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whole Church of England will soon be Popish, for the great stays and oracles of Protestantism are fast dying out; the new clergy are, for the most part, initiated into the new doctrine, and even they who continue in the main evangelical, show plainly that they have not altogether escaped infection. Multitudes are on an inclined plane (to use the illustration of the Bishop of London) and must go down; orto employ another and, we think, better figure, multitudes are on a sliding scale, and are going up."-p. 613-14.
“ It is of all things the most necessary, that they who describe or attack Popery should know what it is. This is thought to be an easy and common knowledge, which is one main reason of its not being so. A vague and indefinite conception of a mass of absurdities and horrors; a chaotic jumble of doctrines the most blasphemous, and deeds the most bloody; this is the prevalent conception of Popery among Protestants. It is imagined that any terms of contempt and indignation must befit it; that any arguments against imposture and tyranny must be opposed to it. Many assail it as a very bad thing; but why it is so, or in what particular respect it is so, it would not be charity to ask them.* They use words against it without any special point or precise meaning—they fight with it as with a man is the dark. There are others who, though more knowing, are not learned in this matter. They have but a poor acquaintance either with the history, or with the philosophy of it. Their opinions are founded on a partial and imperfect view of the case. They confound the essentials of Popery with its accidents, its permanent principles with its temporary forms, what is the effect of circumstances upon it, with what is its effect upon circumstances. The local is made universal, the transient immutable The doctrine of Popish infallibility supplies an instance of the ignorant mode often adopted in the controversy with popery. Because the Church is asserted to be effectually secured from error in some respects and under certain conditions, instead of pains being taken to ascertain with what references, and in what way, the doctrine is held; every (apparent) inconsistency and immorality in individual popes, and every (apparent) contradiction in ecclesiastical councils, becomes the fruitful occasion of unmingled ridicule
* These remarks remind us of an anecdote related to us by a Catholic gentleman, a few years ago. During the election at Hull, when General O'Neill (who, we believe, afterwards became a Catholic) stood on the Orange-Tory interest, our informant travelled in a coach in which he met one of the General's electioneering agents, who had a paper entwined round his hat, with the alarming inscription, “No Popery !" Having some idea that the bluff-looking agent could not distinguish between a Yorkshire ham and “no popery,” our friend popped the question, “ What do you mean by ‘no popery??” The Yorkshireman bluntly answered, “I really don't know, but it cannot be a bad thing, for I am well-paid for carrying it on my hat."-ED. C. M.
and censure. So when Popery is charged indiscriminately with destroying individual religious faith, it is often forgotten that the faith of the Catholic is only placed on different grounds, but does not relate to different objects from those of the faith of the Protestant. When Popery is charged with substituting human tradition in the place of the Word of God, it is forgotten that tradition is held to be the Word of God as much as the sacred Scriptures. And the common mode of fixing the introduction of different Popish doctrines to the dates of the Councils in which they were first defined or defended, is sufficiently reproved by the remark that doctrines do not in general become matters of discussion and decision until after they are known, and that it is not the announcement, but the contradiction of them that leads to such proceedings
... The most active and direct organization of the day, in opposition 10 Popery and the most popular anti-Popish books, continually display evils and errors such as these. The sayings of individual men are made the sure criteria of the tenets of the Church ; points upon which the Church is allowed to change are confounded with points upon which it is not allowed to change. Small anecdotes are substituted for great arguments. In fact, reasonings are frequently employed, which, if used with as much virulence and as little wisdom might be urged against any and every denomination of Christian men.”—pp. 616-17.
There is much fairness in these observations, and if in the new system of theological warfare which the reviewer seems to recommend (for he is not very precise upon the subject) the Dissenters shall be guided by his advice, we have no doubt that our controvertists will be as successful on the new footing on which the points of controversy may be placed, as they have hitherto been in vindicating our faith from obloquy and misrepresentation; and thereby adding, according to the admission of the reviewer himself, to the one fold of the one Shepherd. We shall, of course, hear no more from our dissenting opponents of the infallibility of the Pope as an article of Catholic faith, nor of the opinions of the schoolmen as dogmas of the Church, nor of tradition, as mere human testimony, as being on Catholic principles, equal to the Word of God. Neither shall we be obliged to defend our Church against the unfounded charges, that we are prohibited from reading the Bible, that sins can be forgiven without repentance, and for money,—that an indulgence, which is merely a release from the temporal punishment due to sin after the sin has been forgiven, is leave to commit sin,--that we can obtain forgiveness of our sins in some other way than through the merits of Jesus Christ, and the other numerous articles of impeachment which ignorance or malevolence has brought against us. We are the more inclined to think that the usual course of mis
representation will be abandoned, or, at least, considerably abated in consequence of the result to which the reviewer informs his readers it has led, a result by no means uncommon.
“When men are moved by the hearing of hard speeches and violent accusations to enquire, the result of enquiry is very possibly the detection of the fact that a bad argument has been used, or a good one with a bad application ; a sense of natural justice is aroused on behalf of those who are looked upon as unfairly handled; their own allegations and proofs are listened to with favour, and perhaps some degree of prejudice; and, in the end, a conversion to Popery takes place, in consequence, virtually, of an injudicious mode of opposing it. In saying this, we speak no secret and state no mystery. The case is common, and the reason of the case is plain. Silence is infinitely better than weak and foolish talking against Popery, or against anything. We say it solemnly, we would rather that many advocates of Protestantism had been in the ranks of its opponents than have done the work they have on its behalf, when we have listened to their pointless and inapplicable ratiocinations, half false and half falsely treated against the faith of Catholics.* This will not do now. It might suffice to keep up a certain horror and hatred of Popery, while it was a distant and a quiet theory; but now that it has come near, and assumes a bolder and more offensive tone,-now that it visits our people, answers our books, and, no longer content with preserving the faithful, seeks with all the apparent meekness of the dove and all the real wisdom of the serpent, to make converts, it will be found worse than useless. Protestants must now be saved by their knowledge, not by their ignorance; by their faith, not by their unbelief.”—pp. 617-18.
