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received its principal developments in Catholic countries, and has made any considerable progress in Protestant countries only since the middle of the last century, that is, since the obvious decline of Protestantism in those countries. And yet, a writer who probably never read a Catholic book in his life, and who, we will venture to assert, cannot state correctly a single distinctive dogma of the Catholic Church, and who proves himself by his reckless assertions utterly ignorant of her history, has the impudence to say, that, excepting painting and sculpture, “no one of the arts or sciences has escaped the anathemas of Rome ; and these bave only been fostered because they could be made tributary to the idolatrous ceremonies of the Church !"
But our limits do not permit us to proceed. Having, as we trust, sufficiently vindicated the Church from the charges of hostility to literature and science, we must reserve to a future number the reply to the charge of hostility to revelation and religion, which we suppose means an unwillingness to accept King James's Bible as the pure word of God. The Catholic policy in regard to the Bible we will endeavour to explain in
Art. II. - Sixteen Lectures on the Causes, Principles, and
Results of the British Reformation. By J. H. Hopkins, D. D., Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Vermont. Philadelphia : J. M. Campbell & Co. 1844. 12mo. pp. 387.
We agree entirely with Bishop Hopkins, that “the aspect of the religious world, at this moment, presents the same elements of controversy, only under varied forms of practical application, which agitated all Europe three hundred years ago.”. A little over three hundred years ago, under pretence of religious reform, and of reviving the faith and worship of the primitive Christians, a portion of the nominally Christian world seceded from the Catholic Church, and set up new establishments for themselves, with such forms of worship, such symbols of faith, and under such systems of government, as they judged most advisable. The Church then existing, — and which had been regarded by the whole Christian world, condemned heretics and schismatics excepted, for fifteen hundred years, as the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, -as was to be expected, condemned them as heretics and schismatics, declared them out of the pale of the Church and severed from the communion of Christ.
For three hundred years, these seceders and their successors have been laboring to effect a reversal of the sentence then solemnly pronounced against them, and to convince the world that they were wrongfully condemned; that their private establishments are really living members of the Church of Christ, and that they, in founding them, acted by the authority of Christ himself, and did not break the unity either of the orthodox faith or of the Lord's body. They have been zealous and diligent, have had learning, talents, genius, and power on their side, but they have labored without success. The sentence has not been reversed; their claims have not been admitted ; and never has the necessity of their undertaking to defend themselves been greater than now. The religious world at this moment seems farther than ever from reversing the sentence recorded against them. The Church from which they seceded is now, if possible, more vigorous than ever, and counts a larger number of members than at any former period of its existence. Its missionaries have penetrated to almost every nook and corner of the globe. It is rapidly regaining the ground it had lost in France, England, and Germany, and has obtained a new empire in America ; while, on the other hand, the Protestant churches, cut up into innumerable sects, are everywhere languishing and disappearing. Nowhere do they gain on Catholicism; nowhere have they gained on Catholicism for the last two hundred years. In fact, they everywhere lose ground. They have lost it in Ireland, in France, in Germany, and are losing it in our own country and even in England. And, what is perhaps more discouraging still to their cause, in the bosom of each and all of their communions there is a wide and deep feeling that the separation from the Catholic Church, if not absolutely unauthorized, was unnecessary and ill-advised ; that what was substituted for the Church does not and cannot supply its place; that Protestantism has proved a failure; and that nothing remains for us but either to return to Catholicism, or to lapse into complete infidelity.
The seceders, through their successors, are, therefore, unquestionably under the necessity either of abandoning their cause or of renewing the controversy. It is no time for them to be idle, no time for them to sleep, and to dream that the controversy is over. The Church has abandoned none of its claims, and never will abandon any of them ; for its authority it has inherited from the Apostles, and its faith it holds as a sacred deposit from Christ the Head. It has made, and will make, no compromise with error and schism. It must be all or nothing. It has not ceased, and it will not cease, to exert itself with all fidelity, zeal, and diligence, to recover every revolted province, and to secure the heathen and the ends of the earth to God's dear Son for his inheritance. The Church does not sleep ; she does not cease from her mission. Everywhere does she bear witness for her Lord; everywhere is she ready to combat for the truth, and shed the blood of her martyrs for the salvation of souls. She will give no rest to heretics and schismatics. If, then, they mean to defend themselves, to maintain the ground they have acquired, they must be vigilant and active. Nay, they must do more; they must meet the question fairly, in open and rational debate. They can no longer call on the civil power to secure them the advantage ; they can no longer rely on penal enactments to stifle the voice of truth. They can no longer maintain their cause by false charges and misrepresentation. They must now debate the question, and debate it fairly; and yield, if they cannot sustain themselves by good and sufficient reasons.
We regard it as a happy day for the Church, that she has, at length, secured in most Protestant countries the liberty to speak and write in her own defence. This is all she needs. She asks no other advantage of Protestants. She knows the strength of her own cause and the weakness of theirs ; and if she can only be met in fair discussion, she fears not the result. All she asks of Protestants is, that they consent to reason, instead of declaiming, and confine themselves to facts instead of falsehoods.
