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scopal hierarchy; and though it may be wished, that the case of subscription might be made easier to good and learned men, whose scruples deserve indulgence, and be 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 ascendency 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 that 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 generation 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 its emissaries, since they can never cease to consider it 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 it 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 coun“ tries for crimes and practices of the worst com“plexion, 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 obser“vation.” 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 it is not a system of innocent speculative opinions, but a 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 recent times,
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. Rigor against any thing that bears the name of reIigion, 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. lf 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 Romish church should be quoted, which authorise these enormities;–if it should be alleged, finally, that popery is much more malignant and dangerous in Great Britain than in any other Protestant country ;—I acknowlege that all these pleas against it 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 shews its indiscretion than its strength, and the declining vigor of our zeal than the growing influence of its maxims.
THE FOURTH APPENDIX.
A circumstantial and exact Account of the Correspondence that was carried on, in the years 1717 and 1718, between Dr. William Wake, Archbishop of Canterbury, and certain Doctors of the Sorbonne at Paris, relative to a Project of Union 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 Pro* testant religion had set on foot a project of union * with a popish church, with concessions in favor 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 doc
* See the Confessional, 2d edition, Pref. p. lxxvi.