trasting their evidence with authentic documents and declarations of their church, which they had solemnly professed to receive, and even zealously defended in their writings. In fact, all that we can conclude from their evidence, compared with other documents, is this, That, under all circumstances, their only consideration is, not What is just and true ? but, What is it for the interest of my church to say ? See, among other instances, the direct denial of Dr. Murray that a Roman-Catholic priest takes any oath to the Pope, p. 60, compared with Mr. Dixon's evidence, p. 63. To this, all considerations, even the most sacred, must give way. For example: it appears that nothing is esteemed more sacred by a Romish priest than the seal of confession; insomuch, that if a priest, in the course of confession, becomes acquainted with treasons or murders plotted or perpetrated, he must not take any measures (independent of his influence with the person who is making the confession) either to detect the criminals, or to prevent the intended crimes. He must not even give to the King a general warning to be upon his guard, when he knows that his

life is in danger (Part I. pp. 271-279, and Part II. pp. 235—242). He may have taken a solemn oath that he will do his utmost endeavour to disclose and make known to his Majesty and his heirs all treasons and traitorous conspiracies which may be formed against him or them;" nevertheless, the seal of confession cannot be broken. He may be guilty of misprision of treason, or be, to all intents and purposes, an accomplice in murder, before or after the fact: the sacredness of confession rises above all! He is bound by a triple precept—a natural, divine, and ecclesiastical command—not to violate the seal of sacramental confession, even under such peculiar and awful circumstances : yet (observe it well!) when the interests of his church require it, and the Inquisition commands, even this thrice-sacred bond at once gives way! and in cases of heresy the priest not only may, but does, disclose the secrets confided to him in confession ! (Part II. p. 236.) This is confirmed by some expressions in the Edict of the Inquisition, dated May 14th 1829, published lately in this country; which is an awful document of the immutability of the Church of Rome; and one from which we may learn, especially, in what a dreadful manner that church dispenses with all the obligations of confidence and friendship, and poisons all the charities of social and private life, by making every individual an informer against his nearest and dearest relatives and friends, whensoever any suspicion of the vague and undefinable crime of heresy arises !

But on this subject we cannot do better than refer our readers to the Rev. Blanco White's “ Internal and Practical Evidence against Catholicism," or "The Poor Man's Preservative against Popery,” by the same author, as containing abundant proofs that the Church of Rome is still unchanged in regard to the moral influence of its doctrines and practices. The Digest brings forward some important facts upon this head, more especially with reference to the duties of subjects to the government under which they live ; and points out particularly the practical influence of confession.

* Have you any knowledge of the influence exercised by the Roman Catholic priest in matters concerning the administration of justice?'

(Rev. M. O'SULLIVAN.) • It appears to me, that the system of auricular confession renders the obtaining evidence and discovery of crimes in Ireland, much more difficult. The pain of mind attendant on being the confidant of a guilty secret, is completely removed by having an opportunity of communicating the secret to the priest in confession; and, as he does not make it a condition of absolution that information shall be given of the crime committed, there is a tendency to lessen the people's regard to justice, and to increase that dislike to the name of an informer, which is so generally felt throughout Ireland. Part. I.

p. 272. Then follows more evidence upon this subject, extracted from the examinations of Dr. James Magaurin, Roman-Catholic bishop of Ardagh, with some important remarks of the editors, pp. 272—282, to which we must refer our readers. And on this part of our subject we will only mention further, that in the Digest, Part I. pp. 387—389, are related two instances in which persons, on the advice and authority of their priests, were actually guilty of perjury. One was the case of a woman, who swore positively that her father had died intestate, and left no widow, when the fact was notorious that he had been married a second time, and left a widow; which was proved by an officer of the court : but, as the marriage had been celebrated by a Protestant minister, her priest had told her, that the relict of the deceased had never been his wife, and therefore she might safely swear that he had left no widow! The witness excused herself by saying, that she could not presume to know better than her priest. Doubtless it must greatly conduce to the fearless and shameless commission of crime, when men put their consciences entirely into the keeping of their priest, and are saved all trouble of considering for themselves what is right or wrong. And, with reference to some strained explanations of revolting declarations of their church, which had been offered by some of their witnesses, the Archbishop of Dublin well observes :

A system such as this, which lets in habitually a familiarity with reservations, is most dangerous; and those who continue to act upon such a system cannot be safe members of society, without such checks and guards as may secure the community against the system, without any consideration of what may be respectable in the character of the individuals. Part II. p. 7.

But we hasten to say something upon another point, in regard to which we presume it is that the partizans and apologists of the Church of Rome will more particularly insist that it is changed for the better : we, on the contrary, maintain, in the last place, that it is still the same in its persecuting spirit.

Wethe more boldly appeal to the facts detailed in the pages of the Digest, because the editors do not take our view of the question. If the Roman Catholics reckon them among the decided opposers of their claims, they must at least admit that they are among the most mild and moderate. They seem, indeed, with all willingness beforehand to make concessions to have examined the question, how far it was safe and politic; and we conceive that the evidence they have themselves adduced will carry most of their readers much further in decided opposition to the Romanists, than it seems to have carried them. We should often dissent from their conclusions, but the evidence they bring forward enables us to form our own, and justifies us in going far beyond them. The book also is valuable, not only for itself, but on account of its references to many other important works, to which the diligent and laborious student will gladly refer, while ordinary readers are content with the work itself. Among these is the “Development of the Inquisition in Ireland," by the Rev. Lawrence Morissy, a Roman-Catholic priest. Perhaps our readers will be startled at the very title of this book : we must confess that we were : much more when we learned that this book was written to shew that the Inquisition is established in this country, as far as circumstances have yet enabled the bishops to put its rules in force. He has met with many severities, but no reply.

Every bishop is, ex officio, the inquisitor in ordinary for his diocese. p. 179. See also p. 236.

Here, then, is the grand engine of Papal persecution at work, and prepared already

for more extensive and powerful exertions, whensoever circumstances will permit. It may be, therefore, important for us to know, how far the claims of the holy office” extend—who are liable to become its victims. We shall readily enough suppose, that all who themselves abjure Popery are liable to be the objects of its fury, whenever the present Providential restraints are removed, and to be punished as rebels and deserters. But perhaps our readers will suppose that here its power ceases, and its claims find their limit. But no such thing. Let them know, and deeply consider of it, that (according to the views of the Church of Rome) the blessed ordinance of Christian Baptism, whereby they are openly sealed as members of the visible church, is the badge of slavery to the Pope; constitutes them his subjects ; liable, therefore, to be put in the Inquisition, and compelled by force and cruelty to become Roman Catholics. This appears from the following extract from the Rev. Blanco White.

By one of the Trent canons, every member of the Church of Rome is bound to believe that all baptized persons are liable to be compelled, by punishment, to be Christians; or, what is the same in Roman-Catholic divinity, spiritual subjects of the Pope. It is, indeed, curious to see the Council of Trent, who passed that law, prepare the free and extended action of its claims, by an unexpected stroke of liberality. In the session on Baptism, the Trent fathers are observed anxiously securing to Protestants the privileges of true baptism. The fourth canon of that session fulminates an anathema, or curse, against any one who'should say that baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, conferred by an heretic, with an intention to do that which the church intends in that sacrament, is not true baptism. Observe, now, the consequences of this enlarged spirit of concession in the two subjoined canons :- If

any one should say, those who have been baptized are free from all the precepts of the holy church, either written or delivered by tradition, so that they are not obliged to observe them unless they will submit to them of their own accord, LET HIM BE ACCURSED. --Having soon after declared the lawfulness of infant baptism, they proceed to lay down the fourteenth canon: 'If any one should say, that these baptized children, when they grow up, are to be asked whether they will confirm what their godfathers promised in their name; and that, if they say they will not, they are to be left to their own discretion, and not to be forced, in the mean time, into the observances of a Christian life, by any other punishment than that of keeping them from the reception of the Eucharist and the other sacraments till they repent, LET HIM BE ACCURSED.'-Now, “it is most true,' says the author of the Book of the Roman Catholic Church, that the Roman Catholics believe the doctrines of their church to be unchangeable ; and that it is a tenet of their creed, that what their faith ever has been, such it was from the beginning, such it now is, and such it ever will be. Let him, therefore, choose between this boasted consistency of doctrine, and the curse of his church.

The Council of Trent, that council whosé decrees are, by the creed of Pius IV., declared to be obligatory above all others; that Council has converted the sacrament of Baptism into an indelible brand of slavery. Whoever has received the waters of regeneration, is the thrall of her who declares that there is no other church of Christ. She claims her slaves wherever they may be found ; declares them subject to her laws, both written and traditional; and, by her infallible sanction, dooms them to indefinite punishment, till they shall acknowledge her authority, and bend their necks to her yoke. Such is, has been, and will ever be, the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church; such is the belief of her true and sincere members ; such the spirit that actuates her views, and which, by every possible means, she has always spread among her children. Him that denies this doctrine, Rome devotes to perdition. The principle of religious tyranny, supported by persecution, is a necessary condition of true Catholicism: he who revolts at the idea of compelling belief by punishment, is severed at once from the communion of Rome.” (pp. 25, 26.)

Need we say more to prove that the will to persecute remains unchanged, as a characteristic of the Church of Rome? or to shew that we are all in danger of persecution, whensoever Rome has power in her hands ? The ordinance of Baptism is sufficient; it seals us as the objects of her persecuting tyranny!

And the Church of Rome is actually disposed to persecute, at this day, even unto ruin and death. Dr. Doyle declares upon oath, before the Commissioners of Education, concerning the Bible readers,

The only apprehension I should have, if they came into my neighbourhood, would be that the peasantry might stone them. Part I. p. 270.

What! cannot a man offer to read the Bible to Roman Catholics without danger of being stoned ? Here there is persecution unto blood. And let us ask, what will be the consequences if a Roman Catholic in Ireland becomes a Protestant, and openly professes it? We know, that in many cases his life will be in danger; in others, all means of subsistence will be cut off. He will be shunned, and left to starve: even the nearest and dearest of his Popish relations and friends will do their utmost to ruin, if not to murder him. Their rancour will pursue him even after death; they will not suffer him to be committed to the grave in peace. Here then is persecution with a very high hand. And it is evident that pains are taken by the priesthood to keep alive this persecuting spirit among the people ; for indulgences are particularly granted to those who visit certain chapels, upon days prescribed," and there pray, according to the intentions of the sovereign Pontiff, for the extirpation of heresy, the exaltation of the church," &c. The spirit in which these prayers are offered, and the effect of such observances upon the minds of Roman Catholics, are pointed out in the Digest, Part. II. chap. vi. pp. 152–193, on the present spirit and policy of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland :" in which also will be found some important documents, which space forbids us to quote; and in particular, extracts from the twenty.

« VorigeDoorgaan »