Графични страници
PDF файл
[ocr errors]

ward, to the present day, as if that were a matter as certainly known as the genealogy of Christ from Abraham. For the amusement of the reader, I shall give the first century:

Anni 1. Gesù Cristo Pontifice eterno, secundo l'ordine di Melchisedech,

mori l'anno 4 della sua predicazione, e nel 33 con 3 mesi di sua erà : elesse per sua successore, e Vicario San Pietro Prin

cipe degli Appostoli. 34. S. Pietro Galileo Appostoli. 66. S. Lino Toscano 67. S. Clemente Romana 77. S. Clero Romano 83. Anacleto d'Atene, Greco

· · 5 96. S. Everisto di Betlemme


6 Thus Jesus Christ is set at the head of the list of popes; he is said to have chosen, as his successor and vicar, St. Peter, prince of the apostles; and Peter began his reign in the 34th year of the Christian era; that is, in the very year that Christ was crucified. Now, this is downright imposition. Peter is made bishop of Rome, before there was a Christian in Rome; Linus is made his immediate successor, and Clement follows Linus; all which is mere fancy; yet, it is held forth, by the church of Rome, as certain ; her members believe it without evidence, and so far as relates to Peter, against the direct evidence of the apostle Paul, who tells us, that he went to Jerusalem to see Peter three years after his return from Arabia to Damascus; and fourteen years after that, he found Peter at Jerusalem, with James and John, which must have been above the fiftieth year of the Christian era. I know it is pleaded, that Peter was occasionally absent from Rome, and particularly, that he went to Jerusalem, to be present at the first general council; but it is unfortunate for the argument, that we read so much of Peter being in other places; but not so much as once within the bounds of his own see. The non-residence of bishops certainly was not practised so early in the Christian church. It is, in short, not true that Peter was bishop of Rome; it is not true that he had a successor in office, in Rome, or any where else; yet Papists must believe this; they maintain it most zealously and pertinaciously, for their whole system depends upon it. It is nothing but prejudice, blind prepossession. Papists then, above all others, are the bigots.

Nothing can be more irrational than transubstantiation, yet they are warm and zealous in maintaining this doctrine, in spite of the evidence of their own senses. What can be greater bigotry?

During nine centuries of the Christian era, priests were allowed to marry like honest men. It required a miracle to persuade those in England, that it was unlawful for them to have wives;* this miracle

"In this time the celibacy of the clergy was violently urged, and married priests thrust from their livings; which raised great stirs in the church, but the particulars are not recorded, nor the broils which thereon ensued. I read in the Antiquities of the Britannic church, that, in the year 977, a council was gathered at Calne, in Wiltshire, for that business, to which BEORNALLUS, a bishop of Scotland, was called by ALFRITHA, the widow of King Edgar, who favoured the cause of married priests. This bishop, a man of great learning and eloquence, is said to have defended the conjugal life of priests, by solid reasons, taken out of scripture,

is now believed to have been an imposition; yet do Papists most zealously maintain the doctrine pretended to have been proved by it; and if any clergyman were to take a wife, he would be rendered incapable of any clerical function ;-he would be held guilty of a greater crime than if he had violated all the ten commandments. What foolish prejudice! What bigotry!

'The following is an instance of bigotry such as we may look for in vain among Protestants. One of the dukes of Brunswick took it in his head, in his old age, to forsake the religion in which he had been educated, and to become Papist. He wrote a book to justify his conversion, entitled, “ The Duke of Brunswick's fifty reasons for pre

ferring the Roman Catholic religion to all other sects." This book has lately been reprinted in Manchester, and is strongly recommended to all who wish to find the true faith. The duke writes with all the sophistry of a Jesuit; and, having given forty-nine reasons for changing his religion, he gives the following as the last and crowning one. “I observed, that many sectaries, who had seemed for many years to be fixed in their persuasion, were converted towards the end of their days, and desired to die in the Roman Catholic faith. But never did I meet with a Catholic who wished to die in another religion. Now, it is chiefly at the hour of death that the soul opens its eyes into a clearer prospect of things eternal. For my own part, I resolved to live as I should wish to die, and for that reason I came to a resolution to embrace immediately the Catholic faith; because death is as certain, as its hour is uncertain. Besides that, the Catholics to whom I spoke concerning my conversion, assured me, that if I were to be damned for embracing the Catholic faith, they were ready to answer for me at the day of judgment, and to take my damnation upon themselres, an assurance I could never extort from the ministers of any sect, in case I should live and die in their religion. Whence, I inferred, that the Roman Catholic faith was built upon a better foundation than any of those sects that have divided from it." Here is blind prepossession, prejudice, bigotry, with a witness! Here is a man who trusts his salvation on the word of his fellow-creatures, and seems content if they shall be damned in his stead; and, this book is earnestly recommended by Papists of the present day!

