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Religious Inquiry, Progress of.. 254
sons of the
7 No. 2, St. BIBIANA
37 No. 3, ST. FRANCIS XAVIER 69
134, 163, 197, 228.
VIRGIN MARY........ 324
ters to..82, 100, 176, 208, 274 341.
Proper Designation of........
Ignorance of the lower orders of, in Lancashire......
224 Roman Catholic Chapels in Great Britain..
60 Allegiance Examined.
“ Romanism contradictory to the Bible,” Review of..
88 Romish Superstitions..
56 Salvation, the argument of the
uncertainty of, retorted.... 225 Scripture Readers' Society..62, 157
Reason Interpreter of 129 Scriptures, on the sufficiency of the.
172 Right of the People to read the..
220 Reply to Do...
308 the Holy, common property..
65 Senses, consequence of neglect
ing the evidence of the.... 243 Spain, Papal exactions in.... 380 Tradition, Oral.............. 301 Transubstantiation......
44 Turkey, Hopeful Symptoms in.. 125 Virgin Mary, the..
347 Wilberforce, W. Esq. Letters to 122
INTRODUCTION. It was the belief of the first Reformers, and continues to be the belief of all Protestants who are true to the principles of the reformation, that the religion of the Church of Rome is so much altered from the religion of Jesus Christ, as materially to affect the safety of those, who remain in her communion. On the other hand, the Church of Rome supposes, that the errors of Protestants have excluded them from the Catholic Church of Christ. And indeed so great are the differences between the two parties, both in regard to the doctrines which relate to the salvation of mankind, and in regard to the mode, and the limits, of divine worship, that to those, who allow the truth and importance of revelation there can but appear to be great danger on one hand or the other. These differences, we are persuaded, can appear trivial to those only, that reject the Christian revelation altogether, or that set no real value upon the truths which it reveals.
But although the disagreement between these two modes of Christianity is so great, and the danger on one hand or the other so serious, yet the test of truth, respecting the matters at issue, is readily found, and easily applied. Indeed, if the controversy maintained between the Protestant and Roman Catholic Churches were one, in which evidence must be derived from remote and uncertain sources; or in which conclusions must be sought through a long train of doubtful reasoning; or if the conclusions, when attained, were matters of dubious importance; we should have had neither time nor inclination to protract the controversy any further. But the evidence relating to the VOLI,
controversy in question is derived from a source, to which all have free and ready access: the application of the evidence to the subjects in dispute is one of the easiest processes of reasoning: and the conclusions affect the most important interests of mankind. Taking this view of the circumstances of the controversy, we come forward to invite a further discussion of the subjects, which it involves.
We are too well aware of the inconveniences and dangers into which religious controversy may lead, to seek for occasions of renewing it; but, unhappily, occasions too often occur unsought, when to avoid the defence of religious truth would be nothing less than criminal. As long as the sacred truths, which our Lord and Saviour taught, are assailed and corrupted, so long will it be the imperative duty of Christians to defend them from violence and contamination.
We have said that the test of truth proper to the subjects involved in our controversy with the Church of Rome is readily found and easily applied. We are aware, however, that the controversy is not without its difficulties. That Church has secured a sort of immortality to its vices by rendering itself impervious to the weapons of reason.
“When a baleful superstition," says a fine writer,“ like that of the Roman Church once takes root among a people, it is next to impossible to eradicate it; for it can only be assailed by the weapons of argument, and to these it is impassive.”* It is no wonder that the controversy in question has been protracted to such a length; for where no standard of appeal can be mutually agreed upon, not even reason itself as the ultimate, the controversy becomes endless. The HOLY SCRIPTURES INTERPRETED BY REASON, we maintain, are the only test of truth in things pertaining to God. As the Church of Rome rejects this test, our controversy with her is interminable.
But though that Church refuses to have her tenets brought to the tribunal of Holy Scripture and reason, yet it is of no small advantage to the cause of truth, to keep them always exposed to the judgement of that tribunal She cannot extend, and she will find it difficult to perpetuate, her domi. nion, over the understandings and consciences of mankind when placed in a situation so disadvantageous.
