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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 1

Popery at Madeira

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Popery at Madeira.

To those who assert that the nature of Popery is changed; that her cruel practices will not return, with a return of power; that her principles are not what they were—we would present the following narrative, supported, as it is, by facts of a most painful character, with which many of our personal friends are themselves well acquainted.

Gladly, indeed, would we draw the veil of charity over the imperfections and frailty of human nature, if concealment of the disease would tend to promote its cure, or ignorance of the existence of evil principles was the surest way either to counteract their operation, or avoid suffering from their baneful consequences.

But things are not so. And, though poets may paint to the imagination the folly of being wise—where bliss even of a temporary nature, is attendant upon ignorance, yet the philosophy of history and the testimony of experience, furnish us with a different and more useful, though sterner lesson. Thence we learn to think it wiser and more humane to caution the mariner against the hidden rock before his frail bark is shattered to pieces upon it, and to awake the sleeper, while there is yet time to escape, ere the flames, bursting upon him with all their fury, arouse him from his balmy slumbers only to light him to his tomb.

It has ever been our conviction that the cause of Protestantism is the cause of truth. The word Protestantism may be modern; that which it signifies is as old as Christianity. The essential opposition of truth and error, like that of light and darkness, or fire and water, must eternally exist; and in proportion as systems partake of these principles of truth and error, they will be either united or opposed to one another throughout their various ramifications.

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We mean not here by the word Protestantism any political machinery devised for mere party objects, with the view of exalting one, or depressing another class of society, but that system of religious and civil policy which, based upon truth and well-tried principles, tends to the continued defence and further promotion of that truth and those principles upon which it depends.

This Protestantism, in our own country, is considered to have been more prominently brought to public notice and more firmly established at the epochs of the glorious Reformation and subsequent Revolution of 1688;* by the first of which our ancestors were delivered from Popish superstition, and by the second from arbitrary power.

The twofold object of true religion is to prepare man for the discharge of all his duties as they relate to the interests of time or eternity. Any system which overlooks either of these objects, or which in its nature imperfectly provides for them, must be defective. In the soul rightly regulated, there is a harmony in all its operations, whether in great or in small things, in public, or in private, in office, or retirement, to know, to do, or to suffer God's holy will is its chief passion or desire.

If on examination we are compelled to say of any system that the more fully it is carried into effect, so much the more does it tend to thwart each of these purposes and ends, we may fairly conclude that it is a false, corrupted, and depraved system, one that comes not in its nature and design, up to the standard of Divine truth and excellency.

Such a system is Popery. Gradual in its growth, it overspread truth with darkness, and then flourished in the darkness it had made. How wide is the difference between the genius and the results of the two systems: Popery—persecution, cruelty, and ignorance, on the one hand; and on the other, Protestantism—toleration, charity, and intelligence. We appeal to history,—we appeal to facts,—we appeal to the present position of the different countries of Europe, their different colonial and tributary dependencies, in corroboration of this. Nor need we be at a loss to account for it. The multitude in Popish countries are slaves. Popery, while she makes gods of the priests, makes slaves of the people. But where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. "He is the freeman whom the truth makes free, and all are slaves besides." Truth, intelligence, and love, moving from the centre to the circumference, produce the happiest effects in Churches and nations; the greater their influence, the

* See a form of prayer, with thanksgiving, to be used yearly upon the fifth day of November, for the happy deliverance of King James the First and the three Estates of England from the most traitorous and bloody-intended massacre by gunpowder, and also for the happy arrival of his Majesty King William on this day.

page 5 more widely their circle is extended, the greater is the good produced. Such is, or ought to be, Protestantism. Error, ignorance, and cruelty, evolving continually the products of their own essential evil, create moral, intellectual, and spiritual darkness; benumb the faculties of the soul, or arm them against herself. And such again is Popery: she substitutes what is human, for what is Divine, she puts the creature in the place of the Creator, the redeemed in the place of the Redeemer, the sinner in the place of the Saviour, the tradition of men in place of the Word of God.

