« ElőzőTovább »
pristine splendour, and shall never be extinguished, till it is lost in the blaze of an eternal day.
I will, with your permission, take a very brief glance at the events of the past year, and then take a very brief forecast of the events that we may see approaching us, in the prospect of the year that is coming.
Looking back upon the past year, it is scarcely possible to avoid beginning with what may be considered the prominent event of the year--the sorest stab, perhaps, that Protestantism has received since the fatal measure of 1829, which began the downfall, I might say, of our Protestant constitution. I allude, of course, as every one that hears me will at once conjecture, to the passing of the Bill for the permanent endowment of Maynooth. You will remember, that at this time last year we were met together in multitudes, and were as “one heart and one mind,” in withstanding that hapless Bill; but you know, that in the face, I hesitate not to say, of the express sentiments of a great majority of the English nation, that Bill was hurried indecently through the nominally Protestant Houses of Parliament, was forced upon this nation, and found a place in the statute-book, not by the voice of the people, but by the voice of a body of men, whom the people had put into place and power, to maintain the Protestant constitution, as far as they were able. That is past, however; and although we may detest, and ought to try to repeal that hapless measure, yet, for my own part, I have little hope of our being successful at present in doing so. Still, as I said, let us not despair, but do our duty, and leave the result with God.
The passing of that Maynooth measure is fraught with ulterior results, which those who brought it forward and adopted it perhaps little contemplated. We shall have no improvement in the staple of the education of the Romish priesthood; we shall have no more enlightenment of the intellect, in the true sense of the word; and assuredly we shall have no more of scriptural truth mingled with their education; and if we have more of the enlightenment of the intellect, it is not that which will save a man from Romanism, because the corrupt heart of man is the strength of Romanism, and that heart, whilst unsubdued, is as corrupt in the most intellectual, as it is in the most uncultured. If I need an illustration to prove this position, and to convince the so-called Conservative party in the House of Com. mons, that intellectual culture at Maynooth will not save the Maynooth priesthood, or the people the Maynooth priesthood profess to teach and guide, from the darkest and most blasphemous doctrines of the dark ages,-I would bring forward that document, which Sir Digby Mackworth brought forward, and would say, “Here is a document composed, not by some dark, illiterate, Maynooth-taught priestnot by some man unacquainted with what is reason, or intellect, or sense, or theology, but by the Archbishop of one of the principal provinces of France-a man high in office, cultivated in intellect, rich in the stores of secular learning, and yet putting forth a document, that for bold blasphemy, and for daring, horrible, atrocious profaneness, was never surpassed by Rousseau, Voltaire, or Tom Paine. I speak advisedly-in calmness and in conviction. I appeal to the in
telligent gentlemen around me and to the multitude before me. Did you not, in listening to those sentiments, feel a thrill of righteous horror and indignation boil through your veins? I would suggest, with all respect, to the Committee of this Association, that they should have a faithful, authentic, verified translation of those passages printed, and placed in the hands of every member of the two Houses of Legislature. And I can hardly conceive a better antidote to that wretched latitudinarianism of sentiment, which pretends to conclude, that you have only to cultivate the intellect, in order to get rid of the debasement of Romanism, and every other form of debasement; for here we have the most palpable, gross, and glaring evidence, that the highest intellectual culture, and the highest position in the hierarchy of the Church of Rome, is no security against doctrines, the most blasphemous, the most degrading, the most unscriptural, the most heathenish in their tendency, that were ever promulgated.
I was remarking, that the staple of the education at Maynooth will not be iinproved, but the amount of the production will be greatly increased. And already, I am told, the number of students, that are flocking thither is quite astonishing. And what will be the result? We shall by-and-by have an abundant supply for England and the colonies ; we shall have these men going up and down as professed missionary priests, to sap and undermine the foundations of our common faith. And thus, to the hapless Bill, passed by so-called Protestant statesmen, in the British houses of Parliament, we shall have to trace the subversion and the overthrow, so far as Romanism can accomplish it, of our Protestant principles,— Protestant men, as we are, paying our money to subvert the foundations of the faith which we love.
