Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

I am intimately acquainted with a Protestant minister, who had been for sixteen years head-master of a public seminary, who has lately been turned out of his situation, for no other reason than that he was a Protestant: a man loved and esteemed both by boys and parents ; in every way calculated for the place he had held for so many years with satisfaction to all who had to do with him, and with credit to himself, possessing those mild, engaging manners so essential to those engaged in the education of youth ; endowed with superior talents, and blessed with an unblemished character ; a good Christian, a good minister-severe to himself, tolerant to others ; in short, the man that every parent would seek for the instructor of his children.- Vous vous faites trop aimés, vous finirez par convertir toute la ville," was charitably observed to him as a cause of his dismissal, coupled with his being a Protestant, and this, in spite of the declarations of every Catholic parent who had boys under his care, that in no instance had he interi fered the most remotely with the religious tenets of their children.

The above are but a few of the grievances that the Reformed Church in France has to suffer under ; but I set out with saying that I should confine myself to stating that, on which I could challenge contradiction. My motive in seeking to bring to light these grievances is not founded on any wish of rendering myself conspicuous as a party-man; my only object is to refute the asser tions of those persons who have drawn a contrast between the situation of the Catholics in Ireland, and of the Reformed Church in France, in favor of the latter-my object is to show that the principles of the Catholic clergy are of a nature so exclusive, so iné tolerant, that they consider it a work acceptable to God Almighty, and even necessary to their own salvation to endeavor to undera mine and overthrow all other Churches; and I contend that such being their principles, persons of that persuasion who live under a Protestant government, must be content to suffer a portion of those privations that are so lavishly inflicted by Catholic govern: ment's on the members of the Reformed Church.

Enough has been said to prove that the champions of Catholic Emancipation have not been happy in the choice of arguments in support of their cause. Has this proceeded from ignorance, or from design? They know best ; but, at all events, if feelings of the latter description have attracted them, their insincerity merits to be exposed ; and if they have sinned from ignorance, a little insight into the real situation of the French Protestants may perhaps serve to make them more contented with that situation of life in which it has pleased God to place them. · If any person who may happen to cast their eye over these pages should wish for any additional proof of the intolerant spirit of che Catholic clergy, I beg to refer them to a pamphlet which is to be met with in Paris, at the office of the "mémorial Catholique," and which has for title, « Catechisme du sens commun, pas M. T.” The objects of this work are to instruct the rising generation, that the sovereign who grants liberty of conscience to any persons out of the pale of the Romish Church is guilty of heresy'; and farther, to inculcate into their young minds, that it is not only lawful but meritorious to disobey a sovereign or a government who afford protection to the Reformed Church, which is above all others the object of their attacks. In chapter 19, pages 48 and 49, some edifying passages of this nature are to be found; but let those whom curiosity may induce to look at this revolting production, compare it with article 5 of the charter, which accords to all religions an equal protection, and to persons of all persuasions an entire liberty of conscience.

It remains now to show, that even supposing the members of the Reformed Church in France to be in that happy position that the declaimers for Catholic Emancipation have so disinterestedly vouchsafed to place them in, it does not necessarily follow that the British Parliament is called on to take off those restrictions and disabilities under which the Irish Catholics do and ought to labor. There can be no fair comparison drawn between Protestant subjects under a Catholic government, and Catholic subjects under a Protestant government. The respective subjects stand towards their respective governments in a situation totally different, and before which all attempt at analogy must fall to the ground. The government of a Catholic country can have nothing to fear from its Protestant subjects; for this simple reason, that they owe no mysterious allegiance to a foreign power: they can have but one object in view-the due observation of the laws, and the maintenance of tranquillity and good order in the state : they hold no secret connexion and correspondence with their co-religionists of other countries; and a Protestant congregation would be disgusted at any coarse attack from the pulpit on persons of other persuasions. The main-spring of the Reformed Church is toleration, and charity in its extended sense : to bless those that curse her, and to pray for those that despitefully use her. Whoever has attended divine service in a Protestant temple in France, knows that the king, the government, the magistrates, and the Catholic Church, as well as their own, are distinctly prayed for : thus, following the truly evangelical maxim of returning good for evil. Thus, a Catholic government may without any fear for future consequences receive its Protestant subjects with confidence into its bosom, and bestow on them any and all places of honor and responsibility; but, on the other hand, a Protestant government has every thing to guard against from its Catholic subjects, who do owe to the pope that blind, secret, and mysterious allegiance, the effects of which could not be otherwise than prejudicial to a Protestant government, if its Catholic subjects were allowed to participate in the direction of it. The one circumstance alone of the state religion of a country being Protestant, makes it regarded by the Church of Rome with the jaundiced eye of prejudice and jealousy, and with that deadly hatred which are the consequences of bigotry and fanaticism. How then can England with safety, either to the Protestant succession or to its established religion, receive into its parliaments, its counsels, and into its strong holds, men who, from their very religion, are interested in the overthrow of her Church; men, whose attachment to king and country is counterbalanced by a spiritual obedience to a foreign power, which is to them superior to all other duties, and which must ever be dangerous to a Protestant government, who cannot but be aware that this foreign power is always on the watch to take advantage of that blind and absolute submission to their chief, which is unceasingly instilled into the minds of the Catholics by the keepers of their consciences,—their confessors, The very essence, the very soul of Popery is the opposite of the principles of the Reformed Church-it is oppressive, intolerant, and exclusive : out of the pale of its despotism all is, in its eyes, heresy and sophism :-" hors de l'Eglise Romaine point de salut,” is the first article in every Roman Catholic's Creed.

