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Mendham's Memoirs of the Council of Trent, principally derived from Manu-
FOR JULY, 1835.
Art. 1.-1. Memoirs of the Council of Trent; principally derived from Manuscript and unpublished Records, namely, Histories, Diaries, Letters, and other Documents of the leading Actors in that Assembly. With Plates. By the Rev. Joseph Mendham, M.A. 8vo. pp. xxxii. 380. Price 14s. London, 1834.
2. Remarks on the erroneous Opinions entertained respecting the Catholic Religion. A New Edition. By Henry Howard, Esq. 8vo. pp. 16. London, (gratis,) 1829.
THIS volume, the production of a learned Protestant clergy
man, exhibits the startling novelty of a Dedication to the Pope; but it is one which will not procure for the Author the favour of his Holiness, or protect his book against being placed in the Judex Expurgatoricis of the Court of Rome. We shall gratify the curiosity of our readers by transcribing it.
To Gregory XVI., Sovereign and Pontiff of Rome, to whom it is competent to attempt the only means, which, if adopted, would be effectual, of exonerating his Church from the continued charge of superstition and idolatry, of perfidy, cruelty, and assumed dominion over secular sovereigns, by calling a council, for the express purpose of condemning and abolishing every enormity which classes itself under those offensive heads; the present Memoirs of a Council, to which, with others, they are principally indebted for their origin or establishment, are not irreverently addressed by one of the best wishers to his temporal and eternal welfare, THE AUTHOR.'
If Mr. Mendham were not much too grave a person to be suspected of intending a joke, we should have supposed that this page of his work was meant in burlesque. The Christian world. has seen enough of councils, to know that nothing good is likely
ever to proceed from them; and as to the present reigning supreme Pontiff, his infallibility would be exerted for no other purpose than the upholding of every enormity of the Papal system. Mr. Mendham has given, in his Appendix, a copy of the original edition of the Encyclical Letter of Gregory XVI., obtained, not without difficulty, from Rome; and the contents, he remarks, ' will demonstrate in what form and degree the doctrine defined ' and established by the last (and likely ever to be the last) Ge'neral Council of the Roman Church, is at this day professed, published, and inculcated by the Supreme Head and Organ of 'its Faith; and how far the indulgent, but not eminently sa'gacious opinion is well founded, that the Faith of Romanists is changed or improved; an opinion against which not only the 'whole Papal hierarchy and clergy, but Francis Plowden, and 'Charles Butler, Esqrs., reclaim. In this Pontifical Manifesto, of which we regret that an English Translation is not given, the worthy successor of the Piuses, and Pauls, and Leos of the darkest ages, thus raves against the sacred rights of liberty of conscience.
Atque ex hoc putidissimo INDIFFERENTISMI fonte absurda illa fluit ac erronea sententia, seu potius deliramentum, asserendam esse ac vindicandam cuilibet LIBERTATEM CONSCIENTIA. Cui quidem pestilentissimo errori viam sternit plena illa, atque immoderata libertas opinionum, quæ in sacræ, et civilis rei labem late grassatur, dictitantibus summam impudentiam nonnullis, aliquid ex ea commodi in Religionem promanare. At quæ pejor mors animæ, quam libertas erroris ? · inquiebat Augustinus.’*
Again, as to the liberty of the press.
Huc spectat deterrima illa, ac numquam satis exsecranda et detestabilis libertas artis librariæ ad scripta quælibet edenda in vulgus, quam tanto convicio audent nonnulli efflagitare ac promovere. Perhorrescimus, Venerabiles Fratres, intuentes, quibus monstris doctrinarum, seu potius quibus errorum portentis obruamur, quæ longe ac late ubique disseminantur ingenti librorum multitudine, libellisque, et scriptis mole quidem exiguis, malitia tamen permagnis, e quibus maledictionem egressam illacrymamur super faciem terræ. Sunt tamen, proh dolor! qui eo impudentiæ abripiantur, ut asserant pugnaciter, hanc
* From this polluted fountain of "Indifference," flows that absurd and erroneous doctrine, or rather raving, in favour and in defence of liberty of conscience;" for which most pestilential error, the course is opened by that entire and wild liberty of opinion, which is everywhere attempting the overthrow of religious and civil institutions ; and which the unblushing impudence of some has held forth as an advantage to religion. "But what," exclaimed St. Augustine, "what worse death to the soul than freedom in error ?”
errorum colluviem inde prorumpentem satis cumulate compensari ex libro aliquo, qui in hac tanta pravitatum tempestate ad Religionem ac veritatem propugnandum edatur.-Nefas profecto est, omnique jure improbatum, patrari data opera malum certum ac majus, quia spes sit, inde boni aliquid habitum iri. Numquid venena libere spargi, ac publice vendi, comportarique, imo et obbibi debere, sanus quis dixerit, quod remedii quidpiam habeatur, quo qui utuntur, eripi eos ex interitu identidem contingat?
