refusal was, —that a “rider” was added to it (by a vote at the public meeting); “that the Romanizing principles and practices of a portion of the clergy had encouraged the Pope to act as he had done.”
It is not here necessary to prove that the “rider” enunciated a fact; it is sufficient to shew that Dr. Irons refused to sign the Petition, and to state the reasons he gave for that refusal; and then to leave it to the unbiased judgment of his parishioners to decide between his actions, and the paragraph in the letter, which says, “I am not a Tractarian in any sense.”
Dr. Irons refers to the ‘Morning Post’ and other papers for his sentiments as expressed on the occasion of the meeting. I was present at the meeting, and paid some attention to the speech of the Reverend Doctor.
I do not deny but there was indignation expressed against the “aggression,” but this indignation went very little beyond what might have been said, and what was actually said, by sincere Romanists, ere the glorious reformation of the sixteenth century had shone upon our country.
Our forefathers of that period felt the galling chain of ecclesiastical and civil oppression laid upon them by the Papacy, but the light of gospel truth had not penetrated their hearts, and, therefore, in their opposition to Rome they made no protest against her soul-destroying doctrines.
The speech of Dr. Irons certainly amounted to something more than what took place in Scotland, where one of the Bishops of the Scotch Episcopal Church signed a protest against the aggression, “because it was contrary to Ecclesiastical order that one bishop should intrude into the diocese of another.”
In referring to the ‘Morning Post,’ as giving the speech of Dr. Irons at the public meeting, it must be remembered that the ‘Post’ was then (if not now) an organ of the “Tractarians,” and that the tactics of the party it represented were to hoodwink us, and under cover of a zeal for “Church principles” to disseminate Anti-Protestant views.
I respect the liberty of the Press, and would not willingly give up its great advantages, but I bear in mind that it would be about as preposterous to expect from the columns of a “Tractarian” periodical any thing favourable to sound Protestanism, as it would be to look for a true exposition of constitutional principles in civil government from the pen of the Russian Autocrat.
One of the most remarkable features in the Anti-Papal demonstration in the autumn of 1850, was the part acted by a portion of the “Tractarians.”
Sensible that their party were more than suspected of being the origin of the “Aggression,” they were generally very early in the field to hold meetings, and to display an apparent opposition to Rome; but if we take the trouble to look into their proceedings at these meetings, we shall find that their principal aim was to get credit for zeal against Popery, and thus to blind the people to their own Romish practices, and prevent (as far as they could) anything like a real expression of Protestant feeling on the occasion.
As to the fact that two of the most noted “Tractarian” clergymen in London were lately invited to preach in the Parish Church, Dr. Irons says, they were his friends; “one of them a very old one;” but if the Doctor is not a Tractarian “in any sense,” he might have shewn hospitality and kindness under his own roof, rather than give these gentlemen the opportunity of propagating the errors of their principles and party in the pulpit of the Parish Church. More recently, a third well known “Tractarian” Clergyman was