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--and urge in their stead the use of the daily political press-and yet you object to oral discussion on the ground that you consent to exhibit yourself as a theological gladiator, for the amusement of an idle, promiscuous, curious multitude.” How you can see so much unsuitableness in one of these forms, and none in the other, I am at a loss to discover. In view of your unmoved determination to proceed in your own way, I proposed the pages of a weekly religious paper—and having no connexion with your papers, I did all I could, offered one of ours, expecting you to reciprocate the arrangement. I was led to this course the more by the conversation which you held with the assistant secretary in our office before my arrival, and by the communications which passed between us, on this subject.-The paragraph, therefore, in which you resent my offer of “The Presbyterian," is truly surprising to me, being, as I recollect, wholly at variance with the spirit manifested by you in our interview! Did you not then entertain the idea that the religious periodical presses of our respective denominations, might be properly and effectually used, if they could be obtained, to carry on this investigation before the public ? And yet now, when the idea is matured, you charge me with dishonourable proposals! Your proposition to meet me before twelve gentlemen is quite amusing ; especially in view of your desire to use a daily paper on account of its publicity.
You say “ I am surprised that you allude to your present pursuits, since you know that they are precisely the same as when you published your challenge. ” Now, if when I published my letter, I had proposed, as my plan of controversy, alternate pieces in a daily paper, and then when challenged by you on that plan, plead as a reason for declining it, my present pursuits though still the same, there would have been reason in your remark; but the case is this, you know now, if not before, that my pursuits prevent me from being long local ; when therefore you propose and insist on a plan not only puerile, but which you know I could not adopt, is it I, or you, who shrink from the manly meeting of the question ?
Still more, your posture as to my published letter, gives you no exclusive right above me to decide on the method of discussion, it being only a transfer to another person of a controversy which I did not originate. And still more, while my letter was in progress through the press, and (as I think) that point which contained the challenge, was not yet published, you did attack Protestant ministers in a daily paper of this city, in a most unwarrantable and injurious manner.
As to the rule substituted by you for rule 2d, to which I had objected, I still decline it. It is both unusual and uncandid to propose it in the form and terms which you use. I wish to be fair but free in my argument, and extend to you the same right. If we misinterpret, or misquote, or bring bad authority, let it be shown in the discussion ; it will injure only him who does it.
And now, sir, this is also my last private communication in this way. I have therefore to say in conclusion, if you will secure a weekly Roman Catholic paper, as I have the Protestant paper already named by me, I will agree to write and publish, simultaneously, in alternate weeks, with you, our respective pieces, until we have done ; or if you can obtain the use, week after week, of some respectable
paper devoted to religion and literature, which is neither Roman Ca tholic nor Presbyterian, I will promptly acquiesce. In the event of your accepting this last offer, I am prepared to have a personal inter view with you, to settle the remaining particulars of the arrangement, it being understood, that I still agree to your rules, as qualified by this and my previous letter. If, however, you decline this, having declined the fair and scholar-like method of a connected answer from the press ; having declined a public and oral discussion ; and having intrenched yourself in the columns of a daily political paper, which can never afford room for a full discussion, is no fit place for such a discussion, and is a plan, for any length of time, to your knowledge, incompatible with my “ present pursuits,” I shall feel called on in duty, as well as justified in right, to publish this correspondence, and to begin a series of letters through the press, to the public, on the subjects which divide Protestants from Roman Catholics. When you demand an apology, you forget the age and the land in which we live. My “apology” for writing and publishing my letter, so far as not already given, shall, with God's help, be seen in a public vindication of divine truth, and of the rights of man, against a system, which, in my humble judgment, is at war with both.
I remain your obedient servant,
Philadelphia, Dec. 4th, 1832. To the Rev. John Breckenridge.
Sir,- The object of the present letter is to intimate before you commence the publication of our correspondence, that I agree to the proposals you have made, for the purpose of bringing the disputed ground of controversy between Catholics and Presbyterians fairly before the public.
