Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

gious hatred and intolerance, and to cherish groundless alarms about dangers which are long past and gone. To the Christian mind it will appear as the fulfilment of a solemn duty to remember God's singular mercies to our Church and nation, a seasonable warning of dangers of the most imminent kind,-imminent througlı our own unbelief, and an anticipation of a more full and complete deliverance.” We

e are as happy as Mr. Bickersteth can possibly be at the frustration of the plot, with which the Catholic body has as little to do as the rector of Watton; and while we are willing to allow him to enjoy all the consolation which, as a Protestant clergyman of the evangelical school, he can derive by an escape from dangers, imaginary or real, we must say that, in our opinion, the annual commemoration of the Gunpowder Plot, in order to throw odium upon, and keep alive a feeling of animosity and uncharitableness against, Catholics, for the attempted act of a few misguided persons, instead of being “a solemn duty," is, in our opinion, a solemn mockery,—a profanation of religion for the vilest purposes. Truly, the mind, to use Mr. Bickersteth's own words, which can gloat over “ this vain and foolish attempt to revive slumbering prejudices, to awaken the dying embers of religious hatred and intolerance, and to cherish groundless alarms about dangers which are long passed and gone," must be strangely constituted; but whatever it may be, most assuredly it is not “ Christian.”

Mr. Bickersteth prognosticates a time of " tribulation and suffering," but cheers himself and his hearers with the hope that such a state is the prelude to "the greater deliverance, not merely of our nation, but of the whole world, from the fangs of popery." He observes that

“ As a mark of those coming troubles that many among ourselves are losing all sense of Reformation mercies,—with them Rome is the Catholic Church, and Protestantism the essence of heresy. The Reformation is a grievous Schism; and to unprotestantize the Church a pious, great, and noble enterprise. Whether the means for accomplishing that enterprise be slow or sudden,-ibe storm or the mine—[Mr. Bickersteth seems here to anticipate another gunpowder plot], is a matter of small importance. If the work itself be evil, condemned by God's word, and ruinous to the Church herself, and to the souls of men, we must resist it to the utmost, and preserve the precious deposit of God's truth, entrusted to us by our heavenly Master.”

To obtain guidance amidst these “ actual dangers,” the Rector of Watton proposes “to go simply to the law and to the testimony,i. e. to the Apocalypse as glossed and expounded by Mr. Bickersteth in St. Dunstan's, Fleet street. He finds of course everything he wishes for in that incomprehensible book, and announces the text from chap. xvi, 12. as a divine caution and directory to the Protestant Churches at the present day.” He divides his subject into four parts, 1." The marks of the present application of the sixth vial. 2. The explanation which it gives of the revival of Romish principles. 3. The troubles that God has foretold us will ensue. 4. The final deliverance of God's people.”

In his application of the marks of the sixth vial, Mr. Bickersteth, following Chillingham, thinks that the vial is “the exhaustion of the Turkish empire." The last of the three unclean spirits mentioned in the text is considered by him to refer to “popery,” in proof of which view he observes with wonderful sagacity, that,

“The Romish hierarchy in former times despatched its bulls of justice or of grace to dethrone or to establish the monarchs of Europe. Now it sends forth its allocutions to complain or to solicit the prayers of its adherents, as recently in the case of Spain and of Russia. It does not now speak as a dragon, but with all the insinuating subtlety of a false teacher. Yet that the false prophet is sending forth his pestilential breath over Christendom with renewed energy and activity is notorious. Its journals, its newspapers, its institutes for the propagation of the faith, its tracts, its building of colleges, churches, and schools, its : nunneries, its largely-imported Sisters of Charity everywhere, its zealous activity and revival, its diffusiveness over the British isles, and through Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, and its meeting us in all our most distant missions; all these things proclaim in the ears of all men, that with renewed strength there has been a going forth of the unclean spirit from the mouth of the false prophet. In the year 1822 the Society for the Propagation of the Faith was formed, to counteract Protestant missions. It has adopted our plans. It raised in 1841 £113,000, and has stated its expectation of carrying its income to £600,000 a-year. Read only the ‘Annals of the Propagation of the Faith' [we wish all Protestants would do so], published by the British Auxiliary Institution for that object.”

Poor Mr. BickerstethWe really pity from the bottom of our heart the author of this presumptuous effusion, and still more the silly creatures who are beguiled by it. But the unclean spirit, according to Mr. Bickersteth, is also to be seen in “ the recent movement" in his own Church, which “is in the same direction, and partakes of the same character with the revival in the Romish communion.” We wonder what our friends at Oxford will say to this.

As the “unclean spirits” are to come out of the mouth, the Rector of Watton finds what he doubtless considers an apt illustration in a

speech of Mr. O'Connell's, delivered at Liverpool, on the 9th of August last, an extract of which he gives in a note. He observes that

" Popish legislators talk of the 300 years' heresy speedily coming to an end, and triumphantly anticipate witnessing the mass again in Westminster Abbey. They are boastful and confident (a speech by Mr. O'Connell is quoted in proof of this assertion]. The order of Jesuits is everywhere reviving and spreading. They are not concealing their principles or their intentions. They diffuse them far and wide by myriads of publications, and in every land, that they may verify to the letter the predictions of the Divine Spirit 1800 years since, and do those evil works which God before has shown by the mouth of his holy prophets they would do "!!!

