Page images

ing one amongst divines and politicians of our own country, causing deep searchings of heart, not only amongst them, but amongst men of every state and kingdom of Europe ; yea, even of the whole world.

Popery—the master-piece of Satan,* the corruption of Christianity, the deceiver of nations, the predicted apostasyt-is once again emerging from the tomb! With the corruptions of centuries around her, the abomination of the earth is now continually going forth to deceive the nations. Strengthened by repose, she now goes out against the true followers of the Lamb. Like a giant refreshed with wine ; like a bear robbed of her whelps; or the wild beast of the forest deprived by the hunter of its prey, the dark spirit of apostate Rome traverses the globe, seeking to gain in America what she has lost in Europe, and to recover in England the power wrested from her at the Reformation. With an activity hitherto unknown; upon a scale more magnificent than earth ever yet beheld,—and with a zeal worthy of a better cause,-she plies the work of your destruction; and should you desert your own cause- :-should you at this moment, so pregnant with importance to yourselves, your children, aye, and your children's children-outdone by craft, or overcome by intimidation-abandon the truth, and be reconciled to that system of error from which your forefathers struggled to be free, you will have laid the fatal axe to the root of your national glory and prosperity. Not only by your base compromise and betrayal of the cause of truth, will you have alienated from you the favour of the Most High, but the very power you seek to appease, far from being conciliated, will be exasperated the more against you, and the arms of Rome herself, now held out so maternally to embrace you, will be the very first to impose upon you that yoke which neither you

fathers have been, or can be able to endure. Deadly in its own nature, yet, at the first approach, destitute of every appearance of

noxious properties, it may, like the graceful foliage of the upas tree, attract the curious or wearied traveller to its grateful, its refreshing shade-heedless of his danger, though he reposes in the sleep of death. The syren voice may fall sweetly upon the ear, but to those deluded by its seductive charm it is a funeral knell, which tolls an immortal being to eternal woe!

When Rome has gained you over to her cause, or gained over you the power after which she is seeking, what think you will be her conduct towards you? Victorious--whether by perfidy or force—she will display all the tyranny of spiritual despotism ; she will, as far as she can, burn your Bibles, invalidate the orders of your clergy, unchristianize the whole population of the country, and, like a haughty despot, give you no terms but such as Cecil. Bickersteth.

† See work of Rev. Mortimer O'Sullivan,

nor your

are degrading to you as freemen, and ruinous to you as immortal beings. She will deprive you, if possible, of the liberty of speaking or thinking for yourselves. Whether, therefore, as a political or a religious system, Popery must be equally the object of your aversion.

Pompous and gay in external ceremony, but destitute of intrinsic good, the Church of Rome may allure to her standard multitudes of those who know not true religion—who mistake the shadow for the substance; repose upon the broken reed, or shifting sands, instead of anchoring in safety upon the Rock of Ages!

When we speak of religion, we speak of that which is calculated by its nature, and has for its object, to promote the improvement of mankind, by restoring man to the likeness of God, who made him, and leading him by faith in Christ Jesus, the only but all-sufficient Saviour of sinners, to eternal blessedness hereafter, when the fleeting things of time have passed away.

If it does not this, or if its tendency is not to do this, it fails altogether.

Consider, then, what Popery is, and, proceeding from effect to cause, and giving an appellation to the tree, from the nature of the fruit it bears, see how far the palm of true religion is to be awarded to Popery.

True religion has for its object the worship of the one true God, through the one Mediator; and all knowledge of the true and acceptable worship of the infinite Jehovah, must be drawn from those sacred oracles of truth which he has given us.

Religion is that worship and service which is due from men to God, and a knowledge of which is to be obtained from the Holy Scriptures.

But Popery worships other objects than the Deity, appeals to other mediators than our crucified Redeemer, draws her religion and creeds from other sources than Scripture, even from tradition. To her, therefore, we cannot award the palm of true religion. And what, in other respects, is this system, to which we are now called to bow down? what is this Popery, to which we are required to yield the homage of submission ? Is it some new fabric, woven in the modern loom of Liberalism and freedom ? Nay, is it not rather the same Popery which persecuted your forefathers for daring to resist her, and burnt them for exercising the sacred right of private judgment, and asserting liberty of conscience? Is it not the same whose deeds of perfidy and cruelty are recorded against her in the blood-stained page of history?' Is it not the same which has taught Sovereigns and their people to know that there is a power upon the earth greater than the majesty of either; a power which, under the sanctified name and aspect of religion, can pander to evil, promote crime, and loosen instead of strengthen the tie of moral obligation?

Shall we be told again that her nature is changed? See the testimony to the contrary, given from the Island of Achill; from the settlements of Dingle and Ventry, from Malta, Madeira, Tahiti.

Mark how recently in Ireland the sentence of excommunication, always terrible to those who believe its power,-has been fulminated, and though the law of the land has vindicated the right of every man to read his Bible, without being, in consequence of doing so, exposed to personal injury and the loss of civil rights; yet the unhappy victim of priestly denunciation is still exposed amongst his co-religionists, to the severest obloquy and reproach, as well as to serious temporary inconvenience. Such is the nature, such are the fruits of Romanism. Impure in its morality,—anti-social in its principles,-profane in its theology,-novel in its creed,--and anti-scriptural in its whole construction, what title has it to be called apostolical and pure? what claim to your veneration and support?

Yet this system, thus denounced by the word of Divine truth, thus stigmatized in the page of history, thus producing some of the worst of evils, even in our own day, destructive of social happiness, and blighting national prosperity, do many of our leading statesmen and theologians fondly wish to endow; as though, by a golden bribe, they could change the nature of idolatry, and render that acceptable to the Almighty which he has so solemnly denounced.