There is another feature in the events of the past year, which I must be allowed to glance at. And I do it with all forbearance and charitableness towards those misguided men, on whose conduct I feel myself bound, however reluctantly, to animadvert. I allude to the secessions from the ranks of the Church of England and the accessions to the ranks of the Church of Rome. Mr. Chairman, you will rememberfor you have been faithful among the faithless, and have stood high in support of our Protestant principles. (Loud cheers.) [Yes, my Christian friends, honour to whom honour is due. While many a name that is now trumpeted on account of its so-called political expediency, its tact, its manquvring, its knowing how to shift the sail according to the veering wind of so-called prudence and expediency shall have the righteous contempt of posterity poured upon them, John Pemberton Plumptre, and such as he, shall receive its righteous praise. ]-Yes, Sir, I say you can bear witness, because you have not been wanting at the post of observation and vigilance-that when we, of the Pro. testant Association, used to lift up our righteous protest against the insidious developments of Tractarianism, we were charged with being accusers of the brethren, with being full of doubts and suspicions and all bitter uncharitableness, because we dared to whisper, that however their face was towards the Church of England, their course was towards the Church of Rome. But now we are acquitted and cleared before a Christian community; for nothing can be
more evident than that Rome was their proper haven, that all the while they have been tending thither, and that now they have gone to their own place, to which in honesty they ought to have gone at the beginning.
In that secession to the Church of Rome, there are two or three features, prominent and instructive, upon which I would venture to fix the attention of this Meeting for a few moments.
One is, the benumbing influence in a moral sense, which Rome and all contact with Rome invariably exerts upon minds, however gentlemanly, honourable, or honest they might have been supposed before; so that a man no sooner begins to take Romanism into his heart, than truth goes out of it, and he becomes the dupe of falsehood and the slave of
In illustration of this I need only remind you of the mode of reasoning and of self-vindication which Mr. Newman adopted while he was in the Church of England,- of the way in which he advocated the signing of our Articles in a non-natural sense, which is a Popish sense, for the word non-natural never came from an honest English heart. And if we want another illustration, we have it in the course of conduct pursued by that unhappy man of genius, Mr. Frederick Faber, who has shown that poesy is a dangerous thing, if it be allowed to invest with its own false colouring, and gloss over with its own varnish the hideous features of Romanism, and make them lovely and beautiful, because its own fancy reflects a light upon it, which does not belong to it, in the correspondence which appeared in the public newspapers respecting the two young boys that he kidnapped—I hesitate not to say it-in order to win them over to the ravening wolf of Rome. And I ask any honest member of the Church of England, if he does not think Mr. Frederick Faber, before he tampered with Romanism, would have cut off his right hand, ere he had been guilty of any such disingenuous and dishonourable conduct, as to try to filch away these two children from their father? After all the explanations which appeared in the public papers, I hesitate not to say, that my mind was still quite dissatisfied, and I am sure yours were likewise. Now, my Christian friends, it is not Protestantism, which would lead a man so to act. Did you ever hear of a clergyman of the Church of England trying to win the sons of a Romish father from the Church of Rome, without his knowing any. thing about it, and then trying to win them over to the Church of England, or ever the father was aware of what he was about? And if there had been such an instance, would not the public have held him out to contempt? would not the public have cried "Shame” upor such conduct ? And yet, alas ! the public press is so benumbed by its contact with the liberalisni of the age, that there is often no outburst of righteous indignation against such acts, when committed by members of the Church of Rome, except by a few religious papers, whose outery is set at nought, as the outcry of a set of dark bigots who are always crying out about what they do not understand.
But there is another feature in the secessions from the Church of England, which has struck my mind, and has, no doubt, struck yoursthe kind of semi-infidel influence of Romanism over those minds which have come under its effect. Let any man read with carefulness Vol. VIII.-- June, 1846.
New Series, No. 6.
Mr. Newman's “Treatise on the Doctrine of Development," and agree with his principles, however darkly and jesuitically they are introduced; and what is the drift of the whole of it? You must either accept the infallibility of the Church of Rome, or be utter infidels and sceptics. He drives you to the alternative ; and his work seems as much fitted to make an infidel on the one hand, as a Romanist on the other. I hesitate not to say, that I know not a work of modern days more dangerous for young men's minds than this, not so much for its leading them to the darkness of the Church of Rome, as to sceptical unbelief. And these are the fruits of Romanism. We shall, indeed, be amply repaid for these sad secessions, if such beacons only serve as warnings to the Christian Church-to put Protestant parents, Protestant university tutors, Protestant heads of houses, and every young man in our universities, on their guard.
