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Title: Reasons for Leaving the Church of Rome

Author: Laurence J. Nolan

Release date: May 8, 2020 [eBook #62055]

Language: English


Transcribed from the 1835 William Carson edition by David Price, email

Pamphlet cover















My Dear Sir George,

Your zeal in the cause of religion, your accomplishments as a perfect Gentleman, and your virtues as a true Christian, induce me to dedicate to you the following avowal of my religious opinions.  Though your high estimation as to public character should demand from me a less familiar tone of language in addressing you, still the thoughts of your past kindness, in the hours of my worldly abandonment, bid me lay aside those expressions which a more formal etiquette might require, and address you now as I would a true, a sincere, but most honored and respected friend.  As I have received no special favor from you, but the ordinary manifestation of your kindness; and as I expect no more than your continuance of such civility, I hope you will not look upon those words as the result of adulation, nor the public consider them as the p. ivlanguage of hypocrisy; for adulation never bends without some intended object, nor does hypocrisy ever act without some hope of compensation.

I would wish that these dedicatory lines should be also expressive of my gratitude for the kindness of my lately acquired friends.  The warmth of my feelings urges me on to a public recital of their names, but a more cool reflection dictates to me at the same time the propriety of their silence.  The useful instructions they have imparted—the domestic happiness of which they had often made me a partaker, and the evident anxiety they have displayed in contributing to my eternal interests, have made impressions on my mind which shall never be obliterated.

The proffered liberality of others I shall never forget—I mean those, who, when imagining me in a state of pecuniary embarrassment, have made me a tender of their purses.  But let not my refusal on such occasions bespeak a want of humility on my part; but rather let it be attributed to the suggestions of that principle, which told me, that it is religion, and not emolument, p. vwhich should constitute the chief object of my change.

While to you, Sir George, and my other lately acquired friends, I offer the warmest acknowledgement of my gratitude, I look with pity, at the same time, upon those who are the mere nominal professors of our faith—those who court one’s friendship when they imagine that either his name or his presence would be an addition to their unmerited popularity; but who would afterwards reject his intercourse, for no other cause than that of becoming a conscientious member of their religion.  Such nominal adhesion to our faith is sometimes worse in its acts than the most avowed hostility to our creed.

I met with one or two others, whose elevated rank in life might point to a more distinguished course in religion, and whose conduct to me would afford a sufficient subject for complaint; but as my intended pamphlet is divested of any insidious reference, this dedication must be also freed from unbecoming personalities.  Let, however, such individuals reflect that, should I refrain from the following avowal of my p. visentiments, the resources of a respectable relationship would furnish me with the means of independent subsistence.  But the advancement of religion is my object—conscience must be my director—for emolument is not my theme.

Should any portion of the following pages be considered as couched in the language of either abuse or misrepresentation, let the fault be ascribed not to the intention, but to the unconsciousness of the writer; for I have never looked upon scurrility as proof, nor misrepresentation as argument.  The one prejudices individuals against the writer, while the other serves only to confirm those errors which a mistaken zeal might be anxious to correct.

In pursuing those thoughts I find I have exceeded the usual limits of a dedication; however, I trust that the matter I had to convey will serve as an apology both to the public and to you, my dear Sir George, from

Your most obedient and
Ever grateful,


Dublin, 14th February, 1835.

p. 7TO THE

“So as much as in me is I am ready to preach the Gospel to you that are at Rome also.  For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.”—Rom. i. 15–16.

My Dear Roman Catholic Friends,

Some months have now elapsed since my separation from your community.  The past delicacy of my health—the thoughts of the important duty I have hereafter to discharge, and a consideration of its awful responsibility, have obliged me to defer until now the following open avowal of my religious opinions.  But my change in life has not diminished my ardour for your spiritual interests; on the contrary, my desires for your eternal salvation have increased.  Your past kindness has a particular claim upon my gratitude, and highly undeserving should I be in the eyes of the public, were I to remain unmindful of your generosity.  Yes, I will assert without any fear of contradiction, that there is no Roman Catholic Clergyman in Ireland could boast of more acts of attention from a people, than I have experienced from your hands in the discharge of my clerical duties.  Your actions had ever corresponded with the profession of your kindness towards me, and your liberality had always stamped the mark of your approbation upon my p. 8conduct in life.  But I hope you will do me the justice in saying, that I have never deviated from the path of honor to catch the air of a fleeting popularity.  Well then, my dear friends, allow me to submit a few humble questions in the language of sincerity to your most serious consideration.  But before I do so, do you throw aside your prejudices—cast off those thoughts which unfounded calumnies might suggest to your minds—and then, as is mentioned in Isaiah, “Come now, and let us reason together.” Isa. i. 18.  Why have I left the circles of your tried friendship, for the uncertainties of yet doubtful acquaintances?  Why have I bartered the smiles for the insulting sneers of you a once attached people?  Why exchange the scenes of worldly ease, of worldly comfort, and worldly independence, for the struggles of a more arduous duty?  Are you not aware, that were I to bend the knee of hypocrisy beneath the mitred head of Roman Episcopal jurisdiction, and submit to those doctrines which Roman credulity would impose, there is not one whose prospects would be more realised, or whose independence more secure?  Why have I retired from the pampered sanctuary of your wealthy church, to look for shelter beneath the persecution of an insulted religion?  Why have I made such an exchange in life?  Oh, my friends, I will tell you.  It is because I have a poor soul to save, and feel convinced that its salvation could not be acquired by continuing in the character of a Roman Clergyman.  It is because I have made a solemn promise on bended knees, and have called upon the heavens to attest the sincerity of my words, that I would no longer act under the garb of p. 9hypocrisy.  It is because, throwing all worldly concerns out of my view, and banishing all thoughts of a temporising necessity from my mind, I have at length accepted of the kind invitation of Jesus, saying, “Come out from among them and be ye separate—and I will receive you, and be a Father unto you.” 2 Cor. vi. 17, 18.

In adopting my present change in life, I anticipate, more or less, the difficulties I have to encounter—the troubles I have to overcome, and the sacrifices I must naturally make on the present trying occasion.  The friends of my past life—the companions of other days, and the acquaintances of my more mature years, have abandoned me.  The very relations who watched over my infant years—who led me by the hand from the cradle of youth into the maturity of life, have also forsaken me; but Heaven, I trust, has not done so—God, I trust, will be my protector; and “if God be for us, who can be against us?” Rom. viii. 31.  Oh, my friends, let persons pause before they condemn—let truth take the place of falsehood—let reason but act as the substitute for prejudice—and then I will ask the candid mind the important question, “should I remain under a conviction of my error?”  Should I, for a mere temporary gratification, barter an eternal good?  Should I, for merely ministering to the wishes of friends and relations, damn this soul which is destined for immortality?  Oh, my friends, consider me, when in the character of the Roman Priesthood, and I will again put the important question, “should I remain any longer under a conviction of my error?”  Think of me, going from the sanctuary to the altar, clothed in the priestly vest—a vest which I considered p. 10as a mere parade of ecclesiastical pomp.  Consider me then as being looked upon as the medium of propitiation between the living and the dead—between heaven and earth—between man and his Creator, and offering up what was considered as a sacrifice of propitiation by some, but what was believed to be only a figure or memorial by me that offered on the occasion; would I not deserve to be damned—shall I repeat the unsanctified expression—would I not deserve to be damned for ever, should I continue any longer bending the knee of hypocrisy beneath the altar of dissimulation?  Yes, and for having continued so long under a conviction of my error, I now most humbly implore forgiveness, for I should have long since acted in correspondence with the words of our Saviour—“For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?—or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Mark viii. 36–37.