Thus, the Irish Catholics are unable, from the very nature, from the very soul of their religion, to offer those securities for good citizenship, without which no wise administration can decide on satisfying their claims. That every Protestant government has enemies more or less declared, according to times and circumstances, but ever silently vigilant, even if appearing to slumber, in that class of their subjects who acknowlege the supremacy and infallibility of the pope, cannot admit of a rational doubt ; and I infer from thence, that the government of England cannot be accused of acting with injustice, in continuing to adhere to the one, the but one certain guarantee for its own safety, its own security-exclusion of the Roman Catholics from place and power. As long as the Church of Rome declares herself the enemy of all other religions-as long as she seeks to destroy and undermine all other churches—as long as she instils into all her members a spirit of bigotry and of intolerance—as long as she continues to treat Protestantism, et le néant réligieux, as synonymous terms-as long as we see the Catholic clergy all over Europe in constant opposition to the civil power, if every thing does not yield to their will-as long as they show themselves ambitious, intolerant, greedy of

power; and as long as they betray that, though calling themselves ministers of heaven, their kingdom is of this worldas long as the court of Rome openly blames Catholic governments for allowing to Protestants the undisturbed exercise of their religious worship;-I do say, that the English Parliament cannot with safety to its own religion, or without risk to the Protestant succession, take off from the hands of the Catholics those restrictions which have hitherto preserved England from falling a victim to the mysteries, intolerance, and intrigues of the Romish Church.

In the late struggle between Christian Greece and barbarian Turkey, who could have supposed that the Church of Rome would not have unfurled her banners to afford protection and assistance to, and avenge the cause of insulted Christendom ! Does then nought remain of those enthusiastic, those eminently Christian feelings, which in former days actuated the Romish Church to send forth the flower of Europe to fight in defence of Christianity? No:-the present is not the age of forming crusades against Mussulmen, but rather of stirring them up; of exciting them against those Christian countries who, having modelled their religious code on the purity and simplicity of the Gospels, do not acknowlege the supremacy and infallibility of the pope,-a crime never to be pardoned at Rome. The Greek patriarchs do not acknowlege this usurped supremacy, this self-endowed infallibility; and thus are explained the real causes of the silence and apparent inactivity of the court of Rome, and of the underhand assistance, so basely, so treacherously afforded to the Turks by those governments who are leagued with her, to oppose all reform, political, moral and religious.

I have heard it observed by persons who support the cause of Catholic Emancipation, that the day is past for apprehending any danger from the influence and intrigues of the court of Rome; from such persons I differ in toto : never was the activity of that court greater than it is at this moment; it has its agents and its writers all over Europe ; it wields a sword, the handle of which is at Rome, but the point is everywhere. Europe is inundated with her missionaries, who preach openly the doctrine of the supremacy of the pope over all crowned heads; every town, every village has its religious society, which directs its movements on a nod from the court of Rome. France, Spain, Switzerland, and the Low Countries, are overrun by her emissaries, all professing the same principles, all preaching the same doctrine,-the supremacy of the pope ; and to oppose this doctrine, is to be branded as impious, revolutionary, and atheistical. This is not assertion without proof. Look at the late trials of two French newspapers, le Constitutionnel and le Courier Français :- there stand exposed the facts on which I ground my conclusions—there will be found in plain intelligible characters, in language not to be misunderstood, ten times more than enough to bear out these assertions, and to prove that I have not exaggerated a tittle in my statements. And was it at such a moment, that Protestant England was to allow herself to be influenced by the Catholic association of Ireland, which was again a point of that hundred-bladed sword which the Church of Rome brandishes over the heads of all who seek to arrest her in her progress, and in her projects of invasion and extermination? And is it at such a moment, that Protestant England is to be called on to admit Roman Catholics to participate in the direction of her affairs, to sit in her parliaments, and to assist in her counsels! If England is to fall from that pinnacle of glory to which under the favor and the blessing of Providence she has attained, by her industry at home, by her achievements abroad by sea and by land, and by that wise and prudent, and at the same time liberal system of politics which has long since been acted on by our ministers :-if, I say, England is one day or another to fall, to add another example to those that the world has already witnessed of a nation sinking into nothingness, after having reached the summit of splendor and of glory :-if England is fated to the nations of the new world now raising themselves to independence and to greatness, another proof that all in this world is but vanity ; at least, let her fall by the event of circumstances beyond the reach of human foresight_let her fall by the fate of war, or by any other means that Providence in its wisdom and its omnipotence may think fit to employ to effect its purposes, but let her not commit suicide on herself-let her not furnish the weapons for her own destruction, her own annihilation let her not throw open her doors to a stranger, who comes, at least, in a doubtful shape to ask admittance, lest when he should once have crossed the threshold, he should (with the same respect to gratitude which inspired a certain Roman Catholic to declare, at the moment of our late commercial and pecuniary embarrassments, to say, that the calamities of the people of England were a consolation to him, strive to become master and proprietor of that house, the doors of which were but opened to him from feelings of hospitality and charity.

May the same noble, the same high-minded feelings, that on all great constitutional questions have always actuated the upper house of Parliament, continue to influence her ever in her debates, in her counsels, and in her decisions. May the peers of the realm ever bear in mind, that it is on them that the eyes of Protestant England are directed to guard her from being exposed to the shock of those heavy calamities which cannot fail to befall her, if thie question of Catholic Emancipation be ever carried in the affirmative through their house.--May they ever continue to be firm and independent as a body, as they are as individuals; and may they ever recollect that on their votes, on their decisions on this grave, this momentous, this pregnant question, the FATE OF ENGLAND DEPENDS !!

« ZurückWeiter »