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ROMAN CATHOLIC RELIGION ;
AN UNPREJUDICED SKETCH
HISTORY, DOCTRINES, OPINIONS, DISCIPLINE,
AND PRESENT STATE OF
ENGLISH AND IRISH CATHOLICS.
I take myself bound to charge no man to be of a religion which he denieth.
SINCERELY devoted to the great cause of Catholic Emancipation, yet zealously attached to the religion of Protestants, I hesitated for some time on the propriety and usefulness of publishing the result of my inquiries concerning the faith and worship of Roman Catholics. To encounter the prejudices and mistakes of my friends, and my enemies, if I have any, by taking, what some will call, a favourable view of the Church of Rome, presented no contemptible obstacle to my mind. Yet, convinced that hitherto no Protestant writer has done full justice to the subject, I was not willing to forego the pleasure of, at least, endeavouring to shew, that the religion of our ancestors has been mistaken, and that unworthy and groundless alarms are excited in consequence of that mistake. Some of my friends, themselves favourably inclined towards the claims of Catholics, had their fears, that if I drew a true portrait of the Catholic Church, so far from serving, I should considerably injure the
cause of toleration and religious liberty. This objection would most assuredly have effectually put an end to the whole undertaking, had I not been fully convinced of its futility. The reasons, on which that conviction is grounded, the reader will find in the first and last sections of the following work, as well as, occasionally, in other parts—they need not be repeated in this place. I have only to request the reader to observe the exact purport of iny title-page, and he will then bear in mind, that this work professes to give a view of the Roman Catholic Religion, and not of Roman Catholic Courts--not even exactly of the Court of Rome itself. This att will remove much ground of complaint, as many I know will complain, that I have omitted to notice this plot and that massacre, this notion and that practice, the
conduct of this priest and of that prelate. · When murders, and seditions, and plots,
and persecutions, are adduced against Roman Catholics, it is sufficient to give this one plain and obvious answer:-They are acts which form no part of the Roman Catholic Religion; and I, of course, had, comparatively speaking, nothing to do with them : the records of them may serve to amuse those persons who have no better argument in support of that system of intolerance, which has been so long exercised against the Roman Catholics of this