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James Dodson

In addition to what is said (in pages preceding, respecting the establishment of Popery in Canada), the presbytery deeply lament, that, in the present edition of their Testimony, they are furnished with fresh matter to animadvert upon the continued tendency of the British administration in favor of the religion of Antichrist.

Not long after the civil establishment of Popery in Canada, new privileges, civil and religious, were bestowed upon the professors of that religion at home, both in England and Ireland, by which Catholics have received toleration, under the sanction of law, openly to profess and practice their idolatry, to open seminaries of learning, for the public instruction of youth in their own religion, and to purchase and transfer estates to their Popish relations, in direct opposition to the established laws of the land, framed by our Protestant ancestors, under the sense of felt necessity, whereby Catholics were laid under disabilities, as to the enjoyment of those privileges, which they saw to be inconsistent with the peace of the state and safety of the Protestant religion on account of the barbarous massacres committed by Catholics upon Protestants, and the numerous hostile attempts made to overturn, by violence, the Protestant religion within these lands, as proceeding from the sanguinary spirit of Popery. The modern plea set up in favor of those privileges being conferred upon Popery, that the Catholics of this day have candidly renounced the whole of their old principles which they held, as inimical to a Protestant country, never can be admitted, while they still retain the most dangerous of all their principles, viz: implicit faith in the doctrines of supreme councils, and the dispensing authority of the Pope. Against this sinful indulgence granted to Popery, the presbytery testified at the time, in a separate piece, entitled, A Testimony and Warning against the Blasphemies and Idolatries of Popery, &c., to which they still refer the reader. An attempt also was made to extend a similar indulgence to Catholics in Scotland, but which was happily frustrated through the zealous exertions of the people, who, pleading the established laws of the land, boldly reclaimed against the measure, which produced the desired effect of compelling the government to desist. But alas! no sooner was the popular zeal cooled, than government sowed tares by enlarging the privileges of Catholics with regard to civil property. The deplorable fact now is, that Popery, basking in the sunshine of legislative power, advanced to the legal possession of new privileges, and shielded by a formal toleration in the neighboring kingdoms, may be considered as enjoying the actual protection of government in Scotland. In Ireland, privileges of a still more exalted nature are bestowed upon Popery, while the Catholic is so far enfranchised, that, in conjunction with the Protestant, he may give his voice for members to serve in the legislature of his country. What greatly adds to the evil is, the lamentable alteration of public opinion, so lately displayed against the measures of government in former indulgences bestowed upon the Catholic interest; but which has now changed into an entire approbation thereof, both by the great body of the people and the minority in the two houses of Parliament; and the only complaint against government on that score is, that, stopping short of meeting just claims of Catholics, they have not ingrained them into all the privileges of British subjects, and for ever done away the odious distinction between Protestant and Catholic, as to privilege.

