Page images











Ir cannot have escaped the notice of those who have read, with any attention, the debates in Parliament on what is called, The Catholic Question, that in order to show the purity of the Principles of Catholics, as citizens at least, if not as Christians, an appeal was frequently made to "The Prayer Book," on account of certain Principles which it contained. This appeal was, in particular, made by MR. GRATTAN, MR. G. PONSONBY, MR. PARNELL, and SIR JOHN COX HIPPISLEY.

What is the book, it has been asked, which is thus emphatically styled "The Prayer Book?"- What are the Principles, to which these Gentlemen appeal? When and by whom were they first published? And in what estimation are they held by the body of Roman Catholics?


These and similar questions have frequently been asked; and some of them, no doubt, have been answered: yet to others, I am persuaded, no answer has been given which was satisfactory, even to the persons who undertook to answer them. Hence we find, that the Editors of those Principles, and of "The Prayer Book," who may naturally be supposed to know something of them, have never pretended to assign the precise time of their first publication, nor to mention the name of the person, by whom they were written or if they have ventured to name him, they have fixed upon some one, who could not have been the writer of them. The present Inquiry was therefore undertaken with a view to solve more satisfactorily the above questions in themselves so natural and rational; and, at the same time, not uninteresting to the body of Catholics. But it cannot be well done, unless I give at length The Principles themselves, on account of which "The Prayer Book" has been so frequently mentioned. These then!

give with the title originally prefixed to them by the author in 1680. The language showever of the work itself is, in some instances, rather obsolete: for which reason, in the edition given of them by MR. BERINGTON in 1785, some verbal alterations were made, with the view to accommodate the expression to the more modern forms of speech. By so doing, moreover, the Principles appear to have been more fully and clearly expressed in that, than in any preceding edition. For these reasons, I have given the preference to the edition of 1785, which is also the edition that has been adopted by DR. COPPINGER, and by others.-The few alterations which have been made by that learned prelate, will be found at the bottom of the page.

The reader, no doubt, will be aware, that as the Principles were written long before certain doctrines of the present day were broached, or at a time, when they were little noticed in this country, he is not hastily to conclude, from a little similarity of expression, that the author was therefore favorable to such doctrines.

I must moreover entreat him, not to draw inferences from solitary, detached sentences or paragraphs. By such method the lips of truth itself may be made to teach, with Arius, that the Son is inferior to the Father, and therefore not God: and, with Calvin, that God, by "a horrible decree, destines some to eternal destruction and that it is impossible for these to avoid the necessity of sinning, which is imposed upon them by the ordinance of God." And if this be impiety in one instance, is it not, at least, injustice în the other?

It will be clearly seen, in the following pages, that the Tract intitled Roman Catholic Principles, &c. was penned by a Catholic divine—by a divine of some eminence in the Church-and by one, who had passed the fiery ordeal in defence of his faith.-It will be seen, that those Principles were so favorably received by the Catholic public, that in the short space of six years, they passed through not less than twelve editions;—and that they were solemnly appealed to, in the highest court of English justice, by a Catholic peer,-venerable for his age and for his attachment to his religious principles-" as to the established doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church"-Finally, it will be seen, that they were repeatedly presented to the English nation, as such, by an eminent and accredited champion of the Catholic Faith, the REV. JOHN GOTHER," who was chosen by his superiors, in preference to any other, for the delicate task of explaining, with precision, the Catholic tenets, and showing the exact difference between what we really believe; laying

1 Decretum quidem horribile fateor. Inst. L. 3. ch. 23. Sect. 7 and 9-De Præd. p. 690.

[ocr errors]

aside all opinions, and doubtful points, which do not belong to faith, and the doctrines falsely imputed to us, by the craftiness, or ignorauce of our enemies."- Knowing all this, and knowing, moreover, that it was the opinion of the late learned and venerable bishop, DR. WALMESLEY, that "this exposition of the Catholic doctrine, is composed with great judgment and precision :"-knowing, I say, all this, I may fairly presume, in the first instance, that the work is free from error, and is orthodox; and therefore, if I find a passage in it that is obscure, and that seems, at first sight to favor doctrines not proposed to us by the Church to be believed; I explain it by other passages, which clearly express the Catholic doctrine. In this manner did the holy fathers, and the bishops, and other pastors of the Church, in all ages, and in all places, explain to the faithful the sacred oracles of Scripture: and thus it was that DR. BULL defended, and the learned congregation of ST. MAUR again pub'lished, the works of the Ante-Nicæne fathers of the Church; and for their labors they have received the well-earned thanks of the Christian world.

With regard to "The Prayer-Book," it is sufficient, at present, to say, that it is intitled" True Piety, or the day well spent ;" and is admitted, even by DR. DUIGENAN, "to be in general use among the Catholics of Ireland ;"-that it is the work of DR. COPPINGER, Roman Catholic bishop in the united diocese of Cloyne and Ross, in Ireland; and that in this prayer book, he has inserted The Roman Catholick Principles, &c.; and by thus inserting them, and occasionally altering the expression, he has made those principles his own.




§. I. Of the Catholic Faith, and Church in general.

1. THE fruition of God, and the remission of sin, are not attainable by man, otherwise than in and by the merits of Jesus Christ, who gratuitously purchased them for us.'

2. These merits of Christ, though infinite in themselves, are not applied to us, otherwise than by a right faith in him.2

3. This faith is but one entire,3 and conformable to its object, which is divine revelation; and to which faith gives an undoubting



Eph. ii. 8. 2 Mark, xvi. 16-Heb. xi. 6. 3 Eph. iv. 5. &c.

* This is the original title of the work. Dr. Coppinger styles them simply, Principles of Roman Catholics: and Mr. Berington had before substituted Country for King; and Sections for Paragraphs.

The Reader will recollect that the object of the Author of this tract was, to give a true and candid explanation of his belief, and judgment, in the main points of faith and loyalty, controverted between Catholics and Protestants, as they severally relate to God and the King."-The other essential doctrines of Christianity, being admitted on both sides, are supposed throughout, and not unfrequently alluded to in the body of the work.

No. 2. Are applied to us, chiefly, by the sacraments, which pre-suppose, and indispensably require in us a right faith.-Dr. C. True Piety, ninth edit. Cork, 1813.

« PreviousContinue »