There is but too much reason to believe that the leaders of each party in Parliament are prepared, nay anxious, for the endowment of the Church of Rome in Ireland. The advocates of such a course, urge in its behalf, expediency and justice.

We contend that it is neither the one nor the other. We assert, that to do so is to act in direct opposition to God's holy and revealed will.

Therefore do we now invite and urge our Protestant friends and readers to bestir themselves beforehand-by earnest prayer, and diligent endeavour, to be prepared for those events, the dark shadows of which are already cast before us.

Let them remember how the increased grant to Maynooth took the country by surprise, and, in every instance where their votes are solicited to return representatives to Parliament, let them be careful to elect those who will act as boldly on the floor of the House of Commons as they promise fairly upon the hustings,-men who will defend the civil and religious Institutions of our country, and oppose, ex animo, all and every attempt to endow and patronize Popery.



“ how wretched
Is that poor man that hangs on princes' favours !
There is betwixt that smile we would aspire to,
That sweet aspect of princes, and our ruin,
More pangs and fears than wars or women have ;
And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer,
Never to hope again." --Shakspere

On the accession of Francesco della Rovere to the pontifical throne, A.D. 1471, he took the title of Sixtus IV. Among those who from the various states of Italy attended at Rome, and presented their gratulations on the event, was the illustrious Lorenzo de Medici, the great patron of letters, through whose bounteous encouragement the spread of independent thought, and unshackled expression of that thought, succeeded the iron-bound dynasty that had revelled over the ruins of learning and art.

At first a good understanding existed between this celebrated man and the Pope; his vast wealth and influence, not only as exhibited at his own city (Florence), but as felt and acknowledged throughout the length and breadth of the land, induced Sixtus to confer on Lorenzo the post of treasurer of the holy see, an office which might be of mutual benefit, as the noble Florentine already owned a bank which was established in the seven-hilled city.

But this friendship was an ephemeral thing. Mitres, though girt with the triple-crown, do not ensure or consecrate the bloom of a right-minded attachmentPope Sixtus IV. was of a very different mould in mental habits and tendencies to his more worthy "treasurer,” and their intercourse was arrested first by a scant and lessening communion, then by a rigid taciturnity alike from prelate and philosopher, and at last by a dastardly essay on the part of the successor of St. Peter to crush the house of the Medici and the hopes of Florence, by the deliberate assassination of Lorenzo and his brother.

It is to the last step in this enmity that we now direct our notice. The Pope had been aiming at personal aggrandizement in his temporal broad-lands by dint of illegal tampering with the rights of adjacent proprietors. Niccolo Vitelli was among the latter, and was one of those who had incurred obligations to Lorenzo “the Magnificent," by the aid which his money and influence had supplied, in defence of private territory against priestly usurpation. Sixtus was roused to vengeance. A tempting field of enterprise seemed open before him. True, there were unsightly concomitants,—there was treachery which might be denounced; there was blood which might be avenged; but treachery and blood were only means to an end, and the brazen


maxim of Jesuitism, that the end sanctifies the means, although not yet canonized on the pandects of their theology, was long since an acknowledged and approved principle in papal casuistry. The Pope thought by one blow to strike off Lorenzo and his brother Guiliano, to master the surrounding small states, and to grasp at the possession of fair Florence itself.

“If it were done, when 'tis done, then 'twere well
It were done quickly, if the assassination
Could trammel the consequence,

and catch With his surcease, success. One of the first indications of the winter cloud that marred the summer beauty of his Holiness's serenity of good-will, was illustrated by his depriving Lorenzo of the office of treasurer, and conferring it on the family of the Pazzi. The leader of this family was Giacopo, a man of bold designs and unprincipled libertinism. Sixtus knew his antipathies; with delight he fostered their growth, and, with anxious interest, employed them eventually in his malign purposes. Preliminary arrangements were made, and the hour doomed for the extinction of Medicean renown was rapidly approaching. Mr. Roscoe, in his excellent life of Lorenzo,

which is distinguished rather for a lax indifferentism to the cause of Protestantism, than for any readiness to expose Romish obliquities, for once speaks with warmth on this topic. He calls this conspiracy of the Pazzi“ a transaction that has seldom been mentioned without emotions of the strongest horror and detestation; and which, as has justly been observed, is an incontrovertible proof of the PRACTICAL ATHEISM of the times in which it took place, –a transaction in which a pope, a cardinal, an archbishop, and several other ecclesiastics associated themselves with a band of ruffians, to destroy two men who were an honour to their age and country, and purposed to perpetrate their crime at a season of hospitality, in the sanctuary of a Christian church, and at the very moment of the elevation of the host, when the audience bowed down before it, and the assassins were presumed to be in the immediate presence of God."*

The leading members of the murderous crew were, the Pope himself, as premier; his so-called "nephew" Girolamo, (or, as he is commonly called, the Cardinal Riario ;) Raffaello, nephew to Girolamo ; Francesco Salviati, Archbishop of Pisa ; Giacopo, (his brother) Giacopo Poggio; Bernardo Bandini; Montesicco; Maffei, a priest; and Stephano, an apostolic scribe.

The conspirators first intended to assassinate Lorenzo and Guiliano at the residence of the former; he had invited some of them to a sumptuous entertainment, and the blood of their host was to signalize their sense of favour. But, to their disappoint

* Roscoe's Lorenzo de Med. p. 93. Bogue.

« PreviousContinue »