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TO THE SECOND EDITION.
When the author published the first edition of these Dialogues, he acted on the conviction that Popery is at once hostile to the spiritual interests, and to the civil liberties, of the community. He regrets that he is compelled to say, that this conviction has recently been greatly deepened. He is aware that the modern advocates of the Roman Catholic religion loudly declaim against intolerance and bigotry, and assert the inalienable right of every one to worship God according to the conviction of his own mind; by which liberal professions many have been deceived, and induced to look upon Popery as at least exceedingly harmless, if not also eminently Christian. But such statements are completely at variance with the whole history of the Papal Church. Her garments have been drenched in the blood of those “ that were slain for the word of God,
and for the testimony which they hold.” In her crusades against the Albigenses and Waldenses ; in her repeal of the Edict of Nantz; in the horrible massacre of the French Protestants; in the fires of Smithfield, Oxford, Gloucester, Hadlow, and elsewhere, during the infamous reign of that faithful daughter of the Papal Church, the execrable Mary; and in the ten thousand victims who have been immolated in her inquisitions ;-in all these her intolerant and sanguinary character is written as “ with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond,” and “graven in the rock for ever.”
" True," it is replied, “such was Popery once; but she is not so now, but, on the contrary, breathes nothing but charity and goodwill to all who dissent from her." What, then, has the infallible, and therefore immutable, Church changed? Where is the evidence that any such change has taken place ? Public opinion has indeed chained the tiger, but its nature is still unaltered. In proof of this, the author refers the reader to “ Den's 'Complete Body of Theology;' a work originally published by the University of Louvaine, and which was re-published in Ireland, in 1808, as being especially approved of and recommended by the Roman Catholic Prelates of Ireland; and again, in 1832, with an additional volume, under the especial sanction and approval of Dr. Murray, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin."
In this work all Protestants are denounced as heretics, who may not only “be compelled by corporeal punishment to return to the Catholic faith," but may “justly be punished with death.” So much for the modern cant of the catholic spirit of Popery!
And what shall we say of its impurity? According to Den, who is quite in agreement with a popular Popish book of devotion, entitled, “ The Garden of the Soul," the questions proposed by the Priests in private confession to their devotees are so shamefully indelicate, as to make it morally impossible that they should be otherwise than mischievous.
But enough of Den. The author believes Popery to be the same in character that it ever was; intolerant, impure, deceitful, superstitious, and idolatrous,—an awful apostacy from the truth, which substitutes a puerile and ridiculous ceremony for spiritual worship, and places religion in penances and pilgrimages, rather than in sanctification through the Spirit and belief of the truth.
Encouraged by the recent acts of the Legislature, the Romanists are exerting themselves with great zeal to make proselytes. Where ignorance reigns they have in some instances succeeded, especially where conversion to Popery was the stepping-stone to temporal advantage. For men of piety and sound intellect the author entertains no fear; for, though he has watched the operations of Popery many years, he never knew one of this class embrace its dogmas : but he perceives the danger to which the less pious and intelligent are exposed, and is anxious to preserve them from becoming its victims.
“ His object,” to repeat the concluding lines of the preface to the first edition, " is to prevent the progress
of what he believes to be the vilest corruption of Christianity. In accomplishing this, he has met fearlessly and fairly the most potent arguments he has been able to select from the writings of the advocates of Popery. He has weighed it in the balances of Scripture, Reason, and Antiquity, and in each has found it wanting.
“ He now commits the work to the candid examination of the Public, and to the blessing of that God who has graciously given us the holy Scriptures to make us wise unto salvation."
London, Feb. 26th, 1836.