« PrécédentContinuer »
the veriest villains that can be picked up in all the country, that so we may fall into the hands again of as treacherous and lewd a parliament, as the wisdom of God and folly of man has most miraculously dissolved. To which end they traduce all worthy men for fanatics, schismatics, or favourers of them. Nay, do but pitch upon a gentleman, who believes it bis duty to serve his God, his king, and country, faithfully, they cry hiin down as a person dangerous and disaffected to the government; thinking thereby to scare the people from the freedom of their choice, and then impose their hair-brained journeymen and half-witted fops upou them." In Shadwell's Whig play, called “ The Lancashire Witches," he has introduced an high-flying chaplain, as the expression then run, and an Irish priest, who are described as very ready to accommodate each other in all religious tenets, since they agree in disbelieving the popish plot, and in believing that ascribed to the fanatics. These, out of a thousand instances, may serve to show, how closely the country party in the time of Charles II. were disposed to identify the interests of Rome, and of the high church of England. Dryden therefore well authorised to say, that both communions were aimed at by that cabal, which pushed on the investigation of the supposed plot.
Note III. The test, it seems, at last hus loosed your tongue.-P. 162. If there was any ambiguity in the church of England's doctrine concerning the eucharist, it was fully explained by the memorable Test Act, passed in 1678, during the heat of the Popish Plot, by which all persons holding public offices were required, under pain of disqualification, to disown the doctrine of transubstantiation, in the most explicit terms, as also that of image worship. This bill was pressed forwards with great violence by the country party. “ I would not,” said one of their orators, “ have a popishman, or a popish woman, remain here; not a popish dog, or a popish bitch; not so much as a popish cat, to pur and mew about the king.” Many of the church of England party opposed this test, from an idea that it was prejudicial to the interests of the
On this undoubted sense the church relies. -P. 164.
declare it lodged in the pope alone; but inclines to the milder and more moderate opinion, which vests it in the church and pope jointly. This was the shape in which the doctrine was stated in the pamphlets generally dispersed from the king's printing-press about this time; whether because James really held the opinion of the Ultramontane, or Gallican church, in this point, or that he thought the more moderate statement was most likely to be acceptable to new converts. In a dialogue betwixt a Missioner and a Plain Man, printed along with the Rosary, in a very small form,
, and apparently designed for very extensive circulation, the question is thus stated :
“ Plain Man. How shall I know what the church teaches, and by what means may I come to know her infallible doctrine ?
“ Missioner. In those cases, she peaks to us by her supreme courts of judicature, her general councils, which, being the legal representatives of her whole body, she is secured from erring in them as to all things which appertain to faith.”
All who can read interpreters may be. – P. 165.
“ to believe one Catholic and apostolic church ; and it is not left to every phantastical man's head to believe as he pleases, but to the church, to whom Christ left the power upon earth, to govern us in matters of faith, who made these creeds for our directions. It were a very irrational thing to make laws for a country, and leave it to the inhabitants to be interpreters and judges of those laws: For then every man will be bis own judge ; and, by consequence, no such thing as either right or wrong. Can we therefore suppose, that God Almighty would leave us at those uncertainties, as to give us a rule to go by, and leave every man to be his own judge? I do ask any ingenuous man, Whether it be not the same thing to follow our own phancy, or to interpret the scripture by it ? I would have any man shew me, where the power of deciding matters of faith is given to every particular
Christ left his power to his church, even to forgive sins in
heaven; and left his Spirit with them, which they exercised after his resurrection ; first by his apostles in their creed, and many years after by the council at Nice, where that creed was made that is called by that name; and by the power which they had rece:ved from Christ, they were the judges even of the scripture itself many years after the apostles, which books were canonical, and which were not.” Papers found in King Charles's strong box.
And by "radition's force upheld the truth.-P. 167. Dryden bad previously attacked the rule of faith, by private judgment of the Holy Scriptures. His assumption is, that the scriptures having been often misunderstood and abused by heretics of various descriptions, there must be some more infallible guide left us by God as the rule of faith. Instead of trusting, therefore, to individual judgment founded on the scripture, he uiges, that the infallibility of faith depends upon oral tradition, handed down, as his communion pretends, by father to son, from the times of the primitive church till this very day. It is upon this foundation that the church of Rome rests her claim to intailibility, as the immediate representative of the apostles and primitive church.
