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especially the idolatry inculcated and practised towards the Virgin Mary? Will the indiscreet friends of popery oblige us to advert to the antagonist creeds and practices of the apostate church and our reformed one, respecting the enforced celibacy of the clergy, and the enormities of which it has been the occasion? And, to close the whole, what shall we say of the extent and importance of the difference in the two churches as regards the stupendous and impious assumption by Rome of the attributes of infallibility and universal dominion?
Our limits will only allow us to give a sketch of the very extensive subject to which our attention has been called; but we cannot dismiss the valuable tract, which we have been following so closely, without observing how justly and cogently the whole is terminated and corroborated by an appeal to the creed and oath of Pius IV., by which all the deformed and pestilent peculiarities of the Roman faith are fastened upon the conscience of every member of the Roman communion with a merciless and irresistible force. The symbol (as far as peculiar) is given at length; and it can never be too often repeated: it is a perpetual renewal of obligations accumulating for ages, and as fresh at this very day, as if, not only the Council of Trent, but the third and fourth Councils of Lateran, and that of Florence, had held their sessions and enacted their barbarous decrees and canons in the nineteenth century. With a kind of telescopic power this creed has made antiquity not only modern but present; and while it proves that our old enemy is still living and active, it gives us the somewhat compensating advantage of making his existence, his designs, and his operations visible, and thereby enabling us most effectually to guard against and oppose them. Our worst enemies are those who would represent this chief enemy as a friend. Let us have
open foes rather than false and treacherous friends. The work of the Rev. David O'Croly, likewise at the head of our article, is well known, and has been received by the public as its eminent value deserves. It is not our intention to criticise it extensively; but the object of the writer brings it within the sphere of our proposed inquiry. There are two ways in which the separation between the churches of England and Rome may be contracted or diminished. The one is, by dissembling, and misrepresenting, and falsely denying the tenets of either, but especially those of Rome. The other is by a condemnation and abandonment of the main articles in the latter, which occasion the discrepancy. The first is a plan very extensively adopted, and very extensively imposing. It in fact makes no sacrifice where the whole should be made; and gains the whole point at issue by a trick. It is the plan by which Veron, and Bossuet, and others, performed their exploits in polemics; and the late Dr. Doyle in one of his characters has imitated them. In a word, it is the most popular and approved of papal tactics; and Dr. Wiseman has put them in good execution in our metropolis, to the conviction and satisfaction of numbers, who have no objection to be soothed and wheedled into the adoption of a religion which will suit any taste, and accommodate any inclination. Protestants, even those who seem to themselves to be quite firm and even rigid, need be under no alarm under the instruction of these softeners. Popery, through their strainers well refined, becomes in reality a decent, accommodating, and pleasing Protestantism. The Catholic, they blandly teach, need not believe this, and he need not believe that, nor any of the tenets, generally supposed to be part and parcel of the religion. In truth
By the rule which made the horsetail bare,
They pluck out point by point, as hair by hair,"— till the great mother and mistress of all churches finds herself, before she well thought of it, shorn of all those distinctions by which her pride and authority were principally maintained. Such an article is not an article of faith, not an article of Catholic doctrine ; it is simply an opinion, a point of discipline, and the like, which is obligatory upon no member of the church, and for which the church itself is not at all responsible. So that the community which valued itself, and was valued by its subjects, as projecting its hundred and thousand hands all around, and laying them on every possible operation of the human mind, all at once contracts its proud pretensions, and contents itself with the humble office of informing Christendom, that nothing more is required for constituting a true, sound, and sufficient member of the holy apostolic church of Rome, than a belief of the Apostles' Creed, or perhaps the two others. This indeed is the real upshot of the whole pretence of a class of Romanists, who would additionally persuade us, that in such a representation they are or can be sincere, or that the creed of Pius V. will allow them to be so. They know, however, that they risk little but character in all this; and when the simple bird is caught in the net, they can put all straight at leisure.
The other plan of an honest condemnation and abandonment of the main peculiarities of the Roman faith is, and has, by his subsequent conduct, been proved to be the plan proposed by Mr. O'Croly. The plan, however, was never likely to be realized; and for this plain reason, because the sacrifice must be all on one side, and that the most arrogant side.
The Protestant has nothing to surrender: he may adopt, but that is another question. All the surrender must be where the accretions, which destroy the harmony, have grown. Such terms of reconciliation may indeed appear to be unreasonable, and savour something of arrogance. But they are neither: they are absolutely the only terms on which in reason or justice the church of
England can treat of union with the church of Rome. And as she cannot treat on any other, so, we trust, as
concerns the determination of her sound and soundest members, she will not. We might indeed put aside the invidious word surrender, and only propose or expect that the peccant church should at her own instance, and within herself, discharge her own impurities, and the union would ipso facto be accomplished without any formality. We fear, however, that this expectation, reasonable as it is, is about as visionary as the doctrine of human perfectibility: and that as long as something like the opposite to that doctrine is the fact, Rome will cling to her corruptions, till the great foredoomed judgment overtakes her. To speak the truth, we think it worse than idle, we think it mischievous in a high degree, to be tampering with notions or proposals of the feasibility of a union with a church, which, it is morally certain, will assent to none but such as is injurious, if not destructive and dishonourable to a reformed christian church. The Babylonian lady would be false to her own character if she did not encourage, or even make such advances: but the brand of folly as well as irreligion will justly be fixed upon the brows of those who yield to her seductions.
