Изображения страниц

cashire, dean of St. Patrick's, Dublin, archdeacon of Meath, and at last, in 1612, bishop of Killaloe, where he died in 1632. He was a fair specimen of these English bishops concerning whom Rider's successor, the celebrated Swift, puts the following words into the mouth of St. Patrick :

“Britain! by thee we fell ungrateful isle !
Not by thy valour, but superior guile.
Britain! with shame, confess this land of mine
First taught thee human knowledge and divine;
My prelates and my students sent from hence
Made thy sons converts both to God and sense:
Not like the pastors of thy ravenous breed,

Who came to fleece the flock, and not to feed.” Rider published, in 1589, a Latin Dictionary, about which Doctor Fuller says that he' borrowed, to say no worse, both bridle and saddle from the lexicographer Thomasius, his dictionary being the same in effect. However, Dr. Underhill wrote a distich in praise of the performance. It may be translated thus:

As to Thomasius Calepin must yield,

Thomasius so to Rider quits the field !" He wrote also, in 1601, “a Letter concerning the News out of Ireland, and of the Spaniards' landing, and the present state there.” In 1608, he published—“A Claim of Antiquity in behalf of the Protestant Religion,” to which FitzSimon wrote an answer in the same year.

This learned Dean thus tells us how he came to have a discussion with FitzSimon :

"The cause of this provokement was a quiet and milde conference upon six propositions with an honorable gentleman, Maister W. N., who is a special friend of the priests concerning religion. He confidently affirmed that the Jesuits and Romain priests of this kingdom were able to prove, by Scriptures and Fathers, six certain propositions to be Apostolic and Catholic, and that the Church of Rome and the Romain Catholiques of Ireland now hold nothing touching the same, but what the Holy Scriptures and primitive Fathers held within the first five hundred years after Christ's Ascension. Now if the priests make such proof good, I have promised to become a Romain Catholique ; if the priests fail in their proof, he likewise, before worshipful witnesses, hath given his hand to renounce this the new doctrine of the Church of Rome and become a professor of the Gospel of

1 Ware's “Irish Bishops."

[ocr errors]

Christ. This was the occasion and manner of the provokement."

So writes Dean Rider, who soon found out to his cost that his “provokement" easily provoked F. FitzSimon, from whom we have the following account of this controversy. In dedicating his Second Book on the Mass to “the so-called ministers of the Word in Great Britain and Ireland,” he says :

"My intermeddling in any controversy in English was by no inclination in me, but by provocation of Mr. Rider, sometimes termed Dean of St. Patrick's, in Dublin, but now, as I hear-by base miscarriage—in misery and disgrace.

This man, with Thrasonic bluster, asked leave of the Lord Lieutenant to hold an oral discussion with me, and having got it, he put off the meeting from day to day, and at last, by the public sentence of the chief men of his party, was condemned as an ignoramus and a trifler.3 However, I had a few opportunities of controversial conversation with this Jubelius. For instance, one day at dinner he boldly asserted that the Ancient Fathers denied Christ's presence in the Eucharist, secundum literam. Here is St. Augustine, said I, and he has the very words, secundam literam. He read them, grew pale, sighed, and turned at once to other topics."4

(To be continued.)


CATHOLICITY.5 (Taken from the CATHOLIC WORLD," New York.) This work of serious and conscientious learning by the Abbé Martin, former curé of Ferney, noted as the residence of Voltaire when exiled from France, has been written mainly for the purpose of making known to Catholics of the old Catholic nations of Europe the real character and tendencies of contemporary Protestantism-a work not uncalled for, since those old Catholic populations, seldom coming into personal contact with Protestants, have not kept themselves well posted in the changes, developments, and transformations that Protestantism has undergone during the last two centuries, and are hardly able to recognise it in its present form, or to meet and combat it with success. The great controversial works of the seventeenth century, excellent as they were in their time, only imperfectly serve the present wants of Catholic polemics ; for the dogmatic Protestantism they met and vanquished is, save in its spirit, not the Protestantism that now confronts the Church. That primitive phase of Protestantism has passed away, never to re-appear, and a new and a very different phase has been developed, which demands a new study and a new and different mode of treatment.

1 Rider's “ Friendly Caveat." 2 Dedication of Second Book on the Masse. 3 “ Britannomachia,” by FitzSimon.

5 De l'Avenir du Protestantisme et du Catholicisme. Par M. l'Abbé Martin. Paris: Tobra et Haton. 1869. 8vo. pp. 608.

4 lbid.

The learned Abbé Martin, favourably situated for his task, during several years, at the gate of Geneva, the Protestant Rome, has embodied in his volume the result of much serious and conscientious labour devoted to this new study, and has so well accomplished his task as to leave nothing to be desired, till Protestantism undergoes another metamorphosis, which it it is not unlikely to do; for to assume new forms or shapes according to the exigencies of time and place, is of its very essence. For this reason, the labour of refuting, or even explaining it, can never be regarded as finished.

It is the characteristic of Protestantism to have no fixed and permanent character, except hatred of Catholicity. It has no principles, doctrines, or forms, which, in order to be itself, it must always and everywhere maintain. It may be biblical and dogmatic, sentimentalor sceptical, combine with absolutism or with the revolution, assert the divine right of kings and passive obedience with the old Anglican divines, or shout à bas les rois, and vive le peuple ! vive liberté, égalité, et fraternité! with the old French Jacobins and contemporary Mazzinians and Garibaldians, as it finds it necessary to carry on its unending warfare against the Church, without any change in its nature or loss of identity. It is not a specific error, but error in general, ready to assume any and every particular form that circumstances require or render convenient. It, like all error, stands on a movable and moving foundation; and to strike it we are obliged to strike, not where it is, but where it will be when our blow can reach it. The Abbé is well aware of this fact, and sees and feels the difficulty it creates. Hence he regards Protestantism as imperishable, and holds that our controversy with it must, under one form or another, continue as long as error or hostility to the Church continues, which will be to the end of the world.

To those of us who were brought up Protestants, who have known Protestantism in all its forms by our own experience, the Abbé Martin tells little, perhaps nothing that had not previously in some form passed through our own minds, and not much that had not already been published among us by our own Catholic writers. It is not easy to tell an American Catholic anything new of Protestantism. There is no country in the world where Protestantism is or can be so well studied as our own ; for in no other country has it had so free a field for its development and transformations, or in which to prove what it really is and whither it goes. It has suffered here no restraint from connection with the state, and till quite recently the Church has been too feeble with us to exert any appreciable influence on its course. It has had in the religious order everything its own way, has followed its own internal law, and acted out its nature without let or hindrance. Here it may, therefore, be seen and studied in its real character and essence.

But if the Abbé Martin has not told us much that we did not already know, or which American writers had not already published, he has given us a true and full account of the present aspects and tendencies of Protestantism throughout Europe, very instructive to those Catholics who have had no personal acquaintance with it, and not unprofitable even to those who, though converts to the Church, were familiar with it only as seen in some one or two of the more aristocratic sects, in which large portions of Catholic tradition have been retained. We, in fact, wonder how a man who, like the Abbé, has had no personal experience of Protestantism, who has never had any internal struggle with it, and has been brought up from infancy in the bosom the Church and in the Catholic faith, can, by study and observation, by prayer and meditation, make himself so fully master of its real character, and come so thoroughly to understand its spirit, its internal laws and tendencies. No doubt, one who has been a Protestant and knows thoroughly its language, can find in his work proofs that Protestantism was not his mother tongue, and that he knows it only as he has learned it; but learned it he has, and knows it better than it is known by the most erudite and philosophical Protestant ministers themselves, and the Catholic reader may rely with full confidence on his expositions. The work is, in fact, an admirable supplement alike to Bossuet's Variations, and to Moehler's Symbolik.

It will startle some Catholics, no doubt, to hear the well-informed author assert, as he does, that Protestantism is not dead or dying, that it is imperishable, its principle is immortal, and never was it a more formidable enemy to the Church than it is at this present moment; but they will be less startled when they learn what he means by Protestantism.

“ Protestantism,” he says, “differs essentially from all the heresies that have previously rent the bosom of the Church. It is not a particular heresy, nor a union of heresies; it is simply a frame for the reception of errors. Vinet, one of the most distinguished Protestants of the day, softens, indeed, this expression, and says that Protestantism is less a religion than the place of a religion.' He would have been strictly exact

if he had said Protestantism is less a religion than the place of any negation of religion under a religious garb. It is a circle capable of indefinite extension, of being enlarged as occasion requires, so as to include any and every error within its circumference. A new error rises on the horizon, the circle extends further and takes it in. Its power of extension is limited only by its last denial, and is therefore practically illimitable. What it asserted in the beginning it was able to deny a century later; what it maintained a century ago it can reject now; and what it holds to-day it may discard to-morrow. It may deny indefinitely, and still be Protestantism. It can modify, change, metamorphose, turn and return itself, without losing anything of its identity. Grub, caterpillar, chrysalis, butterfly, it is transformed, but dies not."-(Pp. I, 2).

All this is perfectly true. Protestantism undoubtedly differs essentially from all the particular heresies of former times, such as the Arian, Macedonian, Nestorian, Eutychian, Pelagian, etc. ; but we think it bears many marks of affinity with ancient Gnosticism, of which it is perhaps the historial continuation and development. Gnosticism was not a particular or special heresy, denying a particular article, dogma, or proposition of faith. The Gnostics held themselves to be the enlightened Christians of their times, men who had attained to perfect science, been initiated into the sacred mysteries concealed from the vulgar, professed to be spiritual men, spiritually illuminated, and looked down with contempt on Catholics as remaining in the outer court, sensuous and ignorant, knowing nothing of the Spirit. This is no bad description of contemporary Protestants. They call themselves the enlightened portion of of mankind, claim to bespiritual men, spiritually illumined, and instructed in the profoundest mysteries of heaven and earth ; while from the height of their science they look down on us Catholics as simply sensuous men, having only a sensuous worship, and hold us to be a degraded, ignorant, superstitious, and besotted race. We are very much disposed, for ourselves, to regard Protestantism as Gnosticism modified to suit the taste, the temper, the mental habits, and the capacity of modern times.

The author makes Protestantism not a special heresy, nor yet a union of heresies, but the receptacle of illimitable denials; yet he throughout distinguishes it from absolute unbelief in Christianity, and maintains that even as so distinguished it is imperishable, and its principal immortal. We confess that we do not see how he can make this distinction without giving to Protestantism a specific character and making it a positive heresy, and not simply a frame for the reception of heresy or heresies. Assuming it to be a positive heresy, and not the

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »