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Ignorance Concerning Catholics the Protection of the Protestant View

Lecture 8 of Lectures on the Present Position of Catholics in England.

Delivered on Monday, August 25, 1851.

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You may have asked yourselves, Brothers of the Oratory, why it was that, in exposing, as I did last week, the shallowness of the philosophy on which our opponents erect their structure of argument against us, I did not take, as my illustration, an instance far more simple and ready to my hand than that to which I actually directed your attention. It was my object, on that occasion, to show that Protestants virtually assume the point in debate between them and us, in any particular controversy, in the very principles with which they set out; that those first principles, for which they offer no proof, involve their conclusions; so that, if we are betrayed into the inadvertence of passing them over without remark, we are forthwith defeated and routed, even before we have begun to move forward to the attack, as might happen to cavalry who manœuvred on a swamp, or to a guerilla force which ventured on the open plain. Protestants and Catholics each have their own ground, and cannot engage on any other; the question in dispute between them is more elementary than men commonly suppose; it relates to the ground itself on which the battle is legitimately and rightfully to be fought; the first principles assumed in the starting of the controversy determine the issue. Protestants in fact do but say that we are superstitious, because it is superstitious to do as we do; that we are deluded, because it is a delusion to believe what we believe; that we are knaves, because it must be knavery to teach what we teach. A short and pleasant argument, easier even and safer than that extempore and improvisatore mode of fabricating and fabling against us, of which I have said so much in former Lectures: easier and safer, inasmuch as, according to the proverb, "great wits ought to have long memories," when they deal with facts. In arguments about facts, there must be consistency, and speciousness, and proof, and circumstantial evidence; private judgment in short becomes subject to sundry and serious liabilities when it deals with history and testimony, from which it is comparatively free when it expatiates in opinions and views. Now of this high à priori mode of deciding the question, the specimen I actually took was the Protestant argument against relics and miracles; and I selected this instance for its own sake, because I wished to bring out what I thought an important truth as regarded them; but a more obvious instance certainly would have been the surprising obtuseness, for I can use no other word, with which the Protestant Rule of Faith, which Catholics disown, is so often obtruded on us, as a necessary basis of discussion, which it is thought absurd and self-destructive not to accept, in any controversy about doctrine....

(Continue.)

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P.S. Thanks.

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Fri. 08/25/06 07:17:17 AM
Categorized as Historical & Literary & Religious & Speeches and Suchlike & The Present Position of Catholics.

   
         
         

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