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contrary, is not a system of opinions, it is a collection of facts. It is a series of historical
more pure the Gospel.”—Of Dr. Abbot, archbishop of Canterbury in the time of James I., Lord Clarendon observes, that he considered “the Christian religion no otherwise than as it abhorred and reviled popery, valuing those men most who did it most furiously.” How many have been weighed in the same scales, in times much nearer to our own!
I am sorry to be obliged, in our own defence, to exhibit such a picture of Protestantism; though I am not aware that I have in any way, exaggerated the deformity of the portrait. But when we see ourselves condemned in the futile nonsense, regularly doled out by ministers of the Church of England and others, to a devouring multitude, in the shape of sermons and lectures ; when we are assailed by hosts of impious pamphlets, issuing also from “ministers of the Church of England,” who, by fighting with their vizors down, prove their cowardice and their shame ;—when we are reviled in more courteous and measured language in Charges, printed “at the request of the clergy” to whom they are delivered ;-when the presumed errors of Popery are made the point of many a text, and the burden of many a spiritual philippic, in almost every pulpit throughout the kingdom ;-when there are many who do, and few who are not willing to swear, that they believe us to be idolators :—when, to crown the whole, we are punished with pains and penalties for crimes expressly invented for us, are we to be denied even the weapons of Truth in our defence? When we are daily called upon, both by the legislature and the clergy, to desert the mystery of iniquity, to come out of Babylon, that 'prodigious structure of imposture and wick
changed her doctrine, for the preservation of unica
documents, supported on indubitable and incontrovertible evidence; evidence which has been carried edness, and to take refuge under the tents of the establishment; and then are taunted and scofled at for our rejection of their offers :-are we to be denied the privilege of declaring why we prefer the security of the fold of the shepherd in which we now repose, to the dangers of the trackless wilderness to which we are so importunately invited ?
The almost total absence of religious instruction, especially on doctrinal points, observable in the charges, and other publications of the prelates and ministers of the Establishment, just alluded to, goes far to prove what I have stated above, that in practice, Protestantism is now become little more than a negative religion. It consists only of two propositions : That it is just and lawful to defend the temporalities of the Establishment, by calumniating Catholics, and marking them as a caste among the people, and, That the bible, and the bible alone, is the religion of Protestants. We are even told that this last proposition has passed into a familiar maxim. But, when we ask to know what the bible contains, we plunge at once into a fathomless ocean,-we arrive at nothing fixed or sure, we fight as with men beating the air-they wander to and fro—they repeat negative propositions, but as to any thing positive and certain, we may as well look for substance in a shadow. The Church of England has so often exkingdom, pretending, at each exchange, to have been directed by the Holy Spirit,* that, as if ashamed of her ver
* See the Articles and Liturgy, as they stood in 1548, clearly expressing the real presence; in 1552 as clearly denying it; in 1562, leaving it doubtful, and in 1662 apparently rejecting it altogether!!
down upon the stream of time, from generation to generation, during a period of eighteen hundred years.
satility of character, she is become more circumspect in her public professions of faith. She has allowed upwards of a hundred and fifty years to pass over without announcing any new method of prerenting a diversity of judgment amongst her followers. She has chosen the wiser course, to retain the same ostensible articles, but, adopting the whole Bible as her creed, to remain silent and slumbering at her post, and to permit her children to range at large among the mazes of speculative belief, as long as they disturb her not by open revolt, nor break their licence by venturing within the precincts of Popery, which is the only forbidden fruit in that spiritual garden of Eden,—“the liberty of believing what each one pleases.” But, while they are allowed to gather from every other tree, the moment they presume to eat of that, not only does their spiritual death ensue, but, they are banished from the paradise, the earth is cursed in their regard, and they are, for ever after, condemned to labour and to toil, in a land fertile only in thorns and thistles.
I am sure there is no exaggeration in all this : and if it be offensive to hear these truths, it is much more so to be obliged to write them; since we are not only the objects, but the victims, of that system, against which we are endeavouring to defend ourselves. In a case like the present, charity rather compels us to speak the whole truth, than to conceal any portion of it. For the greater the evil, the more ought it to arrest attention, and the more loudly should it demand a remedy. If the spirit of discord which
In the Fifth place, I cannot conform to Protestantism, because it rejects the doctrine of Purga
is abroad, be not considered an evil to the country, the minds of our rulers must be modelled on principles far removed from reason; and if it be considered such, the remedy is in their own hands. The wand of Circe never wrought a more complete and sudden transformation than would be effected by the magic of just and equitable laws. Were it no longer the supposed interest of one party maintain an ascendency over the other, by any means but those of virtue and of truth, England would rid herself of sectarian dissension, that plague which now preys upon her very vitals, and religious harmony and tranquillity would be restored throughout the empire. If it should prove otherwise, we must then indeed acknowledge, that some heavy and peculiar curse has fallen upon the country.
When we are no longer vilified as idolators, and condemned to the alternative of either conforming to the establishment, or of being incapacitated for the exercise of civil rights, we may defend our own religion, without exposing that of others. Its truth, happily, does not depend upon the falsehood or impiety of other societies of Christians; it rests upon its own transcendant merits; and upon these, alone, we are ready to rely for its vindication. We now adhere to it, for its own purity and perfection, through evil report and good report—in peace or in persecution-in its glory or in its abjection ;-as our fathers revered it in its prosperity, so do we cling to it in its adversity. We know that our religion was reared in trouble, and will live on in trouble; we know that she will survive both us and our oppressors; and that whether
tory.--We know that nothing defiled can enter heaven ;(u) we know also that, in the sight of God, no man living shall be justified ;(-) and our Saviour himself has declared, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account of, in the day of judgment ;6) how then, with the dangers and distractions of the world around us, with the weaknesses of human nature upon us, and with our natural proneness to sin, can we expect to die in a state of heavenly purity? It would be presumption to think of so doing. Sin, and the consequences of it, are not so easily cleansed from our souls.There must be a middle state, a state of purgation from those lesser offences and imperfections, which have passed unheeded and unrepented of; a state of satisfaction, but always through the merits of our Saviour, for the debt of temporal punishment due to our more grievous offences, after their guilt has been remitted by the Sacrament of Penance. For
we remain faithful to her or not, she will still continue from one generation to another, the great parent of Christianity, the great city and empire of God. Should we have the baseness to desert her, we should only brand our race with apostacy; we should be lopped off as a withered and lifeless branch; while that gigantic tree, whose roots overspread the earth, and whose summits ascend into the very heavens, would equally continue to flourish and to fructify to the end of time.
(u) Rev. xxi. 27. (4) Psal. cxlii. 2. (y) St. Matt. xii. 36.