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THE CHURCH OF ROME
CHURCH OF CHRIST.
BY THE REV. JAMES GODKIN,
FORMERLY A ROMAN CATHOLIC.
"We speak what we know, and testify what we have seen."-JOHN iii. 11.
Third Edition, Revised.
BANNER OF ULSTER OFFICE, AND W. M'COMB, HIGH STREET;
THIS work contains a faithful narrative of the Author's experience, as a devoted member of the Church of Rome-as a Sceptic in that communion-as a Convert to Protestantism, but still unrenewed in heart—and, finally, as a Believer in Jesus.
In the portraiture which he presents of the Papal system, and of the Irish Priesthood, he has endeavoured with scrupulous care to state the truth without exaggeration. He disclaims all intention of catering for party spirit. The zeal which that spirit inspires is seldom hallowed by love or chastened by meekness. The Protestant advocate in Ireland is, unhappily, too often confounded with the political partisan: hence, while with some of his brethren his pleading excites indignation, perhaps revenge, with others it calls forth sympathy for the accused; and the Church of Rome, alive to every circumstance that can be turned to her advantage, assumes the tone of calumniated innocence-meekly deprecating the violence of her assailants, and not implausibly insinuating the impurity of their motives. The consequence is, that many who are unacquainted with her policy (the springs of which are, indeed, concealed from the majority of her own people) are betrayed into the vindication of her cause, and ultimately, perhaps, the profession of her creed.
It is, therefore, the duty of the friends of truth, and especially of converts, as they value the interests of the cause they have adopted, and the salvation of the people they have forsaken, to abstain, in their discussions on this subject, from political allusions and angry recrimination. They should strip the Romish system of all its adventitious appendages, and bring its essential and unchanging principles at once to the test of Reason and Scripture.
This the Author has endeavoured to accomplish. It has been his aim to present a faithful record of his own principles and feelings as a Roman Catholic-to point out the circumstances that first awakened doubts in his mind—to trace the steps by which, with hesitation and trembling, he won his intricate way through the gloomy labyrinth of superstition-to describe the natural and facile transition from Romanism to Infidelity to reveal the secrets of the Sceptic's heart to recount the incidents, and state the arguments by which he was finally led to embrace the Protestant faith, and trust in a CRUCIFIED SAVIOUR.
The internal struggles of the convert-the perplexity of mind and laceration of heart with which he sacrifices on the altar of Truth all that endears social life, that hallows memory or brightens hope-are pourtrayed with candour and fidelity. The difficulties that beset the Inquirer-the fancied novelty of Protestantism, the immorality of the Reformers, and the abuses of private judgment, with all that might bewilder or distress-are fully obviated, and the disenthralled spirit is conducted to the cross of Calvary and the throne of Grace; in one word, to the CHURCH OF CHRIST.
The writer, therefore, trusts that, as an illustration of the Force of Truth under circumstances peculiarly trying, combined with a satisfactory defence of the common faith of Protestants, his little work will be found both useful and interesting; and that as it is free from sectarianism, it will be kindly received by all denominations. He now commends it in prayer to the blessing of GOD, and ventures to indulge the pleasing hope that his humble labours will contribute in some limited measure to promote the long-sighed-for illumination and tranquillity of his native land.
ADVERTISEMENT TO THE SECOND EDITION.
THE Author feels himself called on to express his gratitude to God for the favourable reception this work has met from the public. A thousand copies were disposed of in six or eight weeks, and of these the greater number was sold in this country. By those who have mourned over the distracted state of Irish society, this will be considered extraordinary success for a book which has neither politics nor bigotry to recommend it which breathes neither frigid liberality nor scorching zeal-which speaks the truth with fidelity, and yet in love.
The writer feared that the conflicting parties that divide our land would regard his performance with coldness; and, indeed, many persons took it up under the influence of unfavourable impressions. But Protestants of all classes have been equally loud in their approbation. He hails this as an omen of good to Ireland. It shows that when Truth goes forth in her own unadorned loveliness, without the insignia of sectarianism, or the fire-brand of party, there are, in all denominations, many loyal hearts to welcome her.
Among those who have most warmly encouraged his humble labours, the Author refers with peculiar pleasure to the Clergy of the Established Church, whose generous conduct is the more to be admired, because the work contained passages relating to the Irish Establishment which rendered his motives liable to misconstruction. These passages are, in the present edition, so modified as to remove, he trusts, all well-founded causes of complaint.
He begs also to acknowledge his great obligations to his numerous Reviewers who so promptly and earnestly recommended his little Manual to the attention of their readers.
He has further only to express his regret that several typographical errors escaped in the first edition, in consequence of his not seeing the corrected proofs before the sheets were printed off. The work is now carefully revised, the style having been, in many places, improved, several arguments strengthened, and the whole rendered more worthy of public approbation.
Armagh, July, 1836.
PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION.
Ir is now more than ten years since this work was first submitted to the public. Certain unfavourable circumstances have retarded the sale of the second edition of two thousand copies. It is now exhausted, and the long-existing demand for a cheap issue can be met.
Never, perhaps, has any book had a larger circulation in proportion to the number of copies published. There is scarcely one of them that has not been lent from one person to another, till it has been completely worn out by diligent reading. This has been especially the case among the Presbyterians of Ulster, to whom the Author owes much for the unvarying kindness he has for many years experienced from both ministers and people.
I have abundant reason to know that "THE GUIDE FROM THE CHURCH OF ROME TO THE CHURCH OF CHRIST" has been the means of confirming the faith of many Protestants, and that it has prevented some from joining the Church of Rome; while the number of intelligent persons who have been led by the study of it to embrace the Reformed faith is such as to call forth the liveliest gratitude to Him by whom so humble an instrumentality has been thus signally blessed.
Most interesting cases of this kind occasionally come to my knowledge where I least expect them. When lately visiting the Island of Arran, off the coast of Galway, I learned the delightful fact, that a respectable lady and her maid, both French, had been converted by the reading of 66 THE GUIDE," and become most devoted Christians. The ardent gratitude with which they were accustomed to mention the Author's name, though never expecting to meet him on earth, is an ample reward for his labour. What can be more gratifying than to witness the joy of souls whom we have aided to rescue from bondage, and to find them labouring to impart the same blessings to their relatives and friends? How much of this happiness might be enjoyed if we were more diligent and faithful!
I had once a letter from a well-educated young man, a Methodist, inviting me, in the name of the Society to which he belonged, to lecture in their chapel. He said he conveyed this request with peculiar pleasure, as my book had led him to relinquish the errors of Romanism. A gentleman who is now a Rector in the Church of England assured me, some years ago, that he himself knew five or six persons who had been converted by the same means. I mention these as some of the cases that have come to my knowledge accidentally. I hope there are very many others, which only the light of eternity will make known, and that what have already occurred are only the first fruits.
In addition to these blessed results, I believe a lively sympathy for the Roman Catholics of Ireland has been awakened by this single narrative among Christians of different denominations in Great Britain, and that they have thus, to some extent, been induced to aid our Home Missionary operations. After ten years' study of religious society in Ireland, during which I have seen it in all its forms, and in every part of