Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

their labours will be to shut up the Anglican Church to the necessity of following their example. The · Catholic Magazine' has spoken once and again to the same effect. The Puseyites, it seems, have found the great clue, which, if they have perse•verance to follow it, will lead them safely through the labyrinth

of error into the clear day-light of truth. Some of the brightest • ornaments of their church have advocated a re-union with the

church of all times and all lands; and the accomplishment of the • design, if we have read aright the signs of the times, is fast ' ripening. Her maternal arms are ever open to receive back repentant children; and, as when the prodigal son returned to his father's house, the fatted calf was killed, and a great feast of joy 'made, even so will the whole of Christendom rejoice greatly when so bright a body of learned and pious men as the authors of the Tracts for the Times,' shall have made the one step necessary to place them again within that sanctuary where alone

they can be safe from the moving sands, beneath which they • dread being overwhelmed. The consideration of this step will • soon inevitably come on, and it is with the utmost confidence that we predict the accession to our ranks of the entire mass.'*

With such facts as these before us, and with such a temper abroad, may we not well ask whether our strife as politicians has not rendered us somewhat insensible to our position as Protestants? But persons who admit the propriety of this question may be ready to ask another-viz., in what way may we acquit ourselves with effect as the adversaries of Popish superstition and tyranny, without betraying our principles as the friends of civil and religious liberty ? Not, we are sorry to say, by joining our Protestant Associations, or our Reformation Societies; for, talk as they may, it is clear, that to be a sound Protestant, in such connexions, it is strictly necessary to be a thorough-going Tory. Of their policy, the great aim we fear is, the suppression of the

things that are equal,' and the cry of “ no Popery' is put into large request mainly because it is the most convenient engine by which to forward that object. We say not that this is the case with all, but in the conduct of many who are the loudest, and the least wearied in the utterance of this cry, there are not a few things which force this conclusion upon us. To a mind of the slightest moral delicacy nothing can well be more disgusting than the hypocrisy which is at work on this subject, whether as taking the shape of the slanderous falsehood and ruffian insolence of · Printing-House Square,' or as betrayed in alliance with more saintly pretensions. The few dispassionate persons who were present in Exeter Hall when the Protestant Association

• Catholic Magazine, March 1839, pp. 165, 175.

was pleased to sing its requiem over the fall of the Melbourne ministry, and of liberalism all the world over, will not soon forget the scene they witnessed. We hate Popery, but there is one thing more that we hate-- the temper of the men, yes, and of the women too, who in their hatred of the name, are prostrate in a perfect adoration of the thing. It is, we would fain hope, in ignorance of themselves that they are thus inconsistent. But the inconsistency is not the less real, or the less dangerous, because it is the work, more or less, of self deception. It may be true that the man who tortures me thinks he does God service, but I am not the less a sufferer on that account. If the true Orange temper betrayed by the Protestant Association on the occasion adverted to, were to be regarded as exhibiting the average feeling of the Church of England, we make no scruple in saying, that we should see so little difference between the religion of Canterbury and that of the Vatican, as not to be greatly concerned about which of them might chance to be uppermost. But this is not the real state of things. Such people are worse, and there are myriads in the same community who are better, than their system.

One mode of meeting the present altered position of this controversy would be, that the tutors in all our colleges should make it the subject of more extended and systematic attention than has been the practice in Protestant colleges of any description for the last century. The points on which we are really at issue with our opponents; the sources from which the information bearing with most effect on those points may be derived; and the compass and variety of knowledge and criticism which the subject as a whole embraces—all are matters on which very few Protestant ministers have any just conception. At the same time they are topics which would open an interesting and a most instructive field to the student of theology, and of ecclesiastical and general his

Next to well-directed efforts with a view to qualify the rising ministry among us for entering with effect upon this controversy from the pulpit, the platform, or the press, would be the importance of endeavouring to secure for the subject more adequate attention among our people generally, particularly among the more educated. Much mischief would be prevented, and much benefit conferred, if such persons could be prevailed upon to acquire some familiarity with the evasions and sophistries of the Catholic disputant, along with a full exposure of their hollowness, instead of being left in circumstances to become acquainted with the poison of such plausibilities apart from their antidote, and with all the disadvantage of a surprise. By such means an interest and circumspection in regard to this subject would be spread as along the frontier of our religious communities, the effect of which would be to render the insinuating progress of this "leaven

tory:

of the Pharisees,' much more difficult than at present. If we had only a moderate number of men placed in this sense at their post, though large spaces might be left between them, much would be done that is now left undone. Such persons would find many opportunities and means of doing service, and that, if such should be their taste, without noise or obtrusiveness. By the loan of proper books, by the circulation of judicious tracts, by personal influence and conference, the labours of the enemy might be, in this way, more than counteracted in many a direction.

With regard to any more organized effort there is room for misgiving. We are already burdened and perplexed by the number of our societies, and not a few of them are as things * ready to die,' from the want of effective men to conduct them. Most of our readers, we presume, are aware that the Catholics of Great Britain have recently formed an association which they call : The Catholic Institute,' the object of which is, as stated in its prospectus, “to expose the falsehood of the calum"nious charges made against the Catholic religion, to defend the real tenets of Catholicity, and the circulation of all • useful knowledge on the above mentioned subjects. The ‘Institute,' accordingly, provides for the printing, publishing, and circulating of works in explanation and defence of modern Popery; and the committee is empowered to organise local com

mittees, and to solicit and avail themselves of the co-operation of individuals in different parts of Great Britain and the colo

nies. Could we only see half a dozen competent men prepared to pledge themselves to the management of an institute of this sort, based upon the great principles of Protestant nonconformity, we should feel some confidence that great direct and indirect good would result. Churchmen on this controversy, are fastened in the wheels of inconsistency at every step. In a multitude of instances they cannot avoid the fate of the man who is . condemned ‘in the thing which he alloweth.'

