Page images

becomes the property of the person to whom it is bestowed, if there be no legal disqualification on either side. But the misfortune is, that the Catholics and the framers of the fictitious creed so often refuted, and still forced on them, resemble the Frenchman and the blunderer in the comedy; one forces into the other's mouth a food which he cannot relish, and againit which his stomach revolts.

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Mr. Wesley places in the front of his lines, the general council of Constance, places the pope in the centre, and brings up the rere of his squadrons with a confabulation between à priest and a woman, whilft his letters are skirmishing on the wings. Let us march from the rere to the front, for religious warriors feldom obi serve order.

A priest then said to a woman whom Mr. Wesley KNOWS," I see you are no heretic : " you have the experience of a real Christian.” And would you burn me ?" said she. “God “ forbid !'' replied the priest, “ except for the 66 good of the church.” Now this prieit must be descended from some of those who attempted to blow up a river with gunpowder, in order to drown à city * Or he must

: have

* Among other plots attributed to the Roman Catholics in the reign of Charles the first, this extraordinary one was charged upon them. -See Hume. ..

have taken her for a witch; whereas, by his own confession, “ she was no heretic.” A gentleman whom I know declared to me upon his honour, that he heard Mr. Wesley repeat in a sermon, preached by him in the city of Cork, the following words: “A little bird “ cried out in Hebrew,- Eternity! Eter“ nity! Who can tell the length of Eternity ?” I am then of opinion, that a little Hebrew bird gave Mr. Wesley the important information about the priest and the woman : one story is as interesting as the other; and both are equally alarming to the Protestant interest. Hitherto it is a drawn battle between us; from the rere, then, let us advance to the van, and try if the general council of Constance, which Mr. Wesley places at the head of his legions, be impenetrable to the sword of truth. '

After reading the ecclesiastical history con, cerning that council, and Dr. Hay's answer to W. A. Drummond, I have gone through the drudgery of examining it all over in St. Patrick's library, when Mr. Wesley's letters made their appearance. The result of my researches is, a conviction that there is no such doctrine as “ Violation of faith with heretics,” authorized by that council. Pope Martin V. whom the fathers of that council elected, published a bull, wherein he declares, “That it is


..o not lawful for a man to perjure himself on

"any account, even for the faith.” Subsequent pontiffs have lopped off the excrescences of relaxed casuistry,

The pope's horns then are not so dangerous as to induce Mr. Wesley to sing the lamentations of Jeremiah the prophet, deploring the loss of Jerusalem, or to send us from London an Hebrew elegy to be modulated on the key of the Irish Ologone. “ Their souls are pained, " and their hearts tremble for the ark of God* “ Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the “ streets of Alkelon ; left the daughters of the “ Philistines rejoice, left the daughters of the “uncircumcised triumph.”

This fame elegy resounded through Great Britain a little before the ark of England was destroyed, the sceptre wrested out of the hands of her king, her pontiffs deprived of their mitres, and her noblemen banished from her senate. Thus, as the Delphian sword flaughtered the victim in honour of the Gods, and dispatched the criminal on whom the sentence of the law was passed, the scripture is made fubfervient to profane, as well as sacred purpofes. It recommends and enforces subordination, and, at the same time, becomes an arsenal


* Defence of the Protestant Association, p. 202.

from whence faction takes it arms. Like Boileau's heroes, in the Battle of the Books, we ransack old councils; we disturb the bones of old divines, who, wrapped up in their parchment blankets, sleep at their ease on the shelves of libraries, where they would snore for ever, if the noise of the gun-powder upon an anniyersary day, or the restless hands of pamphlet writers, induitrious in inflaming the rabblel did not roase them from their slumber. Peace to their manes! The charity sermon preached in Dublin by Doctor' Campbell, the anniverTary fermon preached in Cork last November by Doctor la Malliere, and the discourse to the Echlinville' volunteers, by Mr. Dickson, have done more good in one day, either by procuring relief for the distressed, or by promoting benevolence, peace, and harmony amongst fellow-subjects of all denominations, than the folios written on pope Joan liave done in the space of two hundred years,

I must now found the retreat, with a design to return to the charge, and to attack Mr. Werley's first battery, on which he has mounted the canons of the council of Constance. If I cannot succeed from want of abilities, but not from want of the armour of truth, I am sure of making a retreat, in which it is imposible to cut me off. For in the very fupposition that the council of Constance, and all the councils of

the the world, had defined “violation of faith with “ heretics," as an article of faith, and that I do not believe it, “ violation,” then, “of faith “ with heretics,” is no article of my belief. For, to forın one's belief, it is not sufficient to read a proposition in a book. Interior conviction must captivate the mind. The Arian reads the Divinity of Christ in the New Testament, and Itill denies it: would Mr. Wesley assert that the Divinity of Christ is an article of the Arian faith? If then it violation of faith with “ heretics," be the tesfera fidei, the badge of the Roman Catholic religion, the Roman Catholics are all Protestants, and as well entitled to fing their psalms, as Mr. Wesley his canticles. I would not be one hour a member of any religion that would profess such a creed as. Mr. Wesley has sent us from London.

You may, perhaps, be surprized, Gentlemen, that the introduction to a serious subject Thould favour so little of the gloom and sullenness so familiar to polemical writers; or, that the ludicrous and serious should be so closely interwoven with each other.

But, remark a set of men who tax the nobility, gentry, and head clergy of England with degeneracy, for not degrading the dignity of their ranks and professions. Remark them exposing their parclaments in meeting-houses and


« PreviousContinue »