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H. NELSON GAY
THE VATICAN DECREES
IN THEIR BEARING ON
I. THE OCCASION AND SCOPE OF THIS Tract, In the prosecution of a purpose not polemical but pacific, I have been led to employ words which belong, more or less, to the region of religious controversy; and which, though they were themselves few, seem to require, from the various feelings they have aroused, that I should carefully define, elucidate, and defend them. The task is not of a kind agreeable to me; but I proceed to perform it.
Among the causes, which have tended to disturb and perplex the public mind in the consideration of our own religious difficulties, one has been a certain alarm at the aggressive activity and imagined growth of the Roman Church in this country. All are aware of our susceptibility on this side; and it was not, I think, improper for one who desires to remove everything that can interfere with a calm and judicial temper, and who believes the alarm to be groundless, to state, pointedly though briefly, some reasons for that belief.
Accordingly I did not scruple to use the following language, in a paper inserted in the number of the Contemporary Review for the month of October. I was speaking of “ the question whether a handfal of the clergy are or are not engaged in an utterly hopeless and visionary effort to Romanise the Church and people of England.”
"At no time since the bloody reign of Mary has such a scheme been possible. But if it had been possible in the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries, it would still have become impossible in the nineteenth ; when Rome has substituted for the proud boast of semper eadem a policy of violence and change in faith; when she has refurbished, and paraded anew, every rusty tool she was fondly thought to have disused; when no one can become her convert without renouncing his moral and mental freedom, and placing his civil loyalty and duty at the mercy of another; and when she has equally repudiated modern thought and ancient history."*
Had I been, when I wrote this passage, as I now am, addressing myself in considerable measure to my Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen, I should have striven to avoid the seeming roughness of some of these expressions; but as the question is now about their substance, from which I am not in any particular disposed to recede, any attempt * Contemporary Review,' Oct. 1874, p. 674.