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general destruction of the world. Since the period, however, of the elevation of this Prelate, to the dignity of Sovereign Pontiff, two centuries and upwards have elapsed in perfect tranquillity, and all the affairs of the world have continued to proceed, without more than usual interruption, in the same peaceful and regular course.
Besides it cannot be contended, that the language which is imputed to this Pontiff, however, it may be thought to be marked with extravagance, and with guilt, will still go the length of that conduct, which we know will be pursued by the person of Antichrist. Such language neither does establish, nor is intended to establish any thing, like that equality, which will be attempted by Antichrist, betwixt, the glorious Majesty of God and himself; nor does it intimate any assumption of divine honor, or of divine worship; no more than the exalted situation of chief governor of Ireland, supposes an equality of rank or of
power with the sovereign king of Great Britain. may be also permitted to remark, that the extravagance or the folly of any member of the Catholic Church, however exalted may be his situation, or however splendid his talents, cannot, in fairness, be imputed to his Church, nor can she, nor ought she, in justice, to be considered as responsible for the conduct of any one single individual whatever. If it really be true, however, that this Pontiff in a moment of thoughtless extravagance, did actvally presume to usurp the title and the powers of Vice-God, then I can say, that I know but one proceeding of men, with which his conduct can be compared; and that is the assumption of the title, and of the powers of supreme head of Christ's Church by a woman, or by a man unpossessed of any of the characters of the PRIEST
So totally destitute, indeed, of every appear. ance of foundation in reason, is the opinion which supposes the Pope to be the person of Antichrist; that many Protestants of reputation and of learning, themselves have seen, and acknowledged the impossibility of maintaining it. In the number of these men, I can inention the name of Grotius, whom every man of every religious persuasion, must equally respect for the candor of his character, and for the extent of his learning. In his letter* addressed to John Gerald Vossius, a protestant as well as bimself, he informs us, that, in his own communion, there were some who, in private, rejected the opinion in question, and yet maintained it in public, because the idea was thought to be connected with the interests of the reformed Protestant
• Letter 557.
religion. The same Vossius, in a letter in answer, observes, that he had admonished a certain minis. ter of Dortcht, of the impropriety of thus attempting to impose on the people, even with a view of injuring the religion of the Catholic; and that in return he was charged by the minister in question, with a disposition too friendly to the Catholic system himself. This minister also observed to him on the same occasion, be informs us, that the Papists could not be run down too much, that the people might the more detest their Church. This, adds Vossius, is much the same as some others said to me at Amsterdam: Why should we not say that the Pope is Antichrist? Must we leare off' saying so, and make the people leave our communion more and more, as if too many did not leave it already,*
In the number of English Protestant divines, I can refer you to the writings of Dr. Hammond, who has composed paraphrases on the second chapter of the second to the Thessalonians, and on the Apocalypse of St. John ;-to those of Mr, Thorndike, † and to those of Mr. Rich. Montague, I who all have seen and acknowledged the absurdity of the opinion in question. These men, however, no one will suspect of a disposition in
favor of Catholic principles; but they were men of talents, above the danger of misunderstanding, and of honesty above the meanness of misrepresenting even the opinions of an enemy.
I remain, &c.
Bath, Jan. 13, 1814.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
I HAVE before asserted, in opposition to Mr.
*'s insinuations, that the Catholic Church cannot be regarded as the Mysterious BABYLON of the Apocalypse: and on a just and impartial view of all circumstances, we shall find reasons to convince us, that the opposite opinion is not less absurd, nor less indefensible than the one which we have considered in the foregoing letter. If, indeed, we are to suppose that the Catholic Church, on the occasion in question, is in the contemplation of the prophet, then must we of necessity, also be led to sup. pose, that, for a long succession of centuries, the true Church of Christ had totally ceased to exist, as a visible society, in every part of the world. Even supposing, for a moment, that the Catholic Church has erred, to the extent of which she is accused by her enemies, from the doctrines, and from the practices of early antiquity, yet it will not be denied by the Protestant bimself, that she had been involved in those errors for the period, at least, of a thousand years,