I might go over every doctrine and rite of the Romish church, and on every one of them I could;convict her members of bigotry; but, in

and to have put all the opposites to silence. But Dunstan, the archbishop, who presided in that council, when he saw that reason could not bear out the errand, fell a threatening, and said, that, notwithstanding all their arguments, they should not carry away the victory ; which he had no sooner spoken, than the beams of the house, wherein they sat at council, bursting asunder, all were overturned, and fell headlong to the ground; many were bruised, and some killed with the fall : DunSTAN himself only escaped without harm; the beam whereon he stood remaining whole and entire. Such as favoured the cause of Monks did interpret this accident to be a sentence given by God on their side; others said that DUNSTAN had wrought this mischief by sorcery, for many supposed him to be a magician. However it was, the married priests (though repining) were forced, indeed, to yield and submit thomselves. What became of BEORNALLI'S, I read not; nor whether he returned to his own country." Archbishop Spottiswood's History of the Church of Scotland, folio, p. 27. I believe the above accident may be casily accounted for, without either sorcery or a miracle; but it served the purpose of answering the powerful arguments of the Scottish bishop; and the priests were compelled to put away their wives.

VOL. I.-16

few words, I ask Amicus VERITATIS, if he would not rather that all the popish children in Glasgow, should live and die in ignorance, than that they should be taught by a Protestant schoolmaster? Is not this prejudice, blind, irrational prepossession ? Is not this bigotry?

This is the man who had no view in writing, but to put bigotry to the blush, and to advocate the cause of truth: and, poor Protestants must sit down quietly blushing, and ashamed of their religion. In a tone of great self-sufficiency, he assumes it as indisputable, that the principles of Protestants are “ phantoms raised by bigotry and prejudice.” This is quite in the style of other popish writers in the present day. Those of the Orthodox Journal, for instance, assume a lofty tone: they write as if their religion were indisputably the religion of England and Ireland, and as if they considered the Protestants as a sect of mere intruders.

It seems, I must submit to the charge of intolerance as well as bigotry. AMICUS VERITATIS asks, if I will "again spout out the noxious venom of religious intolerance and bigotry ?" I may fairly ask him, What sentiment, bordering on intolerance, has been published by the PROTESTANT? On this point I have made a greater concession in favour of Papists than many of my Protestant brethren will thank me for, and such as no Papist, so far as I know, ever made in favour of Protestants. See Part I. p. 41. In fact, I know neither toleration nor intolerance. Neither of the words belongs to the gospel of Christ. Popery, I believe to be in its own nature intolerable, by which I mean, that it ought not to receive any positive encouragement from Christians, any more than the rites of Bacchus, or any other idol. But no man can reasonably infer from this, that I would persecute the votaries of Bacchus, or of Rome. I pity the poor man who wastes his strength and his substance in drunkenness; but still, if his drunkenness does not extend to riot; if he is not guilty of a breach of the peace, I should not think him a fit subject of punishment. I pity also the poor man who worships the pope, or the Virgin Mary, or any of the saints, or who worships the work of his own hands in the consecrated wafer; but still, if he is not guilty of a breach of the public peace, if he does no ill to his neighbour, I should not think him a proper subject of punishment by his fellow-creatures. In short I think no weapon can be lawfully used against heretics, or even against the grossest idolaters, but that of persuasion. It belongs to idolatry and to popery, as such, to use violent means for the conversion of heretics, and for the propagation of their religion.

In my last number, I gave proof of this by numerous instances of wholesale murder, at the instigation of the church of Rome, or the pope as her head, for the purpose of extirpating heretics. I gave the opinion of the learned doctors of Rheims, who translated the New Testament into English, that putting heretics to death was no worse than shedding the blood of thieves and mankillers. I shall now give the sentiments of modern Papists on the subject of persecution. In my last number, I quoted a passage from the Orthodox Journal, in which, persecution for conscience sake was strongly disavowed; and I gave reasons for believing, that the writer meant only the persecution of his own sect. This is confirmed by the same journal, in the passage which I am now about to quote. I know it will be objected, that the Orthodox Journal is not the Catholic church; and, therefore, Papists are not responsible for its errors. I shall not, therefore, give it as the doctrine of the church; but as the opinion of modern Papists; for bad as it is, it is not by any means so sanguinary as the doctrine and practice of the church in former times.

