Monday, 29 August 2016

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 137.

REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada

We have an instance of a fresh date of their episcopal zeal for the Protestant religion in the reign of King James II., who only endeavored to compel them to order his proclamation for liberty of conscience, to be read in all the churches. But the world knows what success he met with, and the history of the seven golden candlesticks, will never be forgotten. Their zeal threw the whole nation into a flame, and Whitehall became soon after too warm for that unfortunate prince. If, therefore, Protestancy was the religion established by Christ and his Apostles, and professed in the infancy of the Church, can we imagine the good primitive bishops, who were so ready to lay down their lives for the Church, were not full as zealous against Popery, as those of the Church of England ? Or that they were not ready to stand in the gap, and oppose the torrent with their utmost strength, when they saw it flowing in upon the Church ?

But such an imagination being wholly groundless, it follows, that what I have undertaken to prove, is an undeniable truth'; viz.: That the first supposed change from Protestancy to Popery, could not be effected with less difficulty, than the second, from Popery to Protestancy. Nay, to speak naturally, the difficulty to effect it, and by consequence, the opposition made to it, must have been much greater for the reasons I have given.

Now, no man of any reading can be so ignorant, as not to know with what difficulty and opposition the second change called the reformation was begun, carried on, and at last effected. Innumerable histories are filled with ample relations of the obstinate and bloody wars it occasioned in Germany, France, the Low-Countries, and other kingdoms and states. They all tell us with what vigor it was opposed by Leo X., and the following popes; by the Emperor Charles V. Francis I. of France, and his successors, and even by Henry VIII. under whom great numbers suffered in Smithfield for that cause. Finally, the history of the council of Trent, in which it was condemned, is known by all men of learning, so that no man can doubt of the truth of a fact so particularized and circumstantiated in all histories written upon that subject.

Here, then, I may justly demand of Protestants the same satisfactory account of the first supposed charge from Protestancy to Popery, For since they were always equally opposite, and the same causes produce naturally the same effects, no rational man will ever be made to believe that a change from Popery to Protestancy in a few kingdoms only should occasion such a number of remarkable events, cause so many bloody wars, such disturbances in the Church, and revolutions in the state; and that an entire change from Protestancy to Popery should not be attended with any of the like effects.

I desire, therefore, some tolerable account of the particular circumstances of this charge. As, who were the principal actors in it? In what age it happened? Whether it came in by degrees, or all at once? If all at once, then we must either suppose, that the whole Christian world went to bed Protestants, and rose Papists the next morning by unanimous consent: or that a formidable body of Papists, like Cadmus's armed men, rose out of the ground, and in a trice cut the throats of all true Protestants in the world: or finally, that Popery dropped from the clouds, and got full possession of the universal Church, without being perceived by any body, till the clear sighted Martin Luther made the happy discovery. For truly I can think of no other way to render it possible, that it should get admittance all at once, or without opposition, noise, or trouble.

This, however, being somewhat out of the way, and proper only for machinery exploits upon the theatre; I must rather suppose Protestants will say, it came in by degrees. But then it is reasonable they should give me a satisfactory answer to a few questions, and prove the truth of the facts from unquestionable records. For if Popery came in by degrees, it got footing first in one place, then in another: As the reformation did in Germany, Switzerland, and Geneva, before it crossed the seas to visit England. So that we must suppose there were Protestants and Popish states and kingdoms for some time in former ages, as there have been ever since the reformation. I ask, then, where it was that Popery made it first entrance ? Was it in the east, or west, south, or north? What kingdom, state, or nation abjured the Protestant religion first? Who was the first Popish bishop of Rome, emperor, or king? What Protestant and Popish kings were contemporary ? What wars happened in their several reigns about religion ? What books were written for and against Popery ? What Protestant councils were called to condemn it ? And lastly, by what name were those, who adhered to the ancient Protestant religion, distinguished from the other who embraced Popery ? for I am sensible that Protestants and Papists are names invented since the reformation. And since it is highly improbable, that two such different communions, or religions, as those of the reformation, and the Church of Rome, should be at any time in the world, without names to distinguish them; because even the most inconsiderable sect never wanted a name, I should be glad to know what their names were in former ages, viz.: From the time that Popery first got footing in some particular state, or kingdom, till its full establishment in the universal visible Church. I could ask a great many more puzzling questions, but I should be satisfied, if Protestants can but answer the few I have put, and produce unquestionable authority for proof of their answers: As Papists can do to prove every material circumstance of the reformation ; and as both Protestants and Papists can do in reference to any considerable heresy, that ever was broached in the Church. But if they can give no tolerable account of the aforementioned particulars, as I am sure they must be conscious to themselves they cannot; if there never was an historian in the world, that wrote the history of the wonderful change from Protestancy to Popery, under whatever names you please; as there are hundreds, who have written the history of the reformation ; then it is reasonable to conclude, that the supposed change is a mere fiction, and that any grub-street tale has full as good a foundation.

I doubt not, however, but that by the art of invention, some ingenious hypothesis may be made; an imaginary scheme may be formed to show the metaphysical possibility of a thing, that never has happened, nor ever will happen. But this way will not do. I demand not the invention of a fruitful brain, but plain facts, and good history to prove them. Nothing less will satisfy me, nor indeed any man, who is not fond of being deceived. I desire to know the true history of Popery; I mean not that Popery which was established every where upon the ruins of paganism, whereof I have already given a very good account; but of that Popery, which we suppose to be the younger sister of Protestantism. I desire to know when and where this unfortunate babe, so hated and persecuted by the best natural people in Europe, was born, where she was nursed, who were her parents and masters. What memorable adventures she met with, when she made her first appearance. By what trick, or slight she got the inheritance away from Protestancy, her supposed elder sister, nay and maintained the full possession of it for many hundred years. In a word, how she came to be mistress of the whole Christian world. These are the most material points, for which I demand authentic history: and till I have some good account of them, I shall continue with a very safe and easy conscience in my belief, that the religion, which now is called Popery, is as ancient as Christianity, and that it never had any other beginning, than what Christ and his Apostles gave it.