England the Fortress of Christianity.
(The Preface to "The New Interpretation of the Apocalypse.")
There is the strongest reason to believe, that as Judea was chosen for the especial guardianship of the original Revelation; England has been chosen for the especial guardianship of Christianity.
The original Revelation declared the one true God; Paganism was its corruption, by substituting many false gods for the true. The second Revelation, Christianity, declared the one true Mediator; Popery was its corruption, by substituting many false mediators for the true. Both Paganism and Popery adopted the same visible sign of corruption, the worship of images.
The Jewish history reveals to us the conduct of Providence with a people appointed to the express preservation of the faith of God. There, every attempt to receive the surrounding idolatries into a participation of the honours of the true worship, even every idolatrous touch was visited with punishment; and that punishment not left to the remote working of the corruption, but immediate, and, by its directness, evidently designed to make the nation feel the high importance of the trust, and the final ruin that must follow its betrayal.
A glance at the British history since the Reformation shows how closely this providential system has been exemplified in England. Every reign which attempted to bring back Popery, or even to give it that share of power which could in any degree prejudice Protestantism, has been marked by signal calamity. It is a memorable circumstance, that every reign of this Popish tendency has been followed by one purely Protestant; and, as if to make the source of the national peril plain to all eyes, those alternate reigns have not offered a stronger contrast in their religious principles than in their public fortunes. Let the rank of England have been what it might under the Protestant Sovereign, it always went down under the Popish; let its loss of dignity, or of power, have been what it might under the Popish Sovereign, it always recovered under the Protestant, and more than recovered; was distinguished by sudden success, public renovation, and the increased stability of the freedom and honours of the empire.
Protestantism was first thoroughly established in England in the reign of Elizabeth.
Mary had left a dilapidated kingdom; the nation worn down by disaster and debt; the national arms disgraced; nothing in vigour but page 2 Popery. Elizabeth, at twenty-five, found her first steps surrounded with the most extraordinary embarrassments; at home, the whole strength of a party, including the chief names of the kingdom, hostile to her succession and religion; in Scotland, a rival title supported by France: in Ireland, a perpetual rebellion inflamed by Home; on the Continent, the force of Spain roused against her by the double stimulant of ambition and bigotry,—at a time when Spain commanded almost the whole strength of Europe.
But the cause of Elizabeth was Protestantism; and in that sign she conquered. She shivered the Spanish sword; she paralyzed the power of Rome; she gave freedom to the Dutch; she fought the battle of the French Protestants; every eye of religious suffering throughout Europe was fixed on this magnanimous woman. At home she elevated the habits and the hearts of her people. She even drained off the bitter waters of religious feud, and sowed in the vigorous soil, which they had so long made unwholesome, the seeds of every principle and institution that has since grown up into the strength of empire. But her great work was the establishment of Protestantism. Like the Jewish King, she found the ark of God without a shelter; and she built for it the noblest temple in the world; she consecrated her country into its temple.
She died in the fulness of years and honour; the great Queen of Protestantism throughout the nations; in the memory of England her name and her reign are alike immortal.
James the First inherited the principles, with the crown, of Elizabeth. His first act was, to declare his allegiance to Protestantism. From that moment Popery lost all power against him. It tried faction, and failed. It then tried conspiracy, and more than failed. Its conspiracy gave birth to the most memorable instance of national preservation, perhaps, in the annals of Europe. The gunpowder plot would have swept away the King, the Royal Family, the chief Nobles and Commoners of England at a blow. The secret was kept for a year and a half. It was never betrayed, to the last. It was discovered by neither treachery, nor repentance, and but on the eve of execution. Yet its success must have been national ruin. A Popish Government was to have been set up. The country, in its state of distraction and destitution, must have laid exposed to the first invader. The consequences were incalculable. The hand of God alone saved the throne and altar of England.
