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TIIE GREAT APOSTASY.
THE TEACHING OF CARDINAL WISEMAN.*
I rise to express my deep regret that so many are inconvenienced by the pressure, on the one hand; but, on the other, to own my gratitude to God that the popularity, or rather invasion of Dr. Wiseman, has brought together so large a number to protest against his new and daring assumption of power, preëminence, and spiritual jurisdiction in this land. I cannot, I believe, do better than commence the lecture which I am asked to deliver, By reading what appears to me to be one of the most precious and memorable documents that have proceeded from high official authority at any period, or under any crisis, in our history since the Reformation, or from any quarter — I allude to that noble, Protestant, and faithful letter addressed by Lord John Russell to the Bishop of Durham, which has just appeared ; a document which, I confess, I expected from his Lordship, believing that his principles were as they are there so eloquently and justly embodied. It is, I think, a document that gives the crowning blow to the mighty, wide spread, and, I doubt not, ultimately successful efforts that have been made by the daily metropolitan press to enable all to appreciate the crisis, as well as to arouse the sympathies of Protestants against this invasion. It is, perhaps, supererogatory
* Delivered in the Hanover Square Rooms, Thursday, Nov. 7, 1850.
to read the letter of his Lordship, as it is, I believe, in all the morning papers. But there is one part of it which I cannot but notice with delight: “I confess, however,” says his Lordship," that my alarm is not equal to my indignation.” We feel no alarm. There is no ground for alarm. We feel just and strong indignation. He then states, “that the present state of the law shall be carefully examined, and the propriety of adopting any proceedings with reference to the recent assumptions of power deliberately considered.” I have no doubt that this will be done. It is demanded by the country at large; and such a sentiment comes with the greater grace from that distinguished nobleman, who advocated what are called the claims of 1829, than from those who were despised as prophets at the time, and who spoke but too near the truth, when they expressed their fears, that that measure was not so expedient in all respects as some supposed it to be. Lord John Russell penetrates the secret of this unprecedented invasion. There must have been a previous temptation. I need not tell you that even the cholera itself does not strike its victim unless there be a contaminated air to act as its conductor; and Cardinal Wiseman, who personates a moral and spiritual pestilence, as I am prepared to show, would never have been pontifically dropped in the midst of us, if it had not been represented to the Pope — more or less truly, it remains for each to determine for himself-that our moral and eccle. siastical atmosphere was thoroughly tainted, and that he might expect to meet not with resistance, but with a cordial welcome. The Premier says, therefore, " Clergymen of our own Church, who have subscribed the Thirty-nine Articles, and acknowledged in explicit terms the Queen's supremacy, have been the most forward in leading their flocks, 6 step by step to the very verge of the precipice.'” [A slight disturbance here took place in some of the most densely crowded parts of the room.] I beg to make one little request, and it is this: I know there are Roman Catholics present in the room ; and I know, too, that the friends of the new Archbishop of Westminster will be most gratified, if they can only prevail upon Protestants not acquainted with their tact to call out, “ Quiet,” “ Order,” or to make any noise that will prevent me from being heard. Having, with my friend Admiral Harcourt, some practical experience in this matter, I will promise to manage the Cardinal's friends, if the Protestants will only take care of themselves and their own interests, and be quiet. “The honor," says the Premier, “paid to saints, the claim of infallibility for the Church, the superstitious use of the sign of the cross, the muttering of the liturgy, so as to disguise the language in which it is written, the recommendation of auricular confession.” Perhaps some do not know what is meant by muttering the language of the liturgy: I have heard some ministers read it I do not like that; I have heard some ministers intone it- I like that still less; I have heard other ministers pray it - I like that excessively. “ All these things are pointed out by clergymen of the Church of England as worthy of adoption, and are now openly reprehended by the Bishop of London in his Charge to the clergy of his diocese." I must say, in reference to the letter of the Bishop of London, to which Lord John alludes, addressed to the Westminster clergy, and after thorough examination, that it is a document truly Protestant, and well fitted to direct the clergy to a healthier tone of preaching.
Having read these extracts from the letter of the Premier, I beg to state, in addressing you this day, that I have no pretensions to greater acumen, or to a juster appreciation of the crisis in which we are placed, than thousands of my brethren in London; but having long and laboriously studied this subject, I felt that there was a possibility of the tide which has set in with such strength and force, running in the wrong direction :—that it was just possible we might, in our hatred of this gross invasion, fly to the extreme of
renewing pains and penalties which are not expedient, or engaging in a proscriptive and persecuting, and merely political course, which I conceive would be attended with no great practical advantage.
As you may suppose, I have no personal hostility to his Eminence, if you will allow me to call him so, or to the Archbishop, as he assumes to be, of Westminster. Cardinal Wiseman is a distinguished scholar, a most accomplished scientific writer; and any one acquainted with his work upon science and religion will be ready to own that he is a scholar of the very highest order in that particular department; but this must not lead you to suppose that being a perfect scholar, he has therefore a presumption that he must be a perfect theologian and a true Christian. It is possible to know every star in the firmament, and yet to be ignorant of the “ Bright and Morning Star;" it is possible to know all the stores that are in the golden mines of the earth, and yet to be as destitute as ignorant of the unsearchable riches of Christ;” it is possible to know every flower that beautifies the garden, and yet not to know the “ Rose of Sharon ;” to have all the knowledge of all the encyclopædias of the world, and yet to be ignorant of that which even a Sunday school child knows — the answer to the question, which the Protestant Church alone can give, “What must I do to be saved ?"_" Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” I have no desire, on the other hand, to interfere with the rights and the privileges, whatever they may be, of my Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen. Cardinal Wiseman has as great liberty to tread the soil, and breathe the air of Old England, provided he conform to its laws, as the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, or any layman in the arch-diocese of the one or the diocese of the other. We do not wish to take from him his civil rights and privileges, but we meet here to protest — while we acknowledge he is entitled to all the rights of a citizen that
he has no right, at the dictation of a foreign potentate, and that potentate an Italian priest, and that priest notoriously a mischief-maker, to parcel out Old England into Popish dioceses, and claim all baptized men as subjects amenable to his power and jurisdiction. But I do not desire, at least in this lecture, to regard our visitor in red as a cardinal at all. He assumes, on the one hand, to be a cardinal — that is, a temporal prince; and if as a temporal prince he meddle with the rights and the privileges and the jurisdiction of our most gracious Sovereign, judging from the letter of Lord John Russell, and no less so from the mettle and temper of our country, I am satisfied he will meet with that resistance which will tell him how great a blunder his master has perpetrated in sending him here. As a minister of the Gospel myself, I treat him on this occasion as an archbishop, professing to teach certain doctrines, and to inculcate certain lessons; and I wish to ascertain by sober analysis —- not by presenting to you the sunshine of rhetoric or of flowers, but the daylight of plain truth, argument, and fact — whether Westminster will be very much benefited by getting rid of or superseding the ministers that now instruct it, and opening its ears to the instructions of his Eminence the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster. Whatever, let me add, be his teaching - however obnoxious his presence, we must be careful not to tread in the least degree upon the verge of what might be considered or construed as persecution. I believe that persecution never yet recovered a pervert, and it never yet made a convert. If the sword is to be unsheathed, let it be unsheathed by the friends of the Cardinal, not by the friends of the Protestant Church. If the fagots are to be kindled, let them be kindled by Pius IX., not by those who have learned a more excellent lesson. For if you begin to persecute, depend upon it, men's sympathy with the suffering victim will make them forget the deadliness and darkness of the error which he teaches; and