Speaking of the right of every man to read the scriptures, and judge for himself, as to the meaning of their contents, the writer, who subscribes himself CATHOLICUS ROMANUS, proceeds:-"Never did the church of England commit a greater error, than when it promulgated this absurd tenet. She then struck a dagger in her own heart, which must in the end destroy her. Thousands, every year, are leaving her communion: we find none embracing it. If the scripture alone is the rule of faith, and every man of common sense a sufficient judge of its meaning, where will fanaticism end? It is yet in its infancy.When the Lancasterian system has taught the nation to read, and every man is equipped and furnished with his Bible, then will there come forth a swarm of sectaries, preaching new, and, as yet, unheard of doctrines. It has hitherto been a good speculation, where there was all to gain and nothing to lose. A good appearance, and an easy flow of words, is all that is required to make a fortune; whatever doctrine he chooses to preach, it is of little consequence, provided he proves it by a text; either side out, like a smuggler's coat, to delude his followers. Hence, we daily see so many spruce black-coats, who, the other day, had not a shoe to their feet. It may ill become a Cathocli to prop up by his advice the Protestant establishment, otherwise, I should certainly advise them to call in all their Bibles. Would not, Mr. Elitor, some cunning financier do well, if he took advantage of this rage for Bibles, and laid a smart tax upon the reading of it? Permitting none to read it, without first taking out a licence. And why not tax this as well as other nostrums? Or might it not serve as a commutation for the window-tax ? For, if they are determined that the light of Heaven shall be thus obscured by so many contradictory doctrines, we might at least have a little more terrestrial light to illuminate our darkness.”—Orth. Journ. Feb. 1814.

There is a long series of letters in the same style, in which the Bible society, and those who support it, are abused as a parcel of fools and knaves; and, as such sentiments pass unreproved by the editor, and without animadversion by any other correspondent, so far as I have seen, they are not to be viewed as merely the sentiments of an individual Papist, but as those of the general body in England, of which this journal seems to be the organ. But the present subject is the persecution which is here recommended against all who shall presume to read the Bible. It is suggested to the chancellor of the exchequer, to lay a smart tax, or, which in this case would be the same thing, impose a severe fine upon all who shall read the word of God. There could not be more direct persecution for conscience' sake; and, with regard to the poor, it would be no less than depriving them of the bread of life, and starving their souls by law. What a hue and cry would be raised among Papists, if it were proposed to lay a tax upon their holy water! What dreadful persecution would this be! and yet, they gravely propose a tax upon the water of life!

I intend to give further evidence of the intolerance of the church of

Rome; but, in the meantime, I give place to the correction of a mistake in the British Review, quoted in my tenth number, with regard to the number of Papists in Preston, twenty years ago, for which I am indebted to a correspondent

It is stated, that the popish priest in Preston boasted, that when he came to that place, twenty years ago, a small room would have contained his congregation, whereas now there are two chapels, each capable of containing 2000. My correspondent does not doubt, that the priest may have made this boast, as it is the practice of Papists to exaggerate the number of their converts; but he assures me, that when he was in Preston, twenty-four years ago, there was a popish chapel, well seated, and capable, he thinks, of containing 2000.' Lancashire has, indeed, been the headquarters of the Papists in England, for two hundred years; and though they may have increased greatly of late, it cannot have been so great as the boast of the priest would insinuate.

[blocks in formation]



SATURDAY, October 10th, 1818. Amicus VERITATis accuses me of both bigotry and intolerance. In my last number, I endeavoured to show, that such terms belong more properly to the adherents of Rome. I convicted them of bigotry, inasmuch as they are blindly prepossessed in favour of a system, and irrationally zealous in maintaining it, not only without evidence, but against the evidence of the word of God, and of their own senses. With equal ease, I can convict them of intolerance. Popery is, and always has been, a persecuting system: and though it cannot be denied, that some Protestants have also been persecutors, yet it can easily be shown, that they learned to be so from Rome, and continued to be so, because they had not renounced the whole of Rome's abominations.

I intend, in the present number, to prove the church of Rome guilty of intolerance and persecution, notwithstanding the assertion of the Orthodox Journal, that persecution for conscience' sake was scarcely known in any Christian country, till it was introduced by Protestants; and I shall take the word persecution in the sense in which it is commonly understood in this country; not in the sense in which it is now used by Papists, who use it only to denote what is done against themselves.

Early in the twelfth century, a great number of persons, in Lyons, and other parts in the south of France, had their eyes open to perceive the idolatry and absurdity of the Romish worship. They laboured for a long time under many disadvantages. The Vulgate Latin Bible was the only edition of the scriptures at that time in Europe; and

« ПредишнаНапред »