But this is not all. Evangelical clergymen” are constantly seceding from the Bible and Tract Societies, those supposed bulwarks of Protestantism, and men who have not become Puseyites are affected with Puseyism." Besides, the reviewer fears that “the evangelical clergy will not remain where and what they are. Melancholy facts have shown that they can become disciples of the new school (of Puseyism) as well as others, and the pressure from without and the pres. sure from within together, will surely test them. We dread the trial; -we more than dread it. It seems evident to us (continues the reviewer), without professing to be prophets, that we are hastening fast to a period in which the principles of error and evil will become fewer in
* A remarkable instance, in point, occurred at Edinburgh, in the year 1830. In the spring of that year, a public discussion took place in St. George's Church, between Capt. Gordon, of the Reformation Society, ex-member for Dundalk, and the writer of this notice, on the Rule of Faith, which lasted three nights. Within a fortnight after its close, thirty-four Protestant inhabitants of that city, offered themselves for instruction in the principles of the Catholic faith; a fact which was announced from the pulpit of the Catholic chapel.—Editor.
their forms and greater in their power; in which, in fact, speaking generally, the only system of error within the Church visible will be Popery, (!) and the only system without will be infidelity"!! We now come to the important queston mooted by the reviewer, what is to be done in reference to “Popery,” by evangelical Dissenters ? —there being, it seems " no hope but in them." Theirs, we are told, principles by which alone Popery can be effectually assailed ;-theirs alone the circumstances in which an effectual assault can be made."
“In pleading for the great and simple truths of the gospel, and for the rights of saints (!) they (the evangelical Dissenters) cannot be met by the retort, · Physician, heal thyself! They do not use arguments in one direction which they are obliged to denounce in another. The ground on which they stand is firm and plain, the only ground on which they can stand to show a vigorous antagonism to the great apostacy. They are not crippled by ecclesiastical rules or etiquette,—they are not oppressed by the cumbrous enormities of a civil establishment,—they are not perplexed by the confused and conficting writings of the fathers. They are, therefore, the hope and stay of Protestantism, in this country. What ought they to do? It is a solemn question.”- p. 615.
The hit in the foregoing extract at the inconsistency of the Established Church, in adopting Catholic and dissenting arguments by turns for the nonce, cannot be parried. But this is the affair of her children, not ours. And have things really come to this pass, that “the hope and stay of Protestantism in this country” is now in the evangelical Dissenter3 ? Its votaries are truly to be pitied. Ye men of Oxford,-aye, and of Cambridge, too,—who maintain the apostolical succession, which is regarded as a mere figment by those who, as they think, plead“ for the great and simple truths of the Gospel and for the rights of saints ;"-ye, who regard the Dissenters evangelical and nonevangelical, as apostates from the Church of God, and their teachers as usurpers without mission and without authority-as intruders who have not entered into the sheepfold by the door but have climbed over the wall,—what say ye to this startling declaration ? The evangelical Dissenters now the only hope and stay of Protestantism in England ! Ichabod, &c.
Well, what are the means to be employed by the evangelical Dissenters to keep up Protestantism, now that its supports “are giving way" ? Tract and Reformation societies, and Protestant associations ? No! The reviewer thinks that “societies do nothing;" in proof of which, he refers to the history of the last few years, during which
many societies have risen up in consequence of some momentary excitements, or through the labour of some few good and earnest men, who, by dint of zealous and persevering effort, obtained the co-operation of others just sufficiently to take the first step, but no more; and are now dead or ought to be.” The failure is attributed to the want of “the moral and spiritual elements," which “are necessary to a sustained and efficient action upon any sin or system.” This is saying little for the charity of those who project or support such societies. We take higher ground, and place the signal failure of those associations which have been formed for the purpose of opposing the Church of God to the unerring word of Him who has decreed that no hand raised against her shall prosper. Protestantism, then, must look for no support from societies existing, or to come. Those
“Were not the spontaneous growth of principles, but an outward accretion of circumstances. They were mere forms and nothing more. The history of the past, and the reason of the thing, teach us not to seek any formal organization with a view to the diffusion of Protestant sentiments. The feeling does not exist, without which organization would be vain. It might last a few years, hy means of great labour and great sacrifices on the part of individuals, and then it would go-where so many of such things have gone already. The people do not understand nor hate Popery enough; they do not take sufficient interest in its condition and progress; they have too great a dislike to appear to be mixed up with those, or to patronize other and bad modes of promoting Protestantism already in use; or they have too little hopes of success from the present state and relations of the great parties and churches in this country, to render it desirable or safe to set in operation any systematic scheme of opposition to the growing errors of the age.”-p. 615.
What then is to be done ? “ The attention of ministers of religion must be turned to the study of Popery;" and " the principles of the Reformation will have to be revived and applied in new forms, by those whose function it is to keep the faith.” We are glad at the advice here given, to study “ Popery;" because, if that study be properly gone about by an impartial and unprejudiced examination of Catholic doctrines, and preserving the just distinction made by the reviewer between matters of faith and discipline,-between dogmas and opinions, we are satisfied that many of those who no doubt consider themselves “ ministers of religion” will arrive at the conclusion, to which the present writer has long since come, that “the principles of the Reformation ” have no foundation in the word of God, and that the event known by - the Reformation was an unjustifiable and wicked revolt against His Church.