A petition having been presented against the Catholic Claims, from the Protestant Dissenters of Margate,
said, he thought it somewhat strange, that the Dissenters should stand forward as they had done, against the Catholics, and in support of an establish 62 ment that had never evinced any very kindly feeling towards them. He remembered a great ornament of the reverend Bench saying, that the Catholics were far nearer and dearer to them than the dissenters.
said, that with respect to the petition which had been just presented, he was not sufficiently acquainted with the sentiments of the dissenters generally to presume any opinion upon it. He knew there were many dissenters who did not come under any of the three great denominations which were in some respect sanctioned by government; but he had not heard that any of these denominations had sent up petitions against the Catholic Claims. On the contrary, he had himself had the honour to receive petitions from them in favour of those claims. It was, therefore, too much to say that the Protestant dissenters were generally adverse to any further concessions to the Catholics.
The Bishop of Chester
said, he had a petition to present, singular in its nature, and remarkable from the circumstance of its having been confided to his hands. It was the petition of the minister, deacons, and congregation of the Protestant dissenting chapel in Jewry-street, London. Their lordships were aware that each congregation of the dissenters formed a church of their own, and their petitions expressed only the opinion of those who signed them. The petition of one congregation was not supposed to express the opinion of the whole body of the dissenters. The petition had excited his surprise; for it not only deprecated the removal of any restrictions to which the Catholics were subjected, but it expressed the entire satisfaction of the petitioners, that such restrictions were imposed on them. The petitioners were anxious that no change should take place which might in any way endanger the safety of the church of England, which they considered the great bulwark of the Protestant religion. While that church was secured, their religion was placed on a rock. He was persuaded that the great body of Protestant dissenters viewed with no dissatisfaction the church of England, and were sensible that under no other were they likely to enjoy the large and liberal toleration which they enjoyed under it. He had great satisfaction in presenting a petition of this nature; and was glad to see the dissenters alive to the dangers of the Protestant religion. 63 He was glad to see among them a spirit of candour, which, while they were compelled conscientiously to differ with the church of England on points of faith, made them come forward and acknowledge the merits of the church establishment; which he thought was the best support of the Protestant religion, and which, he prayed to God, might long continue unimpaired.
observed, that, from all he had heard, he did not believe, however numerous the signatures to the petitions might be, that the great body of Protestant dissenters were hostile to the claims of the Catholics. On the contrary, he was persuaded that those among the dissenters, who, from their education and rank in life, were best qualified to form an accurate opinion on the subject, were decidedly favourable to concession.
Ordered to lie on the table.