Imágenes de páginas

was government held in the apostolic age, and so great a care was evinced to preserve the peace. Indeed, unless there be some curb on men's tongues,-if those passions which more particularly have their source in the father of all iniquity, if lowthoughted self-interest and pitiful regard for the root of all evil serve to warrant the utterance of such language as that of the Rev. J. Sibree, "We do not hesitate to declare, that we wish to pull down the Establishment; we long and sigh for its overthrow, and shall do all in our power to hasten the consummation;" or the following declaration of a fellow-labourer in the vineyard: "The overthrow of the English Church is a consummation devoutly to be sought after;" or of the Rev. T. Binney, "The Church has lost more souls than it ever saved;" or that of Mr. James, a dissenting teacher of Birmingham, "There are seasons when a Dissenter may piously lift up his hand against the government of his country;"-to conceive it endurable, we say, under any pretence for sentiments of such a tendency, and so couched, to be delivered to an unreflecting but easily excited auditory, were to presuppose the absence of that which is "heaven's first law." The object of these theologians is not left a matter of doubt; it is very openly professed; and when such opinions are promulged in the deliberate writings of men of some education, what may we suppose will be the feelings and expressions of those who look to them for authority? But ought society to be distracted by these ebullitions of rage and ignorance? Should they not be punished, as the Donatists of old by Constantine, Constans, and Honorius? When the Arians, in the reign of Theodosius, sung certain antiphons which tended to sedition, and to the disparagement of the holy catholic Church, their meetings were suppressed by reason of their illegality, and such hymns were interdicted.* Why should our modern Arians be privileged to disparage the Church and upset the Constitution? Why should their harangues be countenanced, more than were the hymns in the early ages of the Church? The government ought assuredly to take an enlarged view of the general well-being of the community. Where a particular religious sect is notorious for holding dangerous political opinions, it is utter insanity not to look upon their faith as a test or mark of their treasonable designs. If we find Socinian or Independent doctrines firmly united to republican habits; if dependence on the see of Rome inclines to a love of despotism, not in the least inconsistent with a passionate but unreasoning hankering after equality; if the peculiar tenets of the Romish Church induce a slavish respect for the worst kind of authority, as is clearly evidenced by the Great Agitator absolutely governing the greater

*Socrates, Hist. Eccles. lib. vi. c. 8. Sozomen, Hist. Eccles. lib.⠀⠀ viii. c. 8.

[ocr errors]

part of the Irish people, and leading them all, on account of that very equality, by one unbroken string; it is not only not unreasonable, but necessary, that religious creeds, in themselves innocent, and not obnoxious to punitive and exclusive laws, should become so from their alliance (albeit accidental) with dangerous and crude opinions upon subjects purely secular. There is no man of sense who does not regret extremely the torrent of fanaticism which, since the repeal of the penal laws against Protestant Dissenters, is setting in like a land-flood upon this country.

Now, since it has become evident that the heterogeneous sects who differ from the Establishment are banded together to destroy the Establishment; since, not contented with the free exercise of their own worship, they desire and seek to destroy the national religion; since they not merely disapprove of the doctrines of the Establishment,-not simply wish its destruction, but are setting every engine to work to subvert it; now, since this meditated ruin is no hidden thing, but as clear as the summer sky, we should think that the path that is left us to pursue is as plain as that of the sun in heaven. It is high time we retrace our headlong career, whence we threw ourselves "such a pernicious height." The spirit of ancient wisdom has been unwisely permitted to sleep. The Church should be defended against the hostility of those who, contrary to the prevalent opinions for the last two hundred years, must be considered as enemies simply because they are Dissenters.

Unless the various churches of dissent solemnly protest, in the face of the world, against the published opinions of their brethren, government should be prepared with their lictors, and armed with the fasces of rebuke, since that were better than that our bishops should be deprived of their mild paraphernalia of crosier and chaplain. If Dissenters will not consider the difference between them and the Church as a languid question of reason, but will deem it a lively question of passion, they cannot complain if the safety of the community be ascertained at their expense. In their imaginary evil the general good will be arrived at. Or would they that the legislature should pass an annual indemnity bill, to save harmless the revilers of, and overt conspirators against, our holy catholic Establishment? The laws they violate would not have to lie suspended another hundred years in their favour. Long before their abrogation chaos will be come again; and to chaos we are hurrying, unless the declamations and publications of those pseudo-ministers of the gospel be checked. They cannot be considered true to their holy vocation whilst they disseminate their hideous calumnies against the most tolerant Establishment that ever existed in any age or country.. That such malignant leaven should be infused into the public mind by any hands, must be matter of deep regret; that it should be mingled and prepared by those hands

from which the world is wont to look for blessings, seems awful and portentous. But, however melancholy the consideration, no wise government would wait till revolution manifested itself by overt actions, but check aught which hath a tendency that way. But, what say we? Is not treason sufficiently overt? Is it not a misdemeanour by the law of the land, the conduct of certain titular theologians? Are the specimens we have already given of their declamations not enough "to ruffle up the spirit" of the vulgar, and set "mischief afoot?" And as, à priori, we should appre hend, so it has turned out. Rebellion stalks abroad like a giant at noon-day, naked and unchallenged. The language used at these meeting-houses, and disseminated through the country by means of their organ of the press, are aggressions on the public tranquillity. They are unfortunately, however, so familiar to the nation of late years, as to be little regarded. It is to be ascribed to the lamentable helplessness of government, which, even where it may be well inclined, must "let I dare not wait upon I would," that these heresiarchs find themselves possessed of perfect impunity to do and say whatsoever they are inclined. "It is too evident a fact to be denied or dissembled," says Mr. Kemp, "that the most eminent amongst us in rank and station (totally as I disclaim all imputation of sinister intention to any of the most powerful parties of the State), number among their supporters not a few who have slaked their thirst for knowledge in such shallow and pestilent streams, as to be at this moment prepared for the destruction of much which Churchmen venerate, and which the foregoing pages will, I trust, show to be divine."