If we hearken, indeed, to a writer who has indulged in such talk much more freely, we think, than good taste would warrant, we must suppose that the disadvantage resulting in this connexion from avowed principle, would be as great on the side of the Dissenter, as on that of the Churchman; and it has been hinted from the same quarter, that we shall probably deem it wise to be quiet on the matter of some existing controversies, lest the effect of a better acquaintance with ecclesiastical antiquity should be the overthrow of our much loved independency. We can assure the author of Ancient Christianity and of Spiritual Despotism,' that we know nothing of such fear. That Dissenters have beslowed comparatively little attention on the primary sources of our knowledge concerning ecclesiastical antiquity is admitted : but the author adverted to should have known, and should have been careful to state, that their deficiency in this respect, rightly viewed, is to their honour, and not to their reproach. They have long had more important work to do, and, with the blessing of God, they have applied themselves well to the doing of it. Let them only see the connexion between labour in the field Christian antiquities, and real Christian usefulness, which they have seen for some generations past between the labours which have occupied them and the results which have followed, and they will not, we are confident, be found either slow or inapt in equipping themselves with the new weapons, or in adopting the new tactics which the service of their Lord may demand from them. Confident, too, we are, that it will be a bad day for · Spi

ritual Despotism,' when men shall thus become better acquainted with the sources and workings of its iniquity. They will see, indeed, that it has its origin in human nature; but they will see one thing beside - that its great power to do mischief is dependent on its being permitted to wield the coercive machinery of the state. To put an end to that impure commerce, the union of church and state, and to the progeny of evils which have sprung from it, will then be the aim of all good men. But the author of Spiritual • Despotism’is quite right in affirming that there is no short road to a full mastery of the Popish controversy. It demands, as we have observed, a critical knowledge of the sacred writings. There must also be such an acquaintance with the fathers, and with the best collections of the ecclesiastical councils, as may enable the disputant to refer to them with ease and accuracy. Added to which, his knowledge of general history must be much more comprehensive, and in the matter of law and its administration should be much more minute, than our present modes of education are adapted to furnish. Not a little, too, of the qualification necessary to the display of real skill in this warfare, consists in a knowledge of the motley character of the host to be assailed-for, strange to say, the sects of Protestantism are not more numerous, or arrayed in more deadly hostility against each other, than are the sects or factions which still find their place within the pale of Romanism. It is true we say, that the Bible, and the Bible • alone, is the religion of Protestants.' And so it is—so far as respects all the great principles of our faith and practice. In regard to all such matters we say, if they are not found in the New Testament it is because they are not of the things which our heavenly Father hath planted, and we know the fate awaiting them. But we have never met with the Protestant controversialist who has really kept the points in dispute within the limits which the Bible, and the Bible alone maxim prescribes. There is a wide difference between the Christianity of the middle age and that of the third century; and a space hardly less marked between Christianity as taught in the school of Origen, and as exhibited in the writings of the apostles. Nevertheless, there is a relation between these very different things, and one which every man of sense will see it will not do to suffer the enemy to make his own showing upon without contradiction. If left to occupy that ground alone, he will not fail to represent the voice of antiquity as one unbroken utterance on the side of error; and to provide against the perilous disadvantage which would thus ensue, in a manner worthy of the cause, the various and profound learning adverted to must be brought into play. The question, we must repeat, is not whether ecclesiastical antiquity should be studied, and put into requisition on this subject, or not,-for that, on the ground of common sense, and according to the practice of every man on either side who has ever meddled with the dispute, is unavoidable. The one point to be settled, and to which we hope on a future occasion to give some attention, is -the kind or measure of authority to be conceded to that antiquity.

But it is time we should direct the attention of our readers to the books at the head of this article. Mr. Cramp's volume is strictly what it professes to be, 'A Text-Book of Popery: com“prising a brief history of the Council of Trent, and a complete • view of Roman Catholic Theology.' On the authority of councils, as on every other point of its history, the church of Rome is wonderfully at issue with itself. The divines of the Gallican church, for example, reject four alleged general councils, those of Lyons, Florence, Lateran, and Trent, which the Italians admit; and admit four, those of Pisa, Constance, Basil, and the second of Pisa, which the Italians reject. By a third faction in the Romish church, the eight councils which occur in the Italian scheme from the eight at Constantinople to the sixteenth at Florence, are all rejected, either in whole or in part. The deference yielded to the council of Trent by full half of Europe was limited to its doctrinal decisions, exclusive of its regulations on discipline; and even those decisions were thus admitted simply because they were in agreement with the decisions of prior assemblies of less questionable pretensions, and not as the effect of any competent authority attaching to that convention, for that was denied. Still Mr. Cramp is right in speaking of the canons and catechism published by the Council of Trent, as an unquestionable exhibition of the acknowledged doctrines of the Roman Catholic church. The volume is highly creditable to his zeal, impartiality, and scholarship, and should not only be in the hands of every educated Protestant, but be made familiar to his memory. The term • Text-Book,' though justly applicable, may suggest to some of our readers the idea of a dull scholastic production, little adapted for general perusal; but we can assure them the work is one of

« ZurückWeiter »