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ROME AND ENGLAND:
AN ADDRESS TO THE VICAR, CLERGY, AND LAITY OF THE PARISH OF
ISLINGTON, ON THE IMPORTANCE OF POINTING OUT THE NATURE AND PROGRESS OF POPERY, AND OPPOSING THE CONTEMPLATED ENDOWMENT OF THE ROMISH PRIESTHOOD IN IRELAND.
BY A RESIDENT LAYMAN. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Gal. v. 1.
“For it is not a vain thing for you ; because it is your life.” Deut. xxxii. 47. The importance of the subject must be my excuse for addressing you. Surely the period is now come when some course of action should be adopted with reference to the spread of Popery, and the contemplated endowment of the Romish Church in Ireland.
The reasons for addressing you in particular are obvious. There is no metropolitan or suburban parish signalised as that of Islington is, by so large a number of churches, and so many ministers so devotedly given to advance the spiritual interests of the flocks over which Christ has made them overseers.
You stood nobly forward mildly to remonstrate against, and firmly to oppose, the novelties sought to be introduced under the sanction of episcopal authority. In the stand made on the surplice question, you not only protected yourselves, but many others also, who, influenced by your example, refrained from yielding to what was considered by some as innovation,- by others as the revival of obsolete practices,and by all as unnecessary,
Not only did you, by thus opposing, avert the evil of that time, and give encouragement to others, but you nipped the bud, which, if grown to maturity, might have overshadowed our land with vain and empty ceremonials. Had you then yielded, more important compliances would shortly have been required. If tacitly assented to and acquiesced in, the theory of development would soon have unfolded a series of measures which you could, perhaps, less ably, because less consistently, have resisted, from not having made a stand in the very outset. It is a matter of gratitude that the clergy and laity in this parish and elsewhere evinced the spirit of our reforming ancestors, willingly acquiescing in what was lawfully and rightly required, but firmly opposing all efforts to dress up our Reformed Church in the cast-off ceremonies and vestments of the Church of Rome.
When the Maynooth question was before the country, you came forward and took an active part in opposing the increased grant for training up priests in idolatry, to corrupt the minds of the people from the true, ancient, and scriptural faith established in this country before the errors of Popery were known ; and now, when we are threatened with worse evils, why should we not again appeal to you
? When did a more critical moment exist in the history of our country, or of our Church? An experiment is about to be made, whether Infidelity shall be the ruling principle of our land ; whether the Protestant Church shall see the Romish Church endowed by her side, if not decked with her spoils.
Lord John Russell has, on a recent occasion, stated, in the House of Commons, as follows :
“With respect to the Church in Ireland, and the endowment of the Roman Catholic Clergy, I voted with my honourable friend the member for Sheffield, in favour of providing for the establishment of Maynooth out of the funds of the Established Church? We were defeated by a great majority, the opinion of that House being adverse to that proposition. I afterwards continued to the end to give a zealous support to the Bill which provided for the establishment of Maynooth out of the Consolidated Fund. I made no difficulty in supporting that Bill because the motion of my honourable friend was not carried.”
Hence it is abundantly clear, as pointed out in the “Protestant Magazine, ," * that not only does the Noble Lord not see any objection to the endowment of Popery in Ireland, but would absolutely deem it preferable to impoverish the Protestant Church that he may deck Popery with the spoils ; would not only endow the idolatry of Rome, but would rob a portion of the Church of Christ of its revenues, that he may give them to the antichristian Church of Rome.
As King Hezekiah of old, one of the most pious of Israel's kings, cut off the gold from the Temple of the Lord, that he might, even at so costly a sacrifice, purchase peace with the Assyrian monarch, so would the Noble Lord now rob the impoverished but truth-teaching Church in Ireland of its remaining revenues, in order to conciliate Rome, and render the modern Babylon friendly to this country. But it may be supposed by some, that his Lordship's opinions have changed since then. Far otherwise ; he assures us they are what they were. In the next sentence of the same speech he proceeds as follows :
“Well, I now say, that I retain my opinions with respect to the Protestant Church, and with respect to Roman Catholic endowment, but I do not think that it is necessary that I should urge these opinions at the present moment; for I should be doing that which I must confess at the present moment to be impracticable. I believe that with respect to what some have proposed, namely, the destruction of the Protestant Church in Ireland, there could be po worse or more fatal measure sanctioned by Parliament.”
