Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE

PROTESTANT MAGAZINE.

SEPTEMBER, 1846.

TRIPLE COMPACT TO ENDOW THE ROMISH PRIESTHOOD. It is painful to some, and wearisome to others, to be perpetually reverting to the same subject. There is a charm found oftentimes in variety which makes change delightful, for its own sake, even though the new scenery be not so intrinsically beautiful as that left behind.

It seems also as congenial to the human mind to have the range of different topics, as it is to the visual organ, to have grateful vicissitude of light and shade. Our readers may almost wish to be free from the constant reiteration of the same points, and we would gladly, if we could consistently with our duty at this crisis, gratify them by doing so. We would gladly write on a different topic from that to which we must now draw their attention,

But, as in time of war, the sentinel must be at his post; so, now, while Romanism and its advocates, are stirring every stone and straining every nerve to accomplish the ruin of our Church, and to establish the supremacy of the Papacy over us, it is imperative that we should exert ourselves to give notice of the approaching danger.

Under the auspices of Jesuitism, a new era seems to have commenced in politics. Statesmen appear to have discovered that to endow Popery is to advance, or secure Protestantism ; that the best way of governing a free people, is to hood-wink them and keep them in darkness ; to prefer intrigues, plots, and underhand movements to that open and manly policy so conducive to, and consistent with, our national character and glory.

Now we are compelled to bring these points under the notice of our readers, in consequence of the intended endowment of the Romish priesthood in Ireland. That it has been the darling project of many statesmen for the last fifty years is well known, and it is no less well understood that some of the late, and present Administration, are so strongly impressed with the policy, and expediency of such a course, as to allow nothing but the impossibility or improbability of success, _stand in the way of their attempting it. Government, not Truth, is their VOL. VIII.- September, 1846.

New Series, No. 9.

сс

object. They too much regard all things, even Truth itself, as subsidiary to the cause of governing. They make Truth, not the end and object of government; but, conjointly with error, instrumental to rule the governed.

“Let us entreat our readers,” says a writer in the “ Churchman's Monthly Review," " to settle it in their minds, and to work it well in the minds of their neighbours, in order to a proper understanding of the question, that three great and incompatible principles are now contending for the mastery among us; and, that it is not probable that the contest will end, until one of the three shall be deliberately preferred and adopted, both by the British Parliament, and the British people.”

The first of these assumes as a first principle, that legislators have a conscience in matters of religion; that it is their duty to know and ascertain the truth, to maintain and

propagate it when found.*

The second repudiates altogether the assumption that the State knows, or can know, what is the truth ; and regarding the various systems as mere matters of taste, feeling, or expediency, contends that it is impossible to decide amidst conflicting claims; and that support should therefore be given to all alike.

The third of these principles is, that which, from similar data, draws a very different conclusion. Asserting that statesmen are not competent judges of what is right or wrong in religion, it contends, that in consequence of such incompetency they ought to leave religious questions wholly untouched, and assumes, moreover, that State interference is hurtful to Christian Churches.

Between these three views, and modes of action, establishing the true religion ; establishing all religions; and establishing none : the people, the electors of England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, will probably soon have to choose.

The period, however, approaches rapidly, at which efforts will be made to try the experiment; and there is need for instant, active, strenuous exertions on behalf of Protestants to defeat them. A contemporary, already referred to, states as follows:

“We have received the most positive assurances from the lips of one whom we know to be in daily communication with, and to enjoy the confidence of, men in the highest departments of the State, that in spite of the assurances of Lord John Russell, the terms of an arrangement are actually settled, and have received the approval of Mr. Daniel O'Connell on the one side, and of Sir Robert Peel on the other, by which the establishment of the Romish priests in Ireland, mainly out of the revenues of the Establishment, but partly by a new charge upon the land, is fully determined on. But the whole matter is meant to be kept a profound secret until the ensuing general election of 1847 shall have given the Government a House of Commons prepared to support such a plan. Our informant is positive as to the existence of such a compact, and we, on our part, know him to be in a position to be well acquainted with the real views and intentions of the Government.

* See “Fundamental Resolutions of the Protestant Association." These are the principles which, for the last eleven years, we have been seeking to infuse into the public mind—[Ed. P. M.]

“The danger then is no longer a matter of possibility or distant conjecture. It is immediately before us; and, upon re-examining Lord John Russell's late disclaimer,* we really find nothing in it to prevent him coming forward with such a plan whenever the country, by returning a Liberal House of Commons, shall enable him to assert, with a shew of truth, that the public voice is no longer opposed to such an arrangement."

This is in entire accordance with our often made statements. We

e say, then, to the electors of each constituency throughout the empire, be prepared for the approaching conflict. The representatives whom you next return will have, humanly speaking, the fate of Protestantism in this country in their hands. They know it, they would keep silence on the point. It is your duty not to let them do so.†

As to the proposed endowment, it is needless. For centuries the Romish population in Ireland have been able to support their priesthood not only in respectability, but some of them in affluence. They have been able to supply funds for the erection of mass-houses and chapels and splendid cathedrals throughout the extent of Ireland. They have also contributed to the support of missions. These things are not mentioned to reproach them. They confer high credit upon their zeal and self-denial. They are referred to as proof that there exists no necessity for endowment of them by the State.