It has been observed, by some Pagan philosopher of antiquity, that every deity ought to be worshipped in that mode, and with those rites, which he had himself appointed. What he might deem right with respect to fancied deities—which were no gods—is strictly true with regard to the infinite, eternal, Triune Jehovah. He has revealed his will; none may add to it—none may take from it. But Popery adds traditions to suit her purposes. He himself is the object of our worship. None may apply to departed men and women, and senseless images and relics. Christ is the only Mediator between God and man. Neither the Virgin Mary, nor prophets, nor apostles, departed men and women, may be approached by us, and worshipped as though they could make atonement for sin, or were exalted into the rank of mediators and intercessors between God and sinners. Yet Popery, as a system, does this; and the petitions offered up to those who either cannot hear when invoked, or have no power to answer and to save, form a great part of the devotional exercises of her members. Thus the creature is worshipped and Christ is dishonoured.*

The Holy Scriptures contain all things necessary to salvation, and must not be diluted by any mixture of man's device or brought under the power of tradition. Scripture is the test of tradition, not tradition of Scripture. That which we make the test must be purer than the thing tested; that which we make

* "Thus in Madeira," Dr. Kalley says, "another Delegado do Procurador Regio . . . declares 'me guilty for having said that the Virgin was a woman, and should not be worshipped!!"' And, again,

"A few days ago, an old man told me that the Virgin is everywhere present, and did not know whether she or God had prior existence!" (And see Appendix, p. 21.)

In another letter he observes, "Popery is truly a soul-destroying monster, more horrible than any other on earth, devouring its victims in thousands every day; and English Christians proving indifferent to God's glory and the welfare of immortal beings in Popish lands, God may justly allow Popery to return and invade England.

"I wonder that after God has held out such glorious results—that Babylon shall be utterly destroyed, that he is against her, and will make her like Sodom and Gomorrah—there are so few willing to engage as soldiers of the Lord's hosts, and to go and fight for him in Popish lands. Heathen lands have strong claims on Christians, but if they leave neighbouring nations in a state of ignorance, superstition, idolatry, and moral depravity, the moral effluvia will be carried over to our own land and poison its atmosphere."

page 6 the standard must be presumed more true and of more authority than what is to be tried by it. It is therefore a misplacing of Scripture to make it subservient to tradition, as it is misplacing tradition to make it equal or superior to Scripture. Whatever therefore rests merely on tradition may be received only in so far as it agrees, or does not contradict the Scriptures.

In receiving the latter we have safety; in resorting to the former we have no sufficient proof or sure foundation, no clear light, but must wander on in conjectural uncertainty.

Popery is false towards God: it robs Deity of his attributes to cast a halo around the head of some created object. It brings in tradition in the place of Scripture, form instead of life, shadow instead of substance. In all these points it is false towards God; and any system which is false towards God can never be true to man.

The case of Dr. Kalley presents, in a striking light, Popery Unchanged, as well in the corrupt nature of her doctrines as the cruel and tyrannic manner in which she would seek to fetter and enslave the bodies, no less than the souls, and consciences of men.

The following excommunication communicated direct from Madeira, and fulminated against two individuals there on the 27th of April last, for no other crime than that of leaving the communion of the Church of Rome, will prepare us for the treatment subsequently experienced by Dr. Kalley:—

"Sebastiao Cazemire Medinna Vasconcellas, Leader of the Choir in the Cathedral, Synodick Examinator, Vicar-General of the Bishopric of Funchal in the island of Madeira, for the Most Excellent and Reverend Don Januario Vicente Camacho of her Majesty's Council, Dean of the Cathedral of Funchal, Commander of the Order of Christ, Bishop Elect of Castle Branco, Temporal Governor and Vicar-General of the Bishopric of Funchal, Porto Santo, and Arguinot,—