When we open our eyes to the measures of the present day, we behold still more abominations. The government so far from remembering whence they are fallen, repenting and doing their first works, have started again in the cause of Antichrist; by leaguing themselves in a military expedition with a group of Popish despots on the continent, who have long given their power to the beast; of this expedition one object evidently appears to be the re-establishment and support of Popery in France, where under the administration of the omnipotent, and avenging holy providence of GOD, in the pouring out of the vials of his wrath upon the beast, that false religion has received a sore and bleeding wound, and where the people, long crushed under the tyranny of a despotic throne, and usurpation of an imposing priesthood, have risen to extricate themselves from the accumulated oppression, and by their astonishing efforts have shaken off the Papal yoke, by renouncing their accustomed allegiance to the head of the Antichristian states at Rome, have withdrawn their wonted supplies from his treasures, and completely overthrown the temporal power of his religion in their own country, which had for many ages kept them in fetters. If any doubt should be entertained with regard to the support afforded to the sinking cause of Popery in France b this expedition, the declaration published by the brother of the late King of France, styling himself Louis XVIII, at the head of the emigrants in arms, exhibits the fact in the clearest point of view, while he plainly and unequivocally says, in that declaration, that their designs are the erection of the throne and altar, by which are meant the civil government and the Catholic religion, as they existed in France prior to the revolution. Britain, not satisfied with sending forth numerous hosts to the field abroad and lavishing her treasures to supply the exhausted finances of the coalesced powers, has opened her arms at home to receive flying emigrants, caressed by her, as if they had been sufferers in the cause of genuine Christianity. By the voice of Episcopal dignitaries the Popish clergy have been extolled, as men of the most eminent piety, while places have been furnished, by government, to accommodate them in their mass service; and a branch of the bloody house of Bourbon, whom divine vengeance has reduced to the abject state of a wandering exile, is admitted among us, with all marks of honor, and, with his train, provided for, as if he were a zealous supporter of the Protestant cause, seeking an asylum from the rage of Papal persecution in this reformed land. It cannot escape the notice of the attentive observer, how closely the crown of Britain has become allied to this false religion, in consequence of the conquest of the island of Corsica, and the accession of the crown of that island to the crown of Britain. According to the new constitution of Corsica, the King of Great Britain, as represented by his viceroy, makes an essential branch of the parliament, all the acts whereof must be assented to by him, in order to give them the force of law. Now, it is to be remarked, that in this constitution Popery is expressly declared to be the only established religion in the island; it is therefore agreed to be divided into districts, to be filled up with ministers of the Catholic religion, endowed with legal maintenance. So the king of Britain, as wearing the Corsican crown, engages to unite this constitutional establishment of the Catholic religion, the king of Great Britain, as the king of Corsica, gives his firm assent. Moveover, to provide for the more extensive propagation of Popery in Corsica, the legislature stipulate to consult with the See of Rome; here, also, he engages to join the wisdom of his counsels to those of the Pope, for the express purpose of giving a wider spread to popery. If the prophet Jehu accused Jehoshaphat, though a good prince, when he was returning from a military exhibition with Ahab, king of Israel, in such cutting language; 2 Chron. 19:2, Shouldst thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord ? therefore is wrath upon thee from the Lord: in what words shall we pronounce upon this conduct of Britain, in mixing with her politics and wars, active measures to raise again the falling Dagon of popery from the threshhold, and to help forward the interests of a religion which the LORD has solemnly declared he will destroy with the judgments of his hand and the brightness of his coming. Besides the iniquity of the thing itself, in giving direct aid to this religion, our guilt derives great aggravations from a view of the present dispensations of providence in visibly sending down terrible judgments (no matter through what rough hands) upon that antichristian power, that has long sat upon many waters; and the loud voice of JEHOVAH is uttering, on the awful crisis of its downfall, to all the fearers of his name to escape a share in its judgments, by flying away from all communion with its evils; Rev. 18:4, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. But, blind to his avenging hand, and deaf to this summons, Great Britain, once without, is now again returning into a most unlawful communion to support this adjudged power, by which she constitutes herself a partner in its sins, and thereby exposes herself to a portion of its plagues. In vain will it be urged as a plea of justification, that the authors of the revolution in France, having overturned the constitution of their own country, and spread desolation through the wide extent of it, menaced other nations, and us also; and that, therefore, Britain, acting on the first principle of nature’s law, self preservation, joined the allied powers for her own defense. Though the presbytery are by no means to be understood as giving their suffrage for the lawfulness and justice of the war on our side; yet, for the sake of argument, allowing the plea—what then? Will this sanctify the measures adopted by Britain, in recovering, supporting and propagating the cause of popery, that the conquest of the enemy, and her own safety are the ends ultimately to be gained by them? The Christian maxim, that evil is not to be done that good may come, binds as strongly nations as individuals. Popery is not a local evil; it is still the mystery of iniquity, as much in France, and in Corsica, as it is in Great Britain; it is everywhere the forbidden fruit, not to be touched. If the security of a Protestant country is to be sought for, in dependence upon, or in any state of connection with the co-existence and maintenance of antichrist, we have indeed a feeble pillar to rest upon; for, as sure as GOD himself has spoken it, the papal kingdoms are the Babylon to fall and to rise no more again at all. Perhaps, our allies would not be pleased with another mode of conduct; and shall we run the hazard of displeasing the GOD of all our salvation, to gratify, in sin, the friends of the man of sin? If the crown of Corsica cannot be worn, but upon the condition of supporting popery, and joining in councils with the Church of Rome, to advance her interest there, we are afraid the weight of it, like a millstone, will sink us deep in the gulf of GOD’S wrath. But, popery was the former religion of that island, and the people wished no change. If the wretched inhabitants, loving darkness rather than the light, refused to be reclaimed, leave them to themselves, but why should we have fellowship with them in their unfruitful works of darkness. The presbytery would not wish to be understood as if they meant that Protestants ought to raise a crusade, in order to exterminate Catholics in foreign lands, as Catholics have attempted to do against Protestants, for the weapons of our warfare in propagating religion are not carnal. But it certainly is the incumbent duty of all Protestant nations to abstain from anything, that has a tendency to uphold and propagate their religion; and as no positive countenance should be given to it, so it is highly proper that Catholics should be kept in such a state of restraint, as they may not again have it in their power to repeat those bloody scenes, which popery had acted upon us. With a view to deliver themselves from the guilt of participating in the evil, the presbytery do lit up a judicial testimony against the present antichristian courses of administration; as, also, against those state firsts, proceeding from an Erastian supremacy, which have been appointed to be observed by all persons, in order to engage by prayer the Almighty to crown their measures with success. Likewise, the presbytery do testify against the national church, particularly her ministers, who from their station ought to act as spiritual watchmen, and give pointed warning of sin and danger on the present occasion; but, who, instead of faithfully discharging this duty, sanction all these measures of government, which cannot fail to produce a hardening effect upon the generation.

N.B. Since writing the above, by a reverse in the war, Britain has lost possession of Corsica, but while this does not acquit her of the guilt of her antichristian administration there, neither will it supersede the necessity of our testimony against it.