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It has been publicly denied by the authority of the Pope himself, in a solemn rescript from the congregation of Cardinals in the name of Pius VI. June 1791. It is not only discwned by their priests, but contradicted by every part of their daily conduct, and indeed its only plausible foundation was a form of oath, which to prevent all misconception has been long omitted.
The activity and ingenuity by which many worthy persons have conjured up phantoms to terrify them, selves is truly exemplary. So much indeed has a weekly paper, 'professing itself attached to the cause of religion, but noted only for the despicable trash with which it disgraces it, been appalled by these bloody spec. tres of grim Papists, that it sapiently suggests the propriety of transporting the objects of its horror to some distant island-An idea which the high church party should certainly recompense by lavishing its emoluments on the worthy editor. We shall spare but a few words more to dissipate these “ airy nothings" that infest the heads of our weaker brethren, and even occasionally discompose the rest, which it is the right of every good alderman to enjoy.
The Catholics believe, it is alleged, that there is no salvation out of the pale of their own Church, and that therefore they must despise and abhor all those, whom they consider as destined to eternal misery. But unfortunately, our own establishment is founded on the very same principle and many among dissenters draw a circle of peculiar doctrines beyond which there is “ no foundation for a sinner's hope.” But the grand objection to Emancipation with the anility of our nation appears to be, that as some of the ancestors of the Catholics were persecutors and bigots, they must inherit the spirit of their forefathers : and that we are therefore bound by Christian meekness and love to persecute and degrade in return.
i The Instructor.
This mild and liberal law of visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the ninth and tenth generation is at least as wise as it is beneficent. If the dark ages of ignorance and superstition-the merciless reigns of anarchy or despotism-are to be ransacked for the benign purpose of criminating those, who in this age may hold the same speculative doctrines that were professed by wretches destitute of all religion--what sect can be deemed trust-worthy or innocent? While we survey with eager eyes those dark and dreadful times where every object appears greater from the mist with which it is enveloped, we shall find that the charge of persecution is not confined to the zealots of one persuasion. Every religion which has been armed with secular powers and associated with despotic governments in days of the ignorance and degradation of our species has been used as an engine of misery and terror. And if the Papal hierarchy is stained more deeply with blood—if her annals present more numerous pictures of martyrdom and torture it is only because its powers were more extensive and its temptations more numerous. If such acts produ. ced from such times are to decide the character of a people, our judges may be considered as monsters because there was a Jeffries our bishops intolerant because of Laud—and the kingly office itself be regarded as dangerous and terrific, because most of its possessors have disgraced and afflicted the people whom they have governed. Are the members of the Church of England willing to be considered as bigots because Cranmer persecuted the anabaptists, and are we dissenters to be regarded as revolutionary because of the Barebones, and the Cromwells ? Christians of the Calvinistic persuasion! are you content to be considered blood-thirsty and faithless because the reformer, from whom you derive your name, unhappily tinctured with the spirit of the times, procured the death of Servetus? If you are not willing to have his conduct imputed to you, blush for the new doctrine of imputation you have some of you sanctioned, and confess the folly of your charges.
- Eheu, Quàm temerè in nosmet legem sancimus iniquam !
Hor. What tenet then remains in the Church of Rome, reduced as it is at present, that is not merely religious and speculative? It performs indeed the rite of absolution in nearly the same form as the Church of England–This believes in two sacraments, that in seven—the first holds that the bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ--the second that these are " verily and indeed taken and received by the faithful in the Lord's supper”-the former believes herself infallible, the latter has authority in all matters of faith and controversy-if that believes none can be saved but such as receive certain doctrines, this asserts that those who keep not others whole and undefiled without doubt shall perish.
* Church Cat. : ? 27th Article. VOL. I.
--the one considers its bishops as divinely commissioned, the other its Popes and cardinals--the more ancient Church invokes the saints which her daughter most religiously keeps in remembrance-both hold it their duty to destroy heretics, but it is by restoring them to the bosom of their Church, it is as a Chinese emperor fulfilled his promise of destroying his enemies -by making friends of them. ';
Where now are the horrible features which the zealots of our nation have imprinted on the image of popery? Where is the doctrine which necessarily renders its votaries treacherous and unprincipled? -Are the very persons who represent the Catholics as thus ferocious and deadly, wasting millions of our treasures and the life-blood of our country in fighting for a base and murderous banditti - bound by no laws, and capable of no generous sentiments ? Are we impoverishing ourselves only to conquer for wretches who would consider it as a noble effort of virtue to murder us all in return for our exertions ?
Finally, if these men hold the doctrines imputed to them, we need not tremble at granting emancipationit is indeed the only security we can have while they exist : for what power can we give them they do not already possess ? It is nothing but a respect for oaths, which we declare they would consider it a virtue to violate, that hinders them now from aspiring to the first offices of the state. When these were openly given to them they would, at all events, be as much less dangerous than they are at present, as the highwayman is less to be dreaded than the poisoner. By refusing their claims we are adding fuel to the fire,
which, if it exist, is not less potent because concealed. By refusing them our confidence we are doing all in our power to make them'unworthy of it and to render them what we represent them to be :-and if the Catholics do not learn lessons of bigotry and intol. erance from their opposers, they will be more than commonly exempt from the feelings of which they are accused.
3. If then the true tenets of the Catholics are in no wise hostile to the well-being of society, it is our duty as Christians, as Dissenters, and Patriots, to unite with them in obtaining the repeal of every test which yet disgraces our statute-book and our nature.
As CHRISTIANS.—The spirit of forbearance, of concord and of forgiveness, is the grand characteristic of a Christian. Our faith is indebted to no other force than that of conviction, it knows no arms but those of the Spirit. Strange is it then that we should consider it a duty to persecute men lest they should persecute us. Strange that the disciples of him who came not to condemn but to save—who rebuked his followers for asking the thunders of heaven to confound the erroneous-who healed the wound of the high-priest's servant-who dying implored the mercy of heaven on his murderers should think it a duty to usurp the province of God, and display the lightnings of Almighty vengeance. Our Catholic. brethren are beginning to share the advantages of education and the scriptures; the last vestiges of their ancient hierarchy are crumbling in the dust-and it is alike unmanly and unchristian to insult the fallen. If the ancestors of the Romanists stained their hands