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frequent—and this is every country and people whatsoever in the habitable globe-they are always considered as a people without any religion. This is said and thought of them by the Mahometans in Turkey and India; by the Hindoos; by the Italians, French, the Spaniards and Portuguese, and by every other part of Christendom, with the exception, perhaps, of the Germans.”
Even the ultra anti-catholic Church of England Quarterly Review, which advocates the appointment of a British minister to the court of Rome, adduces the fact of the absence of such representation, as a proof in the eyes of “an ignorant Italian,” that “ England is not a Christian land; and it is deeply to be regretted, that the conduct and language of our summer touris and winter residents abroad, do but tend to strengthen that conviction." Page 173.
THE REV. MR. SIBTHORP AND HIS OPPONENTS.
A further Answer to the Enquiry; Why have you become a Catholic ? -In a second Letter to a Friend, containing a notice of the Strictures of the Rev. Messrs. Palmer and Dodsworth upon a former Letter, By Richard Waldo Sibthorp, late Minister of St. James's, Ryde, Isle of Wight. London: Dolman, 1842.
As was to be expected, Mr. Sibthorp's first pamphlet has raised up a host of opponents, some of more, others of less, celebrity in the common gladiatorship against Rome. To have entered the list with the latter would have been a mere waste of paper; and, therefore, passing by the Bibers, et id genus omne, Mr. Sibthorp selects two of the most doughty of his assailants, viz. the Rev. Messrs. Palmer and Dodsworth, for combat, and, as might be anticipated, obtains an easy victory. It is with some reluctance, however, that Mr. Sibthorp has entered upon the field of controversy; but having been challenged to adduce his reasons for the convictions he avowed himself to have attained of the truth of those doctrines of the Catholic Church, which Protestants concur to deny, and some of his arguments having been assailed, " though with kindness and courtesy,” he overcame the backwardness which he felt, to appear a second time before the public.
'“ If I have hesitated,” he says, “ to resume my pen, it has not been because any thing written in the way of stricture on my former Letter has made me doubt the tenableness of the positions therein assumed. However it may be with others, far different is the result as to my own convictions, produced by what has appeared in reply to me. The truth and soundness of all the reasons I had advanced, stand forth in clearer and bolder relief by the light brought to discredit them. Some hesitation I certainly have felt as to the necessity of answering arguments and objections that seemed so much to carry with them their own confutation. But I truly affirm, that I shrink from controversy ; accustomed also for many past years to the oversight and instruction of a congregation, and now preparing for the reception of Holy Orders in the Catholic Church, I have been backward to enter upon any engagement that would interfere with preparation for her ministry. More pleasant, and probably more profitable, had it been for me, to have given exclusive attention to the contemplation of the solemn and high duty of serving according to my degree at the altar of God, and at this season of Lent especially, to have addicted myself to sacred study, meditation, and prayer. Yet I trust I have not erred in deciding now to vindicate what I had before advanced. Truth, though great, unhappily does not prevail at once even with candid enquirers. Arguments, however futile, have often much force, where there is a previous disposedness to hesitation, and when many motives are working against admission of the opposite truth. Assertions, however unfounded, when peremptorily made by individuals in repute for learning, are apt to be taken for granted as solid reasons. The number of those who can apprehend the true point and soundness of an argument is comparatively small, and less still of those who want industry to test its soundness, and honesty of mind to allow the result its just weight in their own case. The opinions of the many are carried off by a few remarks that lie on the surface, and what is weighty overpowered by what is plausible. Moreover, the bias of the public mind in this country is still (though happily yearly less so) in favour of that side of the great question between us, taken by my opponents. The force of education, early prejudices, and worldly interests, is with them. One of them has examined my • Answer' to your enquiry with a sort of assumption of easy victory, which, considering his reputation as a writer, will pass with many for decisive truth. , I feel called upon then, satisfied as I am that the ground I have taken is good and defensible, to essay its defence. The cause I have ventured to advocate is a very sacred and high one: it is that of Christ's Holy Church, and of her proper Unity; of sound and deep devotion, of active and large charity, of the best interests of my country and of the human race. I am aware of the feebleness of my own advocacy. But circumstances at first called me to uudertake it: and having once undertaken it, knowing it good, and perceiving it the more by the endeavours made to prove it otherwise, I will, with God's help, resume it, and having affixed, so to speak, my consecrated colours to the Cross of my Lord, and praying Him to arise and
maintain the right, who is the Giver of all victory, I shall set before you some confirmation of my former Answer to your enquiry, "Why have you become a Catholic ?' And baving done this, and, as I hope, without offending against the Apostle's admonition, Let all your works be with charity, I shall, unless circumstances force me to another course, turn away from controversy to the sweeter, better, and holier avocations of that ministry I shall have entered upon ere this Letter reaches you.”—pp. 2-4.
Mr. Sibthorp then adverts to the argument in support of the Catholic Church, from the Levitical types, and triumphantly refutes the objection of Mr. Palmer, that “the types of the Old Testament were always of a different nature (that is, they differed as much as a shadow from the substance) from the things which they prefigured." He next adverts to his argument in favour of the Catholic Church, drawn from her entire agreement in all points of doctrine and essential discipline as we find her at this day existing in England, with the Church as estabblished in it by the blessing of God on the mission of St. Augustine. On this point, Mr. Dodsworth, as well as Mr. Palmer, charges him with quietly assuming what constitutes a real question at issue between the Church in communion with Rome, and the present Established Church ; to which charge he answers thus :
“ I have sought in vain for my opponents' proofs to the contrary of this assumption, and since it is on both sides admitted that the Church in England, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, was the same as she had been for some centuries preceding, and that the present Establishment is different in some great points of doctrine and discipline, it properly rested with them to show my assumption of the continuity of that sameness from the sixth century to be unwarranted. For when the existence of facts and customs from a very remote period are unquestionable, the claims and rights resulting therefrom are not to be disturbed without proof. Those, then, who deny my assumption, should prove the change of religion, affix the period of it, and the nature thereof, at least with sufficient accuracy to justify their denial.”—p. 18.
