« הקודםהמשך »
Public or local Discussion. Assistance in the promotion of meetings for discussion, and the publ; cation of their proceedings, will be confined to such cases, as beard rectly on the controversy, and are distinct from those which have refe rence to the objects of particular societies. Such discussions must b confined to the points at issue between the Protestant and Roman Cath
I olic churches.'
The committee in their report commence with a brief recapitu lation of facts, and remark, that “these and other proofs whics might be adduced, show indisputably,— Ist. That Romanism is in a creasing in extent and influence. 2d. That its advocates are un a ceasingly active in its propagation, and have recourse to the mos attractive means for the purpose of beguiling Protestants. And 2dly. (the most melancholy of all,) That Protestants so far forge their faith, as to look upon the difference between their faith and that of Rome, as of no very essential character. Your committee therefore, submit, that these facts prove the imperious necessity | for constant exertion on the parts of those who love the principles of the bible, and glory in the religion of the cross."*
The report gives, with some minuteness of detail, their proceedings for the year, from which it appears, that the secretary, (Mr. Edward Tottenham, esq.)t with some one or more clergymen appointed as a deputation from the society, has visited a large number of towns in England, Ireland, and Scotland, and hold public discussions upon the prominent doctrines of popery,—as, transubstantiation, the mass, purgatory, penance, infallibility, &c.
These meetings have usually been attended by crowds of people, -and even in parts of Ireland, where, in political matters their power seemed perfectly absolute, the Roman Catholic priests have been unable to prevent their people from attending these meetings for discussion. An invitation is, in every instance, respectfully given to the advocates of popery to come and maintain their doctrines. In many cases, the invitation has been accepted. In these circumstances, rules to regulate the debate are read publicly, and the rights of both parties, as far as possible, secured.
The following rules and regulations, intended to define and explain the system of discussion, which it is the object of the British Reformation Society to promote, have been unanimously agreed upon by the London and Dublin committees, and are earnestly recommended as a guide to local societies, and individuals acting in connection with the institution :
Page 17 of the report. + From some recent publications, we learn, that Mr. Tottenham has taken orders, and that it has become common to substitute a series of discourses, in lhe place of the public discussions,
“1st. The object of the discussions, instituted by the Reformation Society, is, the promotion of religious inquiry among Roman Catholics.
2. The method by which it is proposed to attain this object, is, the public comparison of the doctrines of the church of Rome with scripture. The discussion should be confined to the difference between their modern known and authenticated catechism and books of devotion, and the word of God."
These discussions are frequently continued several evenings in succession. Among other places, Oxford, Glasgow, and Aberdeen, were visited, and much interest manifested by the students of theology in those places. At Aberdeen, a resolution was adopted by a theological society, that no questions should be debated during the ensuing session, but such as had relation to the contro versy between Protestantism and popery. We have seen a number of the Society's tracts, and believe, that their re-publication in ibis country would be of essential service to the cause of truth. They hold a firm and solemn tone, are free from the language of invective, and constantly appeal to the word of God, as the only authoritative rule of faith. We have been instructed by their perusal, and encouraged by them to hope, that the spirit of Latimer, and Ridley, and Cranmer, was about returning to the defense of the truth, in the land of our fathers. We feel persuaded, that the efforts of this society are highly beneficial : thousands of minds will be led to investigate, and this will continually strengthen the cause of Protestantism. This cause, like temperance, the more it is agitated, the stronger it stands. A similar spirit of inquiry, excited by public addresses or discussions, would be useful in Spain or Italy, where popery has not only banished the bible, but laid its withering hand upon the press. Still more salutary must it be in that land of light, where knowledge is diffused; where the records of the past lie open to inspection; and where the character of popery is, as it were, burned into the history of the nation.
One beneficial result already secured by the labors of this society, is, the detection and exposure of that principle of accommodation which popery adopts, when it urges its claims in Protestant countries. This “semper eadem” body excels all others in its turns, and denials, and concealments, of the plain and sworn dogmas of Rome. In papal countries, where they have “put out the light,” and sit enthroned in the “majesty of darkness,” they almost abandon the semblance of a lamb, while they “speak like a dragon;" but where the bible is known, though they is hate its beams," they change their voice, and assume quite another character. Although every priest has sworn to maintain and defend the decrees of the Holy Council of Trent, yet it is with such a mental reservation, as enables them to adopt any measures which they may consider advisable for the accomplishment of their ultimate design. They therefore veil the deformities of their religious and political system, until the fascinations of a splendid ritual, and the awe inspired by its feigned mysteries, and the chain of auricular confession, first allure, and then bind the dupes of this "strong delusion.” In our country, as well as in Europe, it should be borne in mind, that this system is to be known, not „from the professions of Jesuitical expediency, but from the published and acknowledged standards of the church of Rome. If the British society succeed, in wholly drawing aside the veil and exhibiting popery as it is, to the public mind of Great Britain, they will have done a service not only to that country, but to the world.
The facts which are developed, in the Report of the British Society, with regard to the increase of Roman Catholics in some parts of Great Britain, are deserving of notice. The following are found in a statement made by E. Tottenham, Esq., before the College Reformation Society, Glasgow. There are at present, throughout the country, eleven colleges for the education of priests, and thirty-five seminaries. Official documents show, that, in Manchester, where seventy years ago there were but seventy Roman Catholics, there are now forty-two thousand. In Liverpool, where there were, a few years since, comparatively few, there are now fifty-two thousand. In Glasgow, they number thirty thousand. In 1832, there were fifteen Roman Catholic chapels erected in England. The Romish bishops are frequently confirming adult converts. At Wolverhampton, there were sixty-three lately received into the church ; at Harwich, fifty; at Cessey, a small town near Norwich, forty-five. Through the influence emanating from a Jesuit college at Stoneyhurst, near Preston, popery has increased, (says the British Review,) to an alarming extent. The principal Jesuit priest is said to have made his boast, that when he came to the place, a little more than twenty years since, a small room would have accommodated his congregation; whereas now, two large chapels, each capable of containing two thousand persons, are not sufficient for their converts.
