Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

that such truly Christian sentiments as this amiable prelate has always professed, were common among his Protestant brethren; but the reverse is too generally the case ; their judgment is distorted by prejudice, and their charity is converted into rancour by the force of falsely conceived opinions both in regard to us and to themselves. They weigh with impartiality every thing but Catholicity. They see others in their true colours, but

amiable writer, “who consider themselves a second branch of the Catholic church of Christ, the Church of Rome has never been denied to be of the true church :” and again; “There is among the Roman Catholics a fixedness in their religious principles which will have influence; there is a decided attachment to their faith, which comprises all the genuine doctrines of the gospel; and amidst the sad diversity and alarming indifference generally prevailing among Protestants, some consolation may be derived from a hope, that, in reward for the zealous affection of Roman Catholics for their religion, that respectable and numerous body may, under divine providence, become purified from error, and be the honoured means of conveying the true faith to the remotest generations."

“I am pained,” says the late Dr. Parr, “by the outrageous invectives that are thrown out against the Church of Rome; and I must further confess, that they appear to me not only unjust, but even inhuman.”—“I hope,” he says in another place,“ to find a better way of showing myself either worthy to live, or fit to die, within the pale of the Church of England, than by insulting Roman Catholics with the opprobrious imputations of superstition and idolatry.”

[ocr errors]

they look at Catholics only through a jaundiced medium. They fasten the crimes of individuals upon the whole body, and the virtues which they are sometimes forced to admit and to admire, they confine to individual merit. Thus, whether we be good or bad—whether we be dark or lightsome, we are always wrong.

There is a general perversion of opinion against us, and, in the quaint lanluage of former times, “no wood comes amiss to make arrows for our destruction.” (6)

We are

(c) The Bishop of Chester (in his Letter to Mr. Butler, 4th edition) observes : “ Most sincerely do I wish that religious controversy could always have been carried on in that tone of mildness and moderation which, a few instances only excepted, pervades your answer to Dr. Southey's Book of the Church.”—Shortly after, he says: “You have yourself, in strong terms, deprecated the unfairness of imputing to the principles of a church, the individual obliquities of a few of its members;” and yet the very next moment, forgetting, in the ardour of his zeal, his own regulations for polemic warfare, he buckles on his armour, seizes the firebrand with one hand and the poisoned arrow with the other, and with slander on his tongue, rushes headlong—not against his antagonist in single combat—but into the midst of the whole camp of

“ It affords, cries the bishop," a most clear and indubitable evidence, that there is something in the spirit of the Roman Catholic religion which neither time nor experience can alter;" – and with the charitable intention of slandering, he only pronounces an honour

the enemy.

deemed both foolish and criminal for adhering to our religion, in opposition to more modern and

[ocr errors]

able eulogium !-But increasing in rage as he advances in the conflict, he exclaims," which contains the germ of intolerance and persecution :"—if the aggressor were here met with “ the cruel arms of retaliation,” he would be instantly beaten from the field.—Let him, however, proceed in his attack : “Which poisons the fountain of truth!!!” Whatever truth there be in Protestantism, whence does it come ? The Catholic Church most assuredly had the keeping of the fountain of truth for 1500 years before Protestantism was heard of; and supposing the poison to have been thrown in only a thousand years before, the stream must have been so woefully impregnated, that it is no presumption to surmise that the God of purity and holiness, would have employed more able and less dishonest workmen in its purification than a Luther or a Cranmer, a Henry or an Elizabeth ; who were sure more thoroughly to pollute and embitter, instead of restoring, its sweetness and transparency. Like unhandy workmen on a masterpiece of art, they only deformed where they pretended to embellish ; like unskilful alchymists, they only tainted what they undertook to purify. They encountered the certain punishment of presumption; and what in their vanity, their folly, and their impiety, they chose to designate as blemished and contaminated, was only proved to the world to be more beautiful in its form, and more excellent in its quality. That all-consummate work which the hand of God himself had fashioned, was not to be improved by the presumptuous labours of created man.

[ocr errors]

more convenient opinions ; no credit is given to us for our motives, and we are accused of a dere

wew

But, supposing the fountain to have been poisoned, can the Bishop of Chester tell us who or what effected the miracle of its purification! If it was not the wonderworking sceptre of an immaculate Henry, was it the fury and impiety of Luther? If it was not the supremacy of Henry, was it the repeated doctrinal amendments of the child Edward? If it were not the amendments of Edward, was it the worldly-wise and more deliberate improvements of Elizabeth? If it were not the forty-two, why should it be the thirty-nine articles? Is there such magic in numbers? Is there such virtue in fitful and evanescent doctrine ?-But, the spleen of the Bishop not being yet exhausted, he thus completes the climax of his slander: " which obscures and blunts the most sagacious intellect, and represses the natural movements of a just and ingenuous mind !!!” We benighted Catholics being all too blunted to be capable of any reply to this specimen of Protestant acumen, the Bishop surely will not object to our taking an auxiliary into pay, from his own ranks, to fight this intellectual battle for us ; to do so, would be to oppose the natural movements of a just and ingenuous mind. “But I must here confine myself (says our auxiliary) to this charge against the Catholic religion, of being unfavourable to genius, talent, and, in short, to the powers of the mind. Those who put forward this piece of rare impudence, do not favour us with reasons for believing that the Catholic religion has any such tendency. They content themselves with the bare assertion, not supposing that it admits of any thing like disproof. They look upon it as

liction of our duty in seceding from the service of our country, because we will not conform to Pro

assertion against assertion; and, in a question which depends on mere hardness of mouth, they know that their triumph is secure. But this is a question that does admit of proof, and a very good proof too. The “Reformation," in England, was pretty nearly completed by the year 1600. By that time, all the “monkish ignorance and superstition” were swept away. The monasteries were all pretty nearly knocked down; young Saint Edward's people had robbed all the altars; and the 'virgin' queen had put the finishing hand to the pillage. So that all was, in 1600, become as Protestant as heart could wish. Very well: the kingdom of France remained buried in “monkish ignorance and superstition” until the year 1787 : that is to say, 187 years after happy England had stood in a blaze of Protestant light! Now then, if we carefully examine into the number of men remarkable for great powers of mind, men famed for their knowledge or genius; if we carefully examine into the number of such men produced by France in these 187 years, and the number of such men produced by England, Scotland and Ireland, during the same period; if we do this, we shall get at a pretty good foundation for judging of the effects of the two religions with regard to their influence on knowledge, genius, and what is generally called learning.

“But how are we to ascertain these numbers ? Very well. I shall refer to a work which has a place in every good library in the kingdom ; I mean, the “UNIVERSAL HISTORICAL, CRITICAL, AND BIBLIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY.” This work, which is every where received as

« PredošláPokračovať »