As some of our readers may not have read the speech of Mr. O'Connell referred to, and may be curious about it, we shall here give the extract quoted by Mr. Bickersteth, premising that the occasion on which the speech was delivered, was the meeting held for the purpose of erecting a church for the Fathers of the Society of Jesus. In his address, Mr. O'Connell said, that he “rejoiced that the spring-tide swelling from the throne of eternity was watering the land with Catholicity again, and that he could anticipate that the period was not remote when all England, with one acclaim, would rejoice to be brought into one fold, under one Shepherd. But this prospect was not confined to England alone; in every nation of the earth, from one hemisphere to the other, where there was a love of literature, of science, and the arts, Catholicity was daily increasing, and promises to be completely triumphant." Our “myriads of publications," which according to Mr. Bickersteth are diffused far and wide, and in every land, are thus spoken of in another note:

“ Their periodicals and journals are conducted with great talent and shrewdness, science and intellect. The · Dublin Review,' the Roman Magazine,'* the 'Catholic,' the ‘True Tablet,' Lucas's 'Penny Reader' (Library), the tracts of the Catholic Institute, and many other publications, are sent forth, adapted to ensnare all classes of society, from the highest to the lowest, and to neutralize every Protestant publication, from the bishop's charge to each daily journal."

Indeed! And have matters really come to this pass, that in this country so long pre-eminently Protestant, we are now able with a single

* We must here complain oí a want of courtesy on the part of the rector, in nicknaming our publication.-Editor.

quarterly review, one monthly magazine, one weekly journal, one weekly newspaper, and the circulation of a limited number of tracts, to neutralize the whole anti-catholic press, including Bishops' charges, and even the redoubtable lucubrations of the Rector of Watton himself ! We know of no recent event to be compared with this wonderful result, except perhaps our successes in China. Instead, however, of seeing in this fact a striking illustration of the omnipotence of truth, Mr. Bickersteth has no hesitation in imputing it to the agency of the devil ! Alas for that clouded and perverted intellect which can thus shut its eyes to the glorious light from on high !

We have noticed an allusion to the Tractarians ;-they are reckoned as heretics, not a whit better than poor papists; and their heresies, according to pseudo-evangelical principles, are thus summed up by the worthy Rector of Watton.

“ It is asserted that the Gospel message is but indirectly and covertly revealed in Scripture, and tradition is regarded as the Church's divinely-inspired sense of the Bible, requisite to make the Bible really a revelation to us. We are told that there is an absolute necessity of a succession of bishops, consecrated by the apostles, to the existence of the Church and the administration of the Sacraments. In this system, in perfect contrast to the lawlessness of the day, Popish unscriptural and delusive claims of spiritual power in the ministry are advanced ; the Church usurps the place of the Saviour [a gross misrepresentation), and is made an idol (equally untrue.] The covenant privileges of the Church, also, are made to supersede the living faith and love, which are peculiar to those finally saved [not so.] Regeneration, in a rague unscriptural and Pelagian sense, as a grace dependant on man's will, neither meaning a state of convenient privileges nor of real spiritual life, is pressed as invariably accompanying baptism (not quite intelligible, and untrue as far as understood.]. . . In this new movement (at Oxford) men darken counsel by words without knowledge and full of contradictions; justification and sanctification are confounded, just as the Papists have long confounded them; and the conscience is left in darkness and bondage. Preaching is also depreciated. ... Voluntary austerities, and rites and ceremonies, not commanded (certainly not forbidden] in God's word, are pressed and magnified. Forms of prayer are idolized (!) while the spirit of grace and supplication, without a form, is slighted. Much is made of external things, such as bowings and dresses, and turnings of the body, and mere outward service. ... We are told in this school that there is a true and proper sacrifice for remission of sins made in the Lord's Supper by the minister, in a strictly sacerdotal character; that sin after baptism has no promise of pardon [Mr. B. must mean of sin unrepented of], that departed saints are to be invoked ; prayers made for the dead; Catholic councils are infallible; the clergy may, hy anthority of the Church,

be obliged to celibacy; the primacy of St. Peter is maintained, and the strong testimony of revelation [as seen through Mr. B.'s spectacles] against the apostacy is softened into a description of it, as our sister or our mother. Our present authorised formularies are disparaged, as wanting many excellent things which the Romanists have retained. In the communion service the omission of the superstitions of the Roman mass is noticed as a judgment, and a mutilation of the tradition of 1500 years. A by-gone jesuitical perversion of the Thirty-nine Articles has been revived by a clergyman of the Church of England; it has had defenders in leading and influential situations, and is still published and republished, and extensively circulated aud maintained. These professed members of our Church express a growing hatred to the Reformation and Reformers (as well they may]; call it a deplorable schism [as indeed it was,] and thinks Ridley deserves no praise, because he was the companion of Cranmer, Martyr, and Bucer; while they style Jewell an irreverent Dissenter. They have said that the Protestant tone of doctrine is essentially anti-Christian. They extol the worst Popes and Papists; with them Hildebrand, Beckett, and Innocent, were the lights of the Church in the middle ages [and who but a Bickersteth would say to the contrary ?] ranked in the same class with Elijah and the Baptist. And, finally, they have said that as we go on we must recede more and more from the principles, if any such there be [it would certaivly be difficult to find them] of the English Reformation.”

We certainly owe an apology to our readers for this lengthy notice of a sermon which really deserved none at all at our hands ; but as indicative of the expiring remains of bigotry and intolerance, as the last throbs of a system which has domineered over the consciences of men, and led them captive, and astray from the truth, this notice may not be without its interest when the Protestant Association shall be forgotten.

« PredošláPokračovať »