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ministry through every succeeding age, implicat-, ing the great mass of the whole Christian world.
But, admitting for a moment, for the sake of argument, that the immense majority of Christians have, for upwards of 1,800 years, been labouring under an egregious mistake, to what does this charge of idolatry amount ? That we believe Christ to be where, in the opinion of Protestants; he is not ! • This is the head and front of our offending Not that we adore any false or supposititious divinity, but that we worship the one only true and living God, the Creator of heaven, of earth, and of all things, truly and substantially present on our altars, though concealed under the sacramental veils of bread and wine; for it cannot be that we adore the elements of bread and wine, since the faith of Catholics is, that the elements no longer exist, but that they are totally and entirely changed into the body and blood, united with the soul and the divinity, of Christ. It is, therefore, only the true God whom we adore; and if we are mistaken, the adoration is equally directed to Him. The greatest possible extent of our error, therefore, can be in believing God to be visibly present where he is not so.")
(6) That colossus of literature, Dr. Johnson, speaking of the supposed idolatry of the Mass, is reported to have said: “Sir, there is no idolatry in the Mass; they (Ca
With such principles of Christianity as we profess, and such a steadfast faith as we hold in the articles of our belief, it can no longer be a matter of astonishment that Catholics cannot conscienti
tholics) believe God to be there, and they worship Him."* But in thus enlisting him amongst the Protestant authorities in favour of many of the doctrines of the Roman Catholic church, I am fully aware to how little weight his opinions are entitled upon such subjects. Like all those who are not united in their creed by one common principle of obedience to revelation and authority, he was unsettled in his religious belief, and totally incompetent to pronounce upon such matters, from want of information, which, great as his acquirements were, in other respects, he had never taken the trouble to obtain in these. I chiefly cite him as an honourable example of liberality, and as above the vulgar short-sighted prejudices so common in the present day; and that too amongst persons who have enjoyed much better opportunities of divesting themselves of the errors of education, than he ever had. The same observations may, more or less, apply to all the other Protestant authorities, which, while they exhibit the vaccillating nature of Protestant belief, serve also to prove how much more substantial it was in the days of her earliest and most learned divines, than are the shallow and unmeaning doctrines to which it has been reduced and explained away, by subsequent teachers in their church.
* See the whole Dialogue, which does great credit to Johnson's liberality.
ously swear that these doctrines of their Church, which we have just discussed, are either superstitious or idolatrous : and, I trust that enough has been said to show, that it ought to be the earnest desire of Christians of every denomination, to see so false and so odious a test wholly and entirely abolished. What, in the name of heaven, has the Supremacy'of the Bishop of Rome, the Doctrine of Transubstantiation, the Invocation of Saints, or the Sacrificeof the Mass, to do with the imposing or collecting of the public taxes (which, notwithstanding, Catholics pay the same as others), with the propriety of applying the sinking fund to the exigencies of the state—with the liberation of Greece—with the game laws-or indeed with the regulation of any part of our economy, either foreign or domestic? Though no encomium was thought fitting in the speech from the throne, the nation has been loud in its just and heartfelt praises on the heroes of the glorious and brilliant victory of Navarin:—and I will challenge even a Peel to say, if it has ever once flashed upon his mind, that the laurels so nobly won by admiral de Rigny, were less bright because that gallant officer believes in Transubstantiation, and in the spiritual supremacy of the Pope? That admiral Heiden's were blighted by the Invocation of Saints? or that sir Edward Codrington's were the more glorious, because, like a true Protestant, as we must suppose him to be, he looks upon these partners of his victory as idolators ?
Away, then, with the folly and hypocrisy of those who would taint the merits of the valiant and the virtuous, because they believe in the purest and the oldest doctrines of Christianity, doctrines which we proveto have been revealed from heaven; but which a new and persecuting church has erroneously conceived it to be her policy to stigmatize as superstitious and idolatrous! If they will exclude Catholics from parliament, let them invent a Test for the purpose, which shall not be a libel on the memory of those ancestors, of whom Englishmen are so fond of boasting—that shall not be a gross insult upon one hundred millions of the people of Europe, and twenty millions of the people of America, all and without exception, the allies of this country, a Test which, while it ceases to defame those who refuse it, will not risk to wound the consciences of those who take it.(c)
(0) I trust I have given the true construction of that part of the oath which calls upon us to declare that there is not any Transubstantiation of the elements, &c. in the sense in which it is commonly understood by English Protestants. I have taken these words to refer to that tenet of Protestantism, be it what it may, which has been substituted for that doctrine of the Catholic Church, of which Transubstantiation forms a distinctive feature. If the oath were meant as a mere condemnation or rejection of the doctrine of Transubstantiation, why did it not say so in plain, simple, and unequivocal terms? Why add, “ in the sense in which they (the words of the oath) are
V. Let us now proceed to Other Reasons which must for ever prevent a Catholic from conscien
commonly understood by English Protestants,” unless it were meant to pledge us to the belief of that which English Protestants commonly hold as an article of their faith? If I have mistaken the meaning of the oath, I trust it is from the want of perspicuity and precision in the oath itself. But surely this very circumstance is but another objection to it. We allow that the terms of an oath are not always to be canvassed, and cavilled at too minutely; but the sense in which the oath is taken must be clearly understood, and by no means be contradicted by the oath itself. There must be a perfect understanding between the parties as to its real meaning. Now, if it be contended that the oath in question, is so loose, vague, and indeterminate, that, its object being merely to exclude Catholics from parliament, it is not meant to bind the consciences of men in any other respect; we meet with difficulties at every point. In almost every part of it we find, not merely a negation of opinions, but an absolute and solemn asseveration of the truth of others, stated in plain and intelligible terms. Out of four distinct propositions of which the oath consists, there is but one that savours of any ambiguity; and this, I contend, does but make it the worse, unaccompanied as it is by any explanation. Such an evasion, as I have supposed, of the plain and positive terms in which it is couched, would only subject the individual who alleged it, to the guilt of a total disregard of the solemnity of an oath, and of calling the Almighty to bear witness to the truth of assertions, which, with the sacred volume in his hand, he was making with his lips, but from which his mind dissented.