I hesitate not to say, that if the University of Oxford does not proceed as she began, with endeavouring to root out the heresy from her borders, and put every means in her power into play in order to get rid of the poison, she will lose the confidence of the Protestant parents of England. I speak feelingly, for I am a father ; I have two dear boys, whom I am looking forward at no distant day to send to the University. Oxford, as my own university, I should prefer ; but if Oxford is not in a more wholesome and healthy state than she is at present, I should tremble to send them into such a state of peril. Let me, however, do justice to the heads of houses. They have stood faithful in many instances already; for when they were charged with undue haste with respect to Mr. Ward, how little was it anticipated, that he was within a few months of his departure to the Church of Rome! And, let me say, that if Dr. Pusey, and those who go along with him in all the lengths he goes, do not very soon go over to the Church of Rome, the brand of dishonesty upon them will be greater than upon
Mr. Newman himself. I do not hesitate to say, that if Rome is the place for Mr. Newman, Rome is the place for Dr. Pusey also ; that as they went together to the verge, they ought to have gone together over the precipice, and into the dark abyss. And I fear very much, lest there should be a great deal of compact and of mutual understanding in their movements, unless it should be intended that we are to have a bridge across the gulf which used to separate us from Rome, and that one learned professor is to be the foundation of the arch on the Protestant side, and another on the Romish side; and that thus we are to have a kind of bridge between Oxford and Oscottthe Church of England and the Church of Rome-over which the poor dupes and victims who have been won over and captivated by designing men, should associate in passing, that they might readily join the ranks of the unfaithful.
But there is another circumstance in the past year, at which I cannot but glance, which to my mind is fraught with a great deal that is hopeful and encouraging, as those to which I have adverted are fraught with discouragement and alarm. I allude to the large and increasing number of conversions in Ireland from the Church of Rome to the Churches of England and of Ireland. If we want a witness of this fact, we have it in the venerable Dean of Ardagh, who can give evidence, that we are not exaggerating or overstating it. I am not going to enlarge upon the fact, because it has already been adverted to over and over again, but I am anxious to call your attention to this peculiarity in it, as connected with the state of things in England : how strange it is, that on one side of the Channel the Church of England should be losing members and ministers to the Church of Rome, while on the other side of the Channel, the Church of Rome is daily losing her members and ministers in numbers to the Church of England I Why the difference? I wish the bench of bishops would meet together in solemn conclave, and ask, Why the difference? I do not hesitate to say, that a nobler and a more worthy question could not occupy the attention of a bench, in which Cranmer sat as primate, and Ridley and Latimer and Hooper sat as bishops. And if they were to weigh it with that candour and liberality, with which I am sure they would consider it, I see no conclusion to which they could come but this -that the Church of Ireland maintains her Protestant tone and character, while the Church of England, to a great extent, has lost it. The clergy of the Church of England have been taught, by those in high places, indirectly, at least, that they should not introduce what is deemed controversial into the pulpit, and that allusions to the errors of Rome are out of place in these days of charity and lovingkindness, I only wish that the bishops, in order to get rid of this false impression, would enjoin that the wholesome, sterling, honest, homilies of the Church of England should be preached, at least once a year, in every pulpit in their respective dioceses. I would venture to say, that if these homilies were preached in some of our Cathedrals at the present day, and it was not known from what source they emanated, the persons who preached them would be deemed very uncharitable. But after all, give me the honest, rough-spun decision and determination of those days, rather than all the silken phraseology, and the squeamish, mawkish liberalism, which is no more charity, than the meteor of the marsh is the sun of the heavens. Give me the good old honest English of those Saxon works, rather than all the circumlocution of the present day, that will not call things by their proper names, lest they should give offence to somebody or other.
There is another fact that is worthy of notice; in the Church of Ireland, so far as I have heard, Tractarianism is almost unknown. As the good Bishop of Cashel is reported to have said—and it is so like the man, for he is a fine, honest-hearted, plain-speaking man, that I could almost answer for its truth-—“ We do not want the seeming thing in Ireland: we have got the real thing there." And consequently, my Christian friends, I believe that Tractarianism has been able to make little or no progress in Ireland; and therefore not having the inclined plane to the Church of Rome, they have had no secessions to Romanism, that I am aware of, but have had abundant conversions from Romanism to the Church of England. Would it not be well, then, if the clergy and the bishops of the Church of England were to learn the wholesome lesson, that if we are to maintain the principles of the Reformation, and withstand the encroachments of Romanism and keep our people Protestant in principle and in heart, we must