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requesting the charitable assistance of Roman Catholics in enabling us to ascertain fairly and logically what will be our duty in reference to this realm and constitution of England, when that inevitable hour arrives in which our consciences shall compel us to return to their communion; and to what extent our State and Laws must be reformed and remodelled in the event of our national conversion. It is in truth a work of comprehensive charity to which we invite them; nor if they duly perform it, can they fail to accelerate the arrival of that auspicious day when the British Empire shall once more glitter as the richest gem in the pontifical tiara. To our certain knowledge, not a few of our countrymen (in addition to some trifling difficulties of doctrine) feel it impossible even to conjecture how they are to comport themselves on the adoption of any known theory of the infallibility and supremacy of the Roman Church, towards the institutions and laws of their own country, and especially in relation to those dogmas of intellectual and religious freedom which at present are most surely believed amongst us.' That there is some bridge over the chasm, or else that the transit is effected per saltum, without any bridge at all, is evident from the fact that there are Roman Catholics in this country whose patriotism and loyalty (and we most sincerely say it) we do not for one moment doubt. On the contrary, we are strongly persuaded
But that there are tens of thousands of Englishmen who, with their present light, could not adopt the same course, and who would conscientiously feel compelled, if they became Romanists at all, to adopt a much more ultramontane position, is certain. We ourselves are among the number. Still, as we have
no wish at the same instant that we become Roman Catholics to become martyrs also, whether political or religious, to be hanged for treason against the State if we abandon our present positions, or, if we retain them, be victimised in consequence of the consistent restoration of persecution in the Church - we must implore our Roman Catholic friends to give us the utmost aid of their famous casuistry in this extremity.*
We have said, and sincerely, that we do not for a moment question either the loyalty or the patriotism of the mass of our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects. We believe that, whether consistently or not, they would be as ready as were their Roman Catholic ancestors, or as are their Protestant contemporaries, to resist any aggression on the civil or political prerogatives of the State, or any attempt to reverse those great principles of perfect religious liberty which are at present triumphant amongst us. In
* An edifying example of the utility of ventilating doubts is afforded in a recent pamphlet by Mr. H. Drummond. He had occasion some years ago to refer to the highest authority among the Jesuits at Rome on the subject of the 'real presence,' in which he was in some sort, we presume, a believer. The Jesuit told him he must believe that there was no bread present after consecration. Mr. Drummond asked whether, if the bread were chemically analysed, the ashes would contain animal and not vegetable products? The father had the grace to blush, but replied, that if such an act of profanation were to be committed, no doubt the holy presence would be withdrawn, and the elements would be as they were before.' A word spoken in season, how good is it! A convert might have been troubled with the difficulty for twenty years, without ever thinking of so obvious a solution! In fact, however, we would humbly suggest whether there was not another answer open to the reverend father, namely, that the ashes would be transubstantiated as well as the elements.
their own persons, we conceive that they are not likely to be troubled with the same difficulties as ourselves, because they accept from childhood the inconsistencies in question, and in fact never think about them. It may be suspected that the mass of the Roman Catholic laity know very little about their system; and, as often happens, the practical conduct of those who do know it, is far better than their speculative principles. Many Protestants further flatter themselves that the very contiguity of Protestantism -the salubrious air of freedom-has had a beneficial effect upon British Romanists; They have the disease,' it is said, 'no doubt; but they have taken it mildly; they have been vaccinated; the old and virulent malady has passed into the gentle varioloid type. They in fact differ far more from the Italian or Spanish Romanist, though the difference is one of species, than they differ from the English Protestant, though the difference is professedly one of genus. Roman Catholics in name, they are in reality a sort of unprotesting Protestants; they thus do and say in all sincerity a thousand inconsistent things; and heartily approve of doctrines and principles of which they neither could nor would approve, if they were the inhabitants of a country in which Romanism is the predominant religion, and in a condition to realise its genuine theory and distinctive principles.' Thus Protestants argue.
However plausible or irrational this mode of accounting for the phenomenon may be deemed, it does not at all relieve those of us who feel puzzled how to deal, on any of the known theories of the Roman Church, with certain formidable dogmas which seem inconsistent with our loyalty and patriotism— our reverence for intellectual and religious freedom.
As we would sooner accept a base coin than a fallacious argument, and cannot consent to soothe our conscience with any cataplasms of doubtful casuistry, we must again appeal for aid to our Roman Catholic friends.
It remains of course to be said, that if that aid is to be effective, it must consist not in the assurance that this or that learned 'doctor' says we safely may take his opinion. We put no faith in the doctrine of 'probable opinion' as laid down by Pascal's Jesuit father; 'You may follow this or that man with safety, for they are excellent casuists.' This is but referring us back to our own Protestant device of 'private judgment.' What we request is some unquestionable proof in the shape of authoritative declarations, by some universally admitted organ or organs of the Romish infallibility, that the scruples in question are chimerical.
'What are some of these difficulties?' we imagine we hear a reverend father reply.
We will endeavour to explain them. But in order that we may not be supposed less open to conviction than we are, we must premise that none can be more convinced than ourselves of the truth of the declaration which we often find on the lips of Roman Catholics, that 'there is no better rule than that of an infallible Church.' This we think certain; the difficulty with us is to discover the infallible Church; or, if we suppose the Church of Rome to be it, in knowing to whose hands the infallibility is confided; within what limits the utterances of that organ are infallible; and what are those infallible utterances themselves.
Most unhappily, the Romanists are divided on these preliminary points themselves. The incongruity of this, perhaps, scarcely strikes their minds, for they
are accustomed to it; but to Protestants there is hardly any difficulty more insuperable than the idea of this variable constant-an infallibility which is uncertain as to its seat, its limits, and its results. It is certainly an unfortunate aggravation of the obstacles to our conversion that the very principle, which is proffered as a harbour of refuge against the fluctuations of private judgment, should thus not merely be the subject of controversy, but in fact itself be virtually submitted to the decisions of 'private judgment.' 'Est in secessu longo locus,' the Romanist exclaims: the infallible Church is a safe retreat; in that deep bay, 'æquora tuta silent.' But no sooner does the inquiring Protestant congratulate himself on having here escaped the tossing billows, than he finds himself riding, as it were, in the Bay of Biscay; the roadstead, he declares, is more dangerous than the open sea. 'The Church,' says the Romanist, 'is infallible; and in that blessed truth you must repose: it is true, we do not know exactly where the infallibility resides, nor, consequently, all which that infallibility has declared: Romanists differ in opinion upon both these points; and those of us who have decided upon some one criterion of the infallibility are also not quite agreed as to what is declared “de fide" or "ex ex cathedrâ,” and what is not.' On this the Protestant is apt to rejoin, that though it were granted, that nothing is more infallibly true than that the Church has infallibility; yet as its seat, extent, and decisions vary with fallible opinions, it were surely better, instead of saying that the Church is favoured with an infallible judge of truth, to say that each member of the Church is privileged to become a fallible judge of infallibility! There may be a judge of infallible truth, but unless we know who