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in this country. We object to Popery being tried only by her practices in Britain, Ist, because she dare not here shew the full working of her system ; the law forbids it ; 2d, because Romanists in England form a very small portion of her community ; 3d, because in this country the reflected light of Protestantism tells even upon Popery ; and, 4th, because Popery has an end in view in not displaying her true colours in Britain. For these reasons we cannot consent to Popery being tried merely by the practices of Romanism in this country : we demand a fuller investigation. We demand that her present proceedings in Popish countries be examined, in order to ascertain, whether those persecuting decrees and idolatrous practices are abolished, and whether all the abominations which Popery ever directed or authorized, are not yet extant even in this nineteenth century.
Mr. Chairman, I have no power to “stir men's blood,” like a reverend gentleman here (Rev. H. Stowell), nor would I seek to do so. I come merely as a witness in a court of justice, to tell truly and dispassionately what I have seen-to give testimony on the great question,-Is Popery changed, or is she not ?
I beg to refer to a document, issued by the highest ecclesiastical authority in Madeira, dated three and a half years ago, and published from all the pulpits in Madeira. It was issued by Sebastian Casimero Medina e Vasconcellas, Vicar-General of the bishopric of Funchal, in the name of the Bishop Don Januario Vicente Camacho. It was addressed to “ all vicars, and curates, public prosecutors, and officers of justice, to all persons, civil and ecclesiastical, of every rank and degree,” and “ required, and commanded them not to touch, or hold communication with Francisco Pires Soares and Nicolau Tolentino Vieyra," who had dared to leave the communion of Rome, and join the Presbyterian communion at Madeirá. These two men were declared to be “ excommunicated by the curse of Almighty God, and of the blessed St. Peter and St. Paul, with those of Gomorrah and Sodom, and with Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, whom the earth swallowed alive for their disobedience.” This document goes on to say, “ Let no one give them fire, water, bread, or any other thing that may be necessary for their support. Let no one pay them their debts. Let no one support them in any case which they may bring before a court of justice. Let all put them aside as rotten and excommunicated members, separated from the bosom and union of the Holy Mother Catholic Church, and as rebels and contumacious." It further excommunicated, ipso facto, all who did not comply with these commands, every debtor who should pay these men their just debts, every judge who should dare, in a court of law, to do them justice, every charitable person who should give them water, fire, or any thing necessary to existence ; and the excommunication against those who should assist them or do them justice, implies the very same penalty as was imposed
There is so strong a disipelination in this country to believe any evil of Popery ; that, no doubt, we shall be told, that that excommunication was a mere form, and meant nothing. Let it be remembered, however, that from every parish pulpit in Madeira, it was announced, that no man should pay these persons their just debts ; and not only were they authorized not to pay them, but were actually threatened with excommunication if they did. Does this mean nothing ?
Let it be known, that the persons who were so excommunicated were obliged to hide themselves from the light of the sun, for months, that they were at last compelled to tear themselves from the bosom of their families, and leave their father-land; and that they are at the present day wanderers in a strange land, one being in the East, and the other in the West Indies. After this let every impartial man judge whether that excommunication was a mere form and meant nothing.
To show that the priest's interference with the law, and malediction against every judge who should do justice to an excommunicated person, is not an unmeaning form, I beg to relate a case which occurred in a court of justice during this present year. Two men were partners as sawyers of wood; one was the owner of two-thirds of the property, and the other of one-third. The former had learned to read, and had received the precious truth, that Christ died for our sins, and that his blood cleanseth from all sin, and had renounced the worship of the host, Virgin, images, and pictures; the other still adhered to these forms. The owner of two-thirds wished to dissolve partnership, and proposed to pay the other his one-third of the property, and retain it all, or that the owner of the one-third should pay him his two-thirds, and retain it. These propositions being refused, he then proposed that the whole of the property should be sold, and the proceeds divided between them: this also being refused, he brought the case before the judge. The owner of the one-third had nothing to advance but that the other had not been at mass or confession for two years, and of this he brought a certificate from the priest of the parish. The judge considered the whole case, especially the priest's certificate, and then he passed sentence, that as the owner of two-thirds had not been at mass or confession for two years, he was virtually excommunicated, and being excommunicated he was incompetent to appear in any court of justice! He, therefore, gave the verdict in favour of the owner of the one-third, leaving him with the property, and sentenced the other to pay all the expenses of the process! and from that sentence there was no appeal. It was published in the Madeira newspapers, in the end of July, 1846.
I cannot, at this late hour, enlarge on the proceedings of Popery in Madeira ; I would merely glance for a few moments, at one or two of her atrocities.
On the 31st of May, 1845, a man was tried, for having had a meeting of his relations in his own house for reading the Scriptures and prayer, and for having refused to pay homage to a piece of cloth fixed upon a stick, and called the Holy Ghost. For these crimes he was sentenced to six months' imprisonment in the jail of Funchal, When I was in jail, in 1843, there was no mass said there, nor had there been for years; but in 1844 there were from twenty to thirty prisoners in the jail, who being convinced that there is a God, and but one, felt assured that a bit of bread is not that God, and whose hearts revolted against paying divine homage to any created thing. When the priests found they had in their power victims whom they hoped to compel to offend their God, it was required that mass should be said in the jail every Sunday and holiday, and that all the prisoners should be obliged to attend. The man who was condemned for having had the meeting in his house, and for not worshipping that which they blasphemously called the Holy Ghost
, was ordered to mass with the rest on the first of June. He refused to go. The jailers attempted to force him, but in vain. Soldiers were called. He grasped the iron bars of the jail window, in order to prevent himself from being dragged to mass. He was struck with the butt-ends of their muskets. His grasp was overcome by violence, and at the point of the bayonet he was driven to what he regarded as idolatry. He went; but did not kneel there ; he could not. After mass, he felt that he had done wrong, even though compelled ; he felt that it would have been better that his blood should have been shed there, than that he should have offended his God; and he resolved, that on the ensuing Sabbath no power on earth should compel him to attend. During that week, he conversed with many of his fellow-prisoners, and having received more instruction than they, he reasoned with them from the Scriptures. On the 8th of June, twenty prisoners refused to go to mass, and no power could force them; blows and bayonets failed. What was the result? There is, in the jail of Funchal, a place called the Bomba. Respecting that place, I may mention that the day after my release from prison, I sent a friend to distribute bread to the prisoners, and on coming out of the Bomba, he gave unequivocal manifestations of his being sick, and nearly fainted, -it is a most abominably disgusting den of filth. In that place, there were, on the 7th of June, fifteen persons confined, for various offences; and on the 8th, when the prisoners refused to go to mass, there were five more added. I wished to go and take the dimensions of it, but could not get admission, and asked a friend to take them for me. He did so; and the paper he brought to me stated that the Bomba is twelve feet square, by eleven feet high; and in that loathsome room twenty men were confined night and day. For what? For refusing to pay that homage to a bit of bread, which man owes to his God !
We are told, Christian friends, that Popery is changed, that she persecutes no more, that there is not a country on earth where Popery now persecutes, and that she is so changed that she would never wish to persecute. We answer, Popery does not drag out her victims and burn them at the stake in open day: no, for as yet she dares not. But she does what she dares; those who will not obey her despotic commands she throws into the Bomba, that there they may endure a death, far more lingering, and far more horrid, than at the stake. Let men look into the Bomba in Funchal jail, and answer whether Popery does not now persecute.
Reference has been made to the Scriptures, and to the desire of Romanists, and others, to exclude the Bible, from the schools. Popery has been long known, as the enemy of knowledge, but especially of Biblical knowledge. In England, she wishes to persuade men, that she is not the enemy of the Bible itself, but only of spurious and adulterated editions, and she made a similar profession in Madeira. In 1840, the bishop expressed a wish to see a copy of the Bible, that was being put into the hands of his people
. One was gladly sent to him. On the 21st of May, he placed it in the
hands of three canons of the cathedral of Funchal, and appointed them, as a Commission, to examine it, and to report to him, as to its correctness or incorrectness. Two years and four months afterwards, he published a pastoral, wherein he stated that that Commission had reported, “ that there was scarcely a verse of any chapter either of the Old or New Testament, which was not more or less notably adulterated ;” and he added, that he “excommunicated ipso facto all who should read those Bibles.” We have already seen what excommunication implies ; and we now find the Bishop coming forward, with all his authority, and excommunicating ipso facto, all who read those Bibles. But they were declared to be of a spurious and adulterated edition. On reading his pastoral, I was confounded ; I did not believe that the British and Foreign Bible Society had issued an unfaithful reprint of Pereira's Bible, and could not suppose it possible, that three canons should risk their character, by stating a bare-faced falsehood. What was my surprise, in finding, upon getting a copy of the Lisbon edition of the Bible, and comparing it with that of the Bible Society, that in the Gospel of St. Matthew there was not an alteration, in any verse of that book. I immediately published an answer to the pastoral, advising that his Excellency the Bishop should suspend his curse on the Word of God, till it could be seen whether the other books were as correct as St. Matthew's Gospel. In consequence of the pastoral, the judge came to the jail, with the public prosecutor, and other judiciary officers, and ordered all the boxes of the prisoners to be searched for Bibles ; and he took away every copy
