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HOME > Library > Books > The Protestant, Essays on the Principal Points of Controversy Between the Church of Rome and the Reformed by William M'Gavin(1833)
"Essays on the Principal Points of Controversy Between
by William M'Gavin
HAIL & FIRE REPRINTS 2008
Conclusion of Mr. Bradley's Letter. The Subject Of Auricular Confession Resumed. Instructions And Devotions For Confession From The "Garden of the Soul."
Saturday, April 1st, 1820
"The last word in the preceding paragraph recalls my attention to another circumstance peculiarly characteristic of Papists, and which, in my view of the matter, springs from the manner in which they are taught. This circumstance is their proneness to dissimulation and falsehood, when they think they will promote the cause of their holy and infallible church. To do justice to this subject would require more time than I can at present spare; and the light which you have already thrown on it, renders any thing like a full discussion of it by me, quite unnecessary. There are, however, two ways in which Papists manifest a proneness to dissimulation and falsehood, in favour of their church, on which, as far as I remember, you have not yet touched. - One of these ways is, by denying or maintaining certain doctrines, when they think that either the one or the other will best serve their cause. There are two subjects on which they are, in this respect, dreadfully guilty. These are, 'the power of the priest to forgive sins,' and 'the kind of worship which they pay, and ought to pay, to saints and images.' On these subjects, I have met Papists, who maintained directly opposite opinions; and who maintained them at different times, with equal vigour and virulence. But take which side they please, they are at all times ready to quote scripture, and abuse Protestants for misrepresenting them. The other way in which Papists are guilty of dissimulation and falsehood, in favour of their holy and infallible church, is, by denying that they are Papists, and publicly professing themselves Protestants. This is a thing very often done. But I do not rest my charge, so much on the numbers who actually do this, as on those who approve of it where it is done. There is nothing among Papists more common, than to represent a large portion of the great, even the greatest, in our land, as like King Charles the Second, Catholics in heart, though Protestants by public profession; and, instead of considering this a disgrace, they consider it one of the great glories of their church. Nothing they think can confer higher honour on their cause, than for persons who have lived Protestants to die in their communion; and rather than lose such honours as these, they will invent and publish a thousand falsehoods. From what I have read of your work, sir, I presume, you are too good a 'Protestant' to envy Papists the honour of such persons dying in their communion. Persons whose last act on earth, is to proclaim their infamy, by publishing their hypocrisy, are surely such as 'shall awake to shame and everlasting contempt;' such as 'shall come forth to the resurrection of damnation.' 'How can these hypocrites - how can this generation of vipers, escape the damnation of hell?'
"Persons educated, and capable of acting in the manner now described, could not be uninterested spectators of the change I had made. Their conduct in reference to this change is worthy of notice, as it strikingly indicates the spirit of popery. As soon as the fact got abroad, the hue and cry was raised against me; and every effort was made to hunt me down. Motives, at once the most abominable and the most inconsistent with each other, were ascribed to me, and were employed to account for the atrocious and damnable part I had acted. Truth and decency, and everything else, fitted to do honour to a religious profession, were readily sacrificed to render me odious, and to excite suspicion against me among Protestants. Nor did they in some cases labour in vain. There were among my acquaintances some Protestants, not unlike one to whom you have given some portion of celebrity, not very enviable. They were indeed Protestants; but this was owing to a mere circumstance; and that circumstance is, that their parents happened to be Protestants before them. This was all the reason they could give for their religious profession; and they did not hesitate to say, 'that no man ought to be trusted, who could change his religion.' The number of such ignorant and inconsistent Protestants was but small; and instead of injuring, their conduct ultimately did me much good. It excited the sympathy and the kindness of many who might otherwise have taken little interest in my affairs. The friends whom God then raised up for me, have not since for a single moment forsaken me. I found them, in August last, the same kind, warm-hearted, generous friends, I had found them nineteen years before.
"But the efforts of Papists were not in my case, more than in the case of others, who had gone in the same way before me, to be confined to words. A John Huss and a Jerome of Prague could be reasoned with and abused; but if reasoning and abuse would not reclaim them from heresy, Papists could wield other weapons, and they did wield them. In suffering some personal violence for daring to think for myself, on the things that belong to my peace, 'no new thing happened to me.' When arguments and calumny failed to bring me back to the mother church, some of her worthy sons endeavoured on two occasions, by blood and battery, to convince me of the errors into which I had fallen. On both these occasions I had resource to the law of the land for protection and punishment; and had no little reason to rejoice, that the laws were administered by Protestants. On one of these occasions, a severe fine was exacted, and considerable bail demanded and given, for the future good behaviour of the culprit, or I should rather say, 'of the zealous, pious, and peaceable missionary of the holy and infallible church of Rome.'
"Soon after this event, I came to Scotland; and must say that I found in it Papists as bigoted and as intolerant as I met with in Ireland. Of their bigotry and intolerance I could mention some facts; but they are unnecessary. They would at any rate be but as drops added to the ocean.
" When I reflect, sir, on 'the great things which God hath done for me, I should indeed be glad. My mouth should be filled with laughter, and my tongue with singing.' I have been delivered from great darkness, and, I must add, from great danger. I will not say, that none within the pale of the church of Rome are saved; I would fondly hope that there are many within the pale of that church who do not believe all, and trust in all, that is taught them by their priests; but who chiefly take the oracles of God for their guide, and firmly trust in that atonement which is revealed in them, as the foundation of pardon and acceptance with God. Being Papists, however, much of the abominations of popery must adhere to their opinions and practices; and before they can become partakers of eternal salvation, they must be purified from all these - and themselves 'saved yet so as by fire.' But, while charity leads me to hope this, I must declare that I could not hope it of one whose views of religion are similar to those I was taught, and which I entertained, when a Papist. Such views are most certainly subversive of the mediation of Christ; and render it of none effect to them who are under their influence. In such a state of things, then, I must have been lost! and lost for ever! How grateful ought I to be for the mighty and merciful deliverance I have experienced from such darkness and danger! O that I were enabled to walk worthy of it! 'Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul; and forget not all his benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies.'
" With what is contained in the preceding pages, sir, you are at liberty to do as you think proper; and if you think proper to publish any part of them, you are at liberty to give or withhold my name, as you please. - Of the truth of the facts contained in these pages, you need have no doubt. Many of them must, from their nature, depend upon my own authority; but for all those of a public kind, I can, if necessary, produce hundreds of witnesses, popish and Protestant. 'These things were not done in a corner.' Of my own character I forbear to say anything, but, as I presume I am entirely unknown to you, I refer you to the following gentlemen in Glasgow; gentlemen with whom I have had the honour of being more or less intimate, for many years. - [Then follow the names of five clergymen, and several other gentlemen, of this city.]
" I am, sir, yours truly,
more to come . . .
"They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them." Joh 16:2-4 KJV
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