Verum longe alia fuit Ecclesiæ disciplina in exscindenda malorum librorum peste vel ab Apostolorum ætate, quos legimus grandem librorum vim publice combussisse.'* p. 367.
This Scriptural authority is followed up by references to the decrees of the Fifth Lateran Council and the encyclical letters of former Popes of blessed memory, all condemning the toleration of works containing impure doctrine. The Tridentine
Fathers, it is remarked, made this a matter of their chief solicitude, applying as a remedy to this so great evil, that most salutary decree, de Indice librorum quibus impura doctrina contineretur conficiendo. We exclaim against the Mohammedan barbarians who made war against libraries and literature; but the Lateran and Tridentine doctors are their rivals in this unintelligent and intolerant zeal.
Waxing warmer as he proceeds, Pope Gregory, in insisting upon the duty of passive obedience to all emperors and kings,
*‹ Hither tends that worst and never sufficiently to be execrated and detested liberty of the press, for the diffusion of all manner of writings, which some so loudly contend for, and so actively promote. We shudder, Venerable Brethren, at the sight of the monstrous doctrines, or rather portentous errors, which crowd upon Us in the shape of numberless volumes and pamphlets, small in size, but big with evils, which stalk forth in every direction, breathing a malediction which we deplore over the face of the earth. Yet are there not wanting, alas! those who carry their effrontery so far, as to persist in maintaining that this amalgamation of errors is sufficiently resisted, if, in this inundation of bad books, a volume now and then issue from the press in favour of religion and of truth. But is it not a crime then, never sufficiently to be reprobated, to commit deliberate and greater evil, merely with the hope of seeing some good arise out of it? Or is that man in his senses, who entrusts poison to every hand, exposes it at every mart, suffers it to be carried about on all occasions, aye, and to become a necessary ingredient of every cup, because an antidote may be afterwards procured which chance may render effective?
Far other hath been the discipline of the Church, in extirpating this pest of bad books, even as far back as the times of the Apostles, who, we read, committed a great number of books publicly to the flames.'
thus inveighs against those who, with detestable insolence, contend for popular liberty.
· Huc sane scelestissima deliramenta, consiliaque conspirarunt Waldensium, Beguardorum, Wiclefistarum, aliorumque hujusmodi filiorum Belial, qui humani generis sordes, ac dedecora fuere, merito idcirco ab Apostolica hac Sede toties anathemate confixi. Nec alia profecto ex causa omnes vires intendunt veteratores isti, nisi ut cum Luthero ovantes gratulari sibi possint, liberos se esse ab omnibus: quod ut facilius celeriusque assequantur, flagitiosiora quælibet audacissime aggrediuntur. Neque latiora et Religioni, et Principatui ominari possemus ex eorum votis, qui Ecclesiam a Regno separari, mutuamque Imperii cum Sacerdotio concordiam abrumpi discupiunt. Constat quippe, pertimesci ab impudentissimæ libertatis amatoribus concordiam illam, quæ semper rei et sacræ et civili fausta extitit ac salutaris.
At ad ceteras acerbissimas causas, quibus soliciti sumus, et in communi discrimine dolore quodam præcipuo angimur, accessere consociationes quædam, statique cœtus, quibus, quasi agmine facto cum cujuscumque etiam falsæ religionis ac cultus sectatoribus, simulata quidem in religionem pietate, vere tamen novitatis, seditionumque ubique promovendarum cupidine, libertas omnis generis prædicatur, perturbationes in sacram et civilem rem exscitantur, sanctior quælibet auctoritas discerpitur. p. 370.
* These illustrious examples of unshaken subjection to Rulers, necessarily flowing from the ever holy precepts of the Christian Religion, loudly condemn the insolence and impiety of those who, maddening in the free unbridled passion of untamed liberty, leave no stone unturned to break down and destroy the constitution of states, and, under the appearance of liberty, to bring slavery on the people. This was the object of the impious ravings and schemes of the Waldenses, of the Beguardins, of the Wickliffites, and of the other children of Belial, the refuse of human nature and its stain, who were so often and so justly anathematized by the Apostolic See. Nor had they any other object than to triumph with Luther in the boast," that they were independent of every one;" and to attain this the more easily and readily, they fearlessly waded through every crime.
'Nor can we augur more consoling consequences to religion and to governments, from the zeal of some to separate the Church from the State, and to burst the bond which unites the priesthood to the Empire. For it is clear, that this union is dreaded by the profane lovers of liberty, only because it has never failed to confer prosperity on both.
'But in addition to the other bitter causes of Our solicitude, and of that weight of sorrow which oppresses Us in the midst of so much confusion, come certain associations, and political assemblies, in which, as if a league were struck with the followers of every false religion and form of worship, under a pretended zeal for piety, but in reality' urged by the desire of change, and of promoting sedition, liberty of every kind is maintained, revolutions in the state and in religion are fomented, and the sanctity of all authority is torn in pieces.'