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Allow me to begin with a general remark, which will be of use in the sequel. My book is directly and professedly theological: if it glances upon the political question which has so long occupied the attention of the legislature and the public, it is owing, not to any wish on my part to meddle with such subjects, in this country; but to the manner in which your representations of the doctrines and moral temper of your Church were suited to the politic: question, in your answer to Mr. Southey. I have never charged, nor do now mean to charge, you with wilful misrepresentation. I am ready to admit that you believe the doctrines of your Church, in the form which they assume in your works; but, having studied those doctrines under the control of the head of your Church, and received them from true ROMAN Catholic teachers, I felt it my duty to declare, and I now repeat my declaration, that, to the best of my knowledge, you, Sir, cannot be taken as a fair specimen of the Church whose son you still profess yourself. I am ready to acknowledge, that it were most desirable that all your
brethren over the world had become Roman Catholics in no stricter sense than you appear in your works. I wish your influence in your Church were such that it might give authority to your sentiments, and thoroughly blend them with the creed of the whole religious community. But you are only a spiritual subject in that community: you, like every one of its members, profess spiritual or mental obedience to the Church and its acknowledged head: as long, therefore, as you do not openly disown that intellectual vassalage, we must, in respect to your faith, take you, not as you are, but as you are bound to be. We must take you as all nations are agreed to regard the members of those political bodies with whom they are at war. Many an individual Frenchman might, during their long wars with this country, bave claimed the rights of friendship and hospitality from England, and pleaded their views and settled opinions of what their country was in duty bound to do towards this. They might go farther, and prove most convincingly, that their government were acting unconstitutionally, and in defiance of the French laws. They might declare
their detestation of such conduct, and prove themselves staunch friends to the English interest; but as long as by their allegiance they remained Frenchmen, and bound, in duty, to obey the executive government of that nation, so long they would be most justly exposed to be judged and dealt with, not only as aliens, but as enemies. Private sentiments are merged in the public declarations of governments, and both you and your friends are under a spiritual government in open hostility with our religious establishment. You deem it a hardship that Protestants should not inquire your religious tenets from yourselves. This is, in my opinion, a hardship of the same nature as that which I have just described. You, as an individual Roman Catholic, have no right to shape your own creed. You are, on that point, under a well known allegiance. Its being a spiritual allegiance does not alter the case; for belief belongs to the mind or spirit, the very part of being which is under the absolute control of your Church.
I wish you particularly to notice the word spiritual, because I never have urged, I never
will urge, the temporal claims of your Church against you. That distinction is the most fertile source of confusion in this matter. I beg, therefore, to repeat what I have said elsewhere, that, in my opinion, whenever the Church of Rome, or its visible head, have claimed temporal power, it has been as a direct consequence of their spiritual privileges. Now, if the word spiritual has any meaning, spiritual obedience must mean obedience of the mind; and those who profess it, as they hope for salvation, to the Pope and his church, must renounce, by that act, every right to use the powers of their mind on matters of faith and morals, independently of their Church and its head.
When the subject is examined upon this unquestionable principle, the Roman Catholics, in every part of the world, must be regarded as a moral body, connected by mental or spiritual ties, and subject to a central authority, which resides in the city from which they take their distinctive name of Roman: an authority which (whatever the extent of its power may be) is visibly and permanently exercised by the Pope. Can there
be a stricter analogy between such a body and those which we call nations?
And shall we take the word of individual members of this mental or spiritual nation-of men whose minds, in matters relating to religion, are as much under a definite constitution, and a visible authority, as men in their civil capacity are under the different states of the earth-shall we take their word against the most solemn public declarations of their acknowledged spiritual monarch and his government? No. Let them begin by a declaration of spiritual independence; let them constitute themselves into one or more spiritual bodies, free from their old spiritual allegiance, and then we will most readily receive their declarations on matters of faith and doctrine; but as long as they profess themselves Roman Catholics, as long as their spirits or minds are subjects, and owe allegiance on every thing connected with religious belief; they must submit to the necessity of being treated, not as their individual views and opinions in matters of religious belief may deserve, but according to those which have been published to the world by the executive power