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Such is the author's description of the moral character of the religion of the church of Rome, and I presume I have quoted enough from his book to satisfy any unprejudiced mind of the demoralizing tendency of that religion. Should you wish for more, I refer you to the work itself, where you will find things, if possible, more diabolical than any thing I have quoted ; * but I must entreat
your patience while, by way of supplement, I give you an extract from a book of travels, published by one of our own countrymen, rather more than 200 years ago. The author, Sir Edwin Sandys, was the son of an archbishop of York of that name, and took great pains to make himself acquainted with the religion of the church of Rome, which he thus describes-you must make the necessary allowance for the quaintness of his style, which was that of the age in which he lived.
* The exposure which Mr. White has made of the deceptions that are practised by the clergy of the church of Rome, by means of forged miracles and lying legendary tales, in order to impose upon their credulous votaries, would be amusing were it not for the painful consideration that the interests of the soul, and concerns of eternal moment, are at stake; "the leaders of this people cause them to err, and they that are led of them are destroyed,” Isa. ix. 16. But let me request the reader to ponder well the drift of the following quotation from Mr. White's volume.
“ I had a mother, and such a mother as, did I possess the talents of your great poet (Pope) tenfold, they would have been honoured in doing homage to the powers of her mind, and the goodness of her heart. No woman could love her children more ardently, and none of those children was more vehemently loved than myself. But the Roman Catholic creed had poisoned in her the purest source of affection. I saw her, during a long period, unable to restrain her tears in
my presence. I perceived that she shunned my conversation, especially when my University friends drew me into topics above those of domestic talk. I loved her, and this behaviour cut me to the heart. In my distress I applied to a friend, to whom she used to communicate all her sorrows, and, to my utter horror, I learnt that, suspecting me of Anti-catholic principles, my mother was distracted by the fear that she might be obliged to accuse me to the inquisition, if I incautiously uttered some condemned proposition in her presence. To avoid the barbarous necessity of being the instrument of my ruin, she could find no other means but that of shunning my presence. Did this unfortunate mother overrate or mistake the nature of her Roman Catholic duties? By no means: the inquisition was established by the supreme authority of her church; and, under that authority, she was enjoined to accuse any person whatever, whom she might overhear uttering heretical opinions. No exception was made in favour of father, children, husbands, wives : to conceal was to abet their errors, and doom two souls to eternal perdition. A sentence of excommunication, to be incurred in the fact, was annually published against all persons, who, having heard a proposition directly or indirectly contrary to the Romish faith, omitted to inform the inquisitors upon it. Could any sincere Catholic slight such a command ?"-p. 63–5.
“ To come now to the view of their ecclesiastical government, as addressed to the upholding of the worldly power and glory of their order, I think I may truly say, there never yet was a State, framed by the wit of man, in this world, more powerful and forcible to work these effects ; never any more wisely contrived and plotted, or more constantly and diligently put in practice and execution, insomuch that, but for the natural weakness of untruth and dishonesty, which, being rotten at the core, abate the force of whatever is founded thereon, their outward means were sufficient to subdue the whole world.
“ The particular methods they have adopted in order to ravish all affections, and to fit each humour (which, their jurisdiction and power being but persuasive and voluntary, they principally regard) are well nigh infinite, there being not any thing either sacred or profane, scarcely any virtue or vice, no things, however contrary their condition, which they do not make in some way to serve their turn, so that each fancy may be satisfied, and each appetite find what to feed on. Whatsoever either wealth can sway with the lovers, or voluntary poverty with the despisers, of the world; what honour can achieve with the ambitious, obedience with the humble, great employment with stirring and mettled spirits; what perpetual quiet can effect with heavy and restive spirits; whatever satisfaction the pleasant nature can take in pastimes and jollity; what, contrariwise, the austere mind finds gratifying in discipline and rigor; what love either chastity can raise in the pure, or voluptuousness in the dissolute; what allurements are found in knowledge to draw the contemplative, or in the affairs of state to engage the man of business; whatever, with the hopeful, prerogative of reward can work ; what errors, doubts, and dangers, may operate with the fearful, change of vows with the rash, or of estate with the inconstant; what pardons with the faulty, or supplies with the defective; what miracles with the credulous, visions with the fanatical, gorgeousness of shows with the vulgar and simple; what a multiplicity of ceremonies can effect with the superstitious and ignorant, prayer with the devout, or works of piety with the charitable; what rules of higher perfection can operate upon persons of elevated affections; what a dispensing with a breach of all rules can produce upon persons of lawless condition; in short, what things soever can prevail with any man, either for himself to pursue, or, at least, to love, reverence, or honour in another (for, even in this, human nature receives high satisfaction); the same is found in the Catholic system ; not, as in other places of the world, by casualty, blended without order, and of necessity, but, in a great measure, sorted into several professions, countenanced with reputation, honoured with prerogatives, facilitated with provisions and yearly maintenance; and either (as the better things) advanced with expectation of reward, or borne with (how bad soever) with sweet and silent permission.
“What pomp, what riot (does their religion not permit) to their cardinals ? what severity of life is comparable to their hermits and capuchins ? who wealthier than their prelates ? who poorer than their mendicants? On the one side of the street you see a cloyster of virgins, on the other a stye of courtezans with public toleration! To-day, all are in masks, with every looseness and foolery ; to-morrow, all in processions, whipping themselves till the blood follows ! On one door you find an excommunication, casting all transgressors to hell ; on another, a jubilee, or full discharge from all transgressions.
“Who will you find more learned, in every kind of science, than their Jesuits ? what more ignorant than their parish-priests ? where is the prince so able to prefer his servants and followers as the pope, and in so great a multitude ? who so able to take deeper and more prompt revenge on his enemies? where shall we find pride equal to his, making kings to kiss his slipper ? what humility can equal his, shriving himself daily, on his knees, to an ordinary priest? who more procrastinating in the dispatch of business with the greatest? who more accessible in giving audience to the meanest? where, in the world, shall we find greater rigour in exacting an observance of the laws of the church? where less care or conscience about the commandments of God? To taste flesh on a Friday, when suspicion might fasten, affords matter for the inquisition ! whereas, on the other side, the Sabbath, or Sunday, is one of their greatest market days.
To conclude: never was state or government in the world so strangely compacted of infinite contrarieties, all tending to entertain (or adapt thernselves to) the several humours (or diversified inclinations) of men, so as to promote whatever kind of effect they shall desire: where rigour and remissness, cruelty and gentleness, are so combined, that, with neglect of the church, to stir any thing is an unpardonable sin ; whereas, connected with dutiful obedience, and by intercession for her allowance, with the required attendance on her pleasure, there is no law of God or nature so sacred, but, in one way or other, they can find means to dispense with, or, at any rate, permit the breach of it, by connivance and without disturbance.”—Europe Speculum.
This extract exhibits what I take to be a faithful picture of Popery, Catholicism, or the Anti-christian kingdom, not, altogether, as it existed at the end of the eighth century, the epoch at which we are arrived in this course of Lectures, but rather as it shone forth a few centuries after, when matured and perfected by the consummate skill of Pope Innocent III., and in which state it continued from his day to that of Leo X., when Luther commenced the Reformation. But I give it in this place, in order that you may have the hideous monster before you, and be enabled to compare its features with the account given of it in the apostolic writings. If you ask me what was wanting at the conclusion of the eighth century to complete its symmetry, and render it the apocalyptic beast-or Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth-I answer, its interdicts; its excommunications; and, above all, the inquisition; or, as they term it, the holy office. This last and most fearful instrument of destruction was not called into existence until the thirteenth century; but the whole will come before us in due course, should we be spared to continue the subject.
In drawing the present lecture to a close, let me entreat you to look back to what Christianity was at the beginning, when propagated by its great Author and his apostles ; what it is as you find it still in the writings of the holy evangelists and apostles ; and, when you have filled your minds with just views of it, then bring it into comparison with the system of Popery or Catholicism, as faintly pourtrayed in this Lecture : look at the grace and truth, the benevolence, philanthropy and compassion, by which one is characterized, and the cruelty, malignity, intolerance, &c., of the other, and you will be enabled to say, with an unfaultering tongue, as certainly as one of these systems is from heaven, so surely is the other from beneath.
END OF VOL. I.
J. Haddon, Printer, Castle Street, Finsbury.