Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

darkness as to the duty of acting on the doctrine of exclusive salvation; and our darkness is not much enlightened by the phrase, obeying the duty of acting on the doctrine of exclusive salvation ; nor, further, by complying with the easy demand of obeying the duty of acting on the doctrine of exclusive salvation. But the series, if not enlightening, is at least agreeable, for it awakens recollections of our pleasant juvenile story of the “House that Jack built.”

But perhaps you may say, that though this doctrine excites to no direct hostility against an individual, the case is different when it is considered in reference to a rival church. A single scintilla of light does indeed now gleam through the darkness, but I much think that it will prove an ignis fatuus to those who are so unwary as to follow it. It seems that the « spiritual instructors of those lay members of the Roman church who would be likely to sit in Parliament,” will make of them an “ easy demand;” (meaning, I suppose, a demand easy to be complied with ;) which easy demand is, that they should obey the duty of acting on the doctrine of exclusive salvation; or, in plainer words, that they should take active measures for the overthrow of the Protestant church ; for activity is the very spice of the matter, and you are considering the effect of letting Catholics legislate for the Protestant church. Now you must permit me to doubt whether compliance with this demand would be easy or very safe either : seeing that our security against such activity is, not that Catholics do not sit in Parliament, but that no man can put it forth without risking his neck and estate, without creating a civil war, or without the certainty of being overpowered.

But let us try if we cannot come to a safer conclusion respecting the influence of those « spiritual instructors” on the Catholics who sit in Parliament. Why, Sir, a most pointed and unanswered argument in favor of the concession of the claims is, that it will effectually remove these very persons out of the sphere of that influence. I have heard of an Irish baronet, of large fortune, who having been prevented from hunting on St. John's day by a threat on the part of his domestic priest-not, I suppose, of excommuni. cation, for that sentence, you say, is only fulminated by the higher orders in the church, but of what you call the priest's curse, applied to the bishop to have this priest removed and another sent in his place. The bishop, however, not only compelled Sir Phelim to keep the priest in his house, but even to make an apology to him. This is certainly miserable bondage. But if this gentleman had been allowed to represent his native county, in which he had a larger property and more influence than any other individual ; when he came to inhabit a mansion in Grosvenor Square ; when he became a member of some of the leading political clubs; when

he heard topics of every kind handled with perfect fearlessness, without Father O'Flaherty's name or authority being once taken into consideration ; when he discovered that every one of his new associates looked with the deepest scorn on the subjection to which he had submitted ; when, moreover, he found himself night by night engaged in discussions, and voting on questions which involved ihe interests of every quarter of the globe, and of half the human species; how many months, or even weeks, think you, would have elapsed before he had ceased to care a farthing whether Father O'Flaherty were cursing him or not, on the bog of Ballynoswilly? And when he returned to Ireland, would the bishop or priest, think you, attempt to repeat their offensive experiments ? No, Sir: they would be blind indeed if they did not soon discover by how slight a tenure they now held the man: that the least indiscretion on their part would lose him forever. But Iought to apologise to you for this long 'illustration, when I might merely have referred you back to the following sentence, in p. 79 of your own Letter, for a most satisfactory answer on this subject. “I have no doubt, that if popes or priests were to attempt now-a-days to draw such principles (viz. of applying equivocation and mental reservation to oaths) into practice among them here, we should soon see the happiest results from the experiment." This is indeed most consolatory. I should not have had mental nerve to state the matter so broadly. You show us most satisfactorily that the influence of popes and priests, instead of being an evil, is in this case an advantage. If they exert it we gain, if they do not exert it we cannot lose. It is true, Sir, that you begin immediately to suspect that you have gone rather too far, and you therefore attempt to rescue Ireland from the influence of your observation. «He must be a bold man who would venture with equal readiness to answer for the mass of the Roman Catholic population, above all of the Roman Catholic clergy, in that country.” It is with peculiar pleasure that I again remind you that the influence of popes, or priests, on the mass of the Catholic population, and above all of the Catholic clergy, in Ireland, is a matter totally independent of the concession of the claims: the influence they will have on those persons who may be called to take part in the legislature is alone concerned; and you may therefore recur with perfect security to that satisfaction which your original most just and most consolatory observation is calculated to inspire.

But you have more to say still on the doctrine of exclusive salvation. “ It may be said, however, that there are many professed members of the church of Rome who do not hold this doctrine, whatever their church may tell them. I really believe that there is much truth in this observation ; and if you could ascertain cor

rectly who these are, I, for one, should not be afraid of seeing such men in Parliament. But, in the meanwhile, it is quite idle to speculate on the possible conduct of these mere entes rationis." This, and one or two other somewhat similar paragraphs in your book, remind me of an advertisement of a quack medicine, called “ Dredge's Heal All.” The patentee closes a list of disorders which his nostrum wilt infallibly cure, and which includes almost every evil to which the human body is liable, with chilblains-if they are not broken." The object of this final condition, of course is to impress on the minds of those sufferers who read the advertisement, that he has weighed with the most scrupulous exactness the claims he puts in for his medicine; he will not exceed the truth, “one-twentieth part of one poor scruple ;" he will not burden his conscience with saying chilblains generally, whereas it will not cure them if they are broken. The exception is made on a satisfactory calculation of how many customers he will lose by broken chilblains, and how many he will gain by the confidence inspired by his fairness. With an analogous motive, you burst out on us occasionally with a glare of liberality; always indeed worded with such careful ambiguity, that it cannot prejudice your cause, and can produce no impression on the minds of your readers, but that of your extreme candor, and the studious fairness of all your conclusions. You " for one, would not be afraid of seeing such men," (men who will not hold the doctrine of exclusive salvation,) “ in Parliament.” Wonderful liberality! But you would rather exclude ten thousand of them, than run the slightest risk of admitting one who will.

