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present day, who asks, "should any number of that (the Romish) persuasion come forward with a mitigated view of the peculiarities of Catholics, so as to leave the great doctrines of faith and repentance unimpaired by them, and state, that an averment of the Bible has never in his instance been neutralized, or practically stript of its authority by an averment of Popes and Councils-on what principle of candour shall the recognition of a common Christianity be withheld from him?"*
Now, in answer to this question, it may be stated, with all due deference to the eminent person from whom it proceeds, that our Lord himself has warned us against an implicit reliance upon the professions of men. If Dr. Chalmers were better acquainted, than he professes himself to be, with the present state of the Catholic mind, he might, perhaps, see reason to think that it is a part of the modern policy of Rome, carefully and systematically to accommodate itself to the circumstances in which it is placed. Thus, though Popery
be every where essentially the same, yet we must not suppose that it in all countries assumes the same external hue. Chameleon-like, it adapts its colour to that of the surrounding medium. Since the Reformation, the Papists have been much more guarded and ambiguous than before, in their public formularies. They also vary considerably in the grossness of their practice in different countries. We shall not, perhaps, among ourselves, hear "that the picture of our Lady of such a place has opened or shut its eyes, or changed colour, or perspired;" yet these abominations still exist in Italy and the
A sermon preached before the Glasgow Auxiliary Hibernian Society, by Thomas Chalmers, D. D. Preface, p. 7.
Spanish Peninsula, and are encouraged by the Priesthood; nay, even in our own days such things have been encouraged by the whole Roman Catholic Prelates of our sister island.* But in this country, the Romish advocates, and especially such among them as are of the order of the Jesuits, will at all times be prepared with mitigated views of their doctrines and practices, in order to make them palatable to Protestants. We do not say that all such statements are to be rejected as designedly false; but we do aver, that they are not to be received with implicit confidence.
But no affirmations on the part of Papists, "that the system is imaginary," can weigh with the Protestant who sees its real existence inscribed on the public and authorized formularies of the Romish Church, and who takes "heed unto that sure word of prophecy as unto a light that shineth in a dark place," (2 Pet. i. 19,) wherein the continued existence of the Antichrist till he is destroyed by the brightness of our Saviour's second appearance is expressly predicted.
I deem it necessary, before closing this Preface, to remark that I do not profess in this volume to exhibit a complete portrait of Popery. Accordingly, it will be found that I have said nothing about transubstantiation and the idolatry of the mass. It seems to me, that to touch on these subjects without a full discussion of them, would be injudicious; and to have completely investigated them would have increased the work to a greater size than might be conducive to its general usefulness. I have, therefore, merely endeavoured to seize and delineate such of the more prominent features of the sys
*See Note in p. 152 of this Tract.
tem as seemed to be necessary to justify the contents of my title-page.
It remains for me to say, that as I have largely borrowed from the works of former commentators, I make this general acknowledgment, to preclude the necessity of a formal reference to their pages, in every place where I have used their arguments or illustrations.
TO THE SECOND EDITION.
THE body of the Tract, of which a second Edition is now sent forth, was written about eighteen years ago, in consequence of the request of an excellent clergyman now deceased,* that I would publish an answer to the Letters of the Rev. Mr. Calderbank, a Romish Priest, who had recently been successful in persuading a young lady of his acquaintance to apostatize to the Church of Rome.
After, however, I had completed the MS. as far as the end of the seventh chapter, it was laid aside by me, and I gave up all intention of publishing it, not from any change of opinion as to the importance of the subject, but rather from a fear that I had not treated it in a manner worthy of its deep and transcendent importance. The work would probably never have seen the light, but for the occurrence of an unexpected circumstance, which awakened my mind to a sense of the urgent necessity of some effort being made, to arouse the Protestant Churches to a sense of their danger. The circumstance above alluded to, was the publication of a Sermon preached by the Rev. Dr. Chalmers before the Glasgow Auxiliary Hibernian Society, which is referred to in the preface to the former edition.
*The late Rev. J. Serjeant of Graffham in Sussex, the Biographer of Martin and Tomlinson.
As soon as this discourse fell into my hands, I felt an ardent desire to give a decided expression of my dissent from some of the sentiments which were contained in it, and I therefore resolved on the publication of my MS., and having added the last chapter, in which are some strictures on the sermon of Dr. Chalmers, with the preface, the Tract was sent forth in October, 1818.
The great and alarming increase of the Romish Church in these kingdoms since that period, is not generally known to the Christian public. It becomes, therefore, necessary to state some particulars of it for the information of Protestants, who are not so swallowed up with the politics or the affairs of this world, as to be dead to the interests of the kingdom of God.
It appears then from the Laity's Directory, a Romish work for the year 1814, that the number of Chapels of that Church at that time in London and its vicinity, were twenty-two, and in the whole kingdom besides, the number reported was only twenty-three.*
Now, however, according to a letter I have recently received from the Secretary of the Reformation Society, the number of Chapels in Great Britain is four hundred and ninety-seven, and the increase since 1824 has been eighty-eight, viz. sixtyfive in England, and twenty-three in Scotland. The increase in Scotland has been since 1829, previous to which period the number in that country was not published. In speaking of this large increase in their numbers, the advocates of the Romish Church use the following language: "If any proof were wanting of the rapid and wide progress
* Protestant Journal, vol. i. p. 31.--There must therefore be a mistake in the number of Chapels stated by the British Review, p. vii.