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Scripture, but that the declaring that sense belongs to the Romanist Church.
It is difficult, indeed, after having settled these points to observe, with a proper degree of forbearance, the mixture of truth and evasion-the artful combination of openness and mental reservation, which every man of sense and candour must perceive in the VIIth article of the Declaration, lately published by your Irish Prelates, "Catholics hold, that, in order to attain salvation, it is necessary to belong to the true Church*; and that heresy, or a wilful and obstinate opposition to revealed truth-as taught in the Church of Christ--excludes from the kingdom of heaven. They are not, however, obliged to believe, that all those are wilfully and obstinately attached to error, who, having been seduced into it by others,
* Why not say openly, the Church of Rome, which is the true meaning, according to their Profession of Faith?
+ This is not true: it is opposition to the Church which constitutes the heretic.-See Definition of a Heretic in the passage of the Trent Catechism above quoted.
Observe the evasion by which the preceding false state
ment is palliated.
or who, having imbibed it from their parents, seek the truth with a cautious solicitude, disposed to embrace it when sufficiently proposed to them; but leaving such persons to the righteous judgment of a merciful God, they feel themselves bound to discharge towards them, as well as towards all mankind, the duties of charity and of social life."
Sir, I cannot conceive how a man of unsophisticated honesty can read the latter half of the above declaration, without blushing for those who recognize the Church, whose mixed spirit of casuistry and intolerance appears in it. That Protestants are placed, by the above declaration, in the same spiritual rank with pagans; that in respect to God and salvation they are left, as all mankind, is obvious. Now, I infinitely prefer the bold open insults which your Church, when she felt strong, hurled against the Protestants, to the mean and insidious smoothness of her representatives in these parts.
Seduced Protestants - Protestants by inheritance, disposed to embrace the truth, i. e. Popery, when sufficiently proposed to them, are left to the
righteous judgment of a merciful God. Protestants by their own conviction, like myself, cannot, of course, expect to be consigned to those mercies by these tolerant and mild pastors. But, who was ever anxious to obtain their declaration upon this point? What Protestant would have troubled himself about their private sentiments, as to the individual future fate of those who differ from them in doctrine? Sir, you must confess, that your prelates have avoided the question concerning your doctrine of Exclusive Salvation, which alone can be of any interest to the Protestant public, in regard to the Catholic Question, i. e. the admission of Catholics to Parliament. I will say to you, what a divine of your own persuasion urged, with much less reason, when he was pressing an English divine to state, explicitly, whether he allowed salvation in the Roman Catholic Communion. "And it will be here expected that he perform these things, as a man who professeth learning should do; not flying from questions which concern things as they are considered in their own nature, to accidental or rare circumstances of ignorance, incapacity,
want of means to be instructed, erroneous conscience, and the like, which, being very various and different, cannot be well comprehended under any general rule. And therefore when, for example, he answers to our demand, whether he hold that Catholics may be saved, or whether their pretended errors be fundamental and damnable, he is not to change the state of the question, and have recourse to ignorance, and the like, but to answer concerning the errors, being considered what they are apt to be in themselves, and as they are neither increased nor diminished by accidental circumstances*."
I will not stop to take much notice of the expression-truth sufficiently proposed, by which the bishops avoid clashing with the definition of pertinacious error given by their Church. We are to have the truth proposed, not proved to our satisfaction; proposed sufficiently, not according to our judgment, but that of the Church herself. Sir, that was exactly the method pursued by the
*Preface to "Charity Maintained," in Chillingworth's Religion of Protestants. London, 1638.
Inquisition, which this presently.
you so cordially detest. But of
As we do not fear the consequences of Roman Catholic doctrines relating to our salvation, in regard to the Divine judgment, the Protestants would not trouble themselves about them, except with a view to convince you, if possible, of their antichristian uncharitableness. What we want to ascertain from you and your bishops is, whether you are disposed to disclaim, that the Protestant systems of Christianity, in themselves, lead to eternal perdition? If you will not deny this, and yet engage to take an oath to protect our Church Establishment, in case of being elected a member of parliament; we shall be at a loss to explain such a glaring practical contradiction.
And here allow me to take notice of the disdainful tone in which you represent me as having suffered a miserable deception, with regard to the "support which (some of the Romanist priest