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THE CREED OF POPE PIUS IV.,
ST. THOMAS'S CHURCH,
REV. JOHN NASH GRIFFIN, A.B.,
MINISTER OF HAROLD'S-CROSS CHURCI.
INTRODUCTORY.-IMPORTANCE OF CONTROVERSY, AND
THE NECESSITY OF THE REFORMATION.
“Dearly beloved, taking all care to write unto you concerning your common salvation, I was under a necessity to write unto you; to beseech you to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints."-St. Jude, v. 3, Douay Version. We are aware that controversy is condemned by many, and pronounced to be injurious even by some who profess to be lovers of the truth. If such persons be sincere, they are at least forgetful of the position and calling of the Church in the world; that she is now militant, not triumphant; and is commissioned to bear a faithful testimony for Christ and His Gospel in the earth. Our blessed Lord was himself a controversialist. We find Him continually combating error, and wielding the sword of the Spirit in defence of the truth. And, though Prince of Peace was His glorious title, and peace the burden of the song which heraldangels sang over the world at his birth, yet, foreseeing the divisions and strifes that would arise on account of the Gospel, He declared that He came to send a sword upon the earth. It is of the very nature of truth to be aggressive; it cannot make any compromise with error; and, therefore, in a world where both are to be found, conflict must prevail. ::.
The objection which we hear continually urged against controversy is scarcely worthy of being refuted, were it not that, from its being so often repeated, it would seem that it is thought to be of considerable weight. It is said that controversy is never productive of any good—that it is only calculated to excite unpleasant feeling, and that it is uncharitable to speak against the religion of others. To the first part of this statement we give a positive denial. Truth is always powerful, and whenever it is boldly put forward, the happiest consequences follow. Consider the triumphs that attended it in the early ages of Christianity, The Apostles went forth into the world, having their loins girt about with truth, to wrestle with spiritual wickedness in high places; they denounced with faithful boldness every error and every sin ; in the seat of learning and science they told the
fueron its fair and fi us now, torn, bivered to these
simple story of a crucified Redeemer, and declared that the idols of the heathen were but vanity; and though the sword of persecution deluged the infant Church, and Satan put forth all his power to crush the truth, it triumphed, and the Cross was planted on the ruins of idolatry. Again, at the opening of the sixteenth century, Europe was buried in spiritual darkness. The Bible was a sealed book, and its sacred truths hidden from every eye; but one man arose and opened its sacred page, and light and liberty dawned upon the nations. We might appeal likewise to the success which attends every effort to bring the Word of God to bear upon our population. We might speak of Achill and Dingle, of Doon and Castelkerke, to show that controversy is not altogether that lifeless thing which some would have us suppose; and amid the wilds of Kerry and Connemara we might point to scenes which tell us plainly that had the Church of Ireland been but faithful to her mission_had she in time past " contended earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints,” our island would not be as it is now, torn, blood-stained, and wretched, but upon its fair and fruitful bosom there would be dwelling a peaceful and happy people, joined together in the one faith and hope of the Gospel.
But it is alleged that controversy invariably excites bitterness and ill-will, and calls forth all the evil passions of the human heart. Now, we confess that we must be in a measure prepared for this. It was the lot of Him whose life was spent in doing good, and whose every act was characterized by love, to be the object of man's most relentless hate; and to teach his Disciples what they might expect from faithfully discharging their duty in the world, He tells them to “rejoice in that day when men shall revile them, and say all manner of evil against them falsely for his sake.” Man's pride is offended when you tell him he is in error, and his hatred of the truth causes him to love his error ; and, therefore, whoever ventures to expose it must be prepared for reproach and obloquy. But while the vicious and ignorant, and all who have an interest in keeping up delusion, will join in the cry against him, we feel assured it will not be universal. And we have reason to believe that is error be faithfully but kindly exposed-if controversy be conducted, not in a spirit of angry strife, but of love if it be made apparent that we seek no party triumph, but desire to do good to those who are in error-if, with the confidence of men who know they are of the truth, we speak burning words from out of the fulness of the heart, even though we may not convince every opposer, we shall disarm much of their hostility; and there will be many honest and reflecting men who, while still arrayed in antagonism against us, will be able to understand our motives, and be ready to confess that it is no want of charity to speak the truth in love. O, Charity! how has thy sacred name been prostituted in the earth. This cry of charity has been raised by the false liberalism of a degenerate age-by men of little principle and less religion, who are willing to sacrifice truth for a short-lived popularity, and who have not even the approving testimony of their own conscience to the miserable course which they pursue. Is it charity, we would ask, to see men in deadly error, and leave them in it to perish? Is it charity to behold our countrymen degraded by a soul-destroying superstition, and not labour for their deliverance? Was St. Paul a bigot, when, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, he looked round upon the superstitions of the Athenians, and laid the fearful sin of idolatry to their charge?-or when he told his countrymen that they were ignorant of God's righteousness, and that His name was blasphemed among the Gentiles through them, was he influenced by an uncharitable spirit ? This, we suppose, even the most liberal of modern liberals will hardly venture to assert. We may feel for the Hindoo and the Indian, we may send forth the Bible to make incursions on the wastes of heathenism, and our efforts will be applauded as the fruit of a high-toned and Christian philanthropy; but, oh, what curse has been recorded against Ireland what brand of perpetual degradation has been stamped upon the brow of Irishmen, that we cannot breathe a sigh for their deliverance, or, in Christian love, labour for their spiritual welfare, without being regarded as uncharitable bigots ?
The real cause why so many look with an unfavourable eye upon controversy is, they do not understand the nature of Romanism; they are not aware of the awful character of those errors by which the faith has been corrupted, nor do they value sufficiently the glorious truths and principles of the Reformation. They do not see that the Church of Rome in her polity, worship, faith, and morals is decidedly antichristian. They may admit, indeed, that she has erred; but that her errors are deadly, and are the development of the predicted apostacy, they are unwilling to concede. Now, history, experience, and reason prove that the Romish faith is destructive of man's temporal and spiritual welfare; and sure I am that the degradation and misery of our country are to be traced to the baneful influence of this dark and wretched superstition. Look abroad upon our land, beautiful as a work of God. Her climate healthy, her soil fruitful, her landscapes lovely, her valleys verdant, her mountains majestic, her rivers deep and noble, her harbours spacious, mines of unexplored wealth hidden in her bosom ; yet is she poverty-stricken and wretched. Her people, naturally intelligent, warm-hearted,