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the church being secured, its total defection is foretold ? Is there not to be a universal and awful apostacy from the truth, as taught by our blessed Redeemer ? Nay, still more, have not grave and learned divines placed these prophecies among the strongest evidences of Christ's divine mission, proved, as it is, in their fulfilment ?*
My brethren, in replying to this species of objection, I must be on my guard. I must avoid touching upon that view of it, however popular it may be, which pretends to see in the Catholic Church the foul characteristics attributed to the enemies of Christ in the Apocalypse, and other writings of the New Testament; and I must follow this course for several reasons. First, because I would not profane the holiness of this place with the blasphemous calumnies which I should have to repeat, nor stoop to notice accusations, whereof it would degrade me in mind to think, that they could be ever made but through a pitiful ignorance, or a lamentable prepossession; secondly, because my plan does not allow me to seek out adversaries, but leads me to proceed by an onward line of positive demonstration; thirdly, because I cannot persuade myself that any of you who have so kindly continued to attend these lectures, listen to me with the impression that you are hearing the upholder of idolatry, or the advocate of antichrist.
Leaving aside, therefore, that class of applications, let us simply take and try the proposition that a general defection from the truth is foretold in the New Testament; and that this prediction is even to be reckoned among the evidences of Christianity. Good God! and is it possible that any believer in the divinity of our Lord, can assert so monstrous a proposition, as that he could have ever given such a proof as this of his heavenly mission and authority! I will propose to you a parable. A certain king lived at a great distance from his children whom he tenderly loved; and they dwelt in a taber· * See Horne's Introduction, vol. i. p. 328. “We shall add but two more instances in illustration of the evidence from prophecy. The first is the long apostacy and general corruption of the professors of Christianity, so plainly foretold."
nacle frail and perishable, which he had long and often promised should be replaced by a solid and magnificent abode, worthy of his greatness, and of his affection towards them. And after many days, there came unto them one, who said he was sent by him to raise this goodly building. And they asked him; “what evidence or proof dost thou give us that the King our father hath sent you, as fully qualified and able to build us such a house as shall worthily replace the other, and be our future dwelling ?" And he answered and said;
“I will raise a costly building, spacious and beautiful; its walls shall be of marble and its roofs of cedar, and its ornaments of gold and precious stones; and I will labour and toil to make it worthy of him that sent me, and of me its architect, even so that
my very life shall be laid out on the good work. And this shall be an evidence of my mission to the work, and of my approved fitness for undertaking it; that, scarcely, shall it be completed but the lustre of its precious stones shall be dimmed, and the brightness of its gold shall tarnish, and its ornaments shall be defiled with foul spots, and then its walls shall be rent with many cracks and crannies in every part, and then it shall crumble and fall; and a few generations shall see the whole in ruins and overspread with howling desolation !” And what would they reply unto him? “Go to,” they would say,
“for a fool, or one who taketh us for such; are these the proofs thou givest us of thy fitness to build a house for our abode?”
And if so, my brethren, must we not call it almost impious and blasphemous, to suppose that our Saviour can have given, as evidence of his divine commission to establish a religion and a church, that his work should not stand, but, after a few years, become disfigured with error and crime, and in a few centuries perish, or, what is worse, relapse into idolatry and corruption ? * For, let those who say that the whole Church
* “ So that clergy and laity, learned and unlearned, all ages, sects, and degrees of men, women, and children, of whole Christendom, (an horrible and dreadful thing to think,) have been at once drowned in abominable
fell away into idolatry, remember that it was to overcome this foul usurpation of the devil, that Jesus Christ taught and preached, and suffered and died; and shall we dare to say that he conquered not ? Shall we presume to assert that, after. having wrestled with the monster, even unto the shedding of his priceless blood, and having crushed its head, and left it apparently lifeless, yet it did too soon revive, to assail and lay waste his inheritance, and tear up the vineyard which his hands had planted ? Why, the weak and material prototype of his truth and law had more power of old! For, when the Ark of his Covenant was placed, even by the hands of his enemies, in the temple of Dagon, it not only overthrew the idol, but it broke off its feet, so that it might no more be replaced upon
its pedestal. Even the false prophet of the east shall have · proved more successful! For, so powerful is the doctrine of one God, that wherever the doctrines of Islamism have been proclaimed, idolatry has been banished, so as never more to have returned. And shall Christianity have proved feebler than they ? shall it alone have been compelled to yield to the power of Satan? shall Jesus Christ alone have been baffled by his enemy, and unable to establish what he came to teach? Away from us such impious and ungodly thoughts !
But if these prophecies exist,-- every one of which I unhesitatingly and solemnly deny,—have we not a right to expect some intimation of the glorious event which was to remedy the said defection? When God foretold, through his prophets, the captivity of his people, he always presented the balm with the wound, and cheered them with the prospect and certainty of redemption. And is it possible, that such an event should be omitted in the annals of prophecy, as that return of the church from universal idolatry, by its favoured portion in the
idolatry, of all other vices most detested of God, and most damnable to man, and that by the space of 800 years and more to the destruction and subversion of all good religion universally.”—Book of Homilies, (Hom. 8, p. 261, ed. of Soc. for propagating Christian Knowledge,) pronounced in the 35th of the 39 articles, "to contain godly and wholesome doctrine, and nacessary for these times."
islands of the west,* which, at last, should give efficacy to what he and his Apostles had in vain attempted to achieve? Then, with his spouse, the Church, how different is his conduct from his dealings with his stiff-necked people. She is left in total and cheerless darkness; she is only to be assured that she shall be degraded and defiled, without a word of hope, that mercy will be ever again shown unto her! But no, my brethren ; let us not be so inconsistent as to imagine such things, after the clear incontrovertible proofs which we have seen, both in the prophecy of the old law, and in the promise of the new; for, never will she be abandoned by God, any more than the earth shall be again desolated by a deluge ;and so far from the gates of hell thus prevailing against her, Jesus Christ, and his Holy Spirit of Truth, will teach in her, and abide with her, till the end of time.
In conclusion, I will call your attention to a few, very sim. ple and obvious remarks. Allow me to observe that, if any one will dispassionately look at the constitution of the Church, such as I endeavoured to describe it, at our last meeting, and have partially, although I trust so far satisfactorily, proved it to-night, it must seem to be precisely what, in the nature of things, we should expect to find it. For, we cannot fail to observe, that the system pursued by Divine Providence in every other case, where it is his intention to mould or form men for any certain connexion—where he intends to prepare their minds for any state requiring uniformity of purpose and of action, is to bring them unto it through the principle of authority. In what way has he constituted the domestic society but on the basis of subjection and obedience? Is it not an instinctive feeling inherent in our nature, that the child who has to learn, could not do so unless a scheme of rule and of submission existed in the little republic of each family? And if he be not so placed under the instruction and direction of
* Anastasius, speaking of Pope Celestine's liberation of our Island from Pelagianism, thus expresses himself:-—" Quosdam inimicos gratiæ, solum suæ originis occupantes, etiam ab illo secreto exclusit oceani.”
his parents, or other masters, and by them formed and trained to those domestic virtues which it is the intention primarily of domestic order to instil and perfect, does not experience prove that the mind will be untutored and wild, devoid of the best affections, and open to the occupation of every passion, and the dominion of every vice? And as the domestic virtues are the stock, whereon are engrafted our social qualities, never could we expect, that by any other system, the youth of any country could be brought to the adoption of the same moral, and social feelings, and pursuits, than by the natural course of youthful discipline and restraint, whereby the mind gains that self command and love of principle which can alone well direct it.
And is it not so, likewise, in the course followed by Almighty Providence, for the preservation of social order? Who ever heard of a society held together but by the principle and tie of authority and lawful jurisdiction? Can we conceive men enjoying the benefits of the social state, acting towards one another on certain fixed rules and principles, united for the great purposes of public co-operation—be it for peace or for war, or for their mutual support in private life, or the great and more general wants of human nature—otherwise than when united upon a system of proper authority and control ? And not only so, but must they not have among them a living authority fully competent to prevent every infraction of the law, and to secure the state against the corruption which results from the private opinions of men ?
And, although it may appear perhaps somewhat foreign to the subject, yet I cannot help making a remark connected with this observation; that such is peculiarly the nature of our own constitution. It is singular, that we have a letter addressed by one of the oldest Popes to a Sovereign of this Kingdom, which, even if it be not allowed all the antiquity attributed to it, must yet be considered anterior to the Conquest; in which he expressly says, that the constitution and government of all the other nations of Europe are necessarily less perfect than