图书图片
PDF
ePub

Out of a great many controversial tracts, in which the Protestant faith and miništry are ridiculed and reviled, I will only mention one by the Reverend T. Baddeley, which is now distributed with great assiduity by the clergy of your communion amongst the humbler classes of ours, in certain parts of the country,' entitled “ A Sure Way to find out the true Religion.” The author says that he has drawn up his book for the use of the poor of his own congregation, to help them to discover the falsehood of those “ deceitful and impious books, which the clergymen of different persuasions are so busily employed in spreading amongst us." He tells us, that “the Protestant parsons have no lawful mission whatever, and therefore they cannot act as priests in the church of God,” and that " the Protestant church will infallibly lead men to hell;" that Fox's martyrs “ were nothing but a set of deluded, rebellious, impious, and blasphemous wretches, put to death by the law of the land for their crimes :"_" to call a man one of Fox's saints, is become the same as to call him a great rogue.” The same gentleman enumerates the different crimes for which offenders have been tried at the Old Bailey for the last twenty years, and then says, « These are the lamentable fruits of the Protestant religion. That it has always made men wicked from the first day it began, we can prove from the Protestant writers themselves.”_" There is nothing in the Protestant religion that can make a man more holy or more virtuousno private instruction given to poor ignorant people; the children are left to their own will;" but, as to the Roman Catholics, « every one of their practices helps to make a man more holy and pleasing in the sight of God.” If you wish for specimens of still more intemperate and virulent abuse, I refer you to the writings of Mr. William Eusebius Andrews, of whom you speak in terms which lead me to suspect that you have never read his productions.

I had not intended to notice any of your arguments, but I cannot forbear from making one remark, which will furnish a clue to the refutation of a great many of them. You suggest, and the importance of your suggestion is marked by the capital letters in which it is conveyed, « THAT NO DOCTRINE SHOULD BE ASCRIBED TO THE ROMAN CATHOLICS, AS A BODY, EXCEPT SUCH AS IS AN ARTICLE OF THEIR FAITH. It is most true, that Roman Catholics believe the doctrine of their church to be unchangeable ; and that it is a tenet of their creed, that what their faith ever has been, such it was from the beginning, such it now is, and such it ever will be. BUT THIS PROPOSITION THEY CONFINE TO THE ARTICLES OF THEIR FAITH; and they consider no doctrine to be of faith, unless it have been delivered by divine revelation, and (qu. or ?) propounded by the

'I refer particularly to Lancashire.

the last doubtedly sacred game Tren

reject, by the hole sacred all othered is as folf at lenor qualificat

Roman Catholic church, as a revealed article of faith. This the Roman Catholics wish their adversaries never to forget."

For an exact account of that faith, you refer us to the creed of Pius IV. published in 1564, not as the act of a council, but in the form of a bull, and ever since that time considered as an accurate and explicit summary of the Roman Catholic belief. 6 Catholics, on their admission into the Catholic church, publicly repeat and testify their assent to it, without restriction or qualification.And you give us the creed itself at length. Now the last clause but one in that creed is as follows: I also profess and undoubtedly receive all other things delivered, defined, and declared by the sacred canons and general councils, and parti, cularly by the holy council of Trent; and likewise I also condemn, reject, and anathematize all things contrary thereto, and all heresies whatsoever condemned and anathematized by the church."

Whatsoever therefore is declared and defined in any of the canons of the Roman Catholic church, or in the acts of any general council, not merely, though particularly, the council of Trent, we may, by your own avowal, consider to be an article of the Roman Catholic faith. This concession, I apprehend, involves consequences which you were either not aware of, or supposed we should not discover. When the council of Constance had determined that the cup should be taken from the laity, the Bohemians were so much dissatisfied that the council of Basle restored it to them. Which council was infallible ? Which decree is to be “ undoubtedly received ?” The council of Basle, in 1431, decreed that a general council is above the pope ; but the Lạteran council, in 1546, declared this decree to have been the source of corruption and abuse. The council of Constantinople forbade the worship or reverence paid to images; the second Nicene council enjoined it; the council of Frankfort prohibited it ; and it was finally re-established by the council of Trent. But it must be confessed that the expression of Pius IV. admits of a happy latitude and ambiguity; and if this be the creed to which all persons entering into the ministry of your church are obliged to assent, since even the Roman Catholic divines themselves are by no means of one opinion, either as to the number or authority of general councils, nor consequently of the “ things defined and declared” by them, you are at least as likely as we are. to have a great many clergymen who “subscribe with a sigh or a smile."