Perhaps it would be asserted by some, that my present change is the effect of the moment—that it originates from whim or caprice, and is not the result of coolness and reflection.  But, my friends, the months that have passed by since the first open avowal of my sentiments to my then Roman Catholic Bishop, in the presence of another Roman Catholic Clergyman, would serve as an answer to such accusations; while my written as well as personal communications upon this subject, with the truly pious and Protestant Rector of Castletowndelvin, long previous to the open announcement of my sentiments to my bishop, must falsify the assertion, that “this change is the result of the moment.”  Allow me also to tell you, that I have mentioned my p. 11past doubts, not only months, but years ago, to a near relation, who summed up many a plausible argument to dissuade me from that course, which, I trust, under the guidance of heaven I have now adopted: and what is more, in compliance with the request of my late friends, I have gone to some of the most distinguished members of the Roman religion, to explain to them my doubts; but their mystified evasions upon plain and evident truths, have only tended to confirm me in the conviction of their errors.

Oh, my friends, my present change is not the effect of the moment, but it is the effect of a mind that has overcome an almost invincible prejudice—a prejudice that grew up with my youthful days—that accompanied my more mature years, and had nearly interwoven itself around the future destinies of my soul.  It is the effect of a mind that has taken impartiality for its guide, and looked upon truth as the sole object of its ambition—a mind that has ruminated day and night upon the subject—that has viewed both sides of the question coolly, attentively, and I trust religiously, and has now come to this determination, which is founded on a consciousness of its rectitude.  During those hours of darkness, when “sleep falleth upon man”—when others were taking that repose to which the silence of the night or exhausted nature might invite them—I trust it is not too much the language of egotism for me to say, that during the silent hours, when thinking of my present change, I had often bedewed the nightly pillow with the tears of affliction—“my eye-lids had grown dim with grief”—my nights were turned into day because of my watching—and I could find no rest until I obeyed the p. 12advice of the Psalmist, saying, “To-day if yon will hear his voice—harden not your hearts.”  Psalm xcv. 7–8.

There was a period of time which does not require much aid from memory to bring to your recollection, when political turmoil had diffused itself over the face of this country—when the feelings of charity seemed more or less suspended, and violence of language was frequently resorted to as the surest mode of pleasing—a time when a state of indifference was looked on as highly criminal, and when, even persons in the sacerdotal character, had sometimes recourse to political harangues, as a digest for religious instruction from the altar.  At that time many through motives, perhaps, of ambition—others through a desire of vain glory—while some through a conviction of its utility, engaged in the political struggles of the day; and though it may be painful to my feelings to advert to such a period, still I feel bound to acknowledge, that a mistaken zeal for religion, unaccompanied with the experience of wiser days, urged me on as no idle spectator of the scene.  But, blessed be God for all things—when my mind turned upon the serious question of religion—when I looked upon the book of God as the sole standard of my faith—when I began to view, through the medium of impartiality, the important subject of my eternal salvation, my mind became the more enlarged, and my thoughts the more expanded by the occurrence.  Doubt followed doubt—my prejudices began to vanish beneath the sunshine of a more liberal knowledge—the elements of darkness became at length superseded by the glorious principles of unerring light—while the effulgence of that religion, which I had so often misrepresented through life, pierced p. 13through the mystic veil, in which my mind was enveloped, leaving me the consolation upon this day of being addressed by my Protestant brethren in the language of the Apostle—“That he which persecuted us in times past, now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.” Gal. i. 23.

There are some, perhaps, who, if similarly situated as I am, would prefer the private moment to the public hour for making an open avowal of their sentiments; but I have considered it to be the imperative, the indispensable duty of a true convert in Jesus, to act in conformity with the advice of the Scriptures, “by raising his voice like a trumpet to strengthen his brethren, and to shew the people their errors.”  Yes; and though the opprobrious epithets of “renegade to the religion of my youth, and apostate from the faith of my fathers,” may be annexed to my present conviction of soul, still, as St. Paul gloried in the titles of fool, madman, and apostate, with which disbelief upbraided him on his conversion to Christianity, so shall I glory in similar appellations, “for I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.”

I know, my friends, that among your community there are Roman Catholic Clergymen who possess the same conviction of soul that I do, as to the errors of your religion; but the worldly considerations of present ease and anticipated troubles, prevent their due exercise of conscience.  The unmerited epithet of apostacy alarms them—the thoughts of separating from worldly comforts, from present friends and relations, strike horror into their souls—and thus it is that those cares of passing life supersede the concerns of their eternal welfare.—But will they go to the tomb with the consciousness of p. 14such errors as their accompaniment?—and for those transitory objects will they destroy that soul which is to be the heir of immortality?  Oh! let them come forth.  That hand which provideth food for the ravens of the air, will also provide for us, and God will be our defence—“for God is a shield to those that put their trust in him.”

My friends, many of you ask each other, how is it possible that the Rev. Mr. Nolan, who has spent so many years at his academical and collegiate course, and upon whose education so much money and pains had been expended, should only now become a convert to the Protestant religion?  This is a general question among you all.  It was proposed to me a few days ago at an hotel in Dublin, by a respectable Roman Catholic, one of the very few, of that persuasion, that has conversed with me since my change from the Church of Rome.  But the answer to such a question is obvious.  The human mind in this instance may be compared to the human body; for as it advances in years, it increases in strength; so that some of these doctrines which were so carefully inculcated during the time of youth, may afterwards, when placed before the test of wiser days and better experience, appear in all the inconsistency of their formation.

Take a short view of the life of an individual who may be destined from his infancy to discharge the priestly functions, and your surprise cannot be excited at my deferring my conversion thus long.  Scarcely is the infant tongue formed to expression, when it is taught to pronounce the names of the Roman doctrines; and scarcely is the developement of the human mind discovered, p. 15when the principles of these doctrines are most carefully introduced; and then, like the young Scion of the land, or the tender flower of the field, the youthful mind becomes susceptible of the first impression.  The anxious watchings of affectionate but misguided parents; the successful examples of employed attendants, and the well paid services of wily or deluded instructors, all combine in confirming those opinions which error had implanted.  The individual enters upon his academical course.  There his mind, as to Scriptural knowledge, is scarcely enlarged by the change; for, if he hears of any reference to the book of life, it is only for a partial selection of bare and isolated texts, that may be calculated to uphold the members of one religion, and misrepresent the abettors of another.  Thus enveloped in unscriptural darkness, the individual enters into the collegiate department as the last preparation for his missionary labors.  But here, also, the advantages of Scriptural knowledge become partially contracted; for that time which should be occupied in searching the word of God, is nearly engrossed with what are called the quibbles of a moral theology.  Such, my friends, you know to be the description of him whose means would allow a similar preparation for the priesthood; and as such it is perfectly applicable to him who is the writer of these lines.  Such were the difficulties I had to encounter—such were the prejudices I had to combat—and such must be my apology for the deferring of my conversion those years back.  It was only when placing my hand on the Bible, and saying that its contents should form the ground-work of my faith, the bulwark of my salvation; it was only then the spirit of God had p. 16entered into my heart, giving me both the understanding to perceive, and the courage to acknowledge my error.  May the same spirit guide you into a similar perception of your errors, and a similar fearlessness as to their acknowledgement.


