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Popery had made in that See. Upon the whole I contended, that, considering the great increase of general population in this realm, the Catholics were a decreasing rather than an increasing quantity, and that there was therefore no ground for the alarms, which some wellmeaning but certainly not well-informed people had taken on that subject. These observations were satisfactory to the House, and Lord Ferrers withdrew his motion."
Whilst however the Bishop of Chester thus expressed his sentiments in Parliament, and endeavoured to rectify errors, which, if left uncontradicted, might have ended to inflame the already irritated state of the public mind against the Catholics of this country, he was not unmindful of the real nature of their religion, nor inattentive in guarding those
committed committed to his care against its false and dangerous tenets. As the best and mildest and most effectual mode of doing this, he addressed a Letter to his clergy, and at the same time printed for the use of his diocese, in the compendious form of a small tract, the substance of five very admirable sermons by Archbishop Secker, which appeared to him to contain the most complete refutation of Popery that he had ever seen in so small a compass. It is indeed one of the'many treatises on this subject, which should be particularly put into the hands of those, who are at all unsettled and wavering in their religious principles. It is a short, perspicuous statement of all the points at issue between Papists and Protestants. The spirit in which it is written is truly Christian, and the general argument, in my judgment, and, I think, in the judgment of every unprejudiced and candid man, is altogether unanswerable.
Besides the dispersion of this valuable little tract, the Bishop made it a primary object in the course of visiting his See, to inquire as minutely as possible into the conduct of the Catholics; directing his clergy to keep a vigilant eye upon their motions, and to inform him of any transactions respecting them, which were worthy of notice: and I have his authority for saying, that the result of this inquiry was, that he could not find that they had in any instance attempted to make converts; that they adhered quietly to their own persuasion, without disturbing the faith of their Protestant neighbours; and that so far from adding to their numbers, a Popish priest had on the contrary been converted, and
regularly regularly admitted into the Church of England.
These were important facts at that time; and I have entered more largely into the subject than perhaps I otherwise might, under the conviction that they are not unimportant now. It is the full persuasion of my own mind, that the Catholics in this country, whatever may be the case in Ireland, are content with the liberty of maintaining their own doctrines, and their own forms of worship, without endeavouring to proselyte others; that their numbers only increase in proportion to the increase of population; and that in the present advanced state of public knowledge, Protestantism has nothing to apprehend from the toleration of Popery. In fact, the real evils to be dreaded, and on which the attention of every man zealous for the preservation F 3 and and the honour of Christianity should be incessantly fixed, are dissoluteness of manners, and the diffusion of infidel opinions. These, if I may use the term, are the Pythons we should strive to crush. They are destructive monsters, which assail the vitals of religion. They strike at the very foundation and root of all social virtue and all social order; and it is therefore against these, above every thing, that our penal laws should be framed, and the power of the magistrate directed. The great Prelate, whose life is the subject of these pages, undoubtedly so thought and acted. He was never wanting in zeal for the Church; but as one of the guardians of that Church, he was persuaded that zeal could never be so well employed as against vice and infidelity. The following statement 1 insert exactly