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purpose of generally diffusing the blessings of sound religion and sound morality by means of this national system of education, may soon be effected in this kingdom to a very satisfactory extent.
The Treasurer of the Society, at the same time, made a report of the general state of the Society's funds. It appeared that from the very liberal grants which had been made for the establishment of schools in various parts of the kingdom, some diminution of the permanent property of the Society has unavoidably taken place in the course of the present year ; but the Committee have readily acquiesced in suffering this to be done, under the fullest feeling of conviction that a judicious and well-directed application of their funds, for the purposes of the Society, must, under all circumstances, furnish the most certain means of ensuring the liberality of the public, so as to prevent their permanent diminution.
Humani juris et naturalis potestatis est unicuique quod putaverit colere ; Dee alii obest, aut prodest alterius religio. Sed nec religionis est cogere religionem, quæ sponte suscipi debeat, non vi.”
TERTULLIANUS AD SCAP.
ANSWER TO THE CHARGE,
SEVERAL Protestant friends, who wish well to the political claims of their Catholic fellow subjects, have informed me, that your Lordship's late 'Charge to the Clergy of the Diocese of Lincoln, has made a deep impression on the minds of many persons, and has even induced them to oppose the same claims to which, before the perusal of that publication, they had been favorable. I have been assured also, that means are taking to disperse that Charge throughout the whole United Kingdom, in order to excite a spirit of general opposition. Your Lordship therefore will not be surprised, if a Catholic Clergyman, who not only thinks that those claims are founded upon justice, but that the determination of the legislature concerning them is intimately connected with the welfare of the British Empire, should attempt to refute a statement which he conceives to be inaccurate in itself, and likely to be ver pernicious in its consequences.
Yet I take up the pen with reluctance. The cause which I support is unpopular. The reputation which your Lordship enjoys, and the authority which you possess, are sufficient to give weight and currency to opinions less plausible and less conformable to the bias of the public mind, than those which are the sub-ject of your late Charge. An obscure individual, who ventures to cope with such an adversary, enters the lists with visible disadvantage.
But this is neither the only nor the principal reason of my unwillingness to take an active part in this dispute. I hate controversy. It may originate in a love of truth, and perhaps in a very sincere desire to propagate it: but it calls up many a bad passion in its progress, it too often confounds the person with the opinion, and it not unfrequently terminates in abuse and malignity. Does the history of religious controversy or of political debate afford one single instance of either of the parties having acknowledged his error, and submitted to the better arguments of his antagonist? In fact, victory, not truth, becoines the object of the contest; a powerful argument, or a satisfactory answer, wounds the pride of the opponent, and resentment, not conviction, is the result.
To apply this observation to the question before us, will your Lordship pardon me when I lament that so much of the virulence of controversy should pervade your Charge, and embitter your expressions ? Without adverting to the general tone of the composition, I need only, as an instance, point to the words popery and papist in every page, and I might say, almost in every sentence. Your Lordship is aware, that the latter appellation, if addressed to an individual in the ordinary intercourse of life, would be considered as an insult; it is not less so when applied to the body at large, and in both cases, it will be avoided alike by the Christian and by the gentleman. Nicknames are not arguments. They may be applied to the disciples of truth as well as to the votaries of error, and the Christians of the first century were branded with them as well as the Catholics of the nineteenth. Such abusive appellations may be expected from the lips of the rude and illiterate minister of some fanatical conventicle; but we have reasou to expect very different language from the clergy of the Church of England, who have the education, and the manners, and the feelings of gentlemen.
We claim the name of Roman Catholics as our right; as such we are recognised by act of parliament, and we expect to be so qualified both in public and in private. By the first of these terms we profess that we are, not the tools, nor the dupes, nor the slaves, nor the subjects of the Roman Court, as the word Papist is invidiously meant to imply; but that we are in communion with the Roman See, and that we reverence the bishop who fills it, as the successor of the chief of the Apostles, and in his right, as the first Christian pastor in honor and jurisdiction. By the second, we declare ourselves to be members of that great Christian body, which, while it occupies exclusively the finest and the most populous regions of Europe, extends to all parts of the globe, and includes in its immense pale a greater number of republics, of kingdoms, and of empires, than any sect dissenting from it can equal in its list of cities or of provinces. Ignorance or prejudice may have attached disgrace to this appellation, but we deem it an honorable distinction.
Another symptom of this angry spirit, which I have observed with pain in your Lordship’s Charge, is the terror which you affect to feel, and which you evidently wish to excite, of the dangers of Popery. Your alarm on this head, I own, surprises me, and might be regarded as the effect of an heated imagination, in a person less advanced in years, and less acquainted with the real state of the country. You know full well, my Lord, the effect of such alarms, and I hope you also recollect the dangers that sometimes accompany them. The extreme facility with which the nation yields to these panic fears, is one of the most extraordinary features of its character, especially when contrasted with the good sense and sound judgment which are supposed to distinguish it upon other occasions. I expect from your Lordship’s candor, an acknowledgment that the danger of the Church and the growth of Popery have often been the bye-words of party, and have been played off frequently with too much success by angry factions against their antagonists. The effects of these outcries have sometimes exceeded expectation, and have even gone beyond the wishes of those who exa cited them. The disgrace of a favorite, the removal of an obnoxious minister, the humiliation of an unpopular prince, or the mortification of an insolent and dissipated court, were the motives which sometimes prompted statesmen of more ambition than conscience to raise the cry; but has the fermentation ever subsided without exceeding its intended limits? No, my Lord;—the spirit of discord
That St. Peter was chief of the Apostles, see satisfactory proofs in Elements of Christian Theology, Vol. I. Part Second, xxv. p. 476.
2 Honor and jurisdiction : these two words include all that a Catholic is obliged to acknowledge in the Pope.