All appearances indicate that in this country the great debate is coming on, and is likely soon to absorb the attention of the American people. The better portion of the community are daily losing their interest in political disputes, - their confidence in the ability of government alone to secure even the temporal well-being of a people ; and are beginning to feel the necessity of a religion, fixed and firm, immovable amid the fluctuations of time, and able to command the passions, subdue evil propensities, wean the affections from things of the earth and place them on things above, and direct all our energies to gaining the kingdom of God and his justice. Our sects are breaking up. Puritanism has exhausted itself, and Congregationalism totters to its fall. The Presbyterian Church is divided into hostile factions, and the powerful sect of the Methodists is torn by schisms and internal divisions. The Baptists must follow the fate of their Calvinistic brethren. The Episcopalians, boasting of their “admirable liturgy," and pretending to be “ a branch” of the Catholic Church, — divided between high and low church into two parties, one seeking to get rid of the name of Protestant, the other to retain it, - having the form of godliness without its reality, must erelong fulfil the prophecy, that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. Union in the bosom of any of these sects is out of the question, much more the union of them all in one body. What have they, torn with intestine divisions, cut up into cliques and coteries, each armed against each, each controverting and confuting what each advances, to offer to satisfy the religious wants of the American people? Do they not see that their power is gone? How are they to recover it? They may exhort one another to union and peace. But what principle, save the negative principle of hatred to Catholicism, have they on which to unite, or which can be the principle of peace? Do they not see that their contentions are inevitable, their divisions impossible to be healed ? They deserted the principle of unity, the ground of peace, when they left the Church. They have foolishly, like the rash builders in the plain of Shinar, attempted to build a tower which should reach to heaven, and God confounds their speech, and disperses them abroad.
In this state of things, the great question of Catholicism necessarily comes up. The Catholic Church steps forth in the majesty of ages, splendid with the robes of light, and beautiful with the beauty of holiness, and offers to a distracted people, worrying and devouring one another, the olive-branch of peace. She has a faith, once delivered to the saints, which she has preserved unimpaired through all the changes of time, to offer them ; she has a worship consecrated by a long line of saints and martyrs, now reigning with Jesus in heaven, to offer them ; she has a Church, which, like the ark of Noah, rises sublime on the deluge of waters, in which are the chosen of the Lord, and safety for all within to offer them; and will the distracted mind and the wearied heart slight her offer? “Come unto me,” she says, in the name and tones of her Master, “ye who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." And is her invitation one not likely, in these days, to be heeded? We have sought repose, we have found it not ; we seek it everywhere, and we find it not ; we seek it in this sect or in that, it is not there ; we seek it in infidelity or indifference, - it is not there, for there is only the repose of the charnel-house. Where, then, shall we seek it? To whom, then, shall we go? To whom, but to the blessed Jesus in the Church which he has founded as the medium of access to him, who only has the words of eternal life ?
We do assuredly look upon the times as auspicious for the Church. We do assuredly look upon the spread of Catholicism in this country, as likely to be speedy and extensive. Its adversaries must, then, meet it, must renew the debate, and defend themselves if they can. That they will, there can be no doubt. They will go over the old ground, and free themselves, if in their power, from the old charges of heresy and schism. For with the spread of Catholicism revives faith in God, faith in Christ, faith in the Church ; and with the revival of this faith, men cease to sit down easy under the charge of heresy or schism. Heresy and schism become again words full of meaning, and of a terrible meaning, which cannot be looked in the face. Orthodoxy recovers its old sense, and men feel, that, without the true faith and the true Church, they are without Christ, and without Christ they are without God. The sects must prove that they, as sects, are members of the Lord's body, and that they maintain the true faith ; or else abandon their pretensions, and acknowledge themselves to be rightfully condemned as heretics and schismatics, and therefore as dead branches, severed from the vine, whose end is to be burned.
Something of all this appears to have been felt by the learned and accomplished author of the Lectures before us. And he has come forward to do what he can to justify the Reformers in their separation from the Roman Catholic Church, and to free at least the Protestant Episcopal Church from the charge of schism. The question is one of fearful import for him and his brethren ; for if he fails to free his Church of this charge, he fails to prove that it is, in the Christian sense, a church at all, — fails to vindicate the legitimacy of its ministry and sacraments; and compels himself to admit, that, if he continue in its communion, he is out of the communion of Christ, and that he is guilty, not only of usurping an honor to which he has not been called of God, as was Aaron, not only of breaking the commandments of God and the unity of the Lord's body, but of teaching others to do the same, of leading others astray, of confirming them in error, and perilling their salvation. His is a position fearfully responsible; and he has need, not only to be firmly persuaded that he is not wrong, but to know posi
VOL. II. NO. I.