In your letter of yesterday, you allude to the offer you had made of the columns of “ The Presbyterian,” and to my having declined it, in a tone of triumph, which my reasons for declining were somewhat calculated to subdue. However, you are pleased to overlook those reasons; and since you decline every mode suggested by me, I will even meet you in your own proposals—and hereby signify my acceptance of the same.
Of course “ The Presbyterian” will continue to publish until one or the other of us think proper to decline the contest. I, on my part, shall have the whole republished in one of our papers, so that Catholics may receive the enlightenment of your arguments.
I must, however, enter my protest against your rejection of the 2d rule, as explained in my last letter. The "mens conscia recti” has nothing to dread from its operation.
Now, sir, you may proceed with the pub cation of our correspondence; and as soon as it shall have appeared, I will open the controversy, by addressing a letter to you through the columns of “ The Presbyterian," on the "Rule of Faith,” as alrcady agreed upon.
Yours, very respectfully,
a Protestant Archbishop. But no matter for this testimony: the main point is that you, with your proper signature, charge upon Catholics that they are idolaters, by doctrine and authority.
You next charge upon them what you call " legalized immoralities,” and designate the doctrine of indulgences as “ a bundle of licenses to sin, and making merchandise of souls.” You even go into the detail of this traffic, and tell us the scale of prices on which crime was graduated-“ for a layman murdering a layman, about 75. 6d; for killing a father, mother, wife or sister, 10s. 6d.” &c. p. 392.
Now, dear sir, I would appeal to yourself, and ask whether it was well possible for us, desirous to share in the good opinion of our fel. low citizens, to let such charges, sanctioned by your name, go forth on the wings of the press to every village and hamlet in the land, without claiming a hearing for our defence. It is true, that the charges are, in themselves, too gross and absurd to be believed by men of enlightened and educated minds. But when published with your name, when published in this city, when published with a direct, express, and positive call on the “ Priests and Bishops" of the church to meet you in the broad field of this important and vital discussion—then the case is changed ; and there is no alternative left, except either to obey your summons to the field of controversy, or allow the opposite course to be construed into a tacit admission of the charges thus boldly preferred. Persons were already begining to ask the question—" If these accusations were unfounded, why do not some of the Catholic clergy deny them, or meet Mr. B. in the field of controversy to which he has invited them? If they are silent, when such charges, sustained by a respectable name, are brought against their religion, what are we to infer from their silence ?”
It was in this stage of the question, that your letter was brought under my notice, and the circumstances seemed to leave no room for hesitation as to the course to be pursued. The charges against the Catholic religion, and the challenge addressed to its ministers, were clear and unequivocal. Our readers, then, will pronounce whether any Catholic priest or bishop has been the assailant in this controversy, or whether I, among the least competent of them to undertake it, should not be considered as the party standing in the attitude of defence.
It is true, you qualify these facts and conclusions by reverting to a private controversy between a Catholic layman and a member of your congregation in Baltimore ; but this is an incident of ordinary occurrence, and has no necessary relation except to the parties immediately concerned. Your challenge-for I must use that term in the absence of a more dignified one-was the same when addressed to the young lady in Baltimore that it now is-except that the Priests and Bishops of the Catholic church whom it summoned to the discussion, were entirely ignorant of its existence. But when you spread out before the American public the elaborate impeachment of their doctrine and morals which your letter contains, then it was that the document was served on the parties whom it arraigned, and the public duly advised of the proceeding. Do not suppose that I am now complaining of your proceedings in this matter. My object is different; it is merely to show, by a statement of the facts, that view it on what side you will,
every aspect determines clearly our relative positions; yours as the assailant, and mine as the assailed. You speak of my letter addressed to the editor of the Philadelphian during the prevalence of the Cholera, as one of the immediate reasons for the publication of yours, but even then I was only repelling an unprovoked attack upon the moral character of the Catholic clergy.
I am well pleased to have this opportunity of stating to the public the grounds on which I utterly disclaim having provoked this controversy; and the more so, because there are many persons who deprecate such discussions : some, regarding the truth of religion with as much dread or indifference as Pilate; others, from the admixture of personal invective and even scurrility which has sometimes characterized controversy. Of this latter, however, I trusť nothing shall appear in our correspondence. I cannot conceive that a strict adherence to the established laws of literary decorum and propriety imposes any restraint on the freedom of debate, or forbids the thorough dissection of an adverse argument.
