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us. The world knows that Roman Catholics sway the sceptre of authority in kingdoms and republics. The very nature then of civil society is a manifest contradiction to the creed you impute to us: for, if we were no more than machines veering at the breath of Popes and Priests, whom neither conscience, religion, the sacred ties of an oath, nor the fear of God's judgment, can restrain, patentees of guilt, and sure of impunity, we could not form a society for the space of one year: for, in such a society, the notions of vice and virtue would be confounded; the blackest crimes and the purest virtue reduced to the same level; the descipline of morals destroyed; the harmony of the body politic dissolved; the brother armed against the brother; and if, by a kind of miracle, in such a cursed number of men, a second Abel could be found, the earth would soon groan with the cries of his blood, if divines have attempted to demonstrate the existence of God from the nature of civil society, the very nature of civil society demonstrates the falsehood of the creed with which you compliment us. And, if the gloomy plan of such a horrid republic pleases your imaginations, go and lay the foundations of it in some distant part of the earth. Be yourselves its members and governors, for no Christian could live there.
When the delicate pencils of the Gibbons, Reynolds, and Marmontels, will paint the political scenery of the eighteenth century—when on the extensive canvass, they will represent the gloom of long-reigning prejudice scattering, as the clouds of night, at the approach of the rising sun—when they will paint the poniard, drenched in human blood, snatched from the hand of stern persecution—the French praying in concert . with the American—the Americans invited into Russia—the order of military merit established in favour of Protestants, in the palace of a Catholic King—Ireland rising from thesea, covered with her Fabii and Scipios, pointing their spears to distant shores, and holding forth the olive and sheaf of corn to their neighbours of all denominations—when they will contrast the present to former times—shew the happy result of a change of system, and prove that the world is refined—You, painted in as frightful attitudes as the group of figures in Raphael's Judgment, with stern fanaticism in your countenances, a bible in one hand and a fagot in the other— you, I say, will be an exception to the general rule: the world will read with surprise, that, in seventeen hundred and eighty, there have been fanatics in England and Scotland, that gave birth to so many illustrious writers. Your transactions shall be recorded in the appendix to the history of Jack Straw and Wat Tiler; and your chaplains and apologies shall be ranked with James Nailer and Hugh Peters.
And thus, Gentlemen, I finish my Apostrophe.
Should Mr. Wesley, or any of his associators, think it worth their while to make any remarks on these letters, they cannot justly expect a rejoinder. They have started forth the unprovoked aggressors; and, not satisfied with attempting to deprive the Roman Catholics of their rights as subjects, they have slandered and aspersed their characters. 1 am no stranger to the ground on which they will attack me: either the rusty weapons of old councils, or & "catalogue of old massacres, will be drawn out of their mouldering arsenals: arms as ill suited to the eighteenth century, as Saul's helmet was to David's head. I will be attacked with the Council of Lateran, the wars of the Albigenses, the massacre of St. Bartholomew, &c. I am a Christian, and deny the transmigration of souls: I am nowise concerned in past transactions, or if my religion be charged with them, I have in my hands the cruel arms of retaliation:—
I shall divide the charge into two branches—barbarous actions and barbarous doctrine. If Mr. Wesley reckons all those who are not, or have not been, in communion with the see of Rome, in the number of heretics, and himself amongst them, as doubtless he does, I shall then lay at his door, all the abominable and seditious doctrines taught by those whom he styles heretics, from the time of Simon the Magician, down tc- jjur days—the impurities of the Gnostics; the'enchantments of the Ophites; the perjury and frauds of the Priscillianists; the errors, of the Albigenses, and millions besides. If, from these distant times, I make a transition to a nearer sera, I shall prove to him, from the works, not only of insignificant writers of the reformed religion, but of the very founders of the reformation, who assumed as much power over their followers, as the Pope assumes over the Catholics, that they taught doctrines cruel, immoral, and seditious; and thut the most horrid barbarities were committed in consequence of those doctrines. Calvin not only commits heretics to the flames, but moreover writes a book in justification of his proceedings; and in his commentaries on the Scriptures he teaches, that • Usury is lawful.' Luther, Mahncthon, and Bucer, have authorized polygamy, and permitted a prince to marry a second wife during the life of the first. The decrees of the Synod of Dort, caused great persecutions in Holland. Knox and his followers propagated the Gospel with fire and sword. I have already mentioned the doctrine of John Huss, and his master Wickliff, so inimical to sovereigns.
