Second Congregation of Protestant Dissenters, Belfast




Dear Sir, -- On behalf of the Non-Subscribing Presbyterians of Ireland, interested in the passing of the Dissenters' Chapels Bill, we request your acceptance of the accompanying Testimonial, in grateful acknowledgment of the important services rendered by you, as the proprietor of the Northern Whig, to the great cause of Civil and Religious Liberty during the progress of that measure. We cannot forget that, while the success of the Bill was yet problematical -- when, though introduced by the Government, it seemed to be viewed with coldness by the adherents of the Administration -- when it was notorious that many numerous and powerful religious bodies had determined to exert all their influence in order to interpose insurmountable obstacles to its passing, and long before any considerable number of individuals of any political party had declared in its favour, the Northern Whig, regardless of mere selfish calculations of interest or popularity, threw itself into the struggle. The columns of your valuable journal were opened to the advocacy of the side of the weak, because it was found to be the cause of justice; and the contest was maintained with firmness in spite of every effort to raise against the Whig the outcry of religious intolerance.

With us this has been no narrow, sectarian, or selfish struggle. We sought merely for the protection of our rights and liberties as Christians; and we rejoice that we have obtained that protection in a form which, at the same time, secures the liberties of our fellow-Christians around. Should any of them hereafter require the aid of a similar measure for their protection against oppression and injustice, we shall be found, without regard to sectarian differences, ready to lend them any aid in our power; and we feel well assured that the Northern Whig will also maintain its own character, as the consistent advocate of the persecuted and oppressed, by displaying on their behalf the same independent spirit, the same untiring energy, the same commanding talent which it exhibited so triumphantly in advocating the Dissenters' Chapels Bill.

We are perfectly aware that the acknowledgment, of which we now beg your acceptance, is a tribute far inferior to the magnitude of the services which the Northern Whig has rendered; but we trust that the grateful feelings of those by whom it is presented will give it, in your eyes, a value far beyond its intrinsic worth; and that it will be pleasant to yourself to contemplate in after life a memorial, though slight, of an important benefit which you have assisted in procuring for your country and for mankind. We are, Dear Sir, your obedient servants,

                   JAMES ANDREWS, }Secretaries.
                   GEORGE K. SMITH, }

Belfast, 31st March, 1845.


Gentlemen, -- With feelings of honest pride I offer you my best thanks for the gratifying Address and valuable Testimonial with which you have this day honoured me on behalf of the Non-Subscribing Presbyterians connected with several congregations interested in the passing of the Dissenters' Chapels Bill. A consciousness of having performed an act of duty is calculated of itself to convey a sufficient reward; but the feeling of satisfaction cannot fail to be greatly enhanced in this instance by the manner in which so numerous and influential a body of my fellow-countrymen have been pleased to express their opinion of the manner in which the Northern Whig acted in a struggle where simple justice stood on the one hand and stern persecution on the other. In a position of this kind he would be equally mean and cowardly who should require any extraordinary incitement to prompt him to the line of duty.

Gentlemen, -- You have happily expressed my own sentiments when you say that, should oppression and injustice ever be attempted against those who so unscrupulously endeavoured to deprive you of your rights and properties, the Northern Whig will be found "displaying on their behalf the same untiring energy which it exhibited so triumphantly in advocating the Dissenters' Chapels Bill."

It is a consolation, however, to believe that such an evil is not likely again to recur. We happily live in an age of progression. The light of knowledge is dispelling the mists of ignorance and intolerance, and a holier and happier feeling must inevitably succeed. It is not, therefore, too much to hope that few years will pass until even for shame's sake no man will have the hardihood to attempt the injury of his neighbour on account of his sincere belief or the honest exercise of his religious convictions.

The sentiments so kindly expressed in the concluding part of the Address are truly encouraging. It will, indeed, in after life, be "pleasant to contemplate this memorial of your approbation," and I trust my children shall ever view it as a powerful incentive to pursue that independent and upright course which, should similar circumstances arise, would secure the same expression of good will and confidence on the part of their fellow-countrymen.

With assurance of my most sincere gratitude, not only for your kindness and that of my other friends on the present occasion, but also for the steady support which I have experienced for upwards of twenty years in maintaining the sacred principles of Civil and Religious Liberty, I am, gentlemen, your obliged and faithful humble servant,

FRANCIS DALZELL FINLAY,                                      

Belfast, 31st March, 1845.

To James Andrews and George K. Smith, Esquires.


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