But they must prove episcopacy's right.---P. 170, The doctrine of purgatory, and prayers for the dead, is founded on a passage in the book of Tobit. The Apocrypha not being absolutely rejected by the church of England, but admitted for “ example of life and instruction of manners,” though not of canonical authority, part of this curious and romantic history is read in the course of the calendar. The domestic circumstance of the dog gave unreasonable scandal to the Puritans, from which the following is a good-humoured vindication. " Give me leave for once to intercede for that poor dog, because he is a dog of good example, for he was faithful, and loved his master; besides, that he never troubles the church on Sundays, when people have their best clothes on; only on a week-day, when scrupulous brethren are always absent, the poor cur makes bold to follow his master.” But although the church of England did not receive the traditive belief, founded upon the aforesaid pa-sage concerning prayer for the dead, the dissenters accused her of liberal reference to tradition in the disputes concerning the office of bishop, the nature of which is in the New Testament left somewhat dubious.
P. 176. Much of the preceding argument, and this conclusion, is founded upon the following passage in the second paper found in King Charles's strong box. “ It is a sad thing to consider what a world of heresies are crept into this nation. Every man thinks himself as competent a judge of the scriptures as the very apostles themselves; and 'tis no wonder that it should be so, since that part of the nation which looks most like a church, dares not bring the true arguments against the other sects, for fear they should be turned against themselves, and confuted by their own arguments. The church of England, as ’tis called, would fain have it thought, that they are the judges in matters spiritual, and yet dare not positively say, that there is no appeal from them; for either they must say, that they are infallible, which they cannot pretend to, or confess, that what they decide in matters of conscience is no further to be followed, than as it agrees with every man's private judgment."
To this the divines of England answered, that they indeed asserted church authority, but without pretending to infallibility; and that while the church decided upon points of faith, she was to be directed and guided by the scriptures, just as the judges of a temporal tribunal are to frame their decisions, not from any nate or infallible authority of their own, but in conformity with the laws of the realm.
To deck the wedding-day of his unspotted spouse !-P. 177.
such by themselves. Many Eng ish heretics resort often to our sermons; and I have often recommended to our fathers to preach now in the beginning as little as they can of the controversy, because that provokes ; but to represent to them the beauty and antiquity of the Catholic religion, that they may be convinced that all that has been said and preached to thein, and their own reflections concerning it, have been all scandal.”-Somers' Tracts, p. 253. The unity of the Catholic church was also chiefly insisted on during the controversy :
One in herself, not rent by schism, but sound,
It seems to have escaped Dryden, that all the various sects which have existed, and do now exist, in the Christian world, may, in some measure, be said to be sparkles shattered from his “ solid diamond ;” since at one time ali Christendom belonged to the Roman church. Thus the disunion of the various sects of Protestants is no more an argument against the church of England than it is against the church of Rume, or the Christian faith in general. All communions insist on the same privilege ; and when the church of Rome denounced the Protestants as heretics, like Coriolanus going into exile, they returned the sentence against her who gave it. It it is urged, that, notwithstanding these various defections, the Roman church retained the most extended communion, this plea would place the truth of religious opinions upon the hazardous basis of numbers, which Mahometans might plead more successfully than
any Christian church, in proportion as their faith is more widely extended. These arguments of the unity and extent of the church are thus expressed in a missionary tract already quoted, where the Plain Man thus addresses his English parson :
" Either shew me, by more plain and positive texts of scripcure than what the Missioner has here brought, that God Almighty has promised to preserve his church from essential errors, such as are idolatry, superstition, &c.; or else shew me a church visible in all ages spread over the face of the whole world, secured from such errors, and at unity in itself. A church, that has had all along kings for nursing fathers, and queens for nursing anothers; a church, to which all nations have flowed, und which is authorised to teach them intallibly all those truths which were delivered to the saints without mixtures of error, which destroy sanctity; I say, either shew me, from plain texts of scripture, that Christ's church was not to be my infallible guide ; or shew me such a church of Christ as these promises require, distinct from that of the Roman, and from which she has either separated, or been cut off.”