Mr. Dodsworth, in common with his brethren of the Oxford school, is led away by the hallucination that the Anglican Church is, in all respects, the same in doctrine as that planted by St. Augustine ; and, therefore, he with ess hesitation admits, that “if the Roman Church is the same now as in the sixth century,” that Mr. Sibthorp's “reasoning is allowed to be most conclusive, and that there are multitudes among the Anglican clergy, who will spare no effort to effect a reconciliation and reunion with the Church of Rome.” Well, no Catholic can refuse to abide the result of such comparison; for the Church of which Dr. Howley is now primate, and that over which St. Gregory the Great
presided, can be proved by the most undeniable historical evidence to be as wide in doctrine and discipline, as “the poles asunder.” The identity of the Church of the sixth century with the Catholic Church of our day is clearly established by Mr. Sibthorp, within the compass of a few pages.
Because there is an agreement between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Establishment, on many important points, it is contended that there is a real and substantial unity between them. But although these agreements indicate something like unity, it is, as Mr. Sibthorp observes, not unity, not a proper scriptural unity, not such unity as Christ prayed his Church might maintain (St. John xvii. 20-23), nor such as St. Panl (Ephes. iv. 4, &c.) describes her as possessing. On the point of unity as thus maintained, many of the ancient heretical sects might have claimed a share in the Church's unity. If so
“Why should the Donatists, Nestorians, Arians, or Novatians, have been excluded from the unity of the Church, if the Anglican Protestants who reject more Articles of her faith than any one of those denominations, are to be included in it, because it can be demonstrated, that they maintain a real and absolute unity with the Church on a vast number of most inportant points of religion.”-p. 32.
Yet the advocates of this ideal unity "readily admit, or rather most firmly maintain, with the Church of England, that all sects and denominations, even supposing them to hold what are called fundamental doctrines, are not included in the Church of Christ !" Under “ this extraordinary arrangement of the positions of unity," as Mr. Sibthorp terms it, the Presbyterians, Independents, Methodists, and many other sects, are “ handed over to the uncovenanted mercies of God, because, although agreeing on points allowed by all to be essential, both with the Catholic Church and the English Establishment, they differ from the latter as to the apostolic succession and the rite of confirmation !"
Mr. Sibthorp combats very successfully the following startling sentiment of Mr. Palmer, that “ the case of a Church is analogous to that of an individual Christian. Consisting of a great number of individuals, it is subject to the same variations in different ages which an individual may experience in his own lifetime, and yet the continuity of its faith, the substantial identity of its religion, may be always preserved.” What these “ variations” are, Mr. Palmer does not define, nor is he more explicit when he says, that “ difference of doctrines does not always prove difference of faith," as if there could be a difference of doctrines without a difference of faith. But Mr. Sibthorp suggests,
that if by doctrines Mr. Palmer means matters confessedly of opinion and non-essential, he gains nothing by the statement; for
“ Till the point be decided, whether the doctrines of the Catholic Church rejected by the Anglican Establishment are indifferent things, it is no better than a truism, that there may be differences on things indifferent to be agreed on. The blame of the Anglican Establishment is, not that she differs in immaterial points, but that she has thrown out of her creed and her discipline, truths ever held as such, and usages ever regarded as sacred : and has become in faith and practice essentially different from what she was at the first period of her existence, in the sixth century.”—p. 40.
Our readers will perceive, that in the last clause of the above aragraph Mr. Sibthorp has fallen, inadvertently we believe, into a mistake in carrying back the existence of the Anglican Establishment to the sixth century.
For want of space, we are prevented from entering on the other points discussed by Mr. Sibthorp, nor is there much occasion to do so, as the pamphlet will assuredly be read very generally. But we cannot avoid transferring his peroration to our pages, in which he beautifully and eloquently pourtrays the Church of his adoption, and pathetically alludes to the present alarming condition of this once happy island.
“ The Catholic Church is the friend of the human race. With one hand she points to heaven, and with the other strews largely the charities of God on the earth. None can attend on ber steps and not perceive it to be her daily office, to remind the children of men of the vanity of this life, of judgment, of eternity, of the evil of vice, and the beauty of piety, of God and his works and laws, and above all, of the inestimable price paid on the Cross for human redemption. Her special lesson to the great and rich is, poverty of spirit as to themselves, humility as to God, beneficence to our fellow-creatures,-to the poor and mean she opens out the riches that are of faith, and the nobility of the sons of God. The patroness of the fine arts, they wither where she comes not. The nurse of science, she leads it forward, while she restrains its natural tendency to go alone, and forget God. The spouse of Christ, she seems alone to understand how to keep his earthly dwelling in discipline and due order; and how to deck the chamber of his presence with the adorning meet for his Majesty. Her feasts and holy services gladden the most oppressed, while her vigils and fasts subdue the proudest heart. While her large and liberal almsdeeds approve her the friend of the poor, not in name only, but in deed, her advice in the privacy of the confessional assures her to be the wise and holy guide of every character and in every class of life. Her religious houses afford to aged piety a retreat from the world, and a lodging at the very gate of heaven, ere they are called to enter; to mature zeal, and early singleness of dedication to God to female virtue, shrinking from the,