« PreviousContinue »
really think there is some foundation for the Vicar's railing accusations, and interpret our silence into an impossibility of making any reply. We are, moreover, driven to reprisals by the approbation shown to our enemy in quarters where we should have expected more prudence; for it is no secret to you that not only do the Clergy highly applaud our raging Vicar-but that the Bishop of London has publicly recommended the letters of L. S. E., (from which our Vicar takes every syllable of his abuse of us,) as an able defence of the Established Church, and a most faithful portraiture of dissent.
"The question, therefore, between us is simply this,-Is the Church of England the Church which Christ established? For if this be not proved, if it cannot be shown that the Established Church of England is the very Church which our Lord instituted, and which has come down to our days exactly as it was moulded by the care of the Apostles, according to the direction of the Head of the Church, then does all this fine system of our Vicar fall down with a ridiculous overthrow, (like a house built by a child with a pack of cards,) and this celebrated controversialist is seen in his true character of a slanderer and a bully.
"First then to the question of Apostolical succession of the Bishops of England:-The Vicar makes this the great turning point of his salvation, and our damnation; and out of this has he even
fabricated all his crackers, which he mistakes for thunder; and which he hurls right hand and left as he gallops over the pons asinorum, a second Salmoneus of imposture and noise.
"In slightly handling this question, I may first congratulate Dissenters that Mr. O'Neil, the Catholic Priest, has here taken the Vicar to task; and has accused him of the very sin of schism of which he accuses us. The Correspondence between Mr. O'Neil and the Vicar, by the kindness of the former gentleman, I am enabled to lay before you; and as it speaks more to the point than anything I can say, with your permission I will now read it."
[Here the lecturer read aloud copies of letters No. viii. ix. x.]
"In addition to these letters, Mr. O'Neil has circulated a tract on the supremacy of Saint Peter, so that the poor Vicar has now to act on the defensive, and, coming down from the usurped chair of authority, to undergo the wholesome stripes of the Head Master. We see, therefore, by this correspondence, that the doctrine of the Apostolical succession of the English bishops compels the Clergy to trace their spiritual birth through the fingers of the Popish bishops, an origin of which no Protestant Minister can be very proud, though there is, as you know, no accounting for tastes: at least, I, for one, on consideration of this pedigree, feel heartily rejoiced to say for the Dissenters,
vix ea nostra voco. The Church of England herself has spoken so very plainly about the Church of Rome, that the Clergy are reduced to a pretty dilemma by the doctrine of succession. The homily against peril of idolatry calls the Church of Rome "a foul, filthy, old withered harlot," from whence we gather that the English bishops are sons of a harlot, a dignity which would no where be coveted but on a bench of bishops; for what is considered a grosser insult than to call a man the son of a :' and yet this is the very title in which the Successionists are compelled to glory!
"But again; the homily of the Church of England declares that 'the bishops of Rome and their adherents are NOT the true Church of Christ:' now that which is not the true Church is no Church at all; for by the Vicar's doctrine there is but one Church: so then the spiritual descent of the English bishops' comes from nothing is in fact a nonentity-a Tohu and Bohu of Popish darkness.
"But again; when the English Prayer Book was first published in the reign of Edward VI., the act of Parliament declared it to have been arranged by the bishops, through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.' In this book, composed by Divine assistance, was this sentence in the Litany. 'From the Bishop of Rome and all his detestable enormities, good Lord, deliver us,' and yet through the
Bishop of Rome and all his detestable enormities are the English bishops engendered!
"Now only consider the infamy of this pedigree; a whore, a false Church, a detestable enormity! The Church of England has not, however, said a word too much against the Church of Rome, for it is Antichrist, the mother of abominations, and the throne of sin, and truly since the world began there never has been any thing so iniquitous as Popery. Bad however as it is, the Successionists are compelled to trace their origin through ten centuries, at least, of superstition, blasphemy, false doctrine, idolatry, and lies; in short, whatever is wicked in Popery, whatever is 'detestable' and 'enormous' is the hot-bed from which they spring-whatever bears the mark of the Beast, and of the paws of the Dragon, is the soil of that nursery wherein our Parliamentary prelates were planted as slips and offsets from the tree of evil.
"I will not, however, deal in these hard words against the Roman Catholic superstition, trusting only in the authority and copying the example of the Church of England, but will quote to you the words of Baronius, a most celebrated Catholic writer, and whose name always carries great weight in controversy. Speaking of the tenth age of the Church, he says, 'What was then the face of the Roman Church! how deformed! what whores,*
* Alluding to that infamous woman Marozia, who placed her gallants in St. Peter's chair.
no less powerful than vile, bore the chief sway at Rome, and at their pleasure changed sees, appointed bishops, and, what is more horrible to mention, thrust into St. Peter's See their own gallants, false Popes, who would not have been mentioned in the catalogue of the Roman Popes but only for the more distinct recording of so long a succession of times.' In fact Baronius was compelled to record these monsters of iniquity to show that the succession had never been broken, and this is the succession on which the Roman Catholic and Protestant prelates depend for the pedigree; so that if these infamous demons of the ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries were not recorded, then behold the chain would be interrupted, and the poor bishops would not be able to trace their genealogy!
"What then does this succession theory amount to?-that for eighteen centuries the bishops' heads have been touched by the hands of their predecessors, and that an enormous majority of these bishops have been bad men, idolaters, ignorant and superstitious bigots, corrupt and avaricious, too often polluted with a horrid sensuality, and stained with the blood of the Martyrs. Will any one who knows the least of history pretend to say that this touching of the head has conveyed grace through the dark ages? Did bloody Archbishop Arundel, who burnt the Lollards, and bloody Bishop Bonner, or sensual Cardinal Wolsey,