John Hughes Joseph Frederick Berg.

Answer to the lecture of Archbishop Hughes, on the decline of protestantism ... online

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throughout all time ? Nothing of the kind can be found.
Protestantism acquired all it ever possessed in fifty years,
in the heart of Christianity, amidst war and civil strife,
and after that it became as if stricken with sterility. It
could neither preserve itself nor its doctrines ; and whether
we number those who have unhappily gone farther from
the truth, in following out its principles, or whether we
count the multitudes disposed to return to Catholicism,
there can be no hesitation .in coming to the conclusion
that Protestantism has declined, is declining, and is des-
tined to decline ; and probably before the end of a cen-
tury from this day, there will remain of it throughout the
civilized world but a spectacle of the wreck of what had
been Protestantism. This is the probability ; and it is
on this account that the Church has never for a moment
ceased to understand her mission and her purpose in re-
gard to the errors of its advocates, as well as those of



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26 THE DECLmE OF PBOTESTANTIBM.

mankind in general. Protestantism pretends to have dis-
covered great secrets. Protestantism startles our eastern
borders occasionally on the intention of the Pope with
regard to the valley of the Mississippi, and dreams that
it has made a wonderful discovery. Not at all. Every
ody should know it. Every body should know that we
ave for our mission to convert the world, — ^including
e inhabitants of the United States, — the people of
he cities, and the people of the country, the officers
f the navy and the marines, commanders of the
army, the Legislatures, the Senate, the Cabinet, the
President, and all ! We have received from God what
Protestantism never received — ^viz., not only a commission
b ut a command to go ^d t^Tirh t^ll na tio ns . There is no
secret about this. The object we hope to accomplish in
time, is to convert all Pagan nations, and all Protestant
nations, even England with her proud ParUament and im-
perial sovereign. There is no secrecy in all this. It is
the commission of God to his church, and not a human
project God who, in his own inscrutable providence,
permitted this great melancholy schism to take place,
knows the time, the m^ans, and the circumstances under
which the return of many souls to unity, shall be accom-
plished. In the mean time, look over the list of great
minds who have already reUnquished high honors, and rank,
and station, in the Church of England, and sought ad-
mission to the one true Church. Who, without a feeling
of pride, can pronounce the name of the meek Spencer,
who was willing to be despised and abject for Christ's sake,
— who goes abroad among the poor, preaching to them,
ministering to their wants, and asking them to offer up
continual prayers for the conversion of his loved but er-
ring Edgland ? Who can think of Newman, with all the
strength of his mighty intellect, and all the sweet and ten-
der affections of his pure soul, infused into every page of



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THE DECIINB OP PR0TBBTANTI8M. 27

his writings, coming back and endeavoring as far as pos-
sible to repair on the side of truth the unintentional inju-
ry which he and his associates had done to the Church
of Christ. • Who can tell among ourselves the number of
Protestants, and many of them ministers, who have al-
ready come, or are preparing to come back to Catholic
unity. Now I can say for myself, that I have had much
pleasant and fondly cherished intercourse with Protest-
ants, and in all my life I never conversed with one who
was entirely satisfied with his religion. I do not say,
however, that, on this account, they were, as yet, ready
to become Catholics. But on the other hand, those illus-
trious converts, who have been liberated from the ambi-
guities of Protestantism, those noble auxiliaries, who have
been brought up, as it were, in the camp of the enemy, such
as Spencer, Newman, and others, from the moment they
became CathoHcs found a fulness of measure equal to
the desires of their souls — a provision of Heavenly things
in the Church of God, suited and equal to the aptitudes
and capacities of ransomed and regenerated humanity.

Why then should we not unite in prayer, that God
will reconduct to the fold of Christ those upright, but as
yet unhappily wandering brethren, who are wasting their
strength, their lives, on the fields of Protestantism ?
Why not unite in prayer, that God will bring them all
back into the sweet communion of the one true church ?
We should pray for it. We must look for it. If it had
not been for these awful errors of Protestantism, if all
the nations had remained in the communion of the
Church of God, it would seem that Christianity, by this
time, would have absorbed all the nations of the earth.
If the resources and labors of those several states of
Protestantism mentioned in this lecture, had been united
and directed to one common purpose, it seems to me
that, under the ordinary blessing of God, Paganism, Ma-



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28 THE DSCUNE OF ^BOTBSTANTISM.

hometanism, and every species of darkness, would have
vanished before the approach of the heralds of the Cross.
Oh, why should we not pray that the day may be near
when the missionary from London may meet the mission-
ary from Rome, in the propagation of one and the same
doctrine, teaching the subjects of heathenism, bringing
all nations into one church, and impressing upon them
the belief in one Lord, one Faith, and one Baptism.



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EDWARD DUNIGAN & BROTHER'S PUBLICATIONS.



THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD ; a Lecture, delivered at
the Chinese Museum, Philadelphia, January 31, 1850, for the
of benefit the St. lohn's Orphan Asylum, by the Rx. Rev. John
Hughes, D. D., Bishop of New- York 6J

In this Lecture the Right Rev. Author takes a rapid but comprehen-
sive view of the recent political agitations in Europe, and their results ;
and in this connection discusses very fully the right of Revolution, or the
right of a people to change their government at will.

The London Rambler says : " A vigorously sketched outline of the relationships oT
the social and spiritual communities, showing the origin and rights of each, and e]q>oand*
ing the Catholic Doctrine on the subject of Revolution."



CHRISTIANITY, the only Source of Moral, Social, and Political
Regeneration. A sermon preached in the Hall of the House of
Representatives of the United States, on Sunday, December 12th,
1847. By the Right Rev. John Hughes, D. D. - - - 6^

It is not too much to say, that no similar discourse has in our time pro*
duced a more marked impression on the public mind than this of the R4»
Rev. BiBhop Hughes. Its great subject is