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we had conquered our way to a settlement (as it was described) of Protestantism, we imagined ourselves secure, and Popery was allowed, not only to grow and to increase, but to assail, in turn, a nation and a Church, which had been guilty of such dereliction of duty.
Now, Sir, we are very well acquainted with a class of casuists in these days, who have more to do with the unclean spirit, that had his residence among the tombs who have more to do with the churchyard than the Church, every day endeavouring to exhume some antiquated canon or obsolete rubric. For once, I shall be tempted to become resurrectionist also; and in looking among these canons, (which are sworn to by every clergyman of the Church of England receiving a benefice,) I find that there is one referring to the supremacy, which enjoins that every clergyman shall preach at least four times a-year on that subject. “ Furthermore, all ecclesiastieal persons having cure of souls, and all other preachers, and readers of divinity lectures, shall to the uttermost of their wit, knowledge, and learning, purely and sincerely, without any colour or dissimulation,-teach, manifest, open, and declare, four times every year at the least, in their sermons, and other collations and lectures, that all usurped and foreign power (forasmuch as the same hath no establishment nor ground by the law of God), is for most just causes taken away and abolished ; and that therefore no manner of obedience, or subjection, within his Majesty's realms and dominions, is due unto any such foreign power, but that the King's power, within his realms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and all other his dominions and countries, is the highest power under God ; to whom all men, as well inhabitants, as born within the same, do by God's laws, owe most loyalty and obedience, afore and above all other powers and potentates in the earth."
Now, I wish to know in how many instances this canon is complied with ? Further, and more to the point, I find in another canon Ixvi. the following language :-“Every minister being a preacher, and having any Popish recusant or recusants in his parish, and thought fit by the bishop of the diocese, shall labour diligently with them, from time to time, thereby to reclaim them from their errors. And if he be no preacher, then he shall procure, if he can possibly, some that are preachers so qualified to take pains with them for that purpose. If he can procure none, then he shall inform the bishop of the diocese thereof, who shall not only appoint some neighbour preacher or preachers adjoining, to take that labour upon them, but himself also, shall use his best endeavour, by instruction, persuasion, and all good means he can devise, to reclaim both them and all other within his diocese so affected.”
Here is an obligation, if I understand it aright, laid upon every -clergyman, to make inquisitions of Papists, and give religious instruction to them, as far as they are able, and if they cannot find time to do so, to report to the bishop, who is to find somebody else to do it.
Have we none ? Not only Papists, but those who are Popishly given ; absolute Romanists, and half Romanists. Have we no halfRomanists. I believe the only difference between them, is the
difference between a toad and a tadpole ; and I must confess, I have a great antipathy to either.
Now why have I referred to these canons ? To prove, that there has been a general suspension of a most important obligation, on the part of the Established Church. It is only by the aggressive application of truth to the consciences and the understandings of Roman Catholics,-it is only by dealing à la Luther, if I may so speak, with them, that we can expect to turn Roman Catholics into Protestants. Instead of the Churches of the Reformation continuing their exertions after they found themselves established, they said
practically to the Roman Catholics, as was said of Ephraim, of old, “ They are joined to idols, leave them alone." It is under this sentence of “leave them alone,” that they are not leaving us alone ; and it is this dereliction of duty, which has called for the manifestation of the Divine displeasure, adverted to in the Resolution, and committed this country to a controversy with God. He has not only exposed us to the attacks of idolatry from without, but he has raised up idolatry within ; and the sentence is to shew, that we have to deal with it within the pale, since we would not deal with it without.
I hear a great deal, Sir, about our venerable Church, our scriptural Church, our apostolic Church, and I will yield to no man, in my affection for that Church ; but I cannot join in these commendatory epithets ; I see that Church like a magnificent steamer, armed with the heaviest ordnance, and fitted with engines of the highest power ; I see her upon a lee-shore, a mutiny among the crew, and no captain in the vessel. I hear an order from one part of the crew, Turn a-head,” and from another, “ Stop her.” The result is, a compromise ; one wheel is allowed to act as propeller, while the other backs water. Thus we are drifting rapidly on the shoals of the Tiber.
