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“ to find it announced, that in the summer of “1813, there were confirmed by a Catholic bishop
in the towns of Manchester, Liverpool, and “ Preston alone, no less than three thousand chil“ dren. We are, however, surprised that any “ conscientious and intelligent Protestant can
survey an institution, such as has been describ“ed, without inquiring for what ultimate purpose “ this vast machinery has been constructed, and “ without auguring dangers of considerable mag“ nitude both to our church and state, from the “ tacit encouragement of such a system. We “ have, however, like good honest unsuspecting “ Englishmen, submitted to the introduction of “ Romish priests, bishops, and vicars apostolic; “ we have seen nunneries and other Popish insti“tutions founded, without any emotion; even the “ Jesuits in England could not disturb our slum. “ bers; to complete therefore the design, we are “ now gravely threatened with a resident cardinal;
though to speak the truth, we do not imagine “ that any thing short of a visit from the Pope « himself will have the effect of putting us fully " on our guard against the machinations of a bier. "archy, whose first maxim has ever been to re“ duce mankind in all ages, and in all nations, to “ the utter subjection of mind and will to the
spiritual usurpation of a despotic church.”* * Review of a History of the Jesuits in the British Review
for 1817, pp.
In such a state of things as is depicted in the foregoing quotations, and with the obvious fact before our eyes, that latitudinarian principles with respect to the differences which separate the churches of the Reformation from the communion of Rome, are daily growing among professing Protestants, encouraged by the spirit of an infidel Philosophy, and by a liberality falsely so called, it cannot be superfluous to recal the attention of Protestants to some of those passages wherein the Holy Spirit was pleased by the mouths of his servants the prophets and apostles, to warn the church of the future abominations of Papal Rome.
A work of this kind is necessarily controversial. It has, however, been the constant endeavour of the author to speak of things rather than of persons, remembering that to judge persons belongs to God only. He rejoices in believing that there have in all ages been truly spiritual Christians, who have lived and died in the communion of the Church of Rome; who, like the seven thousand names in Israel, * have not bowed the knee to Baal, though they have, by the invincible prejudices of education, been prevented from discerning the true character of that church.
Indeed, in these pages the reader will find the testimonies of some honest Roman Catholics against the errors and usurpations of the Popes, who thereby have proved that though they were included in the external communion of Rome, they did not believe the lie of the man of sin and son of perdition.*
* 1 Kings xix. 18.
The author is here, however, compelled to add, that he cannot extend the principle of charity to Roman Catholics quite so far as is enjoined in the following observations by an able writer of the present day, who asks, “Should any member of “ that (the Romish) persuasion, come forward “ with a mitigated view of the peculiarities of Ca“tholics, so as to leave the great doctrines of fạith “ and repentance unimpaired by them, and state 6 that an averment of the Bible has never in his “ instance been neutralised, or practically stript " of its authority by an averment of Popes and “ Councils—on what principle of candour shall “ the recognition of a common Christianity be “ withheld from him ? +
Now, in answer to this question, it may be stated, with all due deference to the eminent character from whom it proceeds, that our Lord himself has warned us against an implicit reliance upon
the professions of men. If Dr. Chalmers were better acquainted, than he professes himself to be, with the present state of the Catholic mind, he might, perhaps, see reason to think that it is a part of the
* 2 Thess. ii. 9, 10. + A Sermon preached before the Glasgow Auxiliary. Hibernian Society, by Thomas Chalmers, D.D. Preface, p. 7.
modern policy of Rome, carefully and systematically to accommodate itself to the circumstances in which it is placed. Thus, though Popery be every where essentially the same, yet we must not suppose that it in all countries assumes the same external hue. Cameleon-like, it adapts its colour to that of the surrounding medium. Since the Reformation, the Papists have been much more guarded and ambiguous than before, in their public formularies. They also vary considerably in the grossness of their practice in different countries. We shall not, perhaps, among ourselves, hear “ that the picture of our Lady of such a place has “ opened or shut its eyes, or changed colour, or
perspired;" yet these abominations still exist in Italy and the Spanish Peninsula, and are encouraged by the Priesthood; nay, even in our own days such things have been encouraged by the whole Roman Catholic Prelates of our sister island. But in this country, the Romish advocates, and especially such among them as are of the order of the Jesuits, will at all times be prepared with mitigated views of their doctrines and practices, in order to make them palatable to Protestants. We do not say that all such statements are to be rejected as designedly false; but we do aver, that they are not to be received with implicit confidence. Let a Romish Priest warn his flock of the sin and danger of the idolatry of Loretto, or let him admit among his people the free use of the Scriptures
without note or comment, and we shall then with gladness hold out to him the right hand of fellowship.
But no affirmations on the part of Papists, “that “ 'the system is imaginary," can weigh with the Protestant who sees its real existence inscribed on the public and authorised formularies of the Romish Church, and who takes '“ heed unto that “ sure word of prophecy as unto a light that shin“eth in a dark place,"'* wherein the continued existence of the Antichristian system till it is destroyed by the brightness of our Saviour's second appearance is expressly predicted.
I deem it necessary, before closing this Preface, to remark that I do not profess in this volume to exhibit a complete portrait of Popery. Accord. ingly, it will be found that I have said nothing about transubstantiation and the idolatry of the
It seems to me, that to touch on these subjects without a full discussion of them, would be injudicious; and to have completely investigated them would have increased the work to a greater size than might be conducive to its general usefulness. I have, therefore, merely endeavoured to seize and delineate such of the more promi. nent features of the system as seemed to be necessary to justify the contents of my title-page.
* 2 Pet. i. 19.