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ing to those who are over hasty to account for a thing which has no existence. My distance from England, during many years past, renders me, indeed, less capable of judging concerning the state of popery, than those who are upon the spot. I shall, therefore, confine myself to a few reflections upon this interesting subject.
When it is said that popery gains ground in England, one of the two following things must be meant by this expression; either that the spirit of the established and other reformed churches is leaning that way; or that a number of individuals are made proselytes, by the seduction of popish emissaries, to the Romish communion. With respect to the established church, I think that a candid and accurate observer must vindicate it from the charge of a spirit of approximation to Rome. We do not live in the days of a Laud; nor do his successors seem to have imbibed his spirit. I do not hear that the claims of church power are carried high in the present times, or that a spirit of intolerance characterizes the episcopal hierarchy. And though it were to be wished, that the case of subscription were to be made easier to good and learned men, whose scruples deserve indulgence, and were better accommodated to what is known to be the reigning theology among the episcopal clergy, yet it is straining matters too far to allege the demand of subscription as a proof that the established church is verging toward popery. As to the protestant dissenting churches in England and Ireland, they stand so avowedly clear of all imputations of this nature, that it is utterly unnecessary to vindicate them on this head. If any thing of this kind is to be apprehended from any quarter within the pale of the reformation, it is from the quarter of fanaticism, which, by discrediting free inquiry, crying down human learning, and encouraging those pretended illuminations and impulses which give imagination an undue ascendant in religion, lays weak minds open to the seductions of a church, which has always made its conquests by wild visions and false miracles, addressed to the passions and fancies of men. Cry down reason, preach up implicit faith, extinguish the lamp of free inquiry, make inward experience the test of truth; and then the main barriers against popery will be removed. Persons who follow this method possibly may continue protestants; but there is no security against their
becoming papists, if the occasion is presented. Were they placed in a scene, where artful priests and enthusiastic monks could play their engines of conversion, their protestant faith would be very likely to fail.
If by the supposed growth of popery be meant, the success of the Romish emissaries in making proselytes to their communion, here again the question turns upon a matter of fact, upon which I cannot venture to pronounce. There is no doubt but the Romish hierarchy carries on its operations under the shade of an indulgent connivance; and it is to be feared that its members are wiser, i. e. more artful and zealous, in their generalion, than the children of light. The establishment of the protestant religion inspires, it is to be feared, an indolent security into the hearts of its friends. Ease and negligence are the fruits of prosperity; and this maxim extends even to religion. It is not unusual to see a victorious general sleep upon his laurels, and thus give advantage to an enemy, whom adversity renders vigilant. All good and true protestants will heartily wish that this were otherwise. They will be sincerely afflicted at any decline that may-happen in the zeal and vigilance that ought ever to be employed against popery and popish emissaries, since they can never cease to consider popery as a system of wretched superstition and political despotism, and must particularly look upon popery in the British isles as pregnant with the principles of disaffection and rebellion, and as at invariable enmity with our religious liberty and our happy civil constitution. But still there is reason to hope, that popery makes very little progress, notwithstanding the apprehensions that have been entertained on this subject. The insidious publications of a Taafe and a Philips, who abuse the terms of charity, philanthropy, and humanity, in their flimsy apologies for a church whose tender mercies are known to be cruel, have alarmed many well-meaning persons. But it is much more wise, as well as noble, to be vigilant and steady against the enemy, than to take the alarm at the smallest of his motions, and to fall into a panic, as if we were conscious of our weakness. Be that as it will, I return to my first principle, and am still persuaded, that the protestant church and its prevailing spirit, are at this present time, as averse to popery, as they were at any period since the reformation, and that the thriving state of learning and philosophy is adapted to confirm them in this well-founded aversion. Should it even be granted, that proselytes to popery have been made among the ignorant and unwary, by the emissaries of Rome, this would by no means invalidate what I here maintain; though it may justly be considered as a powerful incentive to the zeal and vigilance of rulers, temporal and spiritual, of the pastors and people of the reformed churches, against the encroachments of Rome.
