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ON HIS SECESSION FROM THE CHURCH OF
CHARLES HASTINGS COLLETTE,
AUTHOR OF "ROMANISM IN ENGLAND EXPOSED."
“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”—1 THES. V. 21.
In submitting the following pages to the public, the writer would wish it to be understood that he lays no claim to originality. He is aware that the same ground has been gone over, again and again, by many more able reasoners and industrious compilers than himself. But, as Rome is engaged incessantly in repeating her arguments, and putting forth her claims, they must be repeatedly met, answered, and their fallacies exposed. And this is rendered the more necessary at the present time, when we find those who are possessed of superior education, and have the means before them of readily ascertaining the truth, are not only led away by the allurements of these vain arguments and pretensions, but become themselves, in turn, bold dogmatists. Each particular case, therefore, as it presents itself to us, should, in like manner, be promptly met, exposed, and refuted.
Lord Feilding is one of those late perverts to Popery, who, in every sense of the word, has had nothing to gain by the change but a most unenviable notoriety. We, therefore, naturally ask, What could have been the reasons and motives which induced him to secede from the Church of England ? His motives we must believe to be sincere, for he declares his readiness, like a “ true child of the Crusaders,” to “ fight for the truth, careless of obloquy and the world's opinion." His lordship declares his reason for leaving the Church of his birth, education, and country to be, that there is, in her, as he asserts, an “entire absence of a living definite authority in matters of Faith. . . . Such a living definite authority, conclusive and infallible, as guided by the promised teaching of the Holy Ghost, he finds alone claimed and alone EXERCISED in the Church of Rome." It is, then, this phase of Romanism, 50 arrogantly assumed and put forward by the Church of Rome, and so dogmatically repeated by her new disciple, which the writer has endeavoured to meet, expose, and refute, in the following letters.
Though we may not doubt the integrity of purpose of his lordship, we have sufficiently cogent reasons for doubting the soundness of his reasoning powers; the writer despairs, therefore, of making any impression on his mind by the arguments adduced; but he lives in hope that his lordship's advisers may consider this pamphlet worthy of their consideration, and may be induced to come forward and vindicate the position assumed by their over-zealous pupil.
Lord Feilding has been led to believe that the Church of Rome is the “ centre of unity.” It is proved that, on the subject of " Infallibility" (the key-stone of her belief), this Church has never claimed it, and her members are themselves at variance as to the locality, extent, and effect of this attribute. It was the author's original intention to have examined each peculiar dogma of the modern Church of Rome, and to have proved each, in its turn, to be not only novel and unscriptural, but that her followers, when they come to define their peculiar views on each dogma, are not in agreement among themselves, and therefore, her claim to be the “ centre of unity” is as vain and false as her claim to infallibility: but, for the present, he has contented himself with the subject immediately raised by Lord Feilding's Letter to the “ Times,” viz., "Popish Infallibility." His lordship's advisers may, hereafter, afford the writer an opportunity of carrying out his original intention.
The first six Letters appeared in successive numbers of the “ Historic Times ;" the other five have been added in this reprint. ,
London, December, 1850.
TO VISCOUNT FEILDING.
My LORD,-What had been the subject of rumour, was confirmed by your letter to the editor of the Times. You have, my lord, openly declared your secession from the Church of England, to join that which we, from our infancy, have been taught to consider a false and an apostate Church. By this act you have withdrawn your allegiance from our Most Gracious Queen, in matters temporal as well as spiritual, to obey the dictates of the head of the Church Papal. The decrees and bulls issued from the fountain head of the so-called “ centre of unity,” which to this day remain unrepealed, absolve you from your allegiance to all heretical princes. Roma locuta, causa finita est.
nd is a land of ligious, as well as civil liberty. Here the idolatrous Hindoo, the rigid Mussulman, the unbelieving Jew, and intolerant and superstitious Papist, enjoy equal protection. Here each may openly declare and teach his peculiar doctrines and sentiments, and glory in maintaining the religion of his forefathers. The liberty of the press of this country, is one of those great privileges which we, and all these sects and denominations of believers, enjoy,—the boast of this enlightened nation, and the envy of the world. Availing yourself of this glorious liberty, you should, in publicly announcing your determination to secede from the Established Church of this country, have congratulated yourself that you enjoyed that liberty, which the “ infallible” head of that “centre of unity,” “guided by the Holy Ghost,” denies to his subjects in his own country. Is it not strange that you, a Romanist, avail yourself of that liberty of conscience and liberty of the