May I not ask, without imputing to you individually tenets which you will be the first to disavow, whether it does not seem to follow, as a necessary consequence of your admission, that all true Roman Catholics must still believe that doctrine vhich has

[ocr errors]

caused so much mischief in the world, that the church of Rome may excommunicate and depose kings, and extirpate heretics ; for one of these rights was claimed for her by the council of Trent, and the other by the fourth Lateran council ?: Nor will it avail you to say, that these are merely points of discipline, not of docirine ; since the creed of Pius IV. says, “ I profess and undoubtedly receive all other things,” not only « defined,” but “ declared by the several councils, and particularly by the holy council of Trent." But why particularly if all general councils were infallible, and their decrees undoubtedly true, how is it that the council of Trent can have a pre-eminence of orthodoxy ? Indeed, Sir, you had better have kept in the back-ground that creed of Pope Pius IV.; for I foresee that this comprehensive clause of it will involve you in very serious difficulties."

The council of Constance declared (Sess. 19.) “ that no safe conduct given to a heretic, under any covenant whatsoever, by any person whomsoever, ought to exempthim from the judgmentof the ecclesiasticaljudge, who may punish him, though he come into court relying on that safe conduct ;' and accordingly John Huss was condemned and burnt, in spite of the assurance which he had received from Sigismund of his safe passage to and from the council. Now this, Sir, being a doctrine laid down by a general council, you “profess, and undoubtedly receive"-" without restriction or qualification.” If you remain true to your own rule, you must avow your belief in some heretical, as well as some uncharitable doctrines. The Sirmian council, convenied by the Emperor Constantius, and approved of by Pope Liberius, pronounced in favor of the Arian, or Semi-Arian doctrines. Bellarmine says of this council, that it is partly approved and partly disapproved ; an odd account to give of an infallible synod; and not very consistent with the declaration in Pope Pius's creed. It is true that this council determined one thing at one time, and another at another, and that Liberius repented of having persecuted Athanasius ; but repentance is not quite compatible with infallibility. As you, Sir, lay no claim to the latter quality, you are, I trust, not inaccessible to the former; but as ready to apologize for a harsh expression, as you are incapable of doing an intentional injury to the character of that great body of Christian ministers to which I account it my chief honor and happiness to belong.

I am, Sir, your sincere well-wisher,

C. J. CHESTER. St. Botolph's Bishopsgate, Feb. 28, 1825.

You may see, or rather you probably have seen, this argument ably urged by the present Bishop of Peterborough, in one of the most acute and convincing of his publications, “A Comparative View of the Churches of England and Rome.”

POSTSCRIPT.

· Since the second edition of this letter was printed, you have deemed it right to publish an answer,' in order to vindicate yourself from the charge of having cast an uncharitable imputation on the clergy of the church of England. I suspect that your vindication will be as offensive to the clergy, as it will be, I am persuaded, unsatisfactory to your readers at large. · I accused you of imputing to the great body of my brethren in the ministry the disbelief of certain doctrines, which they solemnly profess to believe. This charge you deny; and you assert, that the passage in your Book of the Roman Catholic Church, censured in my letter, cannot fairly be construed in the sense, in which I have understood it. The passage in question contains the following words :-“Are these doctrines" (the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Divinity of Christ, and the Atonement) "seriously and sincerely believed by the great body of the present English' clergy?" You will hardly deny, that this question was intended to imply an answer in the negative. It was this iinplied negative which I requested you to reconsider and recall; but instead of retracting, or explaining, or apologizing for these offensive words, or of substantiating the insinuation which they convey, you have passed them over in silence, and have confined your answer to an entirely different question, whether ihe thirty-nine articles be not subscribed with a certain latitude of interpretation; and this you assure me, you have done for self-defence, not to attack the church."