If I take a review of the greatest champions who, within these four hundred years, have undertaken the Herculean task of overthrowing the kingdom of Antichrist, 1 see them all claiming a mission from Heaven, as well as Mr. Wesley, and still overturning thrones and empires. I see Germany deluged with oceans of blood; boors headed by fanatical preachers, promising the deluded multitude to receive the bullets in their sleeves, attacking their princes and sovereigns; tailors paving their way to the throne over heaps of mangled carcasses, in order to re-est£'blish the kingdom of Jerusalem; apostles heading armies, and commanding, by the last will, their dearly beloved children reformed lrom the errors of Popery, to make a drum* of their skins, in order to rouse the saints to battle; the streets of London ensanguined with the gore of peaceable citizens, destroyed by the fifth-monarchy men, proclaiming king Jesus; communion tables stained with the blood of Protestant kings; solemn leagues and covenants sealed for the extirpation of Papists and malignants,f and entered into with as much eagerness as Hannibal entered Italy, after swearing the destruction of the Romans, upon the Carthaginian altars; the poniard lifted by the hand of religious madness, and committing such slaughter and carnage, that
* Zisca, a follower of John Huss.
t A name given to the Protestants of the established church.
people propose the disagreeable and odious problem, ' whei 'ther religion has been of greater use than harm to man'kind?' 'V
Still I am inclined to exculpate religion from the blame of calamities which can be traced back to the rage of fanatical preachers, the cruelty of governors, the policy and craft of ministers of state, as to their genuine sources. 'Matters 'were first embroiled in the cabinet,' says Rousseau, 4 and 'then the leading men stirred up the common people in the 'name of God.'
In the midst of this religious rage, I see humanity asserting her right, and resuming her empire: I see Catholic governors refusing to comply with the imperious mandates ofa cruel king, and a no less cruel queen, at the time of the massacre of St. Bartholomew, and Catholic bishops saving all the Protestants in their diocese: I see in Ireland, the great Protestant bishop Bedel with his clans, and thousands, in the free exercise of their religion, in the midst of a Catholic army, whilst a Protestant bishop bleeds at the foot of a communion-table in Scotland, for reading the English liturgy:—Thus, I am convinced that people of all denominations would be happy together, if their clergy recommended mutual love and benevolence; and that, if we divested ourselves of passion, religion would never arm the hand with the poniard. If Innocent the Third excommunicated the heretics of his time, Innocent the Eleventh entered into a league with Protestant kings.
Thus, gentlemen, you see how the world changes. On the wide theatres spread by the revolutions of time, new characters daily appear, and different circumstances are productive of different events. It is in vain to ransack old councils, imperial constitutions, and ecclesiastical canons, whether genuine or spurious, against heretics, in order to brand the present generation of Catholics. In the very city, I mean Rome, where the general council of Lateran was held, Protestants are caressed, and live with ease and comfort. Travellers agree, that it is the theatre of civility, benevolence and politeness. In the German empire, where, by the constitutions of Frederic the Second, heretics were condemned to the stake, all religions enjoy full liberty. In some places,, the Catholic priest and Calvinist minister officiate in the same church, and bishoprics are alternately governed by Catholic and Protestant prelates. All laws, whether civil or ecclesiastical, are done away by time, when the motives that gave them rise subsist no longer. And none but a slave to bigotry and prejudice will confound the eighteenth with the thirteenth century. Because Father Roger Bacon was imprisoned as a sorcerer, on account of his extensive knowledge in astronomy, perspective, &c. or that Gallileo's doctrine of the motion of the earth was condemned by a numerous tribe of divines, headed by seven Cardinals, under the eyes of the Roman Pontiff, must it be obtruded on the public, that the Roman Catholics must consider the motion of the earth round the sun, as heresy, or firmly believe that there is magic or witchcraft in the Camera obscura, because Father Bacon, who described it, was seven years confined in prison? Hence from the opinions of men, or the actions of Popes, or the disciplinary canons of Councils, or the proceedings of Bishops who composed them, in one age, there is no arguing to the belief of men in another. Popes have attempted to absolve subjects from their allegiance to their sovereigns; it is no more an article of my belief that they could do it by the authority of the keys, than it is an article of my belief, that I can strike a king on the cheek, because Calvin teaches, that, 'earthly princes abdicate their authority when they 'erect themselves against God,' and that, 'we ought rather 'spit in their faces, than obey them.'* Mr. Wesley and the Association would do well to analyze some of that doctor's writings, and Knox's sermons, and to insert them in their Appeal, as a contrast to the obsolete canons which they have extracted from Sir Richard Steel's Appendix:—Erect themselves against God, is a phrase merely spiritual, and of a fatal tendency, because the broachers of such doctrines think it a sufficient plea against kings not inclined to receive truths, they themselves are prompted to preach: and as every one thinks himself in the right, error has many chances for the sword of authority. But in my opinion, Peter's pence, not Peter's keys, have founded the claims of Popes, when they