Second Congregation of Protestant Dissenters, Belfast




To the Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled:

The Humble Petition of the Undersigned, the Members of the Second Presbyterian Congregation, Belfast, Sheweth, that your Petitioners view, with sentiments of the liveliest interest, the Constitutional efforts of their English Dissenting brethren to obtain relief from the several political grievances under which they suffer.

Your Petitioners complain that the Dissenters are compelled to contribute towards the support of a Church from which they conscientiously differ and from which they derive no benefit; that, in consequence of their dissent from its rules, and ceremonies, and ordinances, they are virtually excluded from the benefits of both the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge; and are forbidden to have marriages celebrated by their own ministers; are excluded from the local registration of births and deaths; and are denied even the right of burial, by their own ministers, in parochial graveyards.

Your Petitioners cannot but look upon these hardships, to which English Dissenters are subjected, as unjust, impolitic, and unchristian. They hold that mere religious opinion should never have been made the subject of legislative enactment, since what is of God must stand, but what is not of God cannot be perpetuated by human means; but where no crime exists, no penalty should be inflicted; and that the best service which any Legislature can confer upon Christianity is to let it alone, since history shows that the aid which it gave has ever been detrimental to its best interests.

Your Petitioners are happy to perceive that the doctrine of man's exclusive accountability to God for the faith which he entertains is beginning to prevail; and they confidently await the time when it will become part and parcel of the law of the land.

Their prayer, therefore, is that your Lordships will take into speedy consideration the claims of their English Dissenting brethren, and grant that relief to a numerous, intelligent, and loyal class of His Majesty's subjects, which is recommended by every principle of sound policy, and enforced by every sentiment of justice.

And your Petitioners will ever pray.

10th April, 1834.


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