Upon Papal Aggression
At the meeting of Commission of
Assembly in November he made a lengthened speech on the subject of Papal
Aggression. The aggression complained of was a Papal Bull for establishing a
hierarchy in England. On the same subject he addressed a public meeting held in
the Music Hall, Edinburgh, in the beginning of December. He said -
"I do not feel it necessary to travel over the ground which has been already so well occupied, - not that the subject, but that the time is exhausted. I feel myself perfectly free to concur in the remarks of the preceding speaker (Dr. Thomson) as to our not seeking to meet this aggression on the part of Rome by enforcing any civil pains or even by restoring civil disabilities. I feel persuaded that the time is gone by when any such measures could be adopted ; and I feel that we must have recourse to other weapons. But I cannot agree with those who think that either this aggression of the Church of Rome, or the more prominent aggressions of that Church, - for she is always on the aggressive, - are to be met purely and exclusively with spiritual weapons and spiritual means. I concur in the viaws expressed by preceding speakers, that there is in this system of Romanism such an essential intermixture of the civil and the spiritual, - that the claims of the Church of Rome have such a direct hearing on the civil and political rights and interests of man, - that it concerns individuals and nations, the prerogertives of sovereigns and the liberties of the people, that this system should ha narrowly watched, and that it should not be regarded as in all respects entitled to be placed on the same footing with other forms of religious profession and belief.
For example, it has been already said by preceding speakers that there must be a limitation to the unrestricted recognition of the law of toleration as regards some parts of the Popish worship. I presume that none of you will hold that it is any real infringement upon the essential rights of conscience for a Protestant country to prohibit and to put down Papal processions, with the adoration of the host. I take it for granted that if this should he the next aggression on the part of the Church of Rome, - if we shall be threatened with Popish processions along our streets, with the object of idolatrous worship flaring before the eyes of a Protestant people, and expecting, moreover, that a Protestant people shall bow down before it and pay it respect, or, failing this, he dragged to the ground, - no puling, whining sentimentalism about liberty of conscience and the rights of man will prevent this Protestant country from puttmg down what is an abomination in the sight of heaven, and on abomination as yet in the sight of men in this land.
And I venture to think, - and here I speak entirely on my own responsibility, and simply as an individual, and rather in the way of throwing out a question than enunciating a principle, - I venture to think that something more even might be done, and ought to be done, in dealing with the Popish religion as tolerated among us. I venture to throw out the question - How far might it not be the duty of the Sovereign and Legislature of a Protestant conntry to protect all the subjects of her Majesty in the full and free use of the anthorised version of the Scriptures? I cannot help thinking that there lies somewhere here a principle which it would be well for the Legislature and statesmen seriously to ponder. I cannot imagine that it could be considered as an infringement on the liberty and toleration awarded to the Church of Rome that the Sovereign of these realms, in the spirit of her ancestor, should give forth the utterance that every man, woman, and child within her dominions ought to possess a copy of the Word of God in the vernacular tongue, and that no priest, and no Pope should have a right to come between her subjects and the Word of God, and to debar them from having free access to the water of life.
I may explain that this, of course, would not imply any interference with the rights of the Romish clergy in regard to using all their influence to keep their people away from the reading of the Scriptures. Let them use all possible arguments, and all possible modes of persuasion, - let them preach till they are tired against the free use of the bible in the vernacular tongue. It need mot even interfere with the legitimate exercise of discipline. The Romish Church ought, if she sees fit, exercise discipline on her adherents if she finds a copy of the Word of God in their possession.
But I would have these two things made very summarily illegal, - the burning of a bible by a Popish priest when he finds it in a poor mans house, and the cursing of the poor man from the altar, so as to exclude him from the charities of civil and social life. There is a difference between the legitimate exercise of discipline in the way of declaring a person to be no longer the member of a church, and the getting up of a scene of a popish alter, when, with bell, book, and candle, a man is cursed, and denouunced in the hearing of his fellow-citizens, and is actually barred out, not merely from the spiritual privileges, but formally and professedly barred out from all the charities , and all the hospitalities, and till the necessaries of this life.
FROM "Memoirs of Dr. Candlish" by Wm Wilson
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