We would, however, in conclusion, impress upon our sectarian countrymen the advice of the same presbyterian writer we have already cited:- "It behoveth all the Nonconformists in common gratitude to be civil and respectful unto that Church whereof their indulgent sovereign is a member. It behoveth them, according to the common rules of Christianity, to be wise unto sobriety; to walk worthy of that liberty whereunto they are called. But if crime mingle with Nonconformity; if they be swayed by ambition, and not piety; if they propagate their sect by force and violence, not gentle persuasion; then the prince ought to prosecute them in such a manner as the senate of Rome did the festivals of Bacchus, or as is usual to proceed against traitors."


ART. IV.-Index Librorum Prohibitorum à Sixto V., Papa, confectus et publicatus: at vero a Successoribus ejus in Sede Romana suppressus. Edente JOSEPHO MENDHAM, A.M. Londini: apud Jacobum Duncan. a.d. 1835.

An Exact Reprint of the Roman Index Expurgatorius, the only Vatican Index of the kind ever published. Edited, with a Preface, by RICHARD GIBBINGS, A.B., Scholar of Trinity College, Dublin. Dublin: Milliken & Son, &c. 1837.

WE put these two works together as of a character almost perfectly identical. They furnish a specimen, and rather an extraordinary one, of the two classes into which the Roman and papal censure of books is divided, the Prohibitory and Expurgatory. These two classes, which are obviously and importantly distinct, have been frequently and with no great wisdom, if honesty, confounded. We hope writers of credit will henceforth be more accurate in this point.

Ever since the Reformation in the sixteenth century, the Church of Rome has felt it necessary to her interest or preservation to issue, from the highest authority which her exclusive infallibility possesses, continued and decisive denunciations of such articles of literature (theological in particular) as seemed to threaten either her orthodoxy or her supremacy. These, in the course of three centuries, have amounted to a number little, if any, short of one hundred. The greater part have regularly come forth from the centre of the papacy, and with the express authority of the chief pontiff. They have been mainly of the prohibitory class, both because there was no surrender of power, and less responsibility, as well as danger of internal schism, in this method. Rome took care to make but one false step of an expurgatory character; and that, she did her best immediately to repair. This will sufficiently appear in the sequel of our observations. Now, we cannot help thinking that efforts, characterised in the manner so imperfectly described, are not a subject, considered either morally, theologically, philosophically, or philologically, exactly to be shunned. We think them deserving of some consideration and attention. And although we would as little dispute the erudite position, that there are subjects where "ignorance is bliss," and where it is "folly to be wise," we much question both the bliss and the wisdom of being ignorant of real danger, and of the best means of defence, however cheaply these commodities may be obtained.

Popery is meditating a mighty attack upon the Protestantism, or Christianity, of this empire. But it is no part of her policy that this should be believed. The time is not yet arrived. She is diligently carrying on her preparations, and promoting

security, if not confidence. The tender office in which she is engaged is

"To rock the cradle of reposing Churchmen,"

and make them believe that liberal Catholics can have no other object than the better establishment of the protestant faith and church in all that they do. Qui vult decipi, decipiatur; and there are some of this class. For ourselves we must say, we know what we have before us, and we wish to be prepared. And we believe that, in the way of argument, the best, the most effectual weapons which can be employed against a most formidable enemy, are those which she herself supplies. In a word, her own most authorised documents are those which, in the eye even of merely rational men, will prove most fatal to her. We need but her own councils, her own creed, her own catechism, her own bulls, her own canon law, her own common-prayer books, and last, not least, her own Prohibitory and Expurgatory Indexes, without any assistance whatever from the kind offers of service from Bossuet and Veron, and Butler and Baines,—we need but these, to have in our possession a halter which we can tie about her neck at pleasure, and keep her at our mercy. We must not enter on the contents of her literary proscriptions with any minuteness: this would oblige us almost to write a volume. A superficial glance upon a single Index will suffice to discover the mass of valuable information on theology, and even on science, where it interferes with the peculiar theology of Rome, which the Vandalic bigotry of that church would sweep away from the face of literature.. The sacred volume itself, which she pretends to venerate, though in a barbarous translation, is fettered, condemned, and prohibited, in every various form; and particularly on the subject of vernacular translations, the only medium by which the divine word can be brought to the knowledge of the bulk of the community, and personally impart its blessings; besides all other restrictive provisions, in the succession of Roman and Papal Indexes, from that of Alexander VII., in 1665, to that of Benedict XIV., in 1758, nearly a century, stood this article of proscription-Biblia vulgari quocunque Idiomate conscripta. That shame, and perhaps prudence, has discontinued the barbarous decree, is no proof that either the original antipathy or the original control are abandoned. Pius VI. may give a delusive approbation to the Italian translation and notes of Martini; but the late non-resident of Castabala, Dr. Milner, more honest than many of his church, will afford the true interpretation of the Indulgence; and even Dr. Wiseman may dismiss all apprehension, that "his Catholic's love of the Bible" will betray him into any practical disregard of the salutary restraints of his church.*

* The Fourth Rule of the Tridentine (Pius IVth's) Index is still as vigorous as ever; indeed it has acquired, and repeatedly, fresh and in

« AnteriorContinuar »