"To all the reverend vicars and curates, assistants and chaplains, as well as to all judges and justices of peace, to the delegate of the attorney-general, to the administrators of councils, and all officers of justice, and to all ecclesiastical and secular persons of every degree and condition in all this bishopric and out of it, whom this my letter may reach, who may hear it, or get notice of it in any way,—health and peace for ever in Jesus Christ our Lord, who is the true remedy and salvation of all. I make known to you that, having proceeded to an examination of witnesses, as competent to my office, it was proved by them, and confirmed by my sentence, that Francisco Pires Soares, married, and Nicolau Tolentino Vieyra, bachelor, both of this bishopric, residing in the parish of Santa Luzia, near the parish church, apostatized from the union and bosom of the Holy Mother Roman Catholic Church, and became sectaries of the page 7 Presbyterian communion, incurring by this, ecclesiastical censure and the canonical punishment of the greater excommunication. The censures requiring to be aggravated, I ordered this present letter to be written, by which I require and command, under pain of the greater excommunication, all ecclesiastics, ministers, and officers of justice, and others above-mentioned, as soon as they shall have notice of it, not to touch or hold communication with those who are excommunicated by the curse of Almighty God, and of the blessed St. Peter and St, Paul, with those of Gomorrah and of Sodom, Dathan and Abiram, whom the earth swallowed alive for their great sins and disobedience. Let none give them fire, water, bread, or any other thing that may be necessary to them for their support. Let none pay them their debts. Let none support them in any case which they may bring judicially. Let all put them aside as rotten and excommunicated members, separated from, the bosom and union of the Holy Mother Catholic Church, and as rebels and contumacious: for if any do the contrary,—which God forbid,—I lay, and consider as laid, upon their persons the penalty of the greater excommunication. Therefore were their names and surnames expressly declared; and that all may know this, I order the reverend parish priests to publish this at the meeting on the first Sabbath or holyday, and to affix it on the door of the church, from which let no man take or tear it under pain of excommunication, until, by making satisfaction for all, they merit the benefit of absolution.

"Given in Funchal, under the seal of the Vicar-General and my signature, on the 27th April, 1843. Jacinto Monteiro Cabrae, Writer to the Ecclesiastical Council, wrote this.


"Sebastiao Cazemire Medinna E Vas."

The results of this and of the Bishop's pastoral* we may almost anticipate. Dr. Kalley says—

"The poor people have been exceedingly alarmed, but the effect of the opposition seems to be the contrary of what the Popish party intended. Books seem to be more greedily sought and more eagerly read. Many Bibles are buried in tin boxes for safety. . . . .

"One poor woman has been in gaol since January on some pretended charge of disrespect to images; nothing is being done to bring her to trial. The lawyer advised an appeal to be made to Lisbon about three months ago. It was agreed to, and there it lies, and she remains in gaol. She is quite contented and happy, but though rejoicing to suffer for the truth, it is hard to be separated from her large family; one child was weaned on her going to gaol. . . . .

"A nephew of the same poor woman has been excommunicated, and in the excommunication all who shall pay him what

* See Appendix, p. 21,

page 8 they owe, or who shall give him bread, water, or any necessary, are held as excommunicated. He is in hidings. The proceedings of the Church are declared by one who is a clergyman and lawyer, to be altogether illegal, but we have none in whom to place confidence, and know not what steps should be taken. . . . .

"Many Infidels have gone to confession in consequence of the Bishop's orders to publish the names of all who have not confessed. In the parish in which I live sixty-two names were read from the pulpit as non-confessionalists; the first was that of the first female who joined the Protestant communion, and the last was the last that applied for admission to it. The name, Kallistas, is used as a term of reproach for those who read the Scriptures.

"I believe that all this opposition and persecution has advanced the cause of truth; and though at first alarmed by the Bishop's letter, I hope that no harm will result from it.

"You will see from the letter to Lord Aberdeen, that I have had an attack of fever. I am a good deal better, but very weak, and feel much the want of exercise in the fresh air."

The substance of this tract was, some time since, prepared from original letters and documents before us, and condensed into a statement for the purpose of being laid before the Earl of Aberdeen.

It is now published as a tract, with some notes and additional extracts from the correspondence of Dr. Kalley with various friends, and a short appendix, consisting of a letter too important and interesting to be omitted, or condensed.