Advocates for the religion of the Church of Rome, how. ever, have not been wanting, who have attempted to show, and that with much subtlety, that Scripture and reason are both on its side. They will not consent that she should be judged by either, but will attempt to press both into her service. Before the Holy Scriptures were so well understood
• Rev. R. Hall
and so generally diffused, as they have been since the Refor. mation; and before the use of reason in the investigation of matters of religion was so well defined, and so ably asserted as it has been since that time, the principles of the Roman Church used to appear in their proper form and to be supported by such sort of evidence as could be found for them. But in the present diffusion of scriptural knowledge, the contrast of those principles with the doctrines of Christianity is too strong to allow any expectation of promoting the cause of that Hierarchy, while they appear in their proper character. The advocates of the Church of Rome have, therefore, found it necessary to disguise and conceal her principles as far as possible, in order to diminish the effect of the contrast. This measure was found to be necessary as soon as ever the light of the Reformation had begun to dawn upon Christen. dom. The Council of Trent in defining the doctrines of the Church of Rome receded very far from the violence of former times : the Essence, indeed, of the corruption was retained, but it was embodied in a less repulsive form, and shown through a medium, wbich diminished its magnitude.
The decrees of that Council have ever since been held forth and regarded as the authentic exhibition of the principles of the Roman Hierarchy. But the same mitigating process has been practised upon the doctrines of that Church as exhibited in the decrees of the Council of Trent. They passed through the alembic under the hand of the famous Bossuet, and came out refined as far as possible, so as to retain their identity. Nothing can exceed the subtlety, with which that artful theologian has embodied the essential corruption of the Roman Church in his representation of the sense of the decrees of the Council of Trent. The refining process can hardly be carried further than he has carried it. But succeeding writers, in this country especially, have attempted to make Romanism still more specious by keeping entirely out of sight some of its doctrines and practices, which could not be so disguised as to be exposed with safety to the radi. ancy of Scripture and reason.
Since the Reformation, therefore, the Church of Rome has had, like the ancient Academy, her esoteric and exoteric doctrines; the former' adapted to the penetralia of ignorance and superstition, into which the light has not yet shined ;—the latter disguised and refined for the purpose of exhibition. These latter are put forth to the world with this inference, that the Fathers of the Protestant Churches effected what they called a reformation by calumny and lies; making a strife about corruptions which were no where to be found but in their own slanderous representations; and which the Church of Rome detested as much as themselves.
The character of the Proto-reforiner Luther has been held up to contempt and hatred as one of the vilest which has ever disgraced human nature. He has been represented as a man so utterly devoid of all good principle as to attach suspicion to any cause of which he was the promoter. The venerable Reformers of the Church of England have been treated with little less injustice. Their secession from the Church of Rome is represented as an unjustifiable schism. The merits of the reformation of the Church in this country are constantly confounded with those of the dispute in which originated the enquiry that ultimately led to that reformation. The unjustifiable schism, as it is called, which was then made we are accused of wautonly perpetuating. Those who stand forth to assert the principles of Protestantism among us are charged with bigotry; and those who represent the doctrines of the Church of Rome according to her most accredited writers, and even according to her infallible councils, are charged with calumny or ignorance. These are the means by which the Church of Rome has been long striving to repossess herself of the influence which she has lost, and to regain the height from which she has fallen.*
It was in a painful conviction that these measures have been pursued too successfully in this neighbourhood that the design of giving the PROTESTANT GUARDIAN to the public
* Since this article was sent to the press, a letter recently addressed by Dr. M‘Hale to Lord Farnham has come into our hands, from which we give the following extract as an illustration of the passage to which this note is appended.
“The first (viz. the Old Reformation) sprung from the foulest passions of the human heart-intemperance, lust, sacrilege, plunder, were its first symptoms, when like the gigantic monsters, who of old infested the earth,' human blood became the sudden and prolific principle of its animation. In the commencement of his iniquitous career LUTHER was the most fawning sycophant that ever flattered the court of Rome. While the vengeance of the Roman Pontiff was delayed to reclaim the sacriligeous Apostate, he crouched and intreated,' nay, disguised his very
But when he thought he acquired strength, he threw off the mask, and revealed without disguise, his disregard of all the moral restraints of Religion.
“CRANMER (I never can forget him !) for a series of years concealed his Apostacy, and his wife's, and if there was one quality, for which the admirers of Reformation can feel indebted to CRANMER, it is for having sought, and illustrated in his life, the most consummate deceit and hypocrisy. His lessons and example were not lost on his FOLLOWERS, and after three hundred years the same lessons are again exemplified. A Reformation which grew out of deceit must be supported by its continuance; and hence the continual accessions which the Protestant Religions of Europe have been receiving from the receptacles of an illegitimate and adulterous race, the natural recruits of Religions which lust had first engendered.”