of the Scriptures, that he found there ! The chief police magistrate went to a school, supported by English charity, and took away thirty Bibles, and all the Testaments that he could find ! During the course of the ensuing week, the Commission published an answer to my observations. In it, they reasserted what they had said, “that there was scarcely a verse of any chapter, either of the New or Old Testament, which was not adulterated.” The comparison of the two editions went on ; upwards of 5,000 verses were examined ; and the result was, a complete refutation of the Commissioners' Report. Within two months after the Bishop's curse on these books of God, there came from Lisbon an order from the Portuguese Government, in which Her Majesty the Queen, approved of these very Bibles, and stated that they were approved of by the Archbishop also. But, notwithstanding this, the Bishop's curse still rests upon the book of God; the priests, from the pulpit, declare, that it is a book from hell, and should be burned, with the hands that handle it : and when my house was attacked, on the ninth of August, 1846, every copy of the sacred Scriptures, which was found, was actually thrown into a fire, on the public street, by the mob, when they ascertained that their expected human victims had escaped their outrage. Suppose that in the present distressed state of Ireland, a man should go through one of her most famishing villages, selling bread at a reduced price to those that could pay for it, and giving it gratis to those who could not, and that some, whose pecuniary interests were interfered with by the gratuitous distribution, should seek to persuade the people that the bread was poisoned, and should endeavour to incite them to trample it under foot and murder their benefactor, who would not call such conduct atrocious ? But suppose, further, some of the famishing creatures to have tasted the bread, and found, that it not only did them no harm, but that it actually restored their drooping limbs, and gave them new life ; if, then, these selfish and cruel tyrants were to snatch it from their hands and cast it into the fire, and then beat, imprison, and excommunicate them merely for feeding upon it and giving it to their dying children, what words could we find powerful enough to characterize their guilt ? Their, guilt, however, would be as nothing, compared with the guilt of those, who snatch the bread of life from men, who are eagerly seeking to feed upon it, that their souls may live for ever.
It seems very probable, that many of our liberal friends will complain of the terms of this Resolution, and represent it as rashly and unwisely seeking to interfere with the mercantile relations and interests of the country, for a mere chimera. These same men tell us, that Popery is now tolerant and liberal, but they do not believe it themselves, or they could not imagine that she would refuse us what we ask—they could not anticipate that by insisting on such terms in our treaties with Popish countries, there would be the slightest danger of interfering with our mercantile interests. Those who advance this objection show that they are already fully convinced that Popery is not tolerant, and if they foster in this country a system which they know to be persecuting and intolerant they are enemies to the rights and liberties of their country. If they do so, while presuming to call themselves Liberals, they stamp themselves as traitors, professing friendship to Liberty-and destroying it.
As a test of their sincerity in professing to believe that Popery is tolerant, we call on them to support us in asking for British subjects residing in Popish states those liberties and immunities referred to in this Resolution, and if Popery be not intolerant, she will most assuredly grant them at once.
The Resolution was seconded by the Rev. R. W. Dibdin, and was also agreed to ; and after singing the Doxology, and the benediction being pronounced, the Meeting separated.
THE IRISH CHURCH.
To the Editor of the Protestant Magazine. SIR,—There is a party in the country favourable to the present Government, and professedly religious men, who are using every means to lull the public mind to sleep on the question of the Irish Church and the Endowment of Romanism. But this is a great and momentous question, which ought not to be suffered to go to rest at all. It is, in fact, the great battle-field, on which, in all probability, the fate of Protestant England is to be decided. O'Connell, is the organ and the champion of the Romish priesthood. A Romish bishop, of the name of Browne, stated this distinctly at the Conciliation Hall, in so many words, very recently, by saying that O'Connell was the organ of the hierarchy and clergy of his Church, and he knew that they were for the Liberator, and against the Young Ireland party. Now the Liberator, as they style him, keeps up an unceasing agitation, ostensibly for the Repeal of the Ủnion. This makes Ireland the chief difficulty of each successive Government. And the main consideration with them has been, what shall be done to appease and satisfy O'Connell, who is nothing else than the tool and instrument of the Romish priesthood. The notable expedient