It appears important to furnish somewhat of a corrective to a false impression, which may be received from the perusal of Mr. O'Croly's volume. We perfectly agree with him, that if Rome could be persuaded to dismiss her erroneous peculiarities, the offence and cause of disunion between us would instantly cease; that is, if it were a bona fide transaction. If such a vision could be entertained for a moment, all would be right: the two churches would be brethren in reformation, and in every respect. But the misapprehension against which we would guard is this, that while the church of Rome continues in her corruption and separation, the peculiarities, which make and perpetuate that separation, may be regarded simply in the light of an addition; a superfluity; more than enough : so that, confining the attention to what is good, and, as such, retained by the reformed churches, we may conceive that good to have its own proper value, and produce its own proper effect, without disturbance or deterioration from the accompanying evil. This we apprehend is a serious error. Some qualities may exist in near neighbourhood, without incorporation. But it is of the very nature of religious belief, that, in most instances, the separate divisions of it should incorporate, and become a new compound; and that, consequently, the good should be infected by the bad, not simply to the effect of neutralizing the good, but of rendering the whole mass noxious. The chalice may contain originally a wholesome fluid, but the arsenic or prussic acid, which may be mixed with it, may be held in solution, and render the whole perfectly deleterious. Bishop Mant saw the state of the case distinctly, when admitting gladly the agreement of the two churches in the doctrine of the Trinity and the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, he adds," though even in these, it is to be feared, that the religion of the church of Rome is greatly vitiated by her dominant errors and corruptions, as in the instances just mentioned, by admitting creatures to a share of the honour due to the 'one God, and the 'one Mediator between God and men ;' &c. In fact the whole theory of popery breaks down the grand, the everlasting, partition-wall between the Creator and the creature, and canonizes that idolatry which in Scripture is stigmatized as the crowning offence of the human race. In a word, what one cardinal doctrine of holy Scripture is not poisoned by some one or other of Rome's corrupt inventions ? The free grace of God in the justification of man is poisoned by the intrusion of human merit; the forgiveness of sin, by papal absolutions and indulgences; the validity of the two sacraments, by the necessary condition of sacerdotal intention, and the sufficiency of the opus operatum ; the obligation to holiness, by the evasive distinctions of human duty; and the authority as well as effect of the holy Scriptures, by a paramount rule in a manufactured and fabulous tradition.
Will it, after all, be said, that we may separate the ingredients -the good from the bad ? By some moral mithridate we may secure ourselves against the poison? Yes, we may. And what does that admission amount to? We may escape the idolatry, the impiety, the immorality, the whole morbid atmosphere of antichristian Rome, even while, in a sense, within its precincts; just as a man may be sober in the haunts of inebriety-pure in a place of infamous resort-unimpaired in health in a pest-house. It is possible--just possible that a resident in the mystic Babylon may escape uninfected by its spiritual malaria. And are we to wait for the certainty of danger, before we think it necessary to keep aloof from it, or save ourselves by flight? Is nothing to satisfy us, that death is in the cup, but the actual experience, or proof afforded to others, that it is so? In one word, are we prepared to exercise common sense on all other subjects, while we banish it from the most important-Religion?
As respects Mr. O'Croly's book, he will allow us to express our dissent from some of his strictures respecting the earlier councils; although we do not hesitate to say, that it would have been better for the Church had she, or her principal members, been more reserved in their speculations respecting the mode of the divine existence. Our creeds, however, are justifiable in their negative character, as condemning decided errors and heresies. The apparent subtlety of the explanations of scriptural truth, as far as it could be ascertained, is to be ascribed to men of curious and indevout minds, who presumed to dogmatize in an unwarranted manner on such points. Were it not for such men the true christian church would be content with a reverent simplicity. We notice likewise an error, though of no real importance, into which the author has fallen in his XXXth chapter « Of Religious Intolerance,” where he says, that the bloody proposition, Heretici tollendi e medio “ Heretics are to be exterminated,” is in the Indexes of the papal Bibles of Sixtus V. and Clemens VIII. The fact is, the two first editions by these pontiffs have no Index. The first Roman, and papal edition, which has an Index, is that of 1593; and there the sentence is found. The Douay Version printed in Dublin, 1791, on Deut. xvii. 12, has the same in sense; and in fact the sentiment is one of the main pillars of Rome, never evaded or disguised but for an obvious interest. In Dens it blooms in full luxuriance.
In drawing towards a close, we may be permitted to congratulate ourselves on one sign of the times—that those occupying the most elevated stations in our Church do not think it beneath their dignity to engage personally in her defence, when so powerfully and artfully assailed as she is at this moment. The times indeed are long gone by when it might be decorous, and safe, and justifiable, for the heads of our Sion to rest with dignified quiescence on the goodness of her cause. What care the corrupters of Christianity for the goodness of her cause? What care the enemies of Christianity for the goodness of her cause? What care the traitorous friends of Christianity for that goodness? So little does that goodness weigh with this triple-headed foe to conciliate his forbearance, that his hostility only waxes the hotter on that account. And although the goodness of a cause be in many respects a jewel, in others of great importance it is a real impediment and a mischief. Peace to the first two heads of the antichristian Cerberus; but we could feel in our hearts to remonstrate a little with the third, the Dissenter, who at least professes, and formerly did with acknowledged sincerity, so much agreement with our Church in doctrine, that in that most important respect he might be considered as a brother. Such were the fathers, many of them, of the present generation. “ But O! how fallen! how changed !" the sons, most of them, now living ! We entreat them to reflect upon their conduct; and if the prospect of being devoured the last be not too enchantiing, let them redeem their damaged reputation by showing that they can join the ranks against the Roman apostasy with as much zeal and effect when they are assisting the church of England, as they have done, when they appeared to themselves to be wounding the purest of Protestant establishments through the sides of the papal. Certainly, the seasons of taciturnity and loquacity in the dissenting body have been rather awkwardly apportioned. What made their high ones dumb, when the national church had resisted the royal bait to divide the spoils of the conventicle between the cathedral and the mass-house in the reign of James II. ?