You say, in p. 6, of your letter, " that you do not believe that the English Clergy are hypocrites, liars, or Socinians:" but in answer to your assertion, that you have never said so, I beg leave to remind you, that whoever imputes to me a disbelief of those vital doctrines of the gospel, the Divinity of Christ and the Atonement, calls me, not indeed in terminis, but by implication, a Socinian: and that whoever charges me with having given my solemn assent to articles of faith which I utterly disbelieve, calls me, not in so many words, but by inevitable consequence, a hypocrite and a liar. I must therefore continue to maintain, that you have stigmatized the clergy with these opprobrious appellations, until you shall absolutely retract that offensive question, of which, at present, you have given no explanation whatever.

Positive disbelief of the great and fundamental doctrines of our faith has nothing to do with the latitude of construction, in which you suppose the articles to be generally signed. You cannot be ignorant that this supposed latitude refers chiefly to the doctrines involved in the quinquarticular controversy; and that those writers, who have termed our articles “ articles of peace," have so termed them with reference to the points at issue between ihe Calvinistic and Arminian divines, who were the two parties to be reconçiled; and not with the most distant allusion to those fundamental points of doctrine which are controverted by the followers of Socinus.

Of Dr. Paley, Dr. Balguy, Dr. Powell, and other writers, to whom you

* This “ Answer" is printed in the present No. of the PAMPHLETEER.-ED.

have referred as allowing a certain latitude in subscription,' I may remark, that not one of them contemplates the allowableness, or the possibility of that, which you impute to the clergy in general-subscription to articles which are not believed. Dr. Powell, in particular, says, “ Since it cannot be imagined, that men should explain with clearness, or enforce with earnestness, or defend with accuracy, such doctrines as they do not believe, the church · requires of them, who are appointed to teach religion, a solemn declaration of their faith.lo quoling Paley's opinion, according to which you maintain that the articles may be subscribed by Unitarians and Arians (why not Jews and Mahometans also :) you omit his concluding sentence, which effectually destroys your induction,"Nor can a subscriber to the articles take any advantage of any latitude which our rule, may seem to allow, who is not first convinced, that he is truly and substantially satisfying the intention of the legislature. This is not the only, nor the most important omission, which, i foretell, will be proved against your

You tell me, in p. 16, of the second edition of your letter, that Dr. Powell and Dr, Hey, “neither define the original construction of the articles, nor the new construction which they assert them to have received, in conse: quence of an alleged tacit reformation this they leave at large to the imagination of the subscribers; by these it is to be discovered; by these to be adopted; and by these to be fashioned to their own feelings." Really, Sir, this assertion compels me to offer you a piece of advice, of the neglect of which I see many marks in your late publications, viz. to read the authors whom you quote, and not to take your notions of them at second-hand from Dr. Milner. I need not inform those persons who have read Dr. Hey's Lectures, that three out of his four volumes are expressly and entirely employed by him in doing that, which you assert that he has not done at all; in giving a very exact historical account of every article, showing their original construction, the change of construction which certain of them may be supposed to have undergone, and the modifications which might be adopt. ed, in case of a revision, in order to comprehend those who cannot conscientiously subscribe them in their present form,

As to the different feelings with which you suppose Dr. Samuel Clarke, Dr. Conyers Middleton, Dr. Clayton, and the petitioners of 1772, to have subscribed, they have nothing to do with the belief of the present English clergy in the great doctrines before alluded to; not to mention, that the réception which the opinions of those persons met with at the time, is a sufficient proof that they were not, even then, the opinions “ of the great body of the English clergy."

In 1772, only 250 out of at least 10,000 clergymen petitioned that subscription to articles should be dispensed with, and it by no means appears that even of them, all were Socinians or Arians. The great body of English Dissenters object to subscriptions; but they are neither Socinians nor Arians, Yet on the strength of this case, where one in forty avowed a dislike of the principle of subscription to any articles of faith, you build your assumption, that “the great body of the English clergy disbelieve the Divinity of Christ;" and, while pretending to disavow the charge, you tell us, as a mat

"I hope you did not mean to insinuate, that any one of these eminent writers denied, or disbelieved, the great doctrines before-mentioned. Dr. Balguy, in particular, distinguished himself by a most convincing demonstration of the worship due to Christ, and by his most earnest and solemn denunciation of Unitarianism. One would not imagine, from your allusions to him, that by bis able argument for subscription to articles, he had utterly discomfited your favorite pctitioners from the Feathers Tavern,

« 上一页继续 »