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IN "a Letter to THE DUKE OF NORFOLK on the Catholic "Question," addressed to that Nobleman, early in the present year, by R. WILMOT HORTON, Esq. M.P., I read the following passage:
"After a very attentive examination, or, I would rather say, "revision of the history of the Catholic Question up to the present "moment; I am confirmed in the opinion which I have long en"tertained, that a measure has been omitted, which, if practica"ble, would materially tend to the satisfactory settlement of "this question; and that this measure can only proceed from "the Roman Catholic Body.
"The measure to which I advert is, a distinct explanatory statement of the doctrines and opinions of the Roman Catholics of "the present day; so far as such doctrines and opinions can be considered, by the most jealous Protestant, as calculated to affect the "exercise of their civil duties as subjects."
My sincere thanks, and, I believe, those of every well-disposed Protestant in the United Kingdom, are justly due to this gentleman, for thus candidly stating his opinion of the expediency of this measure: for, happily, the measure has been adopted, and carried into effect by the highest Roman Catholic authorities in this country,-THE VICARS APOSTOLIC and their CoADJUTORS; to whom, therefore, its Protestant population can scarcely feel the sense of inferior obligation.'
A Declaration, proceeding from such authority, may be supposed a priori to be unimpeachable; to contain a correct representation of the fundamental doctrines and opinions of THE ROMAN CHURCH, for that is declared to be always the same; and a distinct avowal of every thing that "can be considered, by the "most jealous Protestant, as calculated to affect the exercise of "the civil duties of the Roman Catholics as subjects and citizens.” Such was the professed purpose of this Declaration; but how far this purpose has been answered, must be left to the decision of the unprejudiced reader.
Perhaps I ought likewise to acknowledge myself under obligation, in this respect, to the Editors of the Edinburgh Review; for it was to the circulation of this Declaration, with the eighty-seventh Number of that work, that I was indebted for my earliest knowledge, that it had been printed and published. Having thus found it, I set it down doubly as
"Catholic Religion."] There is nothing of greater importance in any declaration wherein truth is the great object to be insisted on, than the precise use of terms. The Church of Rome styles herself "The MISTRESS of ALL Churches," thus plainly acknowledging that there are other churches besides herself. For the term CATHOLIC, therefore, throughout this Declaration, as also in the titlepage, where those who have published it style themselves CATHOLIC Bishops, the word ROMAN, or ROMISH, must be substituted in the mind of the reader, to make the Declaration either intelligible or true. The term Catholic signifies Universal; and the Roman Church is only one branch of the Catholic or Universal Church of Christ; so that she perverts the sense of the word Catholic, whenever she applies it exclusively to herself.
For the same reason the members of that church should be called Romanists, and not Catholics. But, if they are regarded as acknowledging the ecclesiastical supremacy of the POPE, which all true Romanists are, by their very profession of faith, obliged to do, their proper denomination is PAPISTS.
This stumbling, on the very threshold as it were, is unfortunate, and excites suspicions of unsoundness, which I believe will not be at all allayed by the sequel.
"But our astonishment subsides," etc.] How extremely anxious are these prelates, to place their church, in the estimation of the British nation, on an equal footing, as far as may be, with the apostles of Christ, and the primitive Christians, in respect to purity of doctrine, and innocency and integrity of manners;-and to set down every thing which opposes such pretensions to the account of calumny and misrepresentation! As all these, and even "Christ himself," were calumniated and misrepresented, therefore, and only for that reason, their "astonishment subsides," that the Church of ROME has not escaped the same fate! Such is their argument. But is not this, it may be said, the language of conscious innocence? Is it not, at least, designed to represent it?
"In a word," etc.] But by whom was "their whole religion" thu's described, but by their pagan persecutors? And is it not here
* See the Creed of Pope Pius IV. Article xii. hereafter cited. "She "saith in her heart-I sit a QUEEN, and am no widow, and shall see no "sorrow." Rev. xviii. 7.