* By the marriage compact with the Infanta, the Royal children were to be educated by their mother until they were ten years old. But France, determined on running no risk of their being Protestants, raised the terra to thirteen years. Even this was not enough; for Popery was afraid of Protestant milk; and a clause was inserted that the children should not be suckled by Protestant nurses. The object of those stipulations was so apparent, that Charles must have looked to a Popish succession, and the stipulations were so perfectly sufficient for their purpose, that all his sons, even to the last, fragment of their line, were Roman Catholics. Even the King's Protestantism was doubtful. Olivarez, the Spanish Minister, openly declared that Charles, in treating for his marriage with the Infanta, had pledged himself to turn Roman Catholic.
Ill-fortune suddenly gathered around him. Distracted councils, popular feuds met by alternate weakness and violence, the loss of the national respect, finally deepening into civil bloodshed, were the punishments of his betrayal of Protestantism. The late discovery of his error, and the solemn repentance of his prison hours, painfully redeemed his memory.
Cromwell's was the sceptre of a broken kingdom. He found the fame and force of England crushed; utter humiliation abroad; at home, the exhaustion of the civil war; new, and arrogant faction, and old, intractable partisanship, tearing the public strength in sunder.
Cromwell was a murderer; yet in the high designs of Providence, the personal purity of the instrument is not always regarded. The Jews were punished for their idolatry by idolaters, and restored by idolaters. But, whatever was in the heart of the Protector, the policy of his government was Protestantism. His treasures and his arms were openly devoted to the Protestant cause, in France, in Italy, and throughout the world. He was the first who raised a public fund for the relief of the Vaudois Churches. He sternly repelled the advances which Popery made to seduce him into the path of the late King.
England was instantly lifted on her feet, as by miracle. All her battles were victories; France and Spain bowed before her. All her adventures were conquests; she laid the foundation of her colonial empire, and extended that still more illustrious commercial empire, to which the only limits in either space or time may be those of mankind. She rapidly became the most conspicuous power of Europe; growing year by year in opulence, public knowledge, and foreign renown; until Cromwell could almost realize the splendid improbability, that, "before he died, he would make the name of an Englishman as much feared and honoured as ever was that of an ancient Roman."
Charles the Second ascended an eminently prosperous throne. Abroad, it held the foremost rank,—the fruit of the vigour of the Protectorate. At home, all faction had been forgotten in the general joy of the Restoration.
But Charles was a concealed Roman Catholic.* He attempted to introduce his religion; the star of England instantly darkened; the country and the King alike became the scorn of the foreign courts; the Royal honour was scandalized by mercenary subserviency to France; the national arms were humiliated by a disastrous war with Holland; the capital was swept by the memorable inflictions of pestilence and conflagration.
* He had solemnly professed Popery on the eve of the Restoration,
James the Second still more openly violated the national trust, He publicly became a Roman Catholic. This filled the cup. The Stuarts were cast out, they and their dynasty for ever; that proud line of Kings was sentenced to wither down into a monk, and that monk living on the alms of England, a stipendiary and an exile.
William was called to the throne by Protestantism. He found it, as it was always found at the close of a Popish reign, surrounded by a host of difficulties; at home, the kingdom in a ferment; Popery, and its ally, Jacobitism, girding themselves for battle; fierce disturbance in Scotland; open war in Ireland, with the late King at its head; abroad, the French King domineering over Europe, and threatening invasion. In the scale of nations, England nothing.
But the principle of William's government was Protestantism; he fought and legislated for it through life; and it was to him, as it had been to all before him, strength and victory. He silenced English faction; he crushed the Irish war; he next attacked the colossal strength of France on its own shore. This was the direct collision, not so much of the two kingdoms as of the two faiths; the Protestant champion stood in the field against the Popish persecutor. Before that war closed the fame of Louis was undone, and England rose to the highest military name. In a train of immortal victories, she defended Protestantism throughout Europe, drove the enemy to his palace-gates, and, before she sheathed the sword, broke the power of France for a hundred years.
The Brunswick line were called to the throne by Protestantism. Their faith was their title. They were honourable men, and they kept their oaths to the religion of England. The country rose under each of those Protestant Kings to a still higher rank; every trivial reverse compensated by some magnificent addition of honour and power, until the throne of England stood on a height from which it looked clown upon the world.
