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Art. I.-1. The Book of the Roman Catholic Church, &c. By
C. Butler, Esq. New Edition. London. 1824. 2. Strictures on the Poet Laureate's Book of the Church. By
John Merlin. 3. Letter to C. Butler, Esq. By the Lord Bishop of Chester. 4. Answer to the Bishop of Chester. By C. Butler, Esq. 5. Lingard's History of England. Vols. 3. and 4. 4to. 6. Review of Fox's Book of Martyrs. By W. E. Andrews.
Nos. 1. to 40. 7. Cobbett's History of the Reformation. Nos. 1. to 10. THE question at issue between the Church of England and
that of Rome may be reduced to a single point; is the creed of the latter to be found in the Bible, or is it not? To this test the Protestant appeals with triumphant security; the Word of God bears witness in his favour, and he naturally acquiesces in its decision with perfect satisfaction. The apologists of the Church of England, however, from Jewel down to Marsh, have never feared to abandon this vantage ground; nor refused to combat on the wider and more various field of ecclesiastical history. There also, by tracing with accuracy as well the source, as the gradual growth of every error; by developing the progress of popery from the episcopal administration of a city, to the usurpation of dominion over the world, their success has been equally decisive; the sophistry of their adversaries has been incontrovertibly detected; and the testimony of the purer traditions of the church has been turned against the appellants to their authority. On the other hand, the favourite
system of aggression, which the Roman Catholic writers, from the most ignorant bigot to the most powerful polemic, have adopted against the protestant faith, has been the crimination of the great leaders of the Reformation, in Germany, France, and England. Motives the most unworthy have been imputed to all those eminent men to whom we are indebted for our emancipation: avarice, licentiousness, cruelty, dissimulation have been charged against some of the purest and most upright of mankind; every action has been distorted with the most ingenious perversity, and where misrepresentation has failed, direct falsehoods have been advanced with an intrepidity, which the modern Romanist, in many instances, prudently and properly declines to exhibit. It is important, indeed, to remember, that many of these falsehoods are now rejected by the descendants of those who first propagated
VOL. XXXIII. NO. LXV.
them; because thus rejected, they throw a suspicious character over whatever rests on the same testimony uncorroborated by other authority. That cause which has been mainly supported by writers wanting in veracity is not unfairly supposed incapable of vindication on trust-worthy and unexceptionable evidence. The Protestant who reads the foreign histories of our Reformation, that of Davanzati for instance, or even Bossuet, is at first absolutely bewildered with assertions, supported by no proof whatever, but advanced in a tone as peremptory, as if they were 'truths of holy writ:' as he proceeds, however, he finds so many statements which he knows to be false, that he recovers from the temporary shock which his faith has sustained, and settles into a rooted and perpetual mistrust of such authorities for the future.
It is obvious that, of these three modes of controversy, the first alone is conclusive; the second of great but subordinate importance; the last is not merely inconclusive, but recoils with tremendous and destructive force upon those who employ it. Take the worst of the Protestant leaders, as they are described by their enemies, even the cruel and lustful King Henry, who was indeed no Protestant, and, excepting his denial of the Papal supremacy, remained a Roman catholic to his life's end; and compare them with the Popes of the same period, as delineated by their own writers. It is perfectly intelligible, that Providence should overrule the will of the passionate and remorseless monarch, so that he should contribute to advance the great design of purifying the church from its corruption, and even by his crimes incidentally advance the cause of the Reformation. But that the vicegerent of God upon earth, the delegate of the meek and holy Jesus, the spiritual head of the communion of saints, the infallible oracle who was to pronounce upon the authority of every christian doctrine, and the soundness of every exposition of the word of God, should be a furious Julius II., a voluptuous Leo X., or a monster of every iniquity like Alexander VI.-this indeed is so enormous an improbability, that no subtle distinction between the personal and spiritual character of the Pope, no attempt to separate the man from the successor of St. Peter, can reconcile it with our notions of God's moral government. Burnet has put this argument with great force in bis preface. After admitting the enormities or Henry VIII.'s reign, he subjoins,
these are such remarkable blemishes, that as no man of ingenuity can go about the whitening them; so the poor Reformers drank so deep of that bitter cup, that it very ill becomes any of their followers, to endeavour to give fair colours to those red and bloody characters, with wbich so much of his reign is stained. But our church is not near so much concerned in the persons of those princes, under whom the Reformation
- began, as theirs is in the persons of their Popes, who are believed to bave far higher characters of a divine power and spirit in them than other princes pretend to. And yet if the lives of those Popes who have made the greatest advances in their jurisdiction be examined, particularly Gregory VII. and Boniface VIII., vices more eminent than any can be charged on Henry will be found in them.'