The author of the Confessional complains, and perhaps justly, of the bold and public appearance which popery has of late made in England." The papists,” says he, “ strengthened and animated by an influx of Jesuits, expelled even from popish countries, for crimes and practices of the worst complexion, open public mass houses, and affront the laws of this protestant kingdom in other respects, not without insulting some of those who endeavour to check their insolence. And we are told, with the utmost coolness and
composure, that popish bishops go about here, and exercise every part of their function, without offence, and without observation." This is, indeed, a circumstance that the friends of reformation and religious liberty cannot behold without offence; I say, the friends of religious liberty; because the maintenance of all liberty, both civil and religious, depends on circumscribing popery within proper bounds; since popery is not a system of innocent speculative opinions, buta yoke of despotism, an enormous mixture of princely and priestly tyranny, designed to enslave the consciences of mankind, and to destroy their most sacred and invaluable rights. But, at the same time, I do not think we can, from this public appearance of popery, rationally conclude that it gains ground; much less, as the author of the Confessional suggests, that the two hierarchies, i. e. the episcopal and the popish, are growing daily more and more into a resemblance of each other. The natural reason of this bold appearance of popery is the spirit of toleration, that has been carried to a great height, and has rendered the execution of the laws against papists, in the time past, less rigorous and severe.
How it may be proper to act with regard to the growing insolence of popery, is a matter that must be left to the wisdom and clemency of government. Rigour against any thing that bears the name of a religion, gives pain to a candid and generous mind; and it is certainly more eligible
to extend too far, than to circumscribe, too narrowly, the bounds of forbearance and indulgent charity.
If the dangerous tendency of popery, considered as a pernicious system of policy, should be pleaded as a sufficient reason to except it from the indulgence due to merely speculative systems of theology; if the voice of history should be appealed to, as declaring the assassinations, rebellions, conspiracies, the horrid scenes of carnage and desolation, that popery has produced ; if standing principles and maxims of the Roman church should be quoted, which authorize these enormities ; if it should be alleged,
is much more malignant and dangerous in Great Britain than in any other protestant country; I acknowledge that all these pleas against popery are well founded, and plead for modifications to the connivance which the clemency of government may think proper to grant to that unfriendly system of religion. All I wish is, that mercy and humanity may ever accompany the execution of justice ; and that nothing like merely religious persecution may stain the British annals. And all I maintain with respect to the chief point under consideration is, that the public appearance of popery, which is justly complained of, is no certain proof of its growth, but rather shows its indiscretion than its strength, and the declining vigour of our zeal than the growing influence of its maxims.
A CIRCUMSTANTIAL AND EXACT ACCOUNT OF THE CORRESPONDENCE THAT WAS
CARRIED ON IN THE YEAR 1717 AND 1718, BETWEEN DR. WILLIAM WAKE, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, AND CERTAIN DOCTORS OF THE SORBONNE AT PARIS, RELATIVE
A PROJECT OF UNIOX BETWEEN THE ENGLISH AND GALLICAN CHURCHES.
-Magis amica veritas.
When the famous Bossuet, bishop of Meaux, laid an insidious snare for unthinking protestants, in his artful“ Exposition of the Doctrine of the Church of Rome,” the pious and learned Dr. Wake unmasked this deceiver; and the writings he published on this occasion gave him a distinguished rank among the victorious champions of the protestant cause. Should any person, who had perused these writings, be informed, that this “pretended champion of the protestant religion, had set on foot a project for union with a popish church, and that with concessions in favour of the grossest superstition and idolatry,” he would be apt to stare; at least, he would require the strongest possible evidence for a fact, in all appearance, so contradictory and unaccountable. This accusation has, nevertheless, been brought against the eminent prelate, by the ingenious and intrepid author of the Confessional; and it is founded upon an extraordinary passage in Dr. Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History; where we are told, that Dr. Wake “formed a project of peace and union between the English and Gallican churches, founded upon this condition, that each of the two communities should retain the greatest part of their respective and peculiar doctrines.” This
passage, d See the Confessional, 2d edition, Pref. p. Ixxvi.
e See the English Translation of Mosheim's History, vol. ii. p. 576. Dr. Mosheim had certainly a very imperfect idea of this correspondence; and he seems to have been misled by the account of it which Kiorningius has given in his Dissertation De Consecrationibus Episcoporum Anglorum, published at Helmstadt in 1739; which account, notwithstanding the means of information its author seemed to have by bis jourpey to England, and his conversations with Dr. Courrayer, is full of mistakes. Thus Kiorningius tells us, that Dr. Wake submitted to the judgment of the Romish doctors, bis correspondents, the conditions of peace between the two churches, which he had drawn up; that he sent a learned man, Dr. Wilkins, his chaplain, to Paris, to forward and complete, if possible, the projected union; that in a certain assembly, held at Patis, the difficulties of promoting nis union without