There is only one other topic connected with our correspondence, to which I shall, at this time, call attention. You have frequently expressed your surprise that I did not take up your letter as I found it in the “Christian Advocate," and answer it, instead of adopting the present course. You have even intimated that it is beyond the reach of refutation. I assure you, dear sir, that it never so appeared to me, and that my motive for adopting this plan was entirely different. There are first principles at the bottom of every subject, the application of which never fails to throw light on questions in detail springing out of such subject. I saw in your letter that you had entirely overlooked those first principles of Christianity by the application of which truth may be distinguished from error. I saw our doctrines incorrectly stated, arraigned, tried, and triumphantly condemned—but then you were conducting these proceedings in the absence of every tribunal except that of your own opinion, and the opinion of those who might happen to agree with you.
But knowing that Christ, in the constitution of his church, has provided a tribunal expressly for the purpose of determining such disputes as those agitated in your letter, I chose to appeal to the legitimate umpire. I am happy that you have also recognised the existence and competency of this divinely appointed tribunal, and although our controversy is to commence with an investigation of what it is, still the fact of its existence is a point on which there is no dispute between us. This starting from a common principle should indicate that truth, and not personal triumph, is the object we have mutually in view :and proceeding under the guidance of the rules agreed upon, I hope and trust that the discussion will lead to consequences neither unpleasant nor unprofitable to our readers or ourselves. In this way questions will succeed each other in the rational order both of time and place—and it now remains for me to open the correspondence with that great question, viz. “ What is that infallible means which Christ has appointed for determining disputes in his church ?”'
Yours, very respectfully,
New York, January 5th, 1833. To the Rev. John Hughes.
Sir,- I had hoped that our prolonged correspondence would cease with the adoption of the rules, and give place to the expected discussion. You have felt it necessary, however, to write again on preliminary subjects, and your letter calls for some notice by me on several accounts.
In reference to the origin of the controversy which is about to be undertaken, I now in conclusion lay before you the passages which relate to it in the published letter. They are taken in part from the beginning, and in part from the close of that communication.
“ Baltimore, 25th July, 1831. “My dear Madam,—When you first put into my hands • Father Clement,' with the strictures of an anonymous writer, I cursorily looked at his remarks, and sent you, in reply, a work called the • Protestant,' originally published in Edinburgh, as containing a full and satisfactory refutation of those strictures.'
“ You have since informed me that a written answer would be more satisfactory-nay more, that it was in some sort triumphantly demanded as impossible.'
“You are fully aware, that the points at issue between Protestants and Papists are numerous and vital, and that it would require far more leisure than I ever can command, and far more talent than I possess, to do justice to this discussion.”
“ Nor is the writer to whom I am requested to reply, in the proper sense, a responsible one. His name was for some time withheld, and when at my request it was given, the author, though highly respectable and intelligent, did not appear to me an accredited defender of his principles; though in all likelihood as wise as his teachers. He may not be acknowledged as authority by those whom he here represents."
“ Notwithstanding these things, however, I feel your call to be imperative. As your pastor, it is my duty and my privilege to do all in my power to aid you in arriving at a knowledge of the truth, and in repelling attacks on our precious faith. And when to this is added the declaration that we do not reply to such things because we cannot ; when our delay, arising from pressing avocations, from dislike of controversy, or from a delicate regard to what is proper, in the mode and spirit of conducting it, are triumphantly appealed to as evidences of the conceded weakness of our cause, it appears indeed our duty to take up the challenge." (Christian Advocate, August, 1832, p. 347.]
“ In pressing these questions, we intend to be respectful, though plain—and as we have been called on for a defence of our views, so we feel it a duty to reply."
“Finally, we expect a reply to these various objections and inquiries, and we ask one from some accredited respondent, not from one whose defence may be disclaimed, after the trouble of an extended discussion has been gone into. There are priests and bishops, &c. We are willing to meet any of them on the broad field of this important and vital discussion; and hereby make this disposition known.”