By what principle shall the Church of Rome in Ireland be endowed, upon which each denomination in the country may not equally claim the right of endowment ?

The State has endeavoured to provide from time to time for what is established as the true religion. It is true other systems have existed, and grown up beneath its fostering care, but to contend that they also ought, because they exist, whether right or wrong, to be endowed, is to contend for the universal endowment of every error, afford a premium for the growth of diversities of worship and opinion, and the invention of new religions.

This plan should be resisted, therefore, on the ground of principle ; it should be resisted on the ground of economy also.

The argument used by some in favour of it may be the pre

See our quotations from Speech of Lord John Russell, and notes thereon, in the preceding number for August last.—[Ed. P. M.]

+ We give, at the end of this number, a paper with questions, and a pledge, which many have adopted. We should like to be favoured with the views of our readers on the subject of the pledge.

sent or probable distress in Ireland, rendering it difficult for the people to support their priests. If there be dearth of food and employment, let that be obviated. But to make use of a mere temporary difficulty of one kind, as the excuse for a permanent measure of a very different nature ; to provide an endowment for the priest in order to prevent the people from starving, appears neither statesmanlike nor logical.

If it be said you will thereby avoid the need of a numerous police and military in Ireland, and thus save expense, we rejoin, the priesthood are there now. If it is a part of their religion to advance the interests of a Protestant State, and to help an heretical Government to rule a Catholic population, why have they not in time past done it? Why do they not now do it? Will endowment change their religion? Assuredly no; but with increased powers, they will do the greater mischief.

The contest will be closer and more severe. If the Romanists succeed in attaining the disestablishment of the Protestant Church in Ireland, or in securing the establishment of their own-it will be in spite of the wishes and feelings of a large, a vastly large majority of the British public—it will be gained as the result of a most successful agitation and intimidation, which will flourish in the spoils it has gained—and will prove a stepping-stone to the dismemberment of the empire, the supremacy of Popery in England and our colonies also. On what principle shall a Romish priest in Belfast have provision from the State, which shall not also entitle the priest at Glasgow and Paisley, at Manchester, Liverpool, Preston, and London, to be provided for?

We appeal to Christian men,-to those who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth. If Popery be the truth, embrace it: if false, why should you support it? If it be the grand antagonist of the Gospel, oppose it. We cannot be true to the cause of Christ and Antichrist, nor divest ourselves of responsibility for the use of talents which our Lord and Master has given us for his glory. We may not suffer them to lay by unused,—we may not hide them. The victory rarely rests with one man,-it is by the combined action of all,-and it will be by the combined action of Protestants, their fixed determination to protect themselves, their country, and their religion, that the threatened evil measure will be averted.

We regard it as a question of religion. We believe all our Protestant friends are concerned in it. All who have the glory of God and the salvation of the souls of men at heart should resist such a measure. Can we stand indifferently by, whilst the chains of Popish superstition are fast rivetted upon Ireland ? Can we say, it concerns not us? When the voice of the Almighty roused the first murderer to a recollection that the dark deed done in solitude, apart from human eye, was still known to him, was it any vindication that he asked, Am I my

brother's keeper? Can we with a like question free ourselves from guilt, if we allow those to perish in ignorance, whom we might instruct in a saving knowledge of Divine truth?

Can we then quietly, and without guilt, stand by whilst our Legislators would provide for the wholesale murder of souls, by educating and training the emissaries of Antichristian Rome, to drug them with her cup of sorcery, instead of giving them to drink of the water of life? To us it has ever appeared that all who take an active part in Protestant, missionary, and other religious Societies are called on to oppose the expenditure of the public funds in supporting Popery.

Viewing it in that light, the Committee of the Protestant Association have recently adopted the following Resolutions :

“I. That the known and avowed inclination of Her Majesty's Ministers to endow the priesthood of the Church of Rome in Ireland, if the people of this country should be favourable to such a course, imposes upon each Protestant the duty of exerting himself to the utmost of his power, to prevent so dangerous a measure being passed into law.

“ II. That it appears to this Committee to be the special duty of this Association to request the various religious Societies in the metropolis and the country to use their instrumentality through their respective agencies and publications for prominently pointing out the recent rapid advances of Popery, its real nature and tendency, as opposed to the glory of God, the salvation of souls, the peace and happiness of families and empires, as well as its injurious influence upon all missionary labours.

“III. That å Sub-Committee be appointed for the purpose of drawing up an Address* in accordance with the preceding Resolutions.

John P. PLUMPTRE, Chairman. JAMES LORD, Secretary."

THE VATICAN AND ST. JAMES. CENTURIES have passed away since the happening of those events which first broke the intercourse between Rome and England. Never again may it be revived. We do not write thus in bitterness of feeling, but from an entire conviction that the results of establishing diplomatic relationships between Her Majesty and the Pope, will be very disastrous to this country. But many imagine this is far distant enough; indeed, that it can never take place, so utterly irreconcileable does it

appear

to them with the policy of this country, and the genius of our Constitution. Still we see no obstacles to be overcome, so great as were overcome by passing the Act of 1829. To say, that at the present time it is illegal, is enunciating, indeed, a truism. But we place little reliance on mere Act of Parliament barriers.

* We hope to give the Address in our next.

« PreviousContinue »