« PreviousContinue »
strength of our Romanist opponents, lies in the perplexity and confusion of thought which prevails on the subject of toleration. We have endeavoured to show that there have been from the earliest times two distinct modifications of Romanism, one as the Pope wished to make it, the other as the nations of Europe chose to admit it. How there can be this diversity in an infallible Church it is not our business to explain : happily men are not more logical in following out error to its legitimate consequences than they are in their dealings with truth. But such is the fact; there ever has been, and it seems is destined ever to be, a struggle between the principles in modern times called ultramontane, and the Roman Catholic faith as vindicated by the national churches. It is the latter to which we had extended privileges — it is the former which it is now intended to introduce. This is a fraud on the ignorance and tolerance of the Protestants. It is a fraud on the blindness of the Roman Catholics, who in their hostility to a rival church may be entrapped into a subserviency from which their forefathers would have recoiled, and of which they themselves will hereafter repent. There is no question of toleration as between Catholic and Protestant; it is simply a question between civil and ecclesiastical power. If in times anterior to the Reformation any analogous aggression had been attempted, the indignation of the country would have been not less than that which we have recently witnessed; or if to-day the whole nation were to be converted to Romanism, from the Queen on her throne to the beggar at the gate, it would be only so much the more necessary, to-morrow, for ministers to discover some efficient measures of repression. It is not, then, the mere existence of an Established Protestant Church which makes resistance to Papal encroachment a duty. The Church is rather the great bulwark against an attack of which she is the first, but by no means the sole or final object, and which, if she did not exist at all, would be as difficult to endure, and far more difficult to resist. If America is able to ridicule the idea of Papal aggression, the cause must be sought in the small proportion of her Roman Catholic population, her philosophical indifference to religious disputes, her want of centralization, and other distinetive peculiarities. In Belgium, where all religions are protected and none established, free institutions have already brought the Government into collision with the Roman Catholic clergy. And in this country, if the Church were at once swept away to make room for the voluntary system, no government could permit a foreign ecclesiastic to agitate England and govern Ireland at his pleasure. No fallacy connected with the subject of toleration has
contributed contributed more to plunge us into our present difficulties, or is better calculated to keep us there, than the confusion in one common classification of the Romanists with other Dissenters. It was the device of James and his Jesuit counsellors, when under the shelter of dissent they designed to introduce Popery---a fraud which the dissenters of that day detected and indignantly eschewed. It has been the resource of Whig administrations when they wished to introduce some concession as a bribe for Popish constituencies, and to make it pass in a thin and hungry House for the application of an old and acknowledged principle. The answer to this sophism is the plain matter of fact, that the Romanists differ from all other dissenters ; they are placed in a relation to a Protestant government in which no other dissenters are placed; they stand in a relation to their own head which it requires the strong arm of civil power to regulate. The Romanist laity-as some very recent occurrences manifest -require the protection of law to restrain within certain limits even their own clergy; and are all these requirements supplied by ignoring their distinct and peculiar existence and position, and bringing in acts to put them on the level of other dissenters '?
Civil and religious liberty are terms easily understood in quiet times; but, when every one is determined to stretch his rights to the utmost, there is no more difficult problem in legislation than to fix their exact boundaries. Tens of thousands pass and repass daily in the Strand without confusion; but if all these or only a very small minority were to insist on walking with as little regard of others as if they were alone in the woods, who could legislate so as to prevent a tumult? Human law can only make a compromise between what is desirable and what is attainable. It is neither just nor generous to urge that because toleration has been carried already to a dangerous extent, it must be continued without limit to the toleration of intolerance. Many acts that are dangerous to order are allowed in a free constitution, in order to avoid the greater danger of prohibiting them. Many prohibited acts are tolerated by administration within certain discretionary limits ; but in this balanced compromise it is difficult to legislate for more than the actually existing state of things. If a power of infinite development is claimed, and if one anomaly is to be the precedent for another in endless succession, universal anarchy
Mr. Greenwood (p. 154) gives a suminary of the conclusions to which the argument for toleration, if followed out according to our opponents' views, will tend. We think in the good old days of fable the cuckoo might have stated the matter to the hedge-sparrow more concisely thus: “When you tolerated the
depositing of my egg in your nest, you virtually tolerated all the consequences of its development. If my offspring ejects yours, no doubt he is the worthier. Do not blame me for your own shortsighted folly.'
It would be foreign to our subject to discuss the various de fences which the papal advocates have set up. They are cobwebs, which, viewed through the medium of distance, are too flimsy to attract notice. If the mischief of papal interference is imaginary, they are not needed to justify it; if real, were they ten times more valid, they are insufficient.
