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ALL OBLIGATION OF FIDELITY AND ALLEGIANCE: And by virtue of these presents, we actually absolve them, and deprive the said ELIZABETH of the pretended right to the crown, and all other pre-eminences, and privileges abovementioned. We likewise command all the nobility, subjects, and others above-mentioned, that they do not presume to obey her orders, commands, or laws for the fulure: and those who act otherwise, are involved in the same sentence of excommunication.”
This flaming decree, which was dated at Rome in 1569, we have extracted from a book written on the schism of England, by Saunders, a Romish ecclesiastic and missionary, who printed it at length with an air of exultation, A more striking comment could not be made upon that part of the petition to which it has a clear relation; and we leave it to our readers to judge whether a sect professing obedience to a See claiming such extraordinary and dangerous authority can, with prudence, be admitted to any higher privilege than mere toleration in a protestant state. These one hundred subscribing catholics may perhaps be more liberal and enlightened than to believe, that the Pope or Council have a right to depose princes; but it does not therefore follow, that all of their communion are of the same opinion, nor have we any satisfactory proofs that they as a body disavow the principle that the Pope may absolve men from the obligation of oaths. The plenitude of spiritual authority which he assumes, and which even these subscribing Lords and Gentlemen will not, and dare not as Roman catholics dispute, certainly does admit of such a claim. They do themselves allow, that He, or a Council, may ExCOMMUNICATE Princes, and in allowing this, they profess at once, that his sovereignty is superior to every temporal authority, and therefore that monarch whoin he chooses to degrade by an anathema, must be placed in a most perilous situation, supposing that the mass of his subjects are zealous Roman catholics.
The petitioners declare, that “ it is not an article of the catholic faith, neither are they thereby required to believe or profess, that the POPE IS INFALLIBLE, or that they are bound to any order in its own nature immoral, though the Pope, or any ecclesiastical power should issue or direct such order, but that, on the contrary, they hold, that it would be sinful in them to pay any respect or obedience thereto; that they do not believe, that any sin
whatsoever, whatsoever, committed by them, can be forgiven at the mere will of any pope or of any priest, or of any person or persons whatsoever ; but that any person, who receives absolution without a sincere sorrow for such sin, and a firm and sincere resolution to avoid future guilt, and 10 atone to God, so far from obtaining, thereby any remission of his sin, incurs the additional guilt of violating a sacrament."
It is of very little consequence, in our judgment, whether the Roman catholics place INFALLIBILITY in the Pope, individually, or in the Church, of which they acknowledge him to be the only visible head.
There is a miserable subterfuge in this declaration which can never impose upon those who are ever so superficially acquainted with the history and tenets of the church of Rome. Many distinguished members of that coinmunion have denied the papal infallibility in the person of him who fills what they call St. Peter's Chair; but none that we have read, or heard of, ever disputed the INFALLIBILITY of the church itself. We on the contrary, are taught, that as the antient churches erred, so may the church of Rome, or any other church; and it is here, that Protestants and Romanists are at issue. In believing that the church of Rome is infallible in matters of faith, preparation at least is made for an absolute and implicit obedience to his decrees who is the head of that church : and the effects of this upon ignorant minds, especially when managed and directed by those to whom the people are accustomed from their infancy to pay profound feverence, may be easily conceived. History proves, and that very recently too, that the Romish priests have an unbounded influence over the consciences of their flocks, and all the rebellious associations in Ireland, White-boys, Right-boys, Peep-of-day Boys, and United Irishmen have been organized and directed chiefly by priests, many of whom paid the forfeit of their treasons at the gallows.
The petitioners would fain have us believe that the influence of the ecclesiastics of their communion in Ireland, is neither great nor dangerous. But stubborn history, and living experience prove the direct contrary. In 1759, the White-boys made their first appearance in that kingdom. That faction was set up by a Romish priest, nained Nicholas Sheehy, and patronized by James Butler, titular arch-bishop of Cashel, Pierce Creagh,
titular bishop of Waterford, Dr. Butler, titular bishop of Cork, Dr. Fitzsimons, titular arch-bishop of Dublin, and a long list of parish priests and parish clergy. It was proved on oath by more than one witness, that “ these risings of the Wbite-boys were set on foot solely for the advancement of the Roman catholic faith, and the extirpation of heresy in that kingdom, and that as there was but one God, there should be but one religion.” And in the last rebellion in Ireland, wherein so many protestants were murdered in cold blood, and many by their Roman catholic servants to whom they had been remarkably indulgent; it is a notorious fact, that a number of priests were concerned. Nay, one of their bishops, and he too a man of abilities and eloquence, who had lived long in this country, wrote a pastoral letter to his clergy and people full of treason, for which he was obliged to go abroad, where he died.
