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TUESDAY, SEPT. 21, AND FRIDAY, SEPT. 24, 1852,
REV. ROBERT MAGUIRE, B.A.
Clerical Secretary of the 'Islington Protestant Institute,"
ST. PETER'S SCHOOL-ROOMS,
IN EXAMINATION OF A WORK ON "INDULGENCES," EDITED BY THE REV.
J. H. JACKSON, 21, PATERNOSTER-ROW,
110. d. 195.
MR. CHAIRMAN AND CHRISTIAN FRIENDS,
I appear before you this evening for a certain purpose, viz., to offer a reply to a book on the subject of Indulgences," which has, within the past few days, been recommended to my attention by the Rev. Mr. Oakeley, a Roman Catholic Priest in this parish. In whatever remarks I may be led to make this evening, you must bear in mind, that I deal not in personalities; my object is not to assail a person, but to expose a fearful error. I deal with Mr. Oakeley this evening, not as a private individual, but rather, in his official character, as a public and acknowledged agent of the Church of Rome.
You have, doubtless, heard ere this of the letter which the Rev. Mr. Haslegrave and myself have addressed to the Rev. Mr. Oakeley, in reference to my recent Lectures in this place; * in reply, I received a letter, dated 6th September, to the substance of which the Chairman (Rev. Joseph Haslegrave) has just alluded. Mr. Oakeley states therein, that he is "not very much inclined to controversial writing," and recommends to me a book which has been translated and edited by him, and to which he has prefixed a short preface. This book is the production of a French Roman Catholic Bishop (Bp. Bouvier); it is "translated from the French, with a preface, by the Rev. Frederick Oakeley, M.A."
Mr. Oakeley concludes his letter by the following, viz., "I will not fail to read your book carefully, and if I feel that any part of it suggests the necessity of explanation, I will endeavour to find time for a private note; but if I cannot, I must protest against the silence of a particular writer, who happens to be challenged to a reply, indicating any want of theological means on the part of the [Roman] Catholic Church to vindicate her own doctrines."
"Letter to Rev. F. Oakeley." J. H. Jackson, Islington-green.
In the preface, he, however, admits that the book does not anticipate the "ordinary Protestant cavils or allegations." If so, how can it be received as a reply to the letter which I lately forwarded to him? Why has it been recommended to my perusal, in answer to the published pamphlet on "Indulgences?" I have, accordingly, waited patiently for a full fortnight, expecting some public or private notice of the pamphlet; and seeing that time passed by without any such notice, Mr. Haslegrave and myself arranged these Lectures in reply to that only answer which Mr. Oakeley thought proper to give, viz., this book which he has edited, and to which he has written a preface.
In order that Mr. Oakeley should be fully informed as to our proceedings in this matter, I addressed to him, on last Saturday (18th September), the following note; viz.,
"12, Lonsdale-square, 18th September, 1852.
"REV. SIR, I have to acknowledge the receipt of your favour of the 6th inst. I have purchased the book which you were good enough to recommend to my perusal, and I have read it throughout.
"You stated in your letter that you would carefully read the Pamphlet on Indulgences,' and that if you should consider it necessary, you would reply to it.
"I have since awaited your reply, but already a fortnight has almost elapsed without any further notice from you, either public or private.
"I must, therefore, so far, regard your note of the 6th inst., and the book therein recommended, as your only reply to the 'Letter' addressed to you on 'Indulgences.'
"I now, therefore, beg to inform you, that I intend (D.V.) to deliver a Lecture in reply to the book thus recommended by you, and I now beg to invite you to attend the meeting which will be held for that purpose on Tuesday evening next, 21st inst., at half-past seven o'clock, in St. Peter's school-room.
"I need hardly add that your letter of the 6th inst., and whatever may be written on this subject, must, to a certain degree, become public property.
"Rev. F. Oakeley."
"And I remain, yours truly,
"ROBERT MAGUIRE, Clerk.”
Seeing, then, my beloved friends, that these letters have passed between us, and that we are now clearly entered on this controversy, it seems that Mr. Oakeley, as the exponent of Roman Catholic views, and of the Roman Catholic system in this parish, must come forward, else his cause must be acknowledged to be untenable and frail. I appear this evening with pleasure, to take in hand this book thus recommended to me by Mr. Oakeley, and to
examine what ideas he may entertain, and what sentiments he may hold, concerning this doctrine of "Indulgences." We shall consider the subject as given by Mr. Oakeley and by other Roman Catholic writers, and take our facts and illustrations from Roman Catholic Historians.
I must, at the outset, notice the very great ambiguity which, in Roman Catholic theology, manifestly besets this topic, even as to the meaning and import of the very term Indulgence." For instance, we find Popes in many past ages, and even up to the present time, stating in their decrees, that they grant Indulgences "for the remission of sins." Cardinal Baronius, as I quoted on a former occasion, records Bulls of Popes on this subject, containing these identical words. We find, however, the Council of Trent, in a hasty moment, on the last day of their last Session, when the Council was on the point of dissolution, -then, and not till then,-defining this subject of " Indulgences to be "the remission of punishment due to sin." This definition, however, has not removed the ambiguity of the term; for since the Council of Trent, we have Popes, again and again, publishing Bulls, announcing that an Indulgence means "the remission of sin itself.' This point is somehow treated of in Mr. Oakeley's preface, and an explanation is attempted. He suggests one or two explanations of this difficulty. One would surely have imagined that in the Church of Rome, where everything is said to be so 66 certain," there would be but one meaning to a term like this. Not so, however, in this question; for Mr. Oakeley suggests, as a probable answer, that these Indulgences may "tend to the remission of sin.' If so, why not thus stated in the Papal Bulls ?-why perpetuate this ambiguity? Another explanation, however, is also suggested, and that by no means favourable to the Church of Rome, viz., (p. ix.) the author (Bishop Bouvier) "considers that Bulls which profess to remit sin, are commonly spurious or apocryphal !"
Let us examine this point. In A.D. 1095, Pope Urban II. published a Bull, announcing that an Indulgence,that is, a "remission of sins," and not, mark you, of the punishment due to sin;-that a remission of sins" would be granted to all those who would take up arms and fight in the Crusades ! Pope Eugenius III. (as recorded by Cardinal Baronius, A.D. 1145) stated that those who had