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those very difficulties, which, first striking your good sense, whilst yet you were a Protestant, induced your prudence to view them with distrust; and ere long, to examine them with care. You did this, comparing them, at the same time, with the grounds, and character, of the parent institute. I need not state what was the result. It was such only as might be expected from a mind like yours,-frank, open, and sincere,-wishing to see the truth, and willing to admit it. Convinced soon of the illusive pretensions of Protestantism, you quitted the Established, and embraced the Catholic, church,--sacrifieing, by the generous act, those flattering prospects of worldly honours, to which, both from your talents, your rank, and reputation (for, you were already a distinguished ornament in our temples of jurisprudence), you were eminently entitled to aspire. Hence, therefore, the propriety of dedicating these pages to your Lordship.

It is not, however, upon this score alone, that I am induced to do so. I do so, moreover, by way of testifying my affection for your person, my gratitude for your favours, my veneration for your character, and my esteem for your many amiable virtues.

Your Lordship’s

Obedient and faithful servant,

JOHN FLETCHER.

Northampton, Feb. 2nd, 1829.

THE DIFFICULTIES

OF

PROTESTANTISM.'

“All the religions, and all the sccts, in the world, are built upon the dispute betwixt these two,—whether men are to govern themselves by their own private judgment, in their faith, and religion; or to be determined by the authority of others."-Bishop Leslie, on Private Judgment.

I. WHOEVER, with serious attention, contemplates the scenes, which in this country, present themselves, every where, to his observation, cannot but be forcibly struck with

1 From the title, which I have thus prefixed to the following pages, the reader may, perbaps, be induced to suppose, that they have some reference to the late work of Mr. Stanley Faber, which be bas called The Difficulties of Romanism.However, such is not the case. The present work is neither designed as a reply to that illiberal,--and therefore, popular, publication; nor does my plan at all resemble that of the learned Vicar of Stockton. He, in order to evince, as he pretends, the errors of “ Romanism,has, with infinite industry, raked up, and artfully linked together, every argument almost, and every objection, that either the learning, and distorted ingenuity, of his own talented, but strangely constructed mind could suggest; or that the learning, and rancour, of three centuries of hostility, have unceasingly urged against our religion; whilst I, in order to point out the errors of Protestantism, have selected, for this purpose, only one single consideration,—the tendency, and effects, of the leading principle of the Reformation. From this point alone, I have undertaken to demonstrate, how groundless are the pretensions of the Protestant churches to be respected, as the divine institutions of the eternal wisdom. Let the candid reader judge, and decide.

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the singularity of the spectacle. It is a spectacle, which is, almost alike, interesting to the curiosity of the philosopher, as it is important to the feelings of the Christian. He beholds a nation, which is distinguished for its supposed illamination, and good sense, divided, and torn in pieces, by the countless multitude of its sects. He sees an immense host of motley preachers, inculcating ardently almost every possible form of doctrine ;—the higher orders of society, the thoughtless victims of indifference, and incredulity ;—the vulgar, the dupes of ignorance, and contemptible fanaticism ;—whilst the little portion, which, alone, cultivates the truth with pious care, is almost imperceptible. In short, he sees, every where around him, a scene of error, and confusion; of infidelity, and neglect. There is not a truth, but what is denied; not a mystery, but what is contradicted; not a principle, but what is contested ; not a duty, but what is violated, and called in question.

Neither are these evils confined solely to religion. They extend to the civil order of things. Men now dispute about every thing, -about governments, laws, customs, and institutions of every kind. A spirit of revolution is actively working in the public mind; and scattering, every where around, the seeds of licentiousness, and mischief. A cloud,-a dark, gloomy cloud,—which is daily thickening, hangs over the country ;--and indeed, over half the states of Europe. There exist, in nearly all of them, associations, whose chief aim is the subversion of the Christian church, and the destruction of the present order of civil governments;--associations,

1 "The sčason of anarchy, and instability, appears to be gaining ground upon us with rapid strides : whilst men, despising all ecclesiastical subordination, and discipline; all' unity of mind, and judgment;' and esteeming themselves wiser than their teachers, adhere to such practices and opinions, as are right in their own eyes, or rather, such as are agreeable to their own inclination, and conceit."-Bishop Mant, Bampton Lect.

“ There is quite enough of infidelity amongst us, already. Liberal principles, that is, no fixed principles whatsoever, are professed in every quarter. And in spite of the apparent tranquillity, which reigns around, the day may not be distant, in which there will be as little belief amongst the gentlemen of England, as there is now amongst the philosophers of Germany,--that is, None AT ALL."- British Critic.

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