Yet, in our immediate memory, there was one remarkable interruption of that progress; which, if the most total contrast to the periods preceding and following can amount to proof, proves that every introduction of Popery into the Legislature will be visited as a national crime.
During the war with the French Republic, England had gone on from triumph to triumph. The crimes of the Popish Continent had delivered it over to be scourged by France; but the war of England was naval; and in 1805 she consummated that war by the greatest victory ever gained on the seas;* at one blow she extinguished the navies of France and Spain! The death of her great Statesman, at length opened the door to a new Administration.† They were men of acknowledged ability—some, of the highest; and all accustomed to public affairs. But they came in under a pledge to the introduction of Popery, sooner or later, into the Legislature. They were emphatically "The Roman Catholic Administration."
* Trafalgar, Oct., 1805.
† February, 1806.
But the fair fame of the British Empire was not to be thus cheaply wasted away. The Ministry must perish; already condemned by the voice of the country, it was to be its own executioner. It at length made its promised attempt upon the Constitution. A harmless measure† was proposed; notoriously a cover for the deeper insults that were to follow. It was met with manly repulse; and, in the midst of public indignation, perished the Popish Ministry of one month and one year.‡
Its successors came on the express title of resistance to Popery; they were emphatically "The Protestant Administration." They had scarcely entered on office when the whole scene of disaster brightened; and the deliverance of Europe was begun, with a vigour that never relaxed, a combination of unexpected means and circumstances, an effective and rapid renown; of which, the very conjecture, but a month before, would have been laughed at as a dream. The scene, and the success, were equally extraordinary.
Of all countries, Spain, sluggish, accustomed to the yoke of France, and with all its old energies melted away in the vices of its Government, was the last to which Europe could have looked for defiance of the universal conqueror. But, if ever the battle was fought by the shepherd's staff and sling against the armed giant, it was then. England was there summoned to begin a new career of triumph. Irresistible on one element, she was now to be led step by step to the first place of glory on another; and that Protestant Ministry saw, what no human foresight could have hoped to see, Europe restored; the monarch of her monarchs a prisoner in its hands; and the mighty fabric of the French Atheistic Empire, so long darkening and distending like an endless dungeon over the earth, suddenly scattered with all its malignant pomps and ministers of evil into air.
* The retreat from Sweden, 1807.—Egypt invaded and evacuated, 1807.—Whitelock sent out to Buenos Ayres, 1807.—Duckworth's repulse at Constantinople 1807. All those operations had originated in 1806, excepting Whitelock's, which was the final act of the Ministry.
† The granting of commissions in the army. Mr. Percival opposed this, as only a pretext; he said, "It was not so much the individual measure to which he objected, as the system of which it formed a part, and which was growing every day. From the arguments that he had heard, a man might be almost led to suppose that one religion was considered as good as another, and that the Reformation was only a measure of political convenience."
‡ March, 1807.
Those remarks were originally published on the eve of the year 1829. The Bill of that calamitous year replaced the Roman Catholic in the Parliament, from which he had been expelled a century before, by the united necessities of religion, freedom, and national safety. The whole experience of our Protestant history had pronounced that evil must follow. And it has followed.
From that hour all has been changed. British legislation has lost its stability. England has lost alike her pre-eminence abroad, and her confidence at home. Every great institution of the State has tottered. Her Governments have risen, and passed away, like shadows. The Church in Ireland, bound hand and foot, has been flung into the furnace, and is disappearing from the eye. The Church in England is haughtily threatened with her share of the fiery trial. Every re-monstrance of the nation is insolently answered by pointing to rebellion, ready to seize its arms in Ireland. Democracy is openly proclaimed as a principle of the State. Popery is triumphantly predicted as the universal religion. To guide and embody all;—a new shape of power has started up in the Legislature;—a new element at once of control and confusion; a central faction, which has both sides at its mercy; holding the country in contempt, while it fixes its heel on Cabinets trembling for existence; possessing all the influence of office without its responsibility; and engrossing unlimited patronage for the purposes of unlimited domination." Yet those may be "but the beginning of sorrows."
