society cannot be regenerated by practical infidelity, but is sure to be ruined by it"; prove that we are practical infidels, and then you may charge us with it; define what you mean by infidelity, before you make your charge. Be sure that you yourself are free from it, and that Church-of-Englandism has not already ruined the Country by it. "The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked, but he blesseth the habitation of the just."
If the curse of the Lord be in the house of the wicked, what a state must the houses of the clergy be in, for where can a more hypocritical set of sleek-faced plundering rascals be found upon the face of God's Earth. What party has combined an equal amount of pious fraud, of professional Christianity, of assumed meekness, to deceive the credulous and unwary, the timid minded and illiterate, with an equal amount of heartless robbery and relentless cruelty towards the victims whom they have been fleecing of money to the amount of £10,000,000, sterling, annually extracted by the brutality of the army at the point of the bayonet; yes, you know right well, that if it was not for the well trained ruffianism of the brutalised soldiery, neither the Aristocracy nor the Church of England could carry on their wholesale system of national plunder they do. Do you not blush at the bare mention of the fact that the Church property, which belongs to the poor, would locate one million of families, in a free castle, and give to each £50 of capital, and four acres of ground, thus affording a home for five millions of human beings.
Is this not infidelity, and barefaced too, think you? Is not this practising one thing and preaching another? Is this doing unto others as you would that others should do unto you? Is this fulfilling your Great Lord and Master's injunction, "To care not for the good things of this life, but to lay up treasures for the life hereafter," How can you reconcile with a clear conscience void of offence to God and man this plundering barefaced robbery of the working people? Are you not satisfied with the robbery, but must add insult too, to the victims whom you have fleeced, by charging them with infidelity and despising God; they certainly are infidels, or are unfaithful to themselves in allowing the Church of England (so called) to rob them of £10,000,000, annually, and you know as well as I do, that the law made priesthood has no more right to this amount of money annually extracted from the hard earnings of the most industrious, the most frugal and patient people upon the face of the Earth, than the Emperor of Russia. Yes, and if they were not both patient and forbearing, charitable & forgiving towards their enemies, you and your smooth tongued hypocritical tribe of Priestly swindlers would soon have to disgorge the plunder you have robbed them of and in future be made to get your living by some honest employment. You would once in your life, have to carry out in practice what you have taught in theory viz., to do unto others as you would that others should do unto you. You would for once have to be what you would desire to make people believe you are - an honest man, in practice at least.
"These Chartists are practical infidels," you say, and then tell us something about France and the last sixty years; what you mean by "French profanity - French licentiousness - French injustice and robbery" &c. I do not know, and I very much question whether you know yourself. - Unless it be that the French are a glorious people for not submitting to be ruled by the will of a man - who have won for themselves the admiration of the world by driving him headlong into exile, to do penance as a traitor to the liberties of his country. Yes, the French deserve eternal honour for overthrowing a Despot loaded with infamy and disgrace, and branded as a tyrant by all parties, save and except those who are playing the same game.
"Let those then who have any love for their Country, or their Queen, any reverence for their God, any hope of heaven or dread of hell; let them set their faces against the Chartist desecration of the Sabbath." Do you think that there is any natural connection between the love of Country and the love of a Queen? Does the Queen do any one thing the year round, besides consuming the People's property? Does she by her council urge on any one reform either in Church or State? Does she recommend any retrenchment in the national expenditure of the taxes, either in the army, navy, civil list, pension list, salaries of the officers of state, or, in fact, in any one department where retrenchment is loudly called for? Can you point out one essential service to the working classes she performs the year round? Did she ever do a single act in her whole life that entitles her to our love, any more than any other woman in England? It would not be difficult to institute a comparison between the Queen and many other noble-hearted women, and to prove, incontestably, that so far as services rendered to the people of England are concerned, or to mankind generally, that she is as little entitled to the love and approbation of the people of England as any woman living.
If you merely mean to say that because the Queen has been placed where she is by the Aristocracy she is entitled to our love, then I can understand what you mean. Your meaning, then, properly interpreted would be this: - the Aristocracy having got nearly all the Land in the country, all the Places in the Government, all the snug Berths in the army and navy; also as Ambassadors, Governors, Consuls and Plenipotentiaries abroad; as Commissioners, Judges, Cabinet Ministers, and a host of other situations too numerous to mention, at home, all the power in the House of Commons; that they can levy what taxes they think proper, pass what Laws their interest and selfishness may dictate; - the Law of Primogeniture and entail being one of their Laws, - whereby the eldest son is made a prince and the rest paupers, too idle to work and too poor to live without honesty. The consequence of which is, the oldest are necessitated to provide in some other way for their younger brothers and sisters; and being self-instituted law-makers, called hereditary peers of the realm, and responsible to nobody but to their own conscience - which is a very great misfortune for, unfortunately they have no conscience, or, if they have, it is of a most wretched kind - they have taken right good care to bring about such a state of society by means of the Laws they have passed from time, to time, to give a colouring and pretence for all the berths and places their disinherited brothers and sisters hold. Had not the eldest sons have made those provisions, their younger brethren would long ago have insisted upon the abolition of the law of Entail and Primogeniture, so that they might have had their share of the estate; but being provided with places in the army and navy, in the customs and excise, in all government offices wherever one can be put, they are satisfied. And with good reason, because the salaries derivable from those places out of the taxes enables them to live in princely splendour and to vie with the eldest in aristocratic pride and ambition.
The aristocracy fearing the odium that might be cast upon them by the nation at large, did all these things appear to be of their own origin, of their own creating, have cunningly created another power in the state superior to their own, whereupon the odium might be cast, and this power they have called a Monarchy. And, the Monarchy being of Aristocratic creation - the Monarch for the time being is made the mouthpiece for whatever the Aristocracy wishes to say. Consequently the Queen being the Monarch at the present time is made to sanction whatever the aristocracy wish to do; to take the odium upon herself for whatever disgrace the Aristocracy may really be guilty of. This I say is the natural inference to be drawn. - If you mean to say that the Queen is entitled to our love merely because she has been placed where she is by the Aristocracy, that she is entitled to our love on that account, I think she is entitled to our pity as well for being made the tool of the most despicable set of men in existence; I respect the Queen because she is a human being, because she is a woman, and not because she is a Queen. I respect every man and every woman, because they are human beings and all are entitled to my love on that account, and not because they are Kings or Queens.
If any one is entitled to my love and respect more than another, they most prove themselves, by their good works, by their abilities to do good and their earnest desire to make mankind happy in this life, as well as the life to come. But at present I am not aware that the Queen is one of those: as I have said before, she has never said one single word or done one single act to promote the welfare of the working people, to entitle her to their love. Nor the individual who has endeavoured to create alarm about "The Chartist desecration of the Sabbath" by telling a barefaced lie.
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