Thursday, 14 November 2013

Ancient and Modern Catholicism.

We have lately read a little book written by the Rev. N. Rigby, of Egton Bridge, a Roman Catholic Clergyman, published at York. It is entitled "The real Doctrine of the Catholic Church of the Scriptures." According to this book, the religion of modern Catholics, is very little different to that of the Protestants, as regards their general views of the Scriptures. The propriety of their being read by the Laity is insisted on. If the view taken by the Rev. N. Rigby, be indeed that of modern Catholics in general, it is a great pity that his book is not in the hands of every individual Catholic; for there would then be but small occasion for offence, between them and the Protestants.
But the hands of the Catholics are as full of religious trash, as those of the English Protestants ; save, that the more modern trash is something more natural than the old.
The time is now come, when by appeals to the book of nature, which is (of course) as much the book of God as the book of revelation, except, that it reveals only part of his attributes, while the Bible reveals the whole, intelligent and philosophical Christians both Roman and Protestant, read the Scriptures with a different sort of mind to what our unphilosohical and ignorant ancestors did. And hence it is, that every new Protestant and Catholic book which issues from the Press, when written by a scholar and a gentleman, displays more and more affinity with the book of nature; they are no longer parallel lines, as they used to be, proceeding for ever alongside each other without at all approaching; but the lines have received a small inclination towards each other of late years. The inclination may be very small, but their ultimate contact is certain. The fact is, that the book of nature, the key to unlock which is not theory, but experiment ; not hypothesis, but facts ; the book of nature we say, being now read by all men who receive a tolerable education, whether gentlemen or mechanics, the book of Revelation becomes interpreted thereby in a manner so satisfactory to the conscience and understanding. that men begin to eye the dogmas of ancient theology in their ponderous times of dull arrogance, with contempt ; and the trash of Religious Societies with pity.
All controversies both ancient and modern, had and have their chief foundation in lucre. The Roman and Greek churches, were part of the civil government of Constantinople and Rome for many centuries; and the Scriptures during these ages, were not interpreted by God's other book; the book of nature, as opened by the hand of science, but were interpreted according to the policy of the Emperors and Popes ; and their venal creatures, the Dignitaries of the churches of those days.
The Protestant religion in England, is still allied with the Government, who grant it a revenue of seven millions a-year, to preach up the thirty-nine articles, and all the heresies of Church venality. If the thirty-nine articles be really Scriptural, it is lucky they were composed by men who had robbed the Catholics of their lands which they had inherited from Alfred the great (Alfred was a Roman Catholic be it remembered) and of which they were not dispossessed even by the the ruthless Nor man conqueror, when he confiscated the estates of the old Saxon and Danish nobility.
The Church of England will presently be reformed in her temporalities and discipline, and her ministers will then be rendered more independent on the Government. Then and not before, we shall have the thirty-nine articles investigated by the light of Scripture; and the Scriptures interpreted by God's other book, the book of nature; by the deduction of science, aided by skill in the higher arts, and by the light of ancient and modern history.
The errors which the people bow down to in the present day, and worship as infallible, will then be questioned and exposed; and the real truth and meaning of the Gospels and Epistles will be made to shine out with meridian splendour. The absurd dogmas and superstitious notions which at present disgrace both the Protestant and Roman Religions, will then gradually lose their hold on the minds of men, and will be given up. Not given up by public vote; not acknowledged, not yielded in form by a series of resolutions passed at public meetings ; but yielded up silently in the parlour and in the closet, as old-fashioned errors become obsolete through the silent conviction and consent of all men who think freely. And then, and not before, will have arrived the true millennium. Men with notions of Christianity similar to those lately promulgated by Bishop Broughton, will be thought very little of in those days.
It is notorious to all men of any reading, that the modern mode of investigating the Secrets of nature is by experiment and inductive reasoning ; whereas before Bacon's time, the mode was by hypothetical premises.
So it has been with the Scriptures. Up to the present day, and even now, the old Aristotelian mode of investigation is pursued. A polemic starts a religious doctrine. He singles out a text or two, on which he builds his vain proposition; he then proceeds to prove it, as he calls it, not by shewing how far his doctrine agrees with God's other book; the book of nature; (which mode of investigation would be analogous to investigating the laws of nature by experiment and inductive reasoning) but he attempts to prove his proposition, by wresting all the other Scriptures.  
But the day is coming, when he who starts a religious theory from certain texts of Scripture, will first shew its agreement with the book of nature. Then the other Scriptures will not appear to be wrested, but on being set forth, will appear as mere illustrations of his proposition; and the word or God will then be honoured even in the sight of infidels; and they will marvel to discover, how beautifully the Book of Revelation dove-tails with the book of Nature.

The Sydney Monitor  6 August 1836, 

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