It is also very remarkable, that in the royal college of Maynooth, built and endowed by the liberality of a protestant government, for the maintenance and education of catholic youths designed for orders, the majority of those students became partizans in that infamous rebellion. And yet, with these evidences before us of facts, recent and notorious, we are called upon to believe, that not only the great body of Irish Roman catholics are loyal, but that their priesthood have no particular influ. ence or authority over them. This is an assertion so very remote from the truth, that it is a matter of surprize, how any set of men could deliberately venture to bring it forward before assemblies where the contrary is sure to be proved. To quote the words of a most able and accurate writer,“ Great is the influence which the Roman catholic religion by its tenets gives to its clergy, over those of their communion. It is notorious, that the Irish catholics, taken collectively, are the most sincere believers that the church of Rome can at this day boast of in Christendom. Any person who has passed any time in Ireland, and beheld the multitudes of that persuasion crowding to chapel and confession, when he has seen them paying a blind adoration to the inferior clergy, most of them grossly illiterate, and some of them scanda. lously debauched; when he has koown that this clergy have been able to prevent their focks from frequenting patterns, and hurling matches, the most favourite amusements of the Irish. peasantry; and when he has been told
by his own catholic servants, that there are no privations to which they do not cheerfully submit during Lent, when ordered by their priests, he cannot surely doubt, that insurrections would not be so frequent in Ireland, if this class of men did their duty as clergymen and subjects, and when this argument has (as I am informed). been pressed upon some of them, they have most unwarrantably pretended, that they had lost their influence over their flocks, whereas it is notorious that the contrary is the fact *.” • It is an established principle among the Roman catholics, let the petitioners believe or profess what they please on the abstract question of papal individual infallibility, that their church is unerring and unchangeable. Dr. Troy, the present titular arch-bishop of Dublin, in a pastoral letter to the Roman catholics of Ireland asserts, the church of Rome is infallible in her doctrinal decisions and canons on points of faith and morals; and therefore catholics are obliged to adhere implicitly to such degrees and canons of the church assembled in general council, and confirmed by the Pope, as rules of faith.”
Dr. Troy here evidently alludes to the Council of Trent, all the decrees of which were confirmed by the Pope, and were not considered as valid till they obtained that sanction. Now in the acts of that Council, the supremacy of the Pope is directly avowed, and his right of excominunicating and depriving princes expressly maintained, and therefore we would ask how can Protestant States be safe where the Roman Catholics are put into the possession of power, and are actuated by the principles of their religion, in a zealous submission to the Sovereign Pontiff? But there is a doctrine in that Church so peculiar, and of so very serious a nature, that, let what will become of the question of papal infallibility, we contend ought to be renounced before any set of men professing it ought to have even an equal degree of toleration with other sects. We allude to the tenet of exclusive salvation tenaciously maintained by all members of the Roman Communion. The present petitioners, notwithstanding the extreme liberality of their concessions, and for which we are well assured they neither have had, nor will receive the thanks of their spiritual fathers,
Strictures upon Plowden's Historical Review of the State of Ireland, page 93. Rivingtons.“
have not explicitly disavowed this abominable doctrine, which sends to the devil without ceremony every person in the united kingdom, from the highest station to the lowest who is not admitted into the pale of their Church. All Hereticks are, in toto, and without any reserve or als lowance, cut off from the body of Christ, and consigned by the Creed of the Roman Church to everlasting perdition. This gives the priests such an amazing and ful influence over all the lay-members of their persuasion, and consequently, unless the clergy as a body do a-semble, and by a very solemn and explicit act disavow all such dangerous and unchristian principles, every declaration like the present, coming from mere lay-men, will be undeserving of the slightest regard.
- These persons go on to " disclaim, disavow, and solemnly to abjure any intention to subvert the present Church Establishment for the purpose of constituting a Catholic Establishment in its stead." On this declaration we are not merely sceptical; but we take upon us plainly to charge it with being a downright falsehood, It is impossible, in the very nature of things, that believing as the Roman Catholics do, that the reformation was a work of sacrilege and tyranny, they can regard the present ecclesiastical establishment as aught better than usurpation.
They have bishops and archbishops assuming to them. selves the titles and jurisdictions of the same provinces where there are protestant dignitaries of the same rank. Is it, therefore, credible, that either these men, their clergy, or their respective flocks, are so forbearing and generous as not to wish the re-establishment of the Ro. man Catholic religion, in order that the priests and bishops may regain their temporalities?
We know that proselytism is a favourite principle among the Romanists. It necessarily arises out of their doctrine of exclusive salvation; and consequently if they are so anxious to procure the conversion of an individual, whether rich or poor; they cannot but have a still greater desire to effect the recovery of a whole nation to the bosom of their Church. Whatever may be their expectations in England, it is not to be doubted that the Roman Catholics in Ireland do envy the rights and possessions of the established clergy, and are anxious to deprive them of their benefices. They boast in having the majority of the population on their side, and on that ground Vol. VIII. Churchm, Mag. April 1805. Pp they