The following extracts are from the address of J. E. Gordon, Esq., lately a member of parliament, at the last anniversary of the British Reformation Society :
• He held in his hand a map, which might be had at the Society's depository, for eighteen pence, (and he would strongly recommend every person interested in the subject, to purchase a copy for their instruction ;) in that map, they had England exhibited in a state of moral ulceration, literally blotted with popish chapels and colleges, from one margin to the other. And what, he would ask, was the length of the
period into which this appalling evidence of the increase of popery had been crowded ? Was it the period that had elapsed since the reformation ? No such thing. He had simply to direct their attention to the contrast presented by the number of popish chapels and colleges which existed in England, Wales, and Scotland, in 1796, and the number to be found within the same boundary line in 1833. In London, there were, according to information derived from Roman Catholic documents, only two chapels in 1796 ; and in 1833, there were, according to the same information, no fewer than twenty-five; leaving out, in both cases, the embassy chapels. In 1796, there were ten licensed Roman Catholic places of worship in other parts of England ; and, according to the map wbich he held in his hand, there were now four hundred and twentythree. In 1796, there were no Roman Catholic colleges in England; but in 1833, they had no fewer than nine colleges, overflowing with students. In 1796, there were only two seminaries of education noticed in the Roman Catholic official publications; but these had increased in 1833, to upwards of fifty, most of which were connected with colleges and monastic institutions. To these chapels were to be added ten, which had been built in the course of the last year, and no fewer than seventy-eight for Scotland, most of which had been erected within the period described. Were these facts, he would ask, no evidence of an increase of popery in this country? * * * * * It is a fact, that a considerable part of the funds raised by public subscription, for the erection of Roman Catholic places of worship in this country, is contributed by persons glorying in the title of liberal Protestants. Yes, on that list might be found the names of presidents of the India board, secretaries of state, lords-lieutenants and secretaries of Ireland,-men who, with a profession of Protestantism on their lips, appeared to be utterly destitute of a particle of Protestant truth in their hearts. The same cause would account for the frequenting of such exhibitions as oratories, given by Roman Catholics for religious purposes, and crowded by applauding Protestants, who could sit and listen, with delight, to such performances as the following :-Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is Jesus, the fruit of thy womb! Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, both now and at the house of our death. Amen !' And would the meeting believe, that men in Scotland, where the noblest and most decisive struggle for the reformed faith, had taken place, Scotland, whose very name had been rendered synonymous with Protestantism,would English men and English women believe, that, even in Scotland, Protestant provosts, and Protestant elders, were to be found among the patrons of such exhibitions? Yes; with popery increasing around them, would Scottish provosts and Scottish elders be found contributing to the multiplication of popish chapels, to augment the victims of delusion, and to immolate another and another portion of their countrymen at the shrine of a hateful superstition. In such a diseased state of society, it could be no cause of surprise to hear, that popish chapels were annually increasing; or even, that a large building had actually been purchased for the establishment of a nunnery in the metropolis of Scotland. He had endeavored to point out the manner in which popery was bearing down, if he might so speak, upon Protestantism, through the channel of intellectual liberalism. He should next point to the process by which it was ascending from the depth of popular ignorance, &c.'
After the above exhibition of popery in Great Britain, we invite the attention of our readers to some considerations on the system of popery in general, and especially, to some causes of alarm in this respect, with regard to our own country. Whether, in the inscrutable providence of God, popery will ever be permitted to prevail extensively in countries where its dominion has been broken, it is not easy for us to predict. In the first history of the church, no other power or form of evil has contributed so much to retard her progress, paralize her energies, and cover her with sorrow and blood. It is often affirmed, that this system is on the wane on the European continent. This is doubtless true; and it may be, too, that its fall there, will sympathize with its rise here, or at least with the most strenuous efforts for its importation and establishment. The power of Romanism has indeed been partially broken, and its resources diminished; but it still exists a civil and ecclesiastical organization combined, and holds through the earth an extensive dominion. When we take into view the number of minds still under its sway, and their location amid the nations of the old and new world, it will be seen, that it exceeds in many respects any other earthly power. The Chinese empire includes greater numbers, but they exert little influence beyond their own wall. But popery, while it holds a scepter of civil power over three millions, around the seven hills, has its emissaries and influence in every part of the world.
The triumphs of the Reformation, and the “wane of popery,' are statements by which we are liable to be deluded into faial security. It is true, it does not, as once, follow the course of the Roman eagle, and hold at its feet a subjugated and suffering world; but it does hold a despotic dominion over an immense number of minds.
In the light that has been diffused, many nations have regained their freedom, and thus its secular power has been diminished; but“ not one principle of the system has been abandoned.” Its ecclesiastical regulation and activity, with all its forms of palpable idolatry and Jesuitical subtlety, remain. Enough of the system still exists, to be the reproach of christianity, which name, after the most entire apostasy, they still claim,- enough, to be the scourge and curse of the world, the whole of which they claim a right to rule.
Popery is not dead, but alive, and at our doors, and at the doors of every Protestant community, where, masking its more odious features, it solicits support, while it designs subjugation. That another conflict is to be looked for with the “man of sin, and son