When we consider the misrepresentations of the Catholic religion, which are so industriously and widely propagated in this country, we are filled with astonishment.
But our astonishment subsides, when we call to mind, that the character of Christ himself was misrepresented: he was charged with blasphemy, with breaking the sabbath, and with forbidding tribute to be paid to Cæsar-that the apostles and disciples of Christ were misrepresented: they were charged with speaking blasphemous words against Moses and against God, with exciting sedition, and with many other grievous offences entirely devoid of proof:2-and that misrepresentation was the general lot of Christians in the first ages of the Church. The primitive Christians were first calumniated and held up to public contempt, and then persecuted and deprived, not only of their civil rights and privileges, but of their property, and even of their very lives. They were charged with idolatry, with horrid cruelties, and other flagitious crimes, even in their religious worship. In a word, their whole religion was described as a system of folly and superstition, grounded on no one rational principle.
1 Matth. xxvi. 65. Mark iii. 22. John ix. 16. Luke xxiii. 2. (original.) 2 Acts vi. 11-xxiv. 5.-xxv. 7. (original.)
tacitly insinuated, that those, who now oppose themselves, upon principle, to the usurpations and errors of the Church of ROME, are persons of no better description?
"The Catholics of Great Britain have to lament," etc.] The gross misconception and misrepresentation here complained of, if they do really exist in this country, are certainly to be lamented; but the longer endurance of such a ground of complaint may easily be prevented, by a clear and determinate statement of the real doctrines and practices of the Roman Church.
To afford such a statement as this is the professed object of this Declaration.
But, as “the doctrines and religious rites, which, as Catholics, they "are taught by their Church to believe and observe," are contained, for the most part, in the Creed of Pope Pius IV., and in the Decrees and Canons of the Council of Trent,-to these it will be also satisfactory to the minds of Protestants to refer. Indeed, this having been their last great Council;-it having been expressly held for "the glory "of the Holy Trinity, the increase and exaltation of the faith and the Christian religion, the extirpation of heresy, the union of the Church, "the reformation of the clergy and Christian people, and the de"pression and extinction of the enemies of the Christian name ;”—and its paramount authority having been most particularly sanctioned, and insisted on, by the Creed of Pope Pius IV.;-it may be almost unnecessary to go further back, in quest of the genuine principles of the Roman church; except perhaps, in some instances, to illustrate the genuineness of the ANTIQUITY attributed to them in this Declaration.
"And imagine that she is responsible for," etc.] What she is truly responsible for are her own doctrines and religious rites, as exhibited by HERSELF, in her own professed and public acts above alluded to; and the practical consequences, which, as far as her power and influence have extended, have generally resulted from
St. Justin and Tertullian, in their apologies for the Christian religion, endeavoured to dispel those misrepresentations, by exhibiting the real doctrines and precepts, and explaining some of the sacred rites of the Christian religion. They showed that these injurious misrepresentations were, in many instances, the inventions of men, who, unable to withstand the evidences of the divine establishment of Christianity, endeavoured to excite prejudices against it in the minds of the people, by holding out its doctrines as absurd and impious, and its professors as the cause of every public calamity.
St. Augustine complained of the calumnies which were circulated against the Catholic Church by the Manicheans and Donatists of his age. He humbly confessed and lamented, that he himself had employed the same weapons against the Church, when he was attached to the former of these sects; and acknowledged that he then blindly, and rashly, and falsely accused the Catholic Church of doctrines and opinions, which, he was at length convinced, she never taught, believed, or held.
The Catholics of Great Britain have to lament and to complain, that the doctrines and religious rites which, as Catholics, they are taught by their Church to believe and observe, have been long grossly misconceived and misrepresented in this country, to the great injury of their religious character and temporal interests.
They are persuaded that many, who are opposed to them on account of their religion, suppose, without inquiry, that the Catholic church really teaches all that she is reported by her adversaries to
1 Gaudens erubui, non me tot annos adversus Catholicam fidem, sed contra carnalium cogitationum figmenta latrasse. (original.)