I will but just stop to ask you, whether it can be « instructive,” or ought to be “ interesting," : to rake among the devotional effusions which have been published in Dublin by private individuals in the last twenty-seven years, and to bring forward one printed anonymously in 1800, and which probably has never reached a second edition, as an exemplification of the temper of the Irish Catholic church? You, however, think these prayers worthy of the following summing up, which, as it contains something like an appeal to the real question, I shall quote at length_“Sir, you will readily believe me, that I do not complain of these prayers ; they accord with the feelings of persons who hold the principles of the church of Rome; I only mean, that those who hold principles which produce such feelings, are not quite fit to be intrusted with the power of legislating for our schismatical, heretical, and, as they

“In A Manual of Prayers, and other Christian Devotions, by R. C. D.D. Booker, 1800,' I find the following instructive and interesting particulars."-Letter I. p. 97.

conceive, damnable church.” I have before answered you in my own words on this subject; I will now request you to answer yourself, by giving a reply to the following question framed in Mr. Pitt's. Can the admission of the Catholics to Parliament and office, ever give them any such weight in office or in Parliament, as could give them any new means of attacking the establishment ? If it cannot, and if the concession of the claims will do good in any way whatever, the desire of the Catholics to attack the establishment is no argument against conceding them.

DANGER V.- From the Doctrine of Absolution. You introduce this danger, by quoting from Mr. Canning's speech in 1825, as follows: “ The doctrine of absolution had also occasioned much objection. In the abstract, that doctrine was absurd"--and there you stop for a very singular purpose. Your remark is, “ I trust, Sir, that you meant to confine your censure to the extravagant doctrine of the church of Rome ; not to extend it (as your words seem to imply,) to absolution generally.” As his words seem to imply !-why, he tells us as plain as words can speak, that he is talking of that doctrine of absolution, which (with reference to the question in hand) had occasioned much objection ; which is not the general doctrine, but the doctrine of the church of Rome: and he tells you, that in the abstract, (i, e. as the next sentence clearly shows, abstracted from the way in which it is practically applied,) that doctrine is absurd. Any plain man would have been satisfied to see this, and would not have sought an occasion to vent a rhodomontade about being bound to tell him, that in the plenitude of his parliamentary privilege he had presumed to visit with his ban one of the most solemn acts and declarations of our blessed Lord himself. I suppose you thought that this magnificent tirade would so occupy the minds of your readers, that they would not discover that you never did, indeed never could, think that Mr. Canning meant the general doctrine; and six lines lower, you have the unparalleled audacity to print the remaining limb of his sentence, in which he identifies the absolution of which he speaks, with that respecting which evidence was taken in the House of Lords. But, notwithstanding this, to have a pretence for introducing your thunder, you say, “ As your words seem to imply!" I do not ask you whether this is not a pitiful shift; I do not ask you whether it is not a miserable equivocation; I do not ask you whether such conduct is upright, or simple, or honorable--whether it can be characterised by any single epithet which a man would apply to another whom he respected; I do not ask you what sort of religious feeling it indicated in you, to make use

of the name of our blessed Lord, when you were engaged in such a pursuit. But I do ask you, whether it is discreet in you, who make so free with the characters of others; who only in the opposite page, accuse a brother divine of “ rabid fury,” of * perverted pride,” of « impotent malice,” and sum up, by distinctly comparing him to the Devil; who in the same page accuse the Catholic Bishops of “ a foul deception;" I ask you whether it is worth your while for the sake of throwing so momentary a slur on Mr. Canning, to lay yourself open to the remarks which such conduct is sure to provoke ?

Your appetite must indeed have been wonderfully keen when you swallowed or rather bolted the statement that the whole of * thirty-five individuals in the dock, together sentenced to death,were so completely fortified by the Catholic doctrine of Absolution, that not one of them evinced the least degree of emotion in consequence of the pronouncing of sentence ;" (the italics are all your own,) not one was found to give the shudder which under such circumstances is sometimes wrung even from exalted faith by the weakness of humanity. No! Every one was unmoved; and this is not an extreme case ; it is the mere ordinary effect” of the doctrine ; for

you
tell

us to “seek the truth" in it, and advise us to legislate on it. But as I should wish to retain my faith somewhere within the very extreme verge of human probabilities, I decline to o seek the truth” in this statement, as you decline to seek it in the goodly glozes” of Dr. Doyle. I beg leave however to express my complete accordance in your opinion, that the “ practical results of the Absolution of the Church of England are totally dissimilar” to that which you have by this evidence is proved to be the ordinary effect of the Absolution of Romish Priests on the populace of Ireland."

Probably, Sir, none of the thirty-five individuals are now in a situation to be more influenced by the Concessions of the Claims than the effect produced by absolution on the populace of Ireland will be so we may pass on to

DANGER VI.-From the Doctrine of Works of Supererogation,

and from Indulgences. I will not interfere between Mr. Canning, you and the Calvinists, but pass on to the following observation. I will remind you of a real political objection against the Roman Catholics founded on the value they attach to good works—but then it is to the good works of others, not their own--and consequently it has no tendency to improve either their loyalty or their morals. On the merit of the supernumerary satisfactions of departed saints, the

« AnteriorContinuar »