And what is the bounden duty of consistent Churchmen, in this particular? I said before, that I will yield to no man, in my affection for the Church of England ; but, if she is to become a bulwark, in which Popery is to defend itself, if I had the arms of a Briareus, I would employ every one of them to rend her. If the Church, instead of being the conservator of Christianity, become, to a certain extent, the receptacle of error, it is time that the well-wishers of the Church should see to her; and if those in charge of the vessel will not attempt to rescue her, we laymen must act as steam-tugs, and take her in tow ; and I trust this Meeting will prove a signal-gun, for the tugs to get their steam up. It is high time, Sir, that a movement should be made in a right direction,—not only to shield Protestantism ; for I detest the cowardly idea of shielding Protestantism. What is Protestantism worth, when it ceases to be aggressive ? Christianity, from its birth, was an aggressive system ; and it is our sin and shame, that we are not, from higher motives, and from the impulse of a higher principle, recurring, not merely to the principles, but to the practices of the Reformers ; that we are not compassionating the thousands and millions of our fellow-creatures, who are living in sin, and dying in darkness, around us ; that we are not ordering out a great Mission, (for that is what we want,) to the Church of Rome. Why not have a Mission to the idolaters of the Church of Rome ? This nation is in the most dangerous and extraordinary attitude of a physician, who is occupied with so many patients at the same time, that a deadly disease is preying upon his own vitals, which he is neglecting, and not only so, but he is actually conveying infection to the very patients, whom he is endeavouring to recover. Here you have England dealing with patients, some of them very hopeful, and some of them very necessitous ; but no sooner does she establish her Christianity in a given direction of Heathen darkness, than the infection of her own complaint pollutes the sources of life ; no sooner is she establishing herself, than her work is overlaid by Jesuits and by priests, educated and fitted out, aye, literally clothed, by Protestant funds. If she is applying the balm of Gilead to the wounds of diseased nations, she is spreading infection through the earth, at the same time. Now this is a most inconsistent state of things ; and we shall never understand aright what our duty is, till we take the first step in the direction of the performance of that duty-unless we consider, that Roman Catholic idolaters are as much entitled to our sympathy and compassion, and are as deserving of effort on our part, as they would be, if the distance of the world's diameter were between us. Why should millions of Roman Catholics be suffered to exist in a country of missions, under sentence of practical exclusion from the means of grace, given up to their idolatry, while we are busying ourselves with missions to every nation under heaven. Let us uphold these missions ; and would to God there were twenty, where there is one, and millions, where thousands are subscribed; but let not our Christianity be of that elastic character, that it can bound over the head of domestic idolatry. I say again, Sir, that what we want is a mission to Roman Catholics ; and I trust this Meeting will carry away the idea in their minds, and that we shall, as far as it be possible
, endeavour to do our first works ; that we shall, as far as it be possible, spread and diffuse that idea, until a national mission is established, for the conversion of Roman Catholics ; until, in other words, the Protestantism of this country becomes aggressive, as Christianity is, in its nature, and essence, and design ; until we have a something, which shall bring Christianity into contact with Roman Catholics, and revive the suspended work of the Reformation. Then, Sir, but not till then, shall we witness the same effects.
What discouragement is there in the way? Is not the moral constitution of man the same as it was in the days of Martin Luther, or Cranmer, or Knox, or Ridley? Are not the promises of God the same ? Is not the power of “the sword of the Spirit” the same ? Is not “the blood of the Lamb ” the same ? Is not the word of his testimony” the same? Are not the promises of Scripture as encouraging to us, as they were to them? Oh! let us cast away from us all sordid political considerations, and let us try, in the strength of our God, to revive among us the suspended work of the Reformation.
The last clause of my Resolution is, “ That in accordance with these views, this Meeting would earnestly urge upon every spiritual Protestant the duty of fervent, persevering prayer, for national awakening, national repentance, and national exertion, if so be that the Lord will pardon our past guilt
, and revive in our long-favoured
land, not merely the spirit of the Reformation, but the holy and uncompromising exertions of the Reformers.”
Sir, the Roman Catholics, more consistent than we are, provoking us to what is contained in this Resolution. They are provoking us to prayer, for they are praying for our conversion. Rome has issued bulls, in support of general prayer, for the conversion of the Protestants of this country. Now, Sir, we are invited to a challenge; and if we take up the gauntlet which has been thrown down, it will be just a renewal of the contest between Elijah and the priests of Baal ; and we have merely to imitate the conduct of Roman Catholics, to shew to an intelligent universe who is on the right side. I would invite you, my friends, as in the sight of God, to keep this in your memory,—to give the conversion of Roman Catholics a place, not only in your closets, but at your family altars. There is no safety for this country, but in prayer to God, that he would produce among us a spirit of national awakening, of national repentance, and of a recurrence, not merely to the spirit of the Reformers, but to the uncompromising practices of the Reformers.
