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Page 12, line 2, for Christianity, read the Roman Catholic religion.
36, last line, for 86, read 96.
THE REV. GEORGE TOWNSEND,
“ His Accusations of History against the
Church of Rome."
SIR, YOUR “ Accusations of History against the
Church of Rome,” in a series of Letters addressed to me, are highly injurious to the Roman Catholic religion. As my “ Book of the “ Roman Catholic Church” occasioned your publication, I feel myself called upon to answer it.
In every part of it you call us “Romanists. ” When this word is used to denote our religious communion with the see of Rome, we do not object to it: when it is used to impute to us any political or civil adherence or subserviency to that
see, we think it slanderous : when it is used with a sneer, it evidently is an intentional affront.
As several acts of the Legislature style us, and permit us to style ourselves, “ Roman Catholics," and this is our favourite appellation; we trust gentlemen will always give it us. Whatever tends to prevent or soften the asperities of controversy, a true Christian is always ready to adopt. Before I proceed to my reply, I must observe,
“ Historical Memoirs of the English, “ Irish, and Scottish Roman Catholics,” should always be taken in conjunction with my “ Book “ of the Roman Catholic Church.” It could not be expected that I should re-write“ the Memoirs ” in “ the Book.” I continually refer in it to them : and was much pleased to find that they always were under Your eye when You were employed upon Your publication.
Your assertion, that a decree of the Council of Constance,
which an article of the creed of Pope Pius IV. compels every conscientious Romanist to adopt, sanctions the doctrine that faith is not to be kept with heretics.
IN your preliminary letter, (page 17), you cite the last article but one of the creed of Pope Pius IV, in which the subscriber of it “ professes to receive “ all things defined and declared by the sacred “ canons and general councils, particularly by the 66 Council of Trent.”
You then cite the decree of the 19th session of
the Council of Constance, which declares, that safe “ conducts granted to heretics, by a secular prince, " shall not prevent any ecclesiastical judge from
punishing such heretics, even if they come to the “ place of judgment, relying on such safeguard, " and would not otherwise come thither.”
You assert, that “ this decree, which the creed “ of Pope Pius IV compels every conscientious “ Romanist to adopt, sanctions, as plainly as words
can make it, the doctrine, which you truly say, “'I reject with abhorrence, and which the four “ foreign universities consulted by Mr. Pitt's direc“ tion, likewise rejected, that no faith is to be
kept with heretics. »
I answer, ist,—That all persons, who are acquainted with the jurisprudence of the times in which the council was held, must be sensible, that the canon only intimates, that, when any prince grants a safe conduct, which conflicts with the faith or morals of the church of Christ, or with the legal or constitutional rights of the church of any state, he has exceeded his legitimate authority, and that this exercise of his power is consequently null. Such certainly is the doctrine of every Protestant church, episcopal or aerian. If, before the late act for the relief of the Anti-Trinitarians, a person had published, within any part of the united empire of Great Britain and Ireland, a work against the Trinity, and been prosecuted for it, and then had fled the country, and made some place beyond the seas his residence; and his Majesty had granted him a safe conduct to any part of his cismarine dominions; this safe conduct would not have protected the offender against the process: the judge would not even have allowed it to be pleaded.
I answer, 2dly,—That the council directs that “ the safeguard ought not to prevent any ecclesi“ astical judge from punishing such heretics.” Now an ecclesiastical judge, can, as such, punish only by ecclesiastical censures. No safeguard can prevent an ecclesiastical court from punishing a delinquent by these. This is the acknowledged doctrine, of the Roman Catholic, the Anglican, the Lutheran, and the Calvinian churches.
Thus, the question of the lawfulness of breaking faith with heretics does not arise upon this decree. If the Council of Constance had decreed it to be lawful, it would have covered itself with indelible infamy.
I beg leave to add, that having, in every stage of my long life, lived in habits of intimacy or acquaintance with all descriptions of Roman Catholics,--the young, the old, the literate, the illiterate, natives of this country, foreigners, ecclesiastic and secular, I have never known one, who did not treat the charge of our holding it lawful to break faith with heretics with indignation, and consider it as an execrable calumny. You know the indignation with which the foreign universities express themselves upon it.