After detailing some facts in the lives of the contemporary Popes, he subjoins Guicciardini's memorable reservation, when he calls Pope Clement a good Pope, · I mean not goodness Apostolical; for in those days he was esteemed a good pope that did not exceed the wickedness of the worst of men.'
With regard to Henry, we hope to be able to show in the course of the present article, that in the greater part of his worst enormities, he was under the influence of Roman Catholic advisers; that wherever his conduct was most exceptionable, not Cranmer and Cromwell, but Gardiner and Bonner were predominant in his councils; that the latter, with others of their party, must share the infamy of almost every transaction, while of many they must bear the whole weight without participation. But in defence of the real leaders of the Reformation in England, we fear not to take
up the cause on higher ground. They were men indeed, like those their inspired predecessors,' of like passions with ourselves ;' sometimes not sufficiently resolute in their assertion of the truth; sometimes erroneous in their judgments, in some respects unemancipated from the barbarous opinions and prejudices of their times, but on the whole worthy of our highest veneration; and when we take all the circumstances of their case and of the times into consideration, we shall wonder that they effected so much, rather than that their system and conduct fell short of perfection. We deny not their infirmities, their errors, even their crimes: but we owe to them, under Divine Providence, the establishment of that religion from whence we derive all our consolations on earth and all our hopes of heaven; and in our soberest judgment we cannot refuse them our admiration for the caution with which they organized their plans, the temper with which they conducted them, the constancy with which they adhered to them through evil report and good report, the resignation with which they died for them at the stake and in the flames.
Nor is this vindication uncalled for at the present moment. Most of the works at the head of our Article have been avowedly or manifestly written to disparage our English Reformers. They are, we believe, but a small part of those which the activity of the Roman Catholic press has recently disseminated. But on this point we shall be more explicit, after having noticed the more formidable and more powerful works at the head of our list. A 2
From the reproach of unprovoked aggression an honourable exception must be made in favour of Mr. Butler, whose work is not only defensive, but written with an amenity of temper, and an excessive suavity, almost approaching to what Hotspur calls “ a candy deal of courtesy.' This, however, is a fault so rarely to be found in polemic writing, and so nearly approximating to a high virtue, that we almost recall a phrase which may bear the remotest appearance of disapprobation. In one instance indeed Mr. Butler has deviated from his accustomed urbanity and moderation; and by adopting an ungenerous scoff of Mr. Gibbon, has called down upon himself the merited and conclusive yet temperate rebuke of the Bishop of Chester. To this Mr. Butler has made no answer; he has indeed put forth a pamphlet under the name of a reply, in which, however, he totally omits to notice or maintain the gross charge before advanced against the majority of the clergy, but attempts to prove a point totally irrelevant to the previous question. In the general conduct of the controversy he has made, if he will allow us a phrase familiar to him, a fair case on a cause, in which our verdict must at last be decisively against him. We can evidently see that he has been educated and has mingled in social intercourse with the most eminent men, in a profession, of which it is often the business 'to make the worse appear the better reason. His work is curious, as illustrating the manner in which a mind naturally ingenuous and acute justifies to itself its belief in error; and as being perhaps the volume of all others in which we may most perspicuously trace the subtle distinctions by which the educated and conscientious Roman catholic vindicates the more irrational and unscriptural articles of his creed. The inaccuracy of his quotations can scarcely fail to raise in the minds of strangers a momentary suspicion of his integrity; there are, indeed, in his work suppressions and misrepresentations of a most extraordinary nature; but the charitable, and we sincerely believe the just, supposition is, that he has been deceived by placing too implicit reliance on the more eminent controversialists of his church. Even this retreat must be painful enough for one who has put himself in the front of the battle, and we will not add to its discomfort by suggesting any of the reflections, which must naturally arise in such a mind as his, and extend from the defenders to the cause itself, which appeared to them to require such arts for its support. It has been very fortunate for the church of England that Mr. Southey's Book of the Church attracted the notice of such an antagonist as Mr. Butler; bis talen' and respectability, the merits and the faults of his work, have ensured for his cause a patient hearing, able opponents, and a decisive overthrow at every point. Mr. Southey is arming, but it