« FöregåendeFortsätt »
when one good reason is sufficient? I have but one general reason for not being a Catholic, and I consider that enough. It is that the Catholic religion is not the religion of the Bible. It is not the religion which Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James, Jude, and Peter wrote about, as any one may see who will compare the Holy Scriptures with the Council of Trent. But you see, the Duke, feeling that he had not one good reason for turning Catholic, gives us fifty poor ones; thinking to make up for the weakness of his reasons by the number of them; and calculating that fifty poor reasons would certainly be equivalent to one good one.
Fifty reasons! I shall not now inquire what the forty-nine were. But what do you think the sapient Duke's fiftieth reason was-his closing, crowning reason—that with which he capped the climax-the reason which, having brought out, herested from very exhaustion, consequent on the amazing effort of mind by which it was excogitated?
The fiftieth reason! I will give it to you in his own words, which I quote from an edition of his reasons, published by one of the very best Catholics in the land, so that there can be no mistake about it. After going on about something else, he says,
“Besides that, the Catholics, to whom I spoke concerning my salvation, assured me that, if I were to be damned for embracing the Catholic faith, they were ready to answer for me at the Day of Judgment, and to take my damnation upon themselves; an assurance I could never extort from the ministers of any sect, in case I should live and die in their religion. From whence I inferred, the Roman Catholic faith was built on a better
foundation than any of those sects that have divided from it.” Prodigious !-and there he stops. I think it was time.
I do not know whether to make any comment on this reason or not. Sometimes comment is unnecessary, and even injurious. I wonder the Catholics are not ashamed of this reason. Indeed, I suspect the in
Ι telligent ones among them do blush for it, and wish the Duke had stopped at forty-nine.
But let us look at it a minute. It seems the Duke was won over by the generosity of the Catholics. They agreed that if he were to be damned for embracing their faith, (they admit the possibility that he might be; whereas, the Protestant ministers whom he consulted were too well assured of the truth of their religion to allow of the supposition,) they would take his place, and be damned for him. Now I wonder the Duke had not reflected-(but there are stupid Dukes—this was a nobleman, but not one of nature's noblemen)--that those very Catholics, who made him this generous offer, if their faith was false, would have to be damned for themselves! That which should leave him without a title to heaven, would equally leave them without one. I wonder the Duke so readily believed that the substitution would be accepted. What if they were willing to suffer perdition in his place! The Judge might object to the arrangement. What ignorance and stupidity it manifests, to suppose that one may suffer in hell for another, just as one serves in the army
for another! What an idea such persons must have of the nature of future punishment, to suppose that it is transferable! I should like to know how one man is to suffer remorse for another. And
again, what an admirable exemplification of the spirit of Christianity, that one should consent, on any condition, to lie in hell, for ever, sinning and blaspheming God! I am sincerely glad that no Protestant minister could be found to give his consent to an eternity of enmity against God. But the Catholics whom the Duke consulted, they loved the Lord so that they were willing to sin against him for ever and ever, with ever-increasing malignity of opposition, for the sake of saving their noble proselyte! “FROM WHENCE I INFERRED,” says the Duke, (but you have no capitals large enough for this conclusion,) “the Roman Catholic faith was built on a better foundation than any of those sects that have divided from it.” Admirable dialectician! He must be Aristotle himself, by metempsychosis.
I think that those who wish to live and die Catholics, had better keep their eyes shut. It is the safer way. If they open them almost any where, they will be in danger.
50. The Duke's Seventh Reason.
The Duke's fiftieth reason has been the subject of an article. Each of his reasons might be made the subject of one, but that would be giving them too much consequence. I have selected the seventh for some remarks, because I have several times, in conversation with Catholics, heard it alleged, and some considerable stress laid on it. The drift of it is this : Protestants acknowledge that some Roman Catholics
may be saved, but Catholics contend that no Protes. tants can be saved. Therefore it is better and safer to be a Catholic, than a Protestant! But, perhaps, I had better let his Serene Highness speak for himself. He says: “But what still confirmed me in my resolution of embracing the Roman Catholic faith was this, that the heretics themselves confess Roman Catholics may be saved, whereas, these maintain there is no salvation for such as are out of the Roman Catholic church.” Let us examine this reasoning. Catholics say that there is no salvation out of their church, and therefore, by all means, we should belong to it. But does their saying so make it sa ? Is this very charitable doctrine of the Catholics of course true? Is it so very clear that none are saved but the greatest bigots-none saved but those who affirm, and are ready to swear that none others but themselves can be saved ? Have Roman Catholics never affirmed any thing but what was strictly true, so that from their uniform veracity and accuracy, we may infer that they must be correct in this statement ? Let history answer that question. This is more than we claim even for Protestants. No salvation except for Catholics! Ah, and where is the chapter and verse for that. I don't think that even the Apocrapha can supply them. If subsequent Popes have taught the doctrine, he who is reckoned by Catholics to have been the first Pope, did not. It is rather unkind, perhaps, to quote Peter against his alleged successors, but a regard to truth compels me to do it. It is true, Peter once thought that a person must be an Israelite to be saved, just as our Catholics hold that a person must be a Catholic in order to be saved; but the case of Corne
lius cured him of that prejudice. That led him to say as recorded, Acts 10: 34, 35, 66 Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him." This sounds a little different from the Duke's premises. It is a little unlike the language of later Popes. They have not taken their cue from Peter. Peter was a little of a Catholic at first, but he soon got rid of it.
Now, if what the Catholics say about there being no salvation out of their church, is not true-if there is no Scripture for it, but much against it—if even Peter controverts it, it certainly does not constitute a very good reason for being a Catholic. Suppose that Protestants should give out to the world that none but themselves can be saved, would that make Protestantism any better, or safer, or worthier of adoption ? Would our religion be more entitled to reception, if we should publish that Fenelon was lost forever, and that Pascal was excluded from heaven, and Masillon too, just because they were not Protestants, but in communion with the Church of Rome? I think not. Nor can I think that the Roman Catholic religion is entitled to increased respect and veneration, because Catholics assert as an undoubted verity, that such men as Locke, Newton, Leighton, Howard, and many others are beyond all question, in hell, not even admitted to purgatory, because, forsooth, they were not Catholics.
But the Duke's inference is from a double premiss. Not only do Catholics say no Protestant can be saved ; but Protestants allow that Catholics may. If Protestants were to say that Catholics could not be saved,