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AUTHOR OF LECTURES ON THE PROPHETICAL OFFICE OF THE CHURCH
OCULI MEI DEFECERUNT IN SALUTARE TUUM,
ET IN ELOQUIUM JUSTITIÆ TUÆ.
It is now above eleven years since the writer of the following pages, in one of the early Numbers of the Tracts for the Times, expressed himself thus :
“Considering the high gifts, and the strong claims of the Church of Rome and its dependencies on our admiration, reverence, love, and gratitude, how could we withstand it, as we do ; how could we refrain from being melted into tenderness, and rushing into communion with it, but for the words of Truth itself, which bid us prefer it to the whole world ? “He that loveth father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me.' How could we learn to be severe, and execute judgment, but for the warning of Moses against even a divinely-gifted teacher who should preach new gods, and the anathema of St. Paul even against Angels and Apostles who should bring in a new doctrine?”i.
He little thought, when he so wrote, that the time would ever come, when he should feel the obstacle, which he spoke of as lying in the way of communion with the Church of Rome, to be destitute of solid foundation.
The following Work is directed towards its removal.
Having in former Publications directed attention to the supposed difficulty, he considers himself
1 Records of the Church, xxiv. p. 7.
bound to avow his present belief that it is imaginary.
He has neither the ability to put out of hand a finished composition, nor the wish to make a powerful and moving representation, on the great subject of which he treats. His aim will be answered, if he succeeds in suggesting thoughts, which in God's good time may quietly bear fruit, in the minds of those to whom that subject is new; and which may carry forward inquirers, who have already put themselves on the course.
If at times his tone appears positive or peremptory, he hopes this will be imputed to the scientific character of the Work, which requires a distinct statement of principles, and of the arguments which recommend them.
He hopes too he shall be excused for his frequent quotations from himself; which are necessary in order to show how he stands at present in relation to various of his former Publications.
His more important changes of opinion will be seen of course by referring to his Lectures on the Prophetical Office of the Church, published in the beginning of 1837. In these Lectures there are various statements which he could wish unsaid; but he thinks it right to draw the reader's especial attention to the following passage, which he retracts with the others :
“We must take and deal with things as they are, not as they pretend to be. If we are induced to believe the professions of Rome, and make advances towards her as if a sister or a mother Church, which in theory she is, we shall find too late that we are in the arms of a pitiless and unnatural relative, who will but triumph in the arts which have inveigled us within her reach. No; dismissing the dreams which the romance of early Church history, and the high doctrines of Catholicism, will raise in the inexperienced mind, let us be sure that she is our enemy, and will do us a mischief when she can. In speaking and acting on this conviction, we need not depart from Christian charity towards her. We must deal with her as we would towards a friend who is visited by derangement; in great affliction, with all affectionate tender thoughts, with tearful regrets and a broken heart, but still with a steady eye and a firm hand. For in truth she is a Church beside herself; abounding in noble gifts and rightful titles, but unable to use them religiously; crafty, obstinate, wilful, malicious, cruel, unnatural, as madmen are. Or rather, she may be said to resemble a demoniac, possessed with principles, thoughts, and tendencies not his own; in outward form and in natural powers what God has made her, but ruled within by an inexorable spirit, who is sovereign in his management over her, and most subtle and most successful in the use of her gifts. Thus she is her real self only in name; and, till God vouchsafe to restore her, we must treat her as if she were that evil one which governs her. And, in saying this, I must not be supposed to deny that there is any real excellence in Romanism even as it is, or that any really excellent men are its adherents. Satan ever acts on a system; various, manifold, and intricate, with parts and instruments of different qualities, some almost purely evil, others so unexceptionable that, in themselves and detached from the end to which all is subservient, they are really * Angels of Light, and may be found so to be at the Last Day. In Romanism there are some things absolutely good, some things only just tainted and sullied, some things corrupted, and some things in themselves sinful; but the system itself so called must be viewed as a whole, and all parts of it as belonging to the whole, and in connexion with their practical working and the end which they subserve.”