But, if we give way to Popery, we sin against the most solemn warnings of Scripture. We have the apostolic declaration,—"Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that Man of Sin be revealed, the son of perdition;—who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God showing himself that he is God. * * * * * And then shall that wicked one be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming; even Him whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." (2 Thess. ii.) This gives the portraiture of the great deluder of the European world in his external and imposing aspect. Another portraiture displays his internal evil:—
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doc- page 7 trines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;—forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth." Ending with the solemn injunction to all teachers of Christianity, "If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine." (1 Timothy iv. 1.)
Finally, we have the denunciation of the prophet, declaring the Divine judgments:—
"And I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lighted with his glory.—And he cried mightily, with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils; the hold of every foul spirit.—And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye he not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities." (Revelation xviii.)
This language is not used to give offence to the Roman Catholic. His religion is reprobated, because it is his undoing; the veil that darkens his understanding; the tyranny that chains his natural liberty of choice; the fatal corruption of Christianity, that shuts the Scriptures upon him, forces him away from the worship of that Being, who is to be worshipped alone in spirit and in truth; and prostrates him at the feet of priests and images of the Virgin, and the whole host of false and unscriptural mediatorship. But for himself there can be but one feeling;—a feeling of the deepest anxiety that he should search the Scriptures; and coming to that search without insolent self-will, or sullen prejudice, or the haughty and negligent levity to which their wisdom will never be disclosed, he should compare the Gospel of God with the doctrines of Rome.
But whatever may be the lot of those to whom error has beer an inheritance, woe be to the man and the people to whom it is an adoption! If England, free above all other nations, sustained amidst the trials which have covered Europe before her eyes with burning and slaughter, and enlightened by the fullest knowledge of Divine truth, shall refuse fidelity to the compact by which those matchless privileges have been given, her condemnation will not linger. She has already made one step full of danger. She has committed the capital error of mistaking that for a purely political question which was a purely religious one. Her foot already hangs over the edge of the precipice. It must be retracted, or her empire is but a name. In the clouds and darkness which seem to be deepening upon all human policy, in the gathering tumults of Europe, and the feverish discontents at home, it may even be difficult to discern where the power yet lives to erect the fallen majesty of the Constitution once more. But there are mighty means in sincerity. And, if no miracle was ever wrought for the faithless and despairing; the country that will help itself—the generous, the high-hearted, and the pure, will never be left destitute of the help of Heaven.
To the Reader.
At this awful crisis, when Popery has assumed so menacing an attitude, that she appears ready to seize on the reins of the British Government, the foregoing admirable Preface to the Rev. George Croly's Work on prophecy is most earnestly recommended to the serious consideration of the British Public, and especially to the enlightened and well-educated portion of it.
"It (Popery) has a restless spirit, and will strive by these gradations:—First, it will seek for connivance; it will then ask for toleration. Having obtained this, it will require equality. When this is obtained it will insist on superiority, and will never rest until it has effected a subversion of the true religion!"
—Remonstrance of the Commons (by Selden) to King James 1.
"The principles of the Church of Rome, being unchangeable, are applicable to all times."
—Doctor Troy, lute R. C. Titular Archbishop of Dublin.
"If any man will assert or pretend to believe, that modern Catholics differ in one iota from their ancestors, he either deceives himself, or wishes to deceive others."
—Plowden, R. C.
"The page of history has recorded the sanguinary product of the principles of Romanism in former days, and these principles remaining unchanged, must necessarily produce the same fruits when invested with the powers now sought by the adherents of the See of Rome."
But should proof be wanting that the Church of Rome adopts and sanctions at the present day the same intolerant, persecuting, and exterminating principles she ever has done, the reader has but to refer to the Dedicatory Letter to the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty on the Laws of the Papacy, set up by the Romish Bishops in Ireland to subvert the Authority of their Lawful Sovereign, in 1832." Published by the Protestant Association in 1847." Price 4d. each, or 25s. per 100.
Protestant Association, 6, Serjeants' Inn, Fleet Street; Wertheim and Macintosh, Paternoster Row; Seeleys, Fleet Street.
mdcccxi. Price 1d., or 7s. per 100.
No. 8. Macintosh, Printer, Great New-street, London.