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"a late parliamentary record, it is stated that in "Travancor and Cochin is a catholic archbishopric, "with two bishoprics; one of which contains 35,000 "communicants. There are numerous catholic "flocks, with their priests, and even bishops, in all "the kingdoms and states beyond the Ganges, par"ticularly in Siam, Cochin-china, Tonquin, and "the different provinces of the Chinese empire."
SUCH IS THE EXTENT OF THE ROMAN-CATHOLIC RELIGION. You describe it, in the last line of your tenth chapter, as "a prodigious structure of imposture "and wickedness." Is it decorous to apply this opprobrious language to areligion professed in such extensive territories? Several of which are in the highest state of intellectual advancement, and abound, as you must acknowledge, with persons, from the very highest to the very lowest condition of life, of the greatest honour, endowments and worth?-If the religion of this large proportion of the christian world really be, "the prodigious structure of imposture and wickedness" you describe it,-have not the gates of hell, contrary to the most solemn promise of the Son of God, prevailed against his church?
I must also request you to inform me, when "this prodigious structure of imposture and wicked"ness" was raised. You must be sensible the æras assigned for it by many of your eminent writers are very different and very numerous, and that each is irreconcileable with all the others; so that, when you shall mention the æra, which you have fixed upon, I will most certainly produce, at least, half
a dozen protestant writers of eminence, who contend for some different æra.
But, putting this universal diffusion of the romancatholic religion out of consideration, and confining these observations to the roman-catholic subjects of his Britannic majesty, permit me to observe to you, that the number of these, exceeds the number of any other denomination of his majesty's christian subjects. Surely this entitles them to be treated with the language of decent controversy. Even confining the case to the English catholics, the proportionate number of whom I acknowledge to be small,—even they are entitled to this decency of treatment. We are not the vilia corpora to whom the language, which modern manners has banished from conversation, should be applied. "When I speak," said the late Mr. Wyndham, on presenting the petition of the English romancatholics in 1810, " of the obscurity of the English roman-catholics, I do not mean that they are des❝titute of hereditary virtues and hereditary dignities, that they are not a part of that class which ought to be denominated Ultimi Romanorum." -(You see, Sir, that this great man thought, that a right to this appellation is honourable.)-" I can"not," he continued, "contemplate a more noble "and affecting spectacle, than an antient roman"catholic gentleman, in the midst of his people, "exercising the virtues of beneficence, humanity and hospitality. If they are obscure, it is because they are proscribed as aliens in the state; because
they are shut out from this assembly, where many
"of those, who are far less worthy, are allowed to "sit. Have they ever exercised those vile arts, "which are exercised so successfully by many, to
creep into power and place? Have they ever "attempted to obtain their rights, either by clamour "or by servility? On the contrary, their conduct "has proved that no other body is more justly enti"tled to respect and admiration." This was the language of one of the most able statesmen, most accomplished scholars, most perfect gentlemen, and best judges of men and things in our times: How widely does it differ from yours!
FIRST INTRODUCTION OF CHRISTIANITY.
WE know that Julius Cæsar invaded Great Britain fifty-four years before the birth of Christ; and that it was invaded by the Saxons, four hundred and forty-nine years after the christian æra. It is probable, that christianity was disseminated over parts of England during the apostolic age. This was universally believed by our ancestors; some have called it the first of the three conversions of England to christianity. We are informed by the venerable Bede, and by several of our early historians, that, about the one hundred and seventeenth year of the christian æra, pope Eleutherius, on the application of Lucius, a British prince, the third in descent from Caractacus, and particularly favoured by the Romans, commissioned two clergymen Fugatius and Damianus, to preach the gospel to the Britons. This has been called the second of the three conversions of Britain to christianity. Doctor Heylin* asserts, that Lucius procured archiepiscopal sees to be erected at York, Caerleon upon Usk, and London, for the northern, southern, and western parts of England; and suffragan bishops to be assigned to each. The concurrent testimonies of Tertullian, Eusebius, and Thesodoret,
* Help to History, p. 69.
show, that christianity made a considerable progress in the island, particularly in its southern parts. It was favoured by the extirpation of the religion of the Druids, whom the Roman arms had expelled into Wales. The general persecution of christianity, by the emperor Dioclesian, severely visited the christians of Britain. St. Alban, and Julius, and Aaron of Caerleon, suffered death for the faith of Christ: the former, is styled the protomartyr of Britain; his memory was always singularly venerated by the catholics of England.
That much in the history of the two first conversions of England is questionable, cannot be doubted. But does not equal doubt, at least, attend the early history, whether sacred or profane, of every nation? Those, who have read the learned and entertaining discussions of M. Frérêt, M. Sallier, and M. Beaufort, on the History of the Five First Centuries of Rome, must admit, that the popular accounts of the two first conversions of England are entitled to as much credit as the accounts given by the historians of Rome of the early period of her history; and that the documents, on which the history of the first conversions of England depend, approach much nearer than those of the antient Romans to historical certitude. It seems difficult to deny that they favour the catholic doctrine of the pope's supremacy, and his right of general superintendance over the spiritual concerns of the church of Christ *.
* This letter was written, after having considered all the authorities collected upon the subject, in the first tome of