We presume that the legislators who, on the pretext of contempt or toleration, preach the doctrine of passive endurance, have staked their reputation for political sagacity on the assumption that there is no real mischief. If their intention in so doing has been to steer clear of the difficulties which might beset their future tenure of office, we suspect they have created for themselves a much greater perplexity than that from which they would thus save themselves. The evil which has now risen to such a height as to make their position untenable, was, at the opening of the session, of a very formidable character. It is no slight nor imaginary evil that society in this country is disturbed in all its relations. Dr. Ullathorne, the most clamorous of martyrs, admits that his rhetorical and figurative persecution hurts no one whom it is aimed at—(Letter to Lord J. Russell in the Times, dated Bishop's House, Birmingham, Feb. 10); but adds some mysterious hints that it affects the industrious and the poor. We presume he must mean that Roman Catholic servants find a difficulty in obtaining employment. We were not aware of the fact. But this is a practical matter of much interest, and we must pause to ask Dr. Ullathorne, if indeed Roman Catholic servants, as such, seem less trustworthy to Protestant masters, who is to blame for this? When the Hon. and Rev. Mr. Spencerwho, it seems, is called "one Father Ignatius' (Lord Shrewsbury, p. 13)-wrote a letter in the newspapers to recommend that by every possible means servants even in the meanest capacity should be introduced into Protestant families, with a view to unsettle the faith of the inmates, did Dr. Ullathorne or his brethren raise one protest against this treachery? Even Lord Shrewsbury sees in this counsel only an active but perhaps shortsighted zeal,' and in the indignant remonstrance of the Bishop of Oxford the noble Earl finds only a subject for unseemly banter at the supposed reluctance of the learned prelate to encounter the dialectics of a polemical kitchenmaid. It is no small evil, socially as well as politically, if the Roman Catholic faith professed in this country is to be converted into ultramontanism. We believe that the English Roman Catholic body did present the purest exemplar of their Church that has as yet existed. It was their loyalty and their virtues that supplied the advocates of emancipation with their most effective, though by no means their most logical, arguments.
that * On this subject, and indeed on all points of the actual state of relations between Rome and foreign Governments, the reader will find ample information in the admirable treatise of Dr. Twiss--in all respects the most valuable one called forth by the late controversy.
But from this moment an impetus is given to ultramontanism, which among the clergy must be all but irresistible; and among the laity, we fear neo-Catholicism will for a time be fashionable. A priestly yoke, when it is real, is intolerable--and it will be felt so in due time, we do not doubt; but as yet the yoke does not press heavily; to profess to bear it is enough; and even this compliance is repaid with much flattery. In the zeal of new conversion, in the presence of Protestant bystanders to astonish, the most exaggerated exhibitions of controversial humility are gratifying to a modern bigot. In public life, unqualified, passive, abject obedience cannot be without votaries, when its profession confers influence, and implies no submission ; when it dignifies factious opposition, and dispenses from the trouble of reasoning and the duty of ever being reasonable. Moreover, the machinery for chronic agitation was immediately established, and vast increase of priestly influence was obtained at a time when a great addition of Irish immigration had made that influence peculiarly formidable. That this is no chimerical apprehension is proved by the riots at Birkenhead on occasion of a Protestant meeting ; an outrage which Lord Shrewsbury, with a confusion of head which we presume to be the result of controversial zeal, lays to the charge of Protestants. We have reserved to the last the mischiefs of synodical action. Among the many gross frauds which it is sought to pass off on the ignorance of this country, none strikes us more forcibly than the attempt to introduce an episcopate—a hierarchy—as being merely an aggregate body of bishops. In Belgium, which is, perhaps, the most really pious Roman Catholic community in Europe, there are bishops, but there is no episcopate ; and as late as the year 1845 the government steadily refused the application of the Archbishop of Malines to acknowledge one.* The difference lies in the power of collective, united action--and to compare it with a Wesleyan Conference is a simple mis-statement. At the opening of the session the synod of Thurles had already frustrated the benevolent intention of the legislature and stopped education in Ireland. This decree has since been confirmed by Pius IX., a result which might have been anticipated, when we learn, on such authority as that of Lord Shrewsbury, by what men the feeble-minded Pope is surrounded and guided. Speaking of the party in the Roman Catholic Church of Ireland which had so long ruled and agitated in Conciliation Hall' (p. 108), the Earl says-that party reigned triumphant at Rome too-only, I am sure, because the inimense majority of the Irish there were Repealers and antiEnglish, and occupied the ground to the exclusion of others.' He goes on to say that neither himself nor any of the respectable English there were consulted, nor would have been listened to if they had offered their advice, which, from motives of prudence or indifference, they declined doing.
· Hence (he proceeds) the views of Rome with regard to Ireland became the views of a faction. Rome was cajoled and betrayed, and the interests of all were sacrificed. These are not questions of dogma ; they depend on the passions of men, and are swayed by human interests. None have felt this more than the Pontiffs themselves ; for in matters of fact they are liable to error like other mortals.'
We do not doubt it; but does it not strike Lord Shrewsbury that they would do well to abstain from meddling in affairs where they are not directed by inspiration, and where they have so little chance of learning the truth by human means? The result is, that, under pretence of obedience to Rome, Conciliation Hall is to govern Ireland; and the only consolation Lord Shrewsbury offers is that the Protestants are to blame for it all. In this we own we agree with him. But can British statesmen tell us they consider this no evil ? Since the Recess the plot has indeed thickened.
Father Cullen, anxious, no doubt, to make the Irish Roman Catholic Clergy forget the Papal encroachment by which he was intruded upon them, and to prove himself as worthy a son of their Church as election could have discovered for them, has pushed extravagance to a length which disconcerts Dr. Wiseman, who toils after him in vain. Law is openly defied, and how far the outrage will stop short of actual rebellion it is hard to say. The agitators will no longer accept connivance--they disdain equality. Their hierarchy must not only be tolerated, it must be acknowledged, it must be dominant, it must be sole. Mr. Bird Sumner cannot be acknowledged even as doctor of divinity (vide Tablet, quoted in the Times, August 7, 1851). The laws of the royal succession must be repealed — the coronation oath changed — a Romanist must be eligible--why not alone eligible? It is desired to find as a matter for agitation some object supposed to be unattainable; and as the supineness of the country and the dishonesty of Government brings each such object successively nearer, another is to be sought. Who shall venture to prophesy? With what