The Resolution was then put from the chair, and carried unanimously.
Rev. Hugh STOWELL.-I beg leave to move" That it is the duty of Christian men, Christian statesmen, and Christian nations, alike in their private and public capacity, to promote the glory of God, and seek the advancement of His cause ; that Popery is opposed to pure Christianity, civil freedom, and national prosperity ; and that it is, therefore, incumbent upon Protestants of all denominations, as they value the blessings of civil and religious liberty, to use their utmost endeavours to prevent any endowment and encouragement of the Church of Rome ; and that it is the solemn and bounden duty of electors to secure the return of those men to Parliament, who will oppose Popery, and support the Protestant institutions of our country.”
There may appear, Mr. Chairman and Christian friends, somewhat of antagonism between the sentiments of the Resolution, which I have submitted for your acceptance, and some of the beautiful sentiments, which I heard with so much delight from our veteran friend (Captain Gordon,] who once, in St. Stephen's, so nobly battled for the truth, and made one of the mightiest upholders of the system of error often quail before him ; but in reality there is, I conceive, no discordance between the Resolution, and the sentiments which he has addressed to
From my heart, I subscribe to those sentiments : I have often, though far more feebly than he has done, given utterance to them aforetime. I have always said, that if the Reformation had been carried out as it ought, instead of our having to fear Romanism, she would not have had one inch of ground within our dominions. But I am perfectly certain that he will admit, that Protestant Christian statesmen are bound to legislate for the glory of God, and for the maintenance of His truth among us ; and that if so, Protestant Christian electors are bound to choose men who will accomplish these things. And I am equally certain that he will admit, that whilst we ought, primarily and pre-eminently, to address ourselves to the bounden task of promoting and carrying out the Reformation, which has so long slumbered on its pillows, and so long smouldered in its embers, yet, at the same time, that we must ward off the impending destruction to the Reformation, in the high places of the national assembly. And, therefore, in addressing myself to my Resolution, I feel that I shall not be out of harmony with my revered friend, and that his sentiments, and the sentiments of my Resolution, are indeed in perfect agreement.
But there may be those present, (I am sure there are those absent,) who will regard the Resolution itself as too essentially political, to be moved by a minister of the Gospel of peace ; and it does grieve me to the heart, in looking around me upon occasions like the present, to miss so many of the countenances, which on our Church Missionary platform, our Jews' platform, or our Bible platform, I love to hail,-who are there, with intelligence on their brow, and with zeal in their eye, to hearken and respond to the sentiments which are addressed to them ; but when you come to the Protestant platform, where are they? But a few here and there can be found ; and though their places are supplied by strangers, whom we love to welcome, upon such an occasion, yet we want the old friends, as well as the new, to be amongst us. Why is it that they are absent upon these occasions ? I fear it is partly because we may have been a little unwise, and perhaps over-zealous. Nay, that is not possible ; but we may have been unguarded in our advocacy of the sacred cause ; and if so, we are willing to humble ourselves in the dust ; it was our mistake, and not our intention ; it was our weakness, and not our purpose. But why do not the wise, and the gentle, and the mature, and the deliberate, and the hoary-headed come amongst us, and act as the safety-valve, if they will, to our energy, or as the fly-wheel to our too rapid machinery. Let them not sit coldly in the distance, and shake their head, and say,
“ The Protestant Association goes too fast and too far ; we fear it is doing more damage than good.” “ More damage than good ?” I would ask my wise and revered friends, if it had not been for the Protestant Association, and the Reformation Society, and one or two despised and calumniated instrumentalities of this kind, where would have been the Protestant spirit of England at this moment ? Where would have been the warning voice against the stealthy Popery, which has risen up like a snake nourished in the bosom of our Establishment ? Nourished, I say— not begotten ; Rome begat the reptile,-she was only nourished in our Establishment. If it had not been for such Associations as these, where would have been the opposition to the Maynooth grant, which if it did nothing else, at least served to put a drag upon the wheel, as it was going down the inclined plane to error and to ruin ?
Political ! This is the word which is continually flung at all such efforts as the present. I would ask my friends, who are so fond of branding such efforts with the charge of being political :-“ Do you hold, then, that politics have nothing to do with religion, and that religion has nothing to do with politics ?” [A cry of “ Politics are dissimulation.”] The politics of Rome may be dissimulation, but the politics of Christianity are truth. Since politics are whatever concerns the well-being of the community, and since Christianity concerns it