Then, after observing that he had twenty-one years ago voted in favour of a motion made by Lord F. Egerton, now the Earl of Ellesmere, who moved that a provision be made for the maintenance of the Roman Catholic Church, his Lordship thus again proceeds :
“ But what do I find at this moment? I see, generally speaking, that the Church of England, that the Dissenters of England, that the Established Church of Scotland, that the Established Church in Ireland, that the PROTESTANT Association in Ireland, and lastly, that the Roman Catholics of Ireland themselves, are all vehement in opposition to such a plan. I received only this morning a placard from Edinburgh, in which the Roman Catholics of Edinburgh declared that they would resist to the utmost of their power any plan for the endowment of the Roman Catholic Clergy. I cannot see, then, that that is a measure which I am bound consistently with my duty to bring under the consideration of the House until I see some kind of more favourable disposition towards it on the part of the people.”
Never may that be the case !
* August last.
You will not be silent and inactive when the Truth is in danger ; nor when efforts are made to elevate error to equal dignity and importance with it. When I speak of the truth being in danger, I do not refer to its destruction. Truth is indestructible : man cannot change it-time cannot destroy it. No, I speak rather of our candlestick being removed, or the light being obscured in this country, and that, without severe costs and sacrifices, it may be wrested from us.
The laity naturally look up to the clergy in these matters. Dedicated to the work of the ministry, it seems to be your peculiar office from your lofty watch-towers to give signal of alarm, to point out approaching danger. Called upon by your solemn ordination vow to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to the Word of God, your silence amidst the assaults of Romanism might lead them to imagine, either that you believe Popery does not possess a dangerous power in this empire, or that its doctrines are neither erroneous nor strange, nor in any way contrary to the Word of God. Great privileges are ours; but high privileges entail great responsibilities. Why should our clergy fear to preach from their pulpits against that which he, whose ministers they are, has denounced in his Holy Word ? The Articles of our Church, her Homilies and Services, point out Popery as the great antagonist of the Gospel. If our public men would act and legislate in ignorance, forgetfulness, or disregard of this, be it yours to inform, to remind, to stimulate them.
The endowment of Popery is a religious question. Is it not, think you, of very high importance that your people should be alive to the evil, and prepared to resist it? It is a religious question : has not God's own Word denounced idolatry and its patronizers ? has he not denounced Rome and her supporters and members ?
I appeal, then, to the clergy and laity of this great parish, to take some decided step in the manifestation of a strong protest against the advancing encroachments of Rome. You, who are the appointed Pastors, will not be satisfied with the exhibition, however faithful, of simple and undoubted truth; but being conscious yourselves of the reality of the national danger, you will inform your flocks whither the whole course of public events is tending. You can from your pulpits, and in your visitations from house to house, cry aloud against that hollow, unscriptural liberality which is yielding equal terms to the Churches of Rome and England, either upon the ever-shifting ground of expediency, or upon the view, too common among statesmen, that all religions are alike true or false; or, what is just the same, equally valueless, except for the purposes of amusing men's minds and preserving national order; discarding Divine Truth, they would treat Christianity rather as the invention of men, than a Revelation from God.
Take a retrospection of events and measures, which in our own times have not only loosened the chains by which Popery had been firmly bound by ancestors who too accurately knew its character, but have placed it in a position almost to overrule the government ; why should you not point out and maintain, that that character is unaltered and unalterable ? and if, as you must prove in so doing, you prove the creed and principles of Rome to be subversive of national liberty,
and, what is of far deeper import, destructive of the soul--then be the issue what it may, as ordered in the everlasting councils of him who never errs, you will have delivered your own souls; and if the people then love to have it so, they will have but themselves to thank, when they feel, too late, the fetters of Rome to be again around them, and the wrath of Heaven on their country.
To the clergy may I not, then, humbly say, "While you cease not to teach and preach the truth as it is in Jesus,' be also watchmen as well as shepherds; point out impending dangers; protect as well as feed the flock. Be yourselves on the look-out; detect the open or the secret foe; and when you see the wolf coming, then, like true shepherds, you will not shrink from sounding the alarm.”
And you, my brother laymen, what can you do to turn that tide of sentiment and action which is setting in towards Rome? First, let me conjure you to ascertain that you are yourselves really built upon the true and alone foundation for a sinful man to rest upon-"Jesus Christ and him crucified.” And having this hope in your own hearts, “contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints,” that neither you nor your children may again be brought under the grievous yoke of papal bondage.
Disentangle yourselves from the present too greedy pursuit of tem, poral gain, which to the mass of influential men in this country leaves them hardly time to wage-and in a great measure unfits them for the Christian warfare. Be valiant for the truth; hesitate not to use all your influence in your families, your daily walk of life, and as citizens of Protestant England, to maintain inviolate your country's protest against the aggression or return to power of what you
know to be a false and apostate Church. Let your voices, your votes, your every act and deed, testify that you value that liberty and prize those blessings purchased by the blood and sufferings of those of whom the world was not worthy." Call upon your clergy, here and elsewhere, to stand boldly in the breach ; and do you, as Christian laymen, manfully support and encourage them in the contest between the truth of God and the errors of a false and fatal system. In a large metropolitan parish like Islington much might be done, if done promptly, wisely, and boldly. Surrounding parishes would follow our example, and a formidable array of faithful clergy and truth-loving laity might be marshalled, which might, under the blessing of God, prevent further inroad upon our still nominally Protestant Constitution.
May I then conclude with the earnest request that the Vicar and his brethren of the clergy will immediately bring before their people, in some definite and well-considered shape, a plan whereby we can as a parish show
First, That we are not ignorant or heedless of what concessions have been already made to Rome, and consequently what we Protestants have lost;
Secondly, That we are not either ignorant or heedless as to what Rome is still seeking to gain, or what our rulers of every party are prepared to grant; and,
Thirdly, That we are determined, trusting to an Omnipotent and Omniscient God for help and guidance, to do our part in resisting the further progress of Popery, and the abandonment of Protestant principles, upon the wretched plea of expediency or false liberality, and to rescue our country and our religion from the assaults of those who would betray the one and ruin the other.
IRELAND AND ITS MISERIES, TOGETHER WITH THE ORIGIN
AND CAUSE OF ASSASSINATION IN THAT COUNTRY. The history of Ireland presents the sad retrospect of scenes of rapine, murder, and every enormity, unequalled in any country in the world professing to be civilized, and to hold the benevolent doctrines of Christianity. This terrific state of the community, it is certainly of the highest importance to investigate, and if possible to trace the cause, in the hope that, if the deep-seated and festering sores can be probed to the bottom, some bold, humane, and skilful hand may be found able to apply a remedy.
Its origin I ascribe to Popery; and by the Pope, as head, I believe that it is kept up, through the bishops, priests, and monks—friars and nuns, white, black, and grey, &c. &c. ---through all the multifarious grades of that scourge of the human race, which form the body politic of Rome.
And, first, I would beg to call the attention of my readers to the northern Protestant provinces of Ireland, and to mark the 'contrast between them and those immediately adjoining where the Popish religion prevails—" to look on that picture, and on this.” In the one we perceive harmony, industry, wealth, contentedness, and good order; in the other, assassination, idleness, squalor, and famine, with its attendant train of disease. Here is a remarkable fact, which may well rivet attention.
Again, it is notorious that the poor stultified peasantry—aye, and not they alone--attach the very last importance to the confessional, and to the absolution of their priests ; being taught to believe that there is no entrance into heaven without their aid, and that with it any crime may be committed with impunity, and that they, as culprits, may deny upon oath, in the most solemn manner, the most heinous acts, even murder itself, provided they can obtain for their crimes the absolution of the priest before the last award of the law is put in force. This appears to be the case beyond contradiction by the confession and exposé of Rev. Mr. Ryder, a converted priest. In proof of this, and in corroboration of Mr. Ryder and others, it is highly deserving of remark, that notwithstanding the many thousand acts of assassination, and black crimes in addition, perpetrated by the ignorant and revengeful multitude, of which the priests must have been cognisant, not one of these reverend or right reverend gentlemen have ever come forward, to stay this torrent of bloodshed by turning Queen's evidence. Here, then, is an explanation of the difference in the condition of Protestant and Popish provinces, and an additional proof that the Pope, the bishops, and the priests are the origin and upholders and exciting cause of all the evils which desolate Ireland.