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It may, in conclusion, be observed that, had we felt it necessary to do so, we could have filled our pages with quotations from the “ ancient fathers,” in proof of their opposition to the inventions of Popery, which she has, at her own peril, introduced into the Romish Church as essentials to salvation. But we rely upon the SCRIPTURES ALONE as our best authority for the refutation of these ; and, as we think we have extracted sufficiently from Papal authorities to corroborate every assertion we have made, we deemed further references to any secondary source a useless labour, as it would have been equally unprofitable to our readers.
Of the modern authorities, we have chiefly preferred Mosheim; since, independent of his own individual research, he gives us his references to, and accounts of the most respectable ecclesiastical writers, from the Apostolic age down to that in which he lived; and as the very sword-in-hand controversialists of the Romish Church refer to this acknowledged meritorious author, our Popish friends will perhaps credit the authority of our extracts. We have also (as we stated, in our Introduction, we intended to do) referred to many writers, some of whose observations are thrown into the text, and, where they are of a general tenor, are unacknowledged.
“Popery, in its proper colours, is so unlike Christianity, that it is in vain ever to hope to promote it if it appear in its own shape. It is necessary, therefore, that this religion be made to look as orthodox as possible. Some things are denied, others mollified, all disguised ; and a double benefit is thereby obtained. Popery is to be received as a very innocent, harmless thing; and the Protestants, especially the ministers and first reformers, are to be represented to the world as a sort of people who have supported themselves by calumny and lies; and made a noise about errors and corruptions, which are nowhere to be found but in their own brains or books, but which the Church of Rome detests as well as we.”-ABP. WAKE.
“From the several conversations which it has been my chance to have with unbelievers, I have learned that ignorance of the nature of our religion, and a disinclination to study both it and its evidences, are to be reckoned among the chief causes of infidelity.”—BEATTIE's Evidences, v. i. p. 6.
“-Men readily believe what they wish, and the CHRISTIAN religion being opposite to fraudulent dealings in our intercourse with others—to intemperance in the gratification of our own appetites; to all the sins, crimes, and vices which men are prone to, it cannot be a matter of surprise that many profligate-many thoughtless persons, should listen with greediness to whatever tends to free them from its influence."--Br. Watson's Apol. for the Bible.
Neither charitableness, uncharitableness, liberality, nor illiberality, is the object of the writer of these pages--it is TRUTH alone nor shall any other feeling or passion attract him, in his present effort, from the “evenness of her path.” As no question of a mere political tendency ought to be mixed up with subjects strictly religious, so, in the course of the proposed investigation of scriptural truths, no such question shall deter the writer, on the one hand, from stating self-evident facts, nor, on the other, influence him to withhold them. He is about to compare the “Grounds of the Roman Catholic Faith" with the sacred writings upon which it is alleged that faith is grounded; not, indeed, as has been frequently done, by merely extracting particular passages, and contrasting them with others, but by giving the whole DOCTRINE of Popery as it is at present taught, with its scriptural authorities ; and which, although Papists ought to be conversant in them, few, comparatively, have taken the trouble to peruse. These shall be given without the addition, subtraction, or interpolation of a single line. In fact, that there may be no error in this respect, the Papal “GROUNDS OF FAITH” shall be composed from the printed text, with every distinguishing mark as given by the Roman Catholics themselves. Thus far, it is hoped, the Papist will have no just cause of complaint in being called upon to read his own tenets ; and the Protestant is requested, also, coolly to examine them, that, by a fair comparison between those and
his own profession and with the scriptures, he may be enabled, dispassionately, to form a just conclusion on the pretensions of each, and thus to confirm his present belief, or to seek “ that better way,” which the Church of Rome avers to be only found in the paths which lead direct to her own altars. It is presumed that these assertions will not be deemed egotistical, when it is declared, the unerring truths of “HOLY WRIT” shall be quoted—and fairly quoted—(not merely a line here and there, as it will be seen is the case by Popery), to substantiate every fact advanced. The present work not being intended as an appeal to the passions, but to the evidence of sense, the plan is as much simplified as the case would admit of. A portion (cut out from the printed text) of the Roman Catholic "Faith” will be first given, to which will succeed the quotations from the Scriptures applicable to the subject treated of; and, after these, such remarks, supported by the authority of sacred and profane writers, as may be thought to blend a proper degree of amusement with information, and to elucidate the various and ambiguous mysteries practised by the votaries of Popery.
As it is rare, indeed, that religious examinations and discussions are conducted either with good feeling or good temper, it is hoped that, in this respect at least, the present attempt may differ from those in which such a dereliction of temperate inquiry is evident. The writer has already admitted that he shall fairly avail himself of the best authorities he can procure for his purpose, sacred and profane ; but he flatters himself that neither the Roman nor any other Catholic will have any fair cause of complaint in consequence of an unjust assertion. His own observations will be distinguished from those of others throughout; and if any party should deem these as extending farther than the occasion of them warrants, those who so consider them are requested, in the same strain of fearless truth, to expose their folly. The terms applied to the two classes of Christians of whom