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doctrines, in any other place of worship but our own, without those doctrines being most strangely misrepresented—without their being, in the first place, themselves made totally different from that which we believe; and then, supposed to rest on grounds which we absolutely reject.
Now, as I said before, I shall scarcely have to touch on the opinions of others; I do not intend to involve myself in questions regarding what any sect or section of Christians believe; I will only lay before you, what the Catholic doctrine is, and endeavour to explain the proofs of that doctrine; and if I have to answer objections—which will be extremely seldom—or to comment upon the principles of others—I shall always make it a point, as much as possible, to give my statement in the words of some accredited defender and supporter of the Protestant cause.
The last quality and characteristic which I shall be anxious to infuse into this course of instruction, will be that which the epistle I quoted to you, is particular in inculcating—that is, a, spirit of mildness and of gentleness, the avoiding of any expression which can possibly wound the feelings of any individual, the refraining from any term of reproach, and from the
any name which is reprobated and disliked by those of whom we speak. It shall be my endeavour to keep clear, as much as possible, of individuals, except when obliged to quote their words, in justification of expressions I may use. This I will say, is the practice, and always has been, amongst us.
It has been our rule, in treating of the differences between us and many of our fellow-countrymen, to speak of them, as much as we can, with charity and compassion. We are accused, indeed, of an eager spirit of proselytism, of going from door to door, to gain converts; and were there any bitterness in our heart, were there any feeling of dislike, of antipathy to others, were there any thing but the true spirit of sweetness, and charity, and love of our neighbours in God, in the motives of our ministry, assuredly we should not take the trouble and pains for which we are reproved.
But, my brethren, this has been the fate of the Catholic religion at all times, though never so much as now, that it has to be preached, less in honour than in dishonour-in evil repute rather than in good repute. In whatever way we may propose our doctrines, it is impossible for them not to be reprobated, and misrepresented too. We may say, as did our Saviour to the Jews, “ Unto whom shall I liken the men of this generation, and to what are they like? They are like unto children sitting in the market-place, and speaking one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced ; we have mourned, and ye have wept. For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a glutton and a drinker of wine, a friend of publicans and sinners ! But wisdom is justified by all her children !"* If the Catholic Church enjoins the doctrine of severe mortification and penance, it is immediately traduced as contrary to the word of God, by substituting the efficacy of man for the merits of Christ. If, at other times, she seem to relax that severity which others would desire, and allow innocent mirth to mingle with the close of that day which God has dedicated to his service, then is she, on the contrary, represented as being relaxed in her morals, and as encouraging the profanation of God's holy seasons. If her anchorites gird themselves with sackcloth, and retire for prayer and meditation from the haunts of men, it is a gloomy and unholy superstition; if her priests minister at the altar, clad in costly raiment, it is pronounced mere vanity, and a worldly spirit. And thus, whatever we do, whatever doctrine we teach, whatever practice we inculcate, it is sure to be found reprehensible; and some ground or other is easily discovered, whereon it must be condemned.
But then, let us fulfil the other portion of this text, and justify the divine wisdom of our religion in our conduct. You, who well know this wisdom, and the principles inculcated by your teachers and guides, have often heard how, even in this re
• Luke, vii. 31.
spect, it was meet for your religion to resemble its divine Founder, how, as he was ever calumniated, and persecuted, and ill-treated by men, so must you likewise expect that—whether in prosperity or in adversity—your doctrines, and opinions, and institutions, should be held up to the hatred and the scorn of the world. But remember, that while your Redeemer submitted in every other respect to the will of his persecutors, while he allowed himself to be bound, and scourged, and crowned with thorns, and mocked, and scoffed, and even crucified for your sins, there was one thing only, in the course of his passion, wherein he refused to yield to the designs of his enemies; one point in which he would not submit to their inflictions; and that was, when they attempted to force gall and vinegar upon his lips; for, when he had tasted he would not drink* And in this respect, therefore, do you likewise refuse to submit to that whereunto others may wish to drive you. Allow nothing which they may say—allow no excesses on their part-to lead you to the utterance of one word of bitterness or acrimony. Let them not ever gain the triumph over you of making you in this respect, like themselves, by extorting from you reviling and scoffing words, instead of sound and solid argument, urged in the mildest phrase.
And, in conclusion, brethren, allow me to say, that it is only the grace of God which can give us mutual strength to go through the task which I have proposed; that all our efforts will fail, that your attendance will be without profit, and my ministry without fruit, unless God send his blessing upon us ; unless he give force and efficacy to my unworthy lips, and put a candid and teachable spirit in your hearts; that so ye may be moved to come hither, not by idle curiosity, or a desire to hear something new, but from a real anxiety every day to learn more and more, and to improve yourselves, not merely in the knowledge of your faith, but in the practice of all it inculcates and teaches; that so you may be not only hearers of the word, but also doers—a blessing which I pray God to grant you evermore. Amen.
Matt. xxvii. 34.
ON THE PROTESTANT RULE OF FAITH.
1 THESSALONIANS, v. 21. Try all things, and hold fast that which is good.” I own, my brethren, that I feel considerably rejoiced and comforted at seeing the good-will with which you have commenced
this of lectures ; and still more, to see such a full and gratifying attendance here this evening. For, I must own, that I had feared lest the necessarily abstract nature of the subject, which I treated in my opening discourse, added, perhaps, to the circumstance that, from previous fatigue, I had not, in my estimation, done justice to the interesting view which I wished to propose to you, might, perhaps, have deterred many from continuing their attendance upon what promised such comparatively slight interest. Nothing, indeed, my brethren, is easier than to throw considerable interest over any subject, by condensing its facts into a small space, and crowding together the most striking views that it will bear. But, although I may, upon another occasion, have been compelled to follow that course, it is always an unsatisfactory one: because, thereby, injustice is done to two important parties—the cause in hand, and those who are anxious to hear its demonstration. To the cause, for this simple reason, that, although, in every question, there must be some more leading and more important points, yet are the connecting links likewise of essential importance; and though, by sweeping away that intermediate matter, you may place the object in a more striking and moving point of view; yet do you essentially weaken it, by depriving it of that support and consistency which the connexion between it and other
parts of the system, through those less important elements, alone can give. And injustice is, likewise, done to those who come to learn : for, it may, perchance, be, that their difficulties, if they differ from us, do not so much lie in the leading and important features of the case, as in some comparatively insignificant circumstance, some trifling objection, which, from their particular cast of mind, appears to possess much greater force than we can understand; and so they may depart with the impression, that we have only acted the part of skilful advocates, putting forward some few favourable points, while we passed over the weaker portions of our case. And hence it is that I shall have, more than once, to claim your indulgence--but I feel that, in simply asking it, the boon is granted --for entering into more minute particulars, and, comparatively more secondary matter, than may appear to some of sufficient value to occupy your attention. Even this evening, it will be impossible for me to grapple so closely with the matter in hand as I intend, hereafter; and if, upon seeing me place in the way so many preliminary observations, and removing, to a certain distance, the closer and more immediate examination of the important points which I have proposed for discussion, any one should be tempted to think that it is my wish to escape from it, I only entreat of him to continue his attendance; and I will promise him, that, in due time, and when such observations shall have been laid down as I consider absolutely necessary, for the full understanding of the question, he shall see every point met in the fairest, the fullest, and the most impartial manner. Now, therefore, to connect what I have to say, this evening, with what I have premised, I shall take the liberty of giving you, in a few sentences, what I proposed to you at our last meeting. I there endeavoured to establish a very important distinction between the grounds on which a man justifies himself to his conscience and conviction, in his adherence to any particular religion, and the essential
foundation whereupon rests its creed—the principle, if I may ! so say, of its very existence. I observed, that many pro