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INTRODUCTION.

Of late a variety of circumstances have transpired, to awaken more than ordinary attention to the points at issue between the Romish and Protestant churches. The civil disqualifications under which Roman Catholics laboured, and which for a long time branded Popery as a dangerous evil, have been removed. It is probable that one effect of this is to favour an opinion, that the Popery of the present day, compared with the Popery of former times, is of a different character, and greatly improved in spirit, and harmless in its tendencies. One object, therefore, of the present inquiry is to show that Popery, in all that is essential, is unchanged ; and that, in fact, it is now as erroneous in principle, antichristian in spirit, and dangerous in its tendency, as in ages that have passed away.

The fact is forced upon us by evidence which cannot be resisted, that within the last few years there has been a large increase in the number of Roman Catholics in this country.* The multiplication of Roman Catholic chapels—the size and splendour of some of them-furnish strong proof of the advancement of their communion, and of the liberality and zeal of the members of that church in propagating their peculiar tenets. To this, other causes, in addition to that already noticed, have contributed.

Many are deceived into a favourable opinion of Popery, by the partial exhibition of the doctrines and worship of the church of Rome in this Protestant country. To form a correct estimate of Popery, it must be contemplated in its doctrines, worship, and effects, as fully exhibited in those states and countries where it is the dominant faith. In a country, where the great mass of the population is Protestant, only a partial and favourable exhibition of Popery can be looked for. The creed of the papist, in common with that of the Protestant, embraces most of the fundamental truths of Christianity, though in the former they are adul. terated, by being mixed up with many dangerous

* « There are at present throughout the country 11 Roman Catholic colleges for the education of priests, and 35 seminaries. In Manchester, 70 years ago, there were only 70 Roman Catholics, now there are 42,000. In Liverpool, some years ago, comparatively few, now 52,000. In Glasgow there are 30,000. In Bath, 20 years ago, the Romanists met for worship in a small hired room; they have now two chapels in the city, another close by the magnificent college of Prior Park, in the vicinity; and, lately, the Romish Bishop Baines was in treaty for another chapel, at present vacant, in Bath. The total number of Roman Catholic chapels in England and Scotland, in the year 1831, was 479. From the year 1824 to 1831, 16 chapels have been added to the total number; 15 for England, and 1 for Scotland, in Perth. The Romish bishops, in England, are frequently confirming adult converts. At Wolverhampton there were 63 lately admitted into the Romish church; at Norwich, 50; at Cossay, a small village near Norwich, 45; and so on in other places.”Christian Advocate.

The Romish priesthood, who are placed in the midst of a Protestant population, in their public ministrations, give a more frequent prominence to those truths which they hold in common with Protestants, than to those errors which are peculiar to their own church. When those points of doctrine and worship, peculiar to their own church, are insisted on, they are brought forward with a caution and plausibility most likely to conciliate those just prejudices which, in the minds of Protestants, exist against them. Thus, many are led to regard Popery as not so erroneous in doctrine, or antichristian in spirit, as they were once taught to believe : thus, also, many who have no fixed religious principles, allured by the imposing splendour of her worship, by the accommodating nature of her faith, and by other motives which need not here be stated, make an easy transition from mere nominal Protestantism, to the communion of the church of Rome.

errors.

There is also reason to fear that the too infre

quent and sparing inculcation of the distinguishing principles and doctrines of Protestantism, has indirectly contributed to the growth of Popery in this country. The points of disagreement between the Protestant and Romish churches, are too much regarded as controversial matters which belonged to former times, on which it is unnecessary and in expedient now to insist. It is too confidently assumed, that the great bulk of those nominally Protestant, are “rooted and grounded” in the Protestant faith. It is not, then, surprising, that many who are left in ignorance on these important points, should be prepared to go over to the church of Rome whenever she is in circumstances to hold out those inducements to conformity, which easily prevail with uninformed and unsettled minds. Of this state of things the Romish priesthood fail not to take full advantage. The energy, zeal, and success, with which the Romish priesthood follow up the work of proselytism, imperiously demand of all classes of Protestants, and especially of the ministers of the sanctuary, to be active in the dissemination of those great truths of Christianity, which will render a population nominally so, Protestant from conviction, and on principle. If, in the present day, when the advocates of Popery enjoy advantages for the dissemination of their faith, which they possessed at no former period since the Reformation, Protestants are found to neglect their duty, the flood of Popish principles, as it widens and spreads, will bear along with it, multitudes who have no fixed principles to preserve them in a purer faith and worship.

These considerations induced a conviction in the author's mind, that a faithful exhibition of the errors and corruptions of the church of Rome was, in the present day, necessary; and that, with the blessing of God, it might be useful as a preservative from error, and supply his Protestant brethren with additional motives to “stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made them free.”

Another, and that the principal object, which the author has kept in view, has been to vindicate the church of England against the charge of Popery, so frequently and so unjustly alleged against her. It is most singular, on the supposition of there being any foundation for such a charge, that the hostility of the church of Rome should so long have been chiefly directed against the Protestant church of England! that those great and venerated reformers and martyrs who compiled her Articles, Homilies, and Liturgy, should, under God, have been the honoured instruments of delivering the British church and nation from the papal yoke! and that the most able champions of the Protestant faith, and opponents of popish error, should have been those wbo ministered at her altars! So far from symbolizing with Popery, the church of England has ever been regarded by the church of Rome as the great barrier in the way of the spread

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