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THOUGH the names of persons and places have been, for important reasons, suppressed, the reader is not to suppose that there is any thing fictitious in the following pages, They contain a faithful narrative of the Author's experience as a devout Roman Catholic-as a Sceptic in that communion-as a Convert, convinced of the truth of Protestantism, but not renewed in heart--and, finally, as a Believer in Jesus.
In the portraiture which he presents of the Papal system, and of the Irish Priesthood, he has endeavoured with scrupulous care to disclose the truth without exaggeration. He disclaims all intention of catering for party-spirit. The zeal which that spirit inspires, is seldom hallowed by love or chastened by meekness. The Protestant advocate in Ireland is unhappily too often confounded with the political partisan; hence, while with some of his brethren his pleading excites indignation, perhaps revenge, with others it calls forth sympathy for the accused; and the Church of Rome, alive to every circumstance that can be turned to her advantage, assumes the tone of calumniated innocencemeekly deprecating the violence of her assailants, and not implausibly insinuating the impurity of their motives. The consequence is, that many who are unacquainted with her policy (the springs of which are, indeed, concealed from the majority of her own people) are betrayed into the vindication of her cause, and ultimately, perhaps, the profession of her creed.
It is, therefore, the duty of the friends of truth, and especially of converts, as they value the interests of the cause they have adopted, and the salvation of the people they have forsaken, to abstain, in their discussions on this subject, from political allusions and angry recrimination. They should strip the Romish system of all its adventitious appendages, and bring its essential and unchanging principles at once to the test of Reason and Scripture.
This the Author has endeavoured to accomplish. It has been his aim to present a faithful record of his own principles and feelings as a Roman Catholic—to point out the circumstances that first awakened doubts in his mind—to trace the steps by which, with hesitation and trembling,
he won his intricate way through the gloomy labyrinth of superstition-to describe the natural and facile transition from Romanism to Infidelity -to reveal the secrets of the Sceptic's heart-to recount the incidents, and state the arguments by which he was finally led to embrace the Protestant faith, and trust in a CRUCIFIED SAVIOUR.
The internal struggles of the convert the perplexity of mind and laceration of heart with which he sacrifices on the altar of Truth all that endears social life, that sweetens memory or brightens hope-are here pourtrayed with candour and fidelity. The difficulties that beset the Inquirer's path—the fancied novelty of Protestantism, the immorality of the Reformers, and the abuses of private judgment, with all that might bewilder or distress, are also fully obviated, and the disenthralled spirit is safely conducted to the cross of Calvary and the throne of Grace; in one word, to the CHURCH OF CHRIST.
The Writer, therefore, trusts that, as an illustration of the Force of Truth under circumstances peculiarly trying, combined with a satisfactory defence of the common faith of Protestants, his little work will be found both useful and interesting; and that, as it is free from sectarianism, it will be kindly received by all denominations. He now commends it in prayer to the blessing