Having mentioned, my friends, in the preceding part of this pamphlet the kindness you had always exercised towards me—the worldly comforts I could enjoy by remaining in your church, and the difficulties I must now encounter by separating from your communion, I will submit to you in the two subsequent parts of my pamphlet, some of the reasons that have influenced my conduct upon so important a change in life.  I will not dwell, however, upon those doctrines, with which, from your want of Scriptural knowledge, you are but little acquainted: and though I do not now detain you on the doctrine of Justification by Faith, still you must admit, as the Apostle says, “that without faith it is impossible to please God.”  Therefore no act of ours can be considered as good or acceptable in the sight of God, except faith be its foundation.  Again, no matter how good or acceptable those works may be in the sight of God, still they cannot be said to merit salvation; for it is mentioned in the 2d chap. 8th and 9th verses of the Ephesians—“By grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast;” and therefore it is not according to our own merits, but through the merits of Jesus Christ, that salvation can be acquired.  But, p. 17my friends, this does not exclude the necessity of good works upon our part, for our good works must be conformable to our faith in Christ, of which they are the external evidence.

I will not dwell either, upon the doctrine of Infallibility, so falsely claimed by the Church of Rome, as it would require more than the compass of this pamphlet would allow, to make its name even intelligible to most of you; although I might briefly hint at the wild supposition of a few fallible beings meeting together and constituting an infallibility; as much as to say, that a compound of any thing may contain that which is essentially different from its parts, which appears to me as most extravagant.

As to your doctrine of the invocation of saints, I will not detain you for any time upon this subject.  I never believed in the necessity of invoking them; nor does the intelligent portion of Roman Catholics believe in the necessity of invoking them; nor do any of your divines who have the least pretensions to learning, attempt to say that it is indispensably requisite to have recourse to the invocation of saints: for though your Council of Trent, in the twenty-fifth session, would appear to some to be quite explicit upon the subject, still your divines, in interpreting that council, agree that it is only useful and profitable, but not indispensably requisite for you to have recourse to the intercession of the saints.  Such an assertion may be a matter of surprise to some of my Protestant friends, but to you let it serve as a subject of utility: and lest it might be considered as the result of artful invention with me, I will now give you the words of your favorite divine, Dr. Milner, on the occasion.—p. 18In his book entitled “The End of Controversy,” and in his “Thirty-third Letter to James Browne, Esq.” he says—“In conclusion you will observe that the Council of Trent barely teaches that it is good and profitable to invoke the prayers of the saints; hence our divines infer that there is no positive law of the church incumbent on all her children to pray to the saints.”  Such are the words of your respected but now deceased Rev. Dr. Milner.  He died a few years ago.  The bare mention of his name carries to each of you the recollection of his character.  He was looked on as the standard of your faith, as the almost infallible guide in your religion.—His words are only expressive of the real sentiments of your other divines upon this subject; so that, my friends, you may observe that it is only a partial ignorance among some of you as to the real doctrine in this respect, that points to so wide a distinction between you and my Protestant brethren.

Nor shall I dwell upon the doctrine of confession, the modern observance of which I may at some future period shew to be neither conformable to the word of God, nor sanctioned by the practice of the apostolic age.—And now, my friends, to speak most seriously on the subject, has it not often lulled you into a most dangerous security, that your sins were forgiven you, when you had neither sorrow for the committal of, nor the determination not to commit those crimes again?—However I shall not dwell upon those doctrines at present; but shall now direct your attention to that doctrine with which you are most acquainted—I mean Transubstantiation.  I will in this second part of the pamphlet point out to you my reasons, which, guided by p. 19the spirit of truth, led me to a disbelief upon this subject of Transubstantiation: and in the third part of this pamphlet, I will produce to you the scriptural arguments that have confirmed my conviction as to that disbelief.  But first, I must lay down the doctrine of Transubstantiation according to the Council of Trent.

Roman Catholics assert, that during the mass, according to the words of the Council of Trent, ses. 13 and can. 2—“That the entire substance of the bread is converted into the body, and the entire substance of the wine into the blood of Christ, the appearances of the bread and wine only remaining, and this is called Transubstantiation.”

Now I assert, that such a supposition is directly contrary to our senses and our reason, and as such, is unworthy of our belief.  The senses are the avenues or inlets to our reason, while reason becomes the voice of God himself speaking unto us.  Reason is the medium of communication between the Creator and the creature.  It is the standard of our judgment, and the supreme tribunal where all our knowledge is acquired, and where the existence of the Deity himself becomes discovered to the human mind.  Yes, reason is that grand feature, the reflection of the divinity, which in a great degree assimilates man to the image of his Creator; and thus it is, that when the senses give their united testimony as to the existence of an object, and that reason stands forth to pronounce upon the veracity of their assertion, to such conclusive evidence the scriptures attach the seal of infallibility; and it would be blasphemous (according to the words of Christ himself to the Jews, in the case of Lazarus) to deny the force of their allegation.  I do p. 20not want here to summon before the bar of finite comprehension the infinite power of Eternal Providence—I do not want to uncover the veil of the sanctuary, and pry into the mysteries of that Eternal Being, which hath made darkness his dwelling place, and the thick clouds the pavilion of his glory—I do not deny that the ways of God are unsearchable—that his divine essence is above the reach of human senses—that there are invisible truths far beyond the human comprehension, and that man cannot dive into the unfathomable depths of the Trinity or Incarnation.  But is the composition of a little water and flour beyond the reach of my understanding? and when my reason and senses unite in telling me that that composition of flour and water cannot be changed into the body and blood of Christ without implying a principle of self-destroying contradiction, let me ask, is it not more natural to obey the dictates of my reason, telling me, that God will not transgress that moral restraint which the formation of his own laws has voluntarily imposed upon him, is it not better that I should do so than that I should attribute to the Godhead some of the most unaccountable extravagancies that human reason could suggest?  Let justice but decide, and truth will bow in affirmation of the remark.

But Roman Catholics, in support of their doctrine of transubstantiation, say, “Cannot he who has formed the heavens and the earth—who has created all things, visible and invisible—who has changed the rod of Moses into a serpent, and the waters into rivers of blood in Egypt—who has changed Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt, and who has changed the water into wine at the marriage of Cana, cannot he (say they) empower p. 21the priest, representing the person of Christ, to change the bread into the body, and the wine into the blood of Christ?”

My friends, in my answer to this, let it not be understood that I want to circumscribe infinite power within the narrow precincts of human limitation.  I do not want to append to Eternal Providence the confined restrictions of mortality.  I know that infinite wisdom can contrive, and infinite power can execute far more than human reason can comprehend; but while I admit the truth of these appeals to divine power in the one instance, I must reject the false supposition of change in the other.  For, when God changed the rod of Moses into a serpent, and the waters into rivers of blood in Egypt, or when our Saviour changed the waters into wine at the marriage of Cana; these were changes that were palpably evident to the senses, that the senses judged of, and were not contradictory to reason.  But, with regard to the supposed change, during the time of the mass, of the bread into the body, and the wine into the blood of Christ, allow me to tell you, my friends, that I have considered such a change to be contrary to my senses and most repugnant to my reason.  For, as often as I had taken into my hands that bread to bless, I found it the same, after, as previous to consecration; having the same texture, presenting the same form, and producing to my mind the self same identical effects.  As often as I looked on it after consecration, I observed it to be bread—when I touched it after consecration I felt it to be bread; and “if faith” (as the Roman Catholics must have it) comes from hearing and not from seeing, when I broke the bread after consecration, I both p. 22saw and heard the result of its being bread; reason then told me that it was more or less blasphemous to deny the united testimony of my senses giving such unbroken evidence to facts so perceptible to their powers, and I have yielded to such conviction.

Oh, my friends, I had often thought during the time of the mass, that if I could change the bread into the body and the wine into the blood of my Redeemer, that I would consequently possess a most exorbitant power—that I would transcend by the nobleness of my act the infinite majesty of heaven itself—that my Creator should be at the beck of my fancy—that whenever or wherever my will suggested, I might summon Him from the throne of his Eternal Majesty and convert upon the altar of frailty a little scrap of insignificant bread into the body, the blood, the soul and divinity of my Maker.  Oh, my friends, that God who measureth the tops of the mountains in a balance, and the waters of the sea in the hollow of his hands—that he, who rideth upon the whirlwinds, making the earth his footstool and the canopy of heaven his covering—that he, who formed the heavens and the earth, all things visible and invisible—that he should descend from his eternal throne to enter into the womb of a virgin mother—there to be inclosed for the long space of nine revolving months, and afterwards to be born, in time, under the figure of a mere child—under the form and the habit of a poor slave; oh, my friends, it is human redemption alone, could call for such an act of humiliation.  But that the Saviour of the world, after having offered one, eternal, immeasurable and unspeakable sacrifice for the sins of mankind, and that after having been placed by his own irrevocable p. 23decree at the right hand of God, that he should descend from his throne of eternal justice upon the altar of human weakness, and that there, at the mere announcement of a few insignificant words, falling from the lips of a poor weak mortal, he should suffer a wretched collection of diminutive portions of bread, of similar figure, of similar size, but of similar material as common wafer—that he should suffer them to be converted into his Infinite Majesty—that that Infinite Majesty should continue whole and entire under each such particular species of bread—that afterwards he should allow his boundless omnipotence to be confined within the narrow precincts of a poor miserable little box, commonly called a pixis, and then to be hacknied about from place to place, and distributed from person to person according to the whim or caprice of human suggestions—such, my friends, I have considered, would be unworthy of Infinite Majesty—would be derogatory to his eternal attributes—subversive of the principles of that humanity with which God had vested himself, and contradictory to those words which I hold as unalterably true, that if the resurrection has added glory to, it has not annihilated the humanity of a Redeemer.

But you, Roman Catholics, will assert, as an objection to what I have now laid down, that as the senses deceived us in some respects they may for a similar reason deceive us with regard to Transubstantiation: and in proof of your assertion you will say (as others have said already) “that the senses were deceived with regard to the Holy Ghost descending in the form of a dove upon our Saviour receiving baptism from John;” and again you will say, “that the senses have been deceived, inasmuch as they p. 24often imagined angels to be men;” and therefore you will conclude, (as many other Roman Catholics have done) that our senses are also deceived with regard to Transubstantiation.

But, my friends, in the above instances the senses did not deceive, inasmuch as the sense of vision or of sight, judges only from appearances, and therefore its testimony in the cases quoted was true.  But who would assert that all the senses combined together in the above instances were deceived; for, if all the senses were deceived, how could reason pronounce upon the Holy Ghost being in the form of a dove, or the angels being in the appearance of men, since it was from the senses only that reason formed its judgment upon those occasions?  And hence it is, that while in certain cases, one portion of the senses imparts the language of appearances, in the very same cases, another portion of our senses implies the language of reality.  And thus it is, that when the senses, in their unimpaired and natural state, view objects at a proper distance and through a proper medium, and that reason pronounces on their veracity, disbelief can be no longer attached to their allegation, and therefore it is, that Transubstantiation must be false; for the bread is a quite palpable and perceptible object to the senses.  The sight tells that it is not the body—the touch feels it is not the body—the taste is convinced of its not being the body—and the hearing, from the result of sound, joins in the assertion that it is not the body; while reason also attests the impossibility of its being the body of Christ.

If the senses were to deceive us in objects so perceptible to their powers, and were that to be pronounced as p. 25true, what reason declares as a contradiction, then deceit might be ascribed to the Deity—then it might be asserted, that men were led into an inexplicable chaos of illusions, and impostures, and that reason and the senses, which we have received from the beneficent author of nature, as the mediums of our preservation and happiness, were only the gifts of a demoniac power, with the words of no reliance marked on their formation.  Oh, my friends, were the senses to be deceived in their combined testimony upon objects so perceptible to their powers as bread and wine, then universal Pyrrhonism would follow, that is a doubt as to all things and a belief as to nothing—then would all the arts and sciences be subverted, and then would the existence of the Deity stand without proof—then the noble structures of religion would totter to their base—revelation itself would be at an end—the death, the resurrection, the ascension and miracles of our Lord, these mighty bulwarks of a Christian’s faith, would be overthrown; for, are not the senses the great external arguments and evidences of Christianity?

Before I conclude my remarks upon this part of the subject, allow me to make them obvious to the capacity of each of you, by one example.  Suppose an individual told me, that this pen, which I now hold in my hand, was in reality a man; why, I should instantly deny the assertion, and say, this is impossible; for the united testimony of my senses and my reason tells me, that this pen is not a man, as it has neither the appearances nor properties of a man—that my senses and reason are the gifts of God—that, therefore, they cannot deceive me, with regard to an object so palpable, so perceptible p. 26to their powers, and that therefore I conclude, this pen is not a man.  But, should the supposed individual go farther and say, “I would not tell you a lie, and will prove by miracles that the pen which you hold in your hand is really a man.”  Miracles I would say!  Is it not my senses that are to judge of your miracles; and if my senses deceive me with regard to this pen, what is to prevent them from deceiving me also with regard to your miracles; for if they be deceived in one case, a similar reason may imply deceit in the other?  Therefore that the miracles of our Lord may not be exposed to uncertainty—that the death, resurrection and ascension of our Redeemer may not be liable to doubt—that the certainty of all human knowledge—the very consciousness of our own being, and that the very existence of the Deity may not be rendered dubious; in fine, that a doubt as to all things, and a belief as to nothing, may not follow, it is necessary to believe, that the senses could not deceive us with regard to objects so perceptible to their powers; and therefore, I consider, that the doctrine of Transubstantiation must be false, as being directly contrary to our senses and most repugnant to our reason.

Among the many reasons that influenced my disbelief as to the doctrine of Transubstantiation, there is another which I have considered to be of no trivial tendency on the subject.  I could not conceive that a finite or material substance could be in two or more places at the same instant of time: that is, I could not imagine those years past, that the body of our Saviour, which the resurrection has not deprived of its humanity, could be wholly and substantially in my hands, and wholly and p. 27substantially over many portions of the globe, at the same identical moment; for I consider that finite substances, whether glorified or corruptible, must be subject to finite laws and regulations.

I know there are some however who would say, “that according to the principles of metaphysical or philosophical observations, that it could not be proved, that it is impossible for one body to be in many places at the same time.”

But, my friends, a primary truth or self evident principle is not to be lost among the mysterious windings of metaphysical subtleties; and when reason fully comprehends or clearly understands a subject, and pronounces truth over the object of its comprehension, the mad ravings of an unrestrained philosophy are not to be credited, when suggesting a mere suspicion of falsehood.  Oh, my friends, to say that the same body could be wholly and substantially in my hands during the time of the mass, and wholly and substantially in the hands of thousands of others at the same identical moment, and to require a belief of such an assertion, would be demanding a complete surrender of common sense—a prostration of the human intellect—while it would be divesting man of that grand attribute, that noble characteristic of his being—I mean reason, which is the pure gift of God.

But Roman Catholics say, “we do not understand the meaning of the Trinity; that is, we do not understand how three persons constitute one God, and therefore say they, though we do not comprehend how the body of Christ could be in many places at the same time, still we should believe.”

p. 28But, my friends, there is no comparison between the two cases; for when I assert that three persons constitute the unity of a God, I do not mean to say that they constitute that unity in the self same sense, but that they constitute that unity in a distinct sense; and therefore it is not impossible, nor contradictory to my senses, nor repugnant to my reason to make use of such an assertion.  But that three or a thousand material bodies should constitute one body, and that one body should constitute three or thousands of bodies, this is what I consider to be impossible in itself, and most contradictory to my senses and my reason, but of which Transubstantiation requires a firm belief: for a person believing that doctrine, must believe that the body which one priest holds in his hands, wholly and substantially, must be also wholly and substantially in the hands of thousands of others.

But you, Roman Catholics, again say, “we do not know the nature of a glorified body, and therefore you conclude that the glorified body of Christ might be in many places at the same time.”

This seems to me absurd; for though the resurrection had added glory to, still it has not annihilated the humanity of Christ.  This is evident, first, from the words of Christ to his Apostles collectively; for when he appeared among them after his resurrection, he said, as is mentioned in Luke xxiv. 39—“Handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have.”  Therefore the resurrection has not abolished the humanity of our Saviour.  Again, our Saviour said to Thomas, as is mentioned in John xx. 27—“Reach hither thy finger and behold my hand; and reach hither p. 29thy hand and thrust it into my side.”  Therefore, from these two passages, the one addressed by our Saviour to the Apostles collectively, and the other to St. Thomas individually, it is evident that the resurrection has not abolished the humanity of Christ, but that he has flesh and bones like us, even in his glorified state.  If he has flesh and bones like us (as has been already proved to you,) his body must necessarily be a finite substance—if a finite, or what is the same, a limited substance, it must necessarily be subject to finite or limited laws—if subject to limited laws, it cannot be consequently in many places at the same time.  Therefore the belief as to Transubstantiation must be false.

But, my friends, more of you, Roman Catholics, say upon this subject, “that as the body of our Saviour entered into the room where the Apostles were assembled together, though the windows and doors were closed at the time, that therefore the body of our Saviour was and can be in many places at the same time.”—The answer to this is plain; for in order that this objection would hold good on the present occasion, it would be necessary to shew that when the body of our Saviour was in the room with the Apostles, it was also in another or a thousand different places at the same instant of time.  Many natural reasons also could be given as to how the body of our Saviour might have entered the room of the Apostles without their perceiving him enter, or without supposing that his body was in many places at the same time.

There are more Roman Catholics who, in endeavouring to explain the mode by which our Saviour’s body might be present in many places at the same time, assert, p. 30“that as our Saviour fed the multitude of the five thousand with five loaves, without any increase as to the number of the loaves, that therefore our Saviour’s body could, by a similar mode of reasoning, be received by many at the same instant.” [30]  But, my friends, in order that this argument would hold good in the present instance, it would be necessary that each of the multitude referred to would eat an entire loaf wholly and substantially, without part or parcel; for Roman Catholics hold, that it is not a part of our Saviour’s body, but the whole of his body, which is taken by each individual, on receiving their sacrament.

Some Roman Catholics also endeavour to show our Saviour’s body could be present in many places at the same time, “by attaching to it a velocity, or what is the same, a quickness, which would be almost equal to an infinite velocity or quickness; so that no sensible interval of time would exist between a body being here and a thousand separate parts of the globe at the same instant.”  But this is totally subversive of the doctrine of Transubstantiation; for, no matter how great the velocity or quickness of the body might be, still, if that quickness were not equal to an infinite quickness the doctrine of Transubstantiation could not be proved.  For, some interval of time (if the velocity be not equal to infinite) must exist between the body of our Saviour being here, being in France, being in America, and in a thousand other places, which is contrary to Roman Catholic doctrine; which asserts, “that as long as the species of bread and wine continues, so long does Christ exist in the sacrament;” which words clearly prove, that our p. 31Saviour’s body is not to leave the sacrament at any time, and, therefore, such a supposition of quickness being attached to the body of Christ, is perfectly absurd and contradictory to Roman Catholic doctrine.

Again, such a supposition of velocity or quickness equal to what they would term almost infinite, is quite absurd.  For it is proved, from the most natural deductions of the accelerated motion of moving bodies, “that if each ray of light were equal to the two-millioneth part of the smallest portion of sand we can form a conception of, that man could no more stand before their effects, than before grape shot fired from the mouth of a cannon.” [31]  If such then would be the effects of the rays of the sun upon bodies, what would be the result of the bread upon the Priest, if a million of times greater velocity would be imparted to that bread?  Why, my friends, the effect would be tremendous—death would be the immediate and necessary consequence to the priest officiating.  Therefore, such a supposition as that of “an almost infinite velocity,” is absurd.

Such, my friends, are some of the reasons, which inspired by the spirit of truth, have influenced my disbelief as to the doctrine of Transubstantiation.  I know some of you will say it is difficult to understand some of those reasons I have given on this subject; but remember it is only the quibbling objections that are made in support of this doctrine that are difficult to be understood, and not the answers I have given, for I have endeavoured to make those answers as plain as possible to the capacity of each.  I will now proceed to these Scriptural p. 32arguments which confirm me in the disbelief as to your doctrine of Transubstantiation.


But, my friends, before I enter upon these Scriptural arguments, allow me to remind you of one important circumstance.  Do you remember some time ago how anxious your Bishops and Clergy were in preventing the diffusion of the Gospel light among the people of Ireland?  Do you remember how all their energies were directed against those Missionaries who so indefatigably struggled for the circulation of the Bible among you?  Well, my friends, I am now happy to inform you that the times are quite altered—“tempora mutantur & nos cum illis mutamur.”  But as some of you may not understand the meaning of those words I will translate them for you—that is, “the times are changed and we are changed in them;” for your Bishops have lately resolved that a cheap edition of the Bible should be published for your instruction.  With mine own hands I circulated some of those Bibles among you.  I hope you will now avail yourselves of such an opportunity, and that you will look to your Bibles for those arguments to which I will now refer you.  Let you remember that these words are not mine, but the words of eternal life.  They are to be found in your own Bibles.  Let you therefore consider them diligently.  I will not confuse your minds by a reference to many texts of Scripture, but shall only introduce those which I consider as essentially necessary upon the subject of Transubstantiation; which means (as I have mentioned before) the transubstantiating, p. 33or what is the same, the changing, during the time of mass, of the bread into the body and the wine into the blood of Christ.

You assert that the sacrifice of the mass is the same as the sacrifice at the last supper; and you also say that the sacrifice at the last supper is the same propitiatory sacrifice as that offered upon the cross, with this exception, that the sacrifice upon the cross was a bloody one, but the sacrifice at the last supper was an unbloody and mystical sacrifice.

Now, my friends, look to all those passages in your Bible which describe the last supper—look to Luke the 22d chap.—look to Mark the 14th chap.—look to Matthew the 26th chap.—look to the 1st Corinthians the 11th chap, and in all these places you will not find a single word about a mystical and unbloody sacrifice at the last supper.  No, for these are words of what I might call a self-accommodating distinction—formerly introduced by the selfish views of man—they are quite unscriptural, and therefore unworthy of our belief upon so important an occasion.

I will now show you there was no propitiatory sacrifice at the last supper, and consequently that there is no propitiatory sacrifice at your masses, for you assert that the sacrifice at the mass and the sacrifice at the last supper are the same.

It is mentioned in Leviticus, 17th chap, and 11th verse, “for it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul.”  Now this in the old law is confirmed by the words of St. Paul in the new law, as may be seen in the 9th chap, and 22d verse of the Hebrews, where it is said, “and without shedding of blood there is no remission.”  p. 34Therefore there was no propitiatory sacrifice at the last supper, or what is the same, no sacrifice for the remission of sins, for you Roman Catholics admit, that the sacrifice at the last supper was an unbloody sacrifice, and therefore there is no sacrifice at the mass, since the supposed sacrifice at the last supper and the supposed sacrifice of the mass are considered the same.

Again I assert, there was no sacrifice at the last supper, for St. Paul says in the 7th chap, and 27th verse of the Hebrews, “Who needeth not daily as those High Priests to offer up sacrifices—for this he did once.”  Therefore if he sacrificed himself but once, it is evident there was no sacrifice at the last supper.  Again, it is said in the 10th chap. and 12th verse of the same Epistle, “But this man after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God.”  If therefore our Saviour only offered one sacrifice, that was the sacrifice of the cross, and certainly not the supposed sacrifice at the last supper; and consequently there is no sacrifice at the mass, since, as I mentioned before, Roman Catholics assert that the supposed sacrifice at the last supper and that of the mass are the same.

Again I assert, there was no sacrifice at the last supper, for there was no sacrificial act performed by our Saviour at the time, nor the slightest intimation of a sacrificial act given, nor any of those ceremonies which are connected with a sacrifice gone through at the time by our Redeemer.  Our Saviour was simply at the table, surrounded by his disciples.  No altar was at hand—no victim suffered—no blood was shed, as Roman Catholics admit, nor was there any offering made but a simple p. 35distribution of bread and wine made among the apostles; and I believe you must allow, that you had never heard or read of a sacrifice without some of those appendages of either an altar, the suffering of a victim, the shedding of blood, or an offering being made on the occasion, none of which were witnessed at the last supper.  Therefore there was no sacrifice at the last supper.

Finally, I assert, there was no sacrifice at the last supper; for if the sacrifice at the last supper were the same propitiatory sacrifice as that offered on the cross, I ask, in the language of candor and religion, what was the utility of our Saviour going through the bitter ordeal of his passion—why undergo the painful ceremony of being treacherously betrayed with the signal of peace by one of his disciples—denied by another, and abandoned by all in the hours of his affliction?  Why allow himself to be dragged like a common malefactor from place to place—then to be clothed in the garb of pretended loyalty, and afterwards to be greeted with all the insulting gratulations of a mock king?  Why remain tied to a pillar, there to be most cruelly scourged afterwards to be crowned with a diadem of thorns?  Why undergo the pangs, the torments, the excruciating agonies on the gibbet of a cross, and then seal with his blood the cause of man’s redemption?  Why all these, if the sacrifice at the last supper were the same propitiatory sacrifice for the remission of sins as the sacrifice on the cross?  Oh, my friends, it has been, and is my firm conviction, that if the sacrifice at the last supper were the same as the sacrifice on the cross, it could not be blasphemous to assert that the sacrifice of the cross was nugatory—was an act perfectly useless—was inconsistent with and unbecoming the attributes of the Deity; and, therefore, I p. 36conclude there was no sacrifice at the last supper, and consequently no sacrifice at the mass, since, as I mentioned before, the supposed sacrifice at the last supper and that of the mass are the same in your opinion.

I know that Roman Catholics assert, that there is nothing hard or impossible to God, and that, therefore, our Saviour could give his body and his blood to his Apostles at the last supper.

Now, my friends, this assertion is perfectly incorrect; for there are many things relatively impossible to God; when I say relatively, I mean with relation to these laws which impose upon the Deity a moral and voluntary restraint, which restraint he cannot transgress in accordance with his divine attributes; and hence it is, that, owing to those laws, God cannot cause a thing to exist and not to exist at the same time; nor can he cause a part of any material body to be greater than the whole substance of that body, that part and entire substance remaining in their self-same, sensible, and evidently unchanged state.  But those two unnatural suppositions must be credited, if we are to believe that our Saviour gave his body and his blood to the Apostles at the last supper.  First, we should believe that he existed and did not exist at the same time; existed, inasmuch as he gave himself to the Apostles, and did not exist, inasmuch as the Apostles consumed his body by eating it, and all this while he was sitting and conversing with them.  Therefore to suppose, that our Saviour gave his body and his blood to the Apostles at the last supper to be eaten by them would be to suppose, that he existed and did not exist at the same time, which is absurd, and relatively impossible on the part of God.

Secondly, should we suppose that our Saviour gave his p. 37body and blood to his Apostles at the last supper, it would then follow that a part of his body was greater than the entire of his body.

In order to shew this, I will not advert to those who would say, that our Saviour had actually partaken of the bread which he had distributed among the Apostles, and consequently made his mouth, which was only a part of his body, to consume his entire body.  I will not dwell upon such an assertion, but will come to one no less evident; and that is, if our Saviour gave his body to be eaten by his Apostles at the last supper, it would then follow that he grasped his entire body within the narrow compass of his hand, and thus make his hand, which was only a part, greater than his entire body, as the container must naturally be greater than the contained; and all this to be done while that hand and body remained in the self-same, sensible, and evidently unchanged form.  Oh, repugnant words!  Oh, irreconcileable doctrine!  Oh, monstrous assertion!  How can a man slumber under such a belief?  How can he rest in the consciousness of such an error?  Methinks that should an individual after serious reflection tacitly submit to such an irrational belief, it would be requisite that he should be invested by the Deity with faculties the very reverse, of what he now enjoys; that he should possess a reason that would reconcile truths that are intuitively evident with falsehoods that are intuitively false; and which should unite principles that are eternally true and immutably fixed, with those that imply self-destroying contradictions.

I will give you another argument from the Scriptures, which tended to confirm me in my disbelief as to the doctrine of Transubstantiation.  That my remarks upon this p. 38subject may be obvious to the capacity of each of you, I refer you now to the 22d chapter of St. Luke, which is explanatory of the institution of the sacrament at the last supper.  It is said of our Saviour in the 19th and 20th verses of that chapter, “and he took bread and gave thanks and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, this is my body which is given for you; this do in remembrance of me.”  Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the New Testament in my blood which is shed for you” 20th verse.  Now you Roman Catholics assert, that the words in the 19th verse ought to be taken in their literal sense, that is to say, that when our Saviour spoke these things, “this is my body,” that he actually converted the bread into his body and gave it to be eaten by his Apostles.

But if I can shew you many passages both in the Old and New Testament, where the word is must be taken in a figurative, sense.  I do not see what is to prevent the word is (in the passage alluded to) from being also taken in a figurative sense.  But there are many passages in the Old as well as the New Testament, where the word is must be taken to signify represent, or, what is the same, where it must be taken to signify the figure or memorial of a thing.

First, you will find in the 17th chapter of Genesis where God speaking of the circumcision says, in the 10th verse, “This is my covenant.”  Now the circumcision was not transubstantiated into the covenant.  Therefore the word is in this passage must be taken in a figurative sense: that is, to signify the figure or memorial of the covenant.

Look also to the 12th chapter of Exodus, where God p. 39after having spoken of the lamb that was to be sacrificed in memorial of his passing over the houses of the Israelites and his smiting all the first born in the houses of the Egyptians, he says, as is mentioned in the 11th verse, “It is the Lord’s Passover.”  Now the word is in this passage must be taken to signify represent, as the lamb could not be said to be transubstantiated into the Passover.

There are also innumerable passages in the New Testament, where the word is must be taken to signify represent.  First, St. Paul, speaking of the church, says, “it is the body of Christ.”  Here the word is must be taken to signify represent.  In the 13th chapter of Matthew, our Saviour says, in the 37th verse—“He that soweth the good seed is the son of man.”  Again, in the 38th verse of same chapter he says, “the field is the world;” and in the 39th verse of same chapter he says, “the harvest is the end of the world;” and lastly, in Luke viii. 11, our Saviour says, “the seed is the word of God.”  Now, as in all those passages the word is must be taken to signify represent, what is to prevent it being taken in the same sense in Luke xxii. 19, where our Saviour said, “this is my body?”—especially as in the following verse of the same chapter it must be taken for represent, where our Saviour says, “This cup is the New Testament;” for the cup was not transubstantiated into the New Testament, as you must all admit; and therefore it is that I was led to consider that the word is, in the 19th verse of the 22d chapter of Luke, should be taken in a figurative sense; especially as in that same verse our Saviour said, “Do this in remembrance of me.”  And finally, there is nothing so common in our language as to make use of this word is in the p. 40sense of represent.  For example, let me suppose that on passing through Sackville-street, in Dublin, and that a stranger on seeing Nelson’s pillar would ask me, who is that?—I, immediately understanding him, would say, that is Nelson: and certainly the word is, in those passages, must be taken to signify represent; for which reason, also, I was led to consider that the word is, in this passage of our Saviour, must be taken to signify represent, when he said, “This is my body.”

I know, my friends, that in opposition to these passages to which I have alluded, that you would introduce as an objection that passage in the first of the Corinthians, xi. 27, where it is mentioned, “Wherefore, whosoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord;” from which words you would wish to prove that the Apostles believed the real body and blood of Christ to be in the sacrament.

But, my friends, let you consider by whom and for what purpose the sacrament was instituted, and then your surprise will not be excited at the Apostle expressing himself in such strong language, although he would not believe that the real body and blood of Christ were present in the sacrament.  By whom was it instituted?  By Jesus Christ himself.  For what purpose?  As a last bequest to mankind—as a remembrance of that Jesus who left his throne of eternal justice to enter into the womb of a virgin mother—that Jesus who was conceived and born in time—who, during his mortal pilgrimage of thirty-three years, suffered all the extremities of privation to which human nature could be subject—and who finally placed the eternal seal of his blood upon the cause p. 41of man’s redemption.  Is it a wonder then, that the Apostle, though not believing the real body and blood of Christ to be present, should have recourse to such strong language against those who would violate the respect due to that sacrament, which was to be a memorial of our Saviour, and which was to shew forth the Lord’s death until he come?  Oh, my friends, if you or I were in the same situation as the Apostle, we would recur to a similarity of expression, to announce our horror to the wretch who would approach with polluted heart so sanctified a memorial; for whoever would disrespect such a sacrament, might be naturally said to be guilty of the body and blood of Christ.

My friends, before I close this third part of my intended pamphlet, I find it indispensably requisite to advert to that practice in your church, by which the priests prevent you from receiving the wine in the distribution of what they call their sacrament.

Now, my friends, this I consider not only to be a direct infringement upon the words, but also a direct violation of the command of our Saviour: for if the command of our Saviour, at the institution of the sacrament, were more strict in one part than another, it was surely more urgent with regard to the receiving of the wine; for it is said in Matth. xxvi. 27, that our Saviour after having taken the cup, and having given thanks, he gave it to his Apostles, saying, “Drink ye all of it;” and as it is said in Mark xiv. 23, “They all drank of it.”  Now observe that this word all was not annexed to the eating of the bread, but only to the drinking of the wine, which circumstance must prove to the reflecting mind this important fact, that as our Saviour foresaw p. 42the abuse that in course of time would be adopted in the Roman church, by withholding the cup from the people, he has been therefore more urgent in his command as to the reception of the wine, than he has been as to the reception of the bread.

I am aware that your clergy have recourse to many stratagems in explanation of this difficulty.  They say, that when you receive the bread, you not only receive the body but also the blood of our Saviour, and that therefore it is not requisite for you to receive the wine.

But, my friends, in answer to this I say, that if our Saviour, at his last supper, intended to give to his Apostles, in the mere substance of the bread, both his body and his blood, what was his utility in giving his body and his blood a second time in the wine?  To do so would be an act of supererogation—it would be an act of perfect uselessness, and would be derogatory to the Redeemer in the institution of so important a sacrament: and hence I considered that withholding the cup from the people, is a direct infringement upon the words of our Saviour.

But your clergy also assert, that our Saviour, at his last supper, addressed the Apostles as priests, and not as the laity, and that therefore he made it incumbent only on the Apostles to receive the sacrament under both kinds.  But, my friends, we read of no such distinction made by our Saviour; and moreover, when he said, “drink ye all of this,” he also added, “for this is my blood shed for many.”  Now his blood was not shed for the Apostles alone, but also for the flock; and hence I conclude, that the people should receive the wine as well as the priests.

p. 43Again, my friends, if this passage, “drink ye all of this,” were directed to the Apostles alone, why is it that the priests do not always receive under both kinds; for I know that when they are not actually celebrating the mass, they only receive the communion under one kind?  This seems a perfect anomaly—especially as our Saviour drew no line of distinction between a priest officiating and a priest communicating.

Finally, my friends, if these words, “drink ye all of this,” were addressed to the Apostles alone as priests, then the people should at no period of time have partaken of the cup.  But that the people did partake of the cup is evident from the words of St. Paul in the 1st Corinthians, 11th chapter and 28th verse, where he says, “Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup;” which words of the Apostle were addressed to all the Corinthians, and consequently proving to us that the laity as well as the pastors, had partaken of the sacrament under both kinds.  Popes Gellasius and Leo ordered the wine to be taken by the people on their receiving the sacrament; [43] while it was only in the fifteenth century, at the Council of Constance, that the use of the wine was prevented.

I would then address myself to the heads of your church and say, why is it that you who boast so much of the antiquity of your doctrines—the antiquity of your religious institutions—you, who in the hours of controversial difficulties fly to the traditions of your antients, as the great props of your vacillating arguments—the p. 44last hopes of your controversial safety—why you thus mutilate the traditions of antiquity?—why depart from that practice as old as Christianity itself?—why claim to yourselves a greater portion of wisdom than he who has instituted, than he who has ordained, than he who has sanctioned such a sacrament?—why infringe upon some of the most important words of a Saviour?—why violate that last impressive command of a Redeemer, by withholding from the people a right, which, if duly administered, must prove highly beneficial to the receiver?  Equivocation may give an answer to such interrogations, but cool and dispassionate reason will receive no apology.


My friends, there was a time when the dungeon or the scaffold would be the temporary but certain award of these my humble efforts for religion—a time when the most exquisite of tortures would follow a similar announcement of principle—a time when the inquisitorial rack would either extort a recantation of such sentiments, or point to some painful death as a necessary consequence of their avowal—a time when the Papal arm had wielded an ungovernable sway over the countries of Europe; and when secular power was so entwined around the ecclesiastical diadem, that a Pontiff’s nod might be once considered as a sufficient guarantee for the deposition of a monarch—a time when a Pope Gregory the Seventh [44] detained a Henry the Fourth, of Germany, for three days naked and fasting at his gates, p. 45and suing for mercy and absolution—a time when in the days of a Pope Innocent the Third [45a] the British crown had lain beneath the feet of Papal authority; and when a John of England was forced to yield obeisance to that edict which proclaimed absolution to a people from their due allegiance to a monarch.  Yes, my friends, there was another period of time when individuals, under the pretext of religion, and under, if not the influence, at least the sanction of ecclesiastical power, had frequent recourse to acts of punishment which no religious creed should tolerate—a time when the manly and religious sentiments of a Lord Cobham [45b] had enkindled for his body the fire of persecution; and when the open avowal of a Ridley, a Hooper, a Cranmer, and a Latimer, [45c] had impressed upon their brow the indelible sentence of religious martyrdom.  But blessed be God for all things, those times are past, and we now live in days when a more refined civilization has contracted the unlawful stretch of Roman church authority, and when the intelligence of mankind points out to a safer way for the glorious spirit of religious toleration.

Yes, “old things are passing away, behold all things are becoming new.”  Even the narrow compass of your own days, furnishes to the reflecting mind a proof of the comparative enlightenment of the times; and gives to religious hope a more consoling assurance of a better futurity.  That spell which kept your minds in unscriptural darkness, is now broken; for your Bishops have at length come to the resolution of letting the Gospel light among you.  A cheap edition of the Douay Bible has p. 46been lately published for your particular instruction; and the Priest that would now withhold it from your perusal must undoubtedly wish to make a traffic of your ignorance.  The number of your holydays is curtailed—those days which were often spent by some of you amid the scenes of drunken reveries, or in the circles of lawless assemblages.  Your Saturday abstinence, which the superstitious times of a Gregory the Seventh had generated, is now abolished; all of which circumstances must form a remarkable epoch in the discipline of the Roman Church.  The number of your reserved cases is also diminished.  But here it may be requisite to apprise some of my readers of the meaning which Roman credulity attaches to the reservation of cases.  A reserved case is generally termed that from which an ordinary confessor cannot absolve his penitent without a special privilege from his Bishop.  Thus for instance, some time ago it was a reserved case for any of you to hear instructions in a Protestant house of worship.  I have known an instance when a respectable Roman Catholic, who is now of considerable influence at the bar, was publicly denounced from an altar, for the mere fact of attending a charity sermon preached by a Protestant clergyman.  But, my friends, it seems that the progress of years may divest crimes of their hideousness; and that this, which was once reckoned a reserved case, may be now counted among the number of your ordinary sins; for, I am now happy to inform you, that any officiating curate or parish priest has obtained the supposed privilege of absolving you from the imputed sin of receiving instruction.

I hope you will avail yourselves of whatever advantages p. 47the intelligence of the times may afford: and that the narrow or selfish views of man will no longer control you in the exercise of your judgment.  Remember that “the word of God is fire tried,” and that it has ever courted investigation, while falsehood has always shrunk from inquiry.  I know there are many among the lay portion of Roman Catholics, who would anxiously sever the link of their nominal adhesion to Roman doctrine, but their fears of an after persecution prevent an avowed acknowledgment of error.  But, my friends, remember that the troubles of this life are not to be compared with the glory that awaits us in the next.  “For (as the Apostle says) our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” [47a]  I pray then, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; that the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, ye may know what is the hope of his calling” [47b]—and that ye may be strengthened to say with me in the words of the Psalmist, “In God I will praise his word; in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.”  Psalms 56th chap. 4th verse.


[30]  See Hayes’s Sermon I.

[31]  See Nicholson’s Philosophy, vol. 1.

[43]  See Scheffmaker’s Polemical Catechism, translated by Coppinger, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Cloyne.

[44]  In the eleventh century.

[45a]  In the thirteenth century.

[45b]  In the fifteenth century.

[45c]  In the sixteenth century.

[47a]  2 Cor. 4th chap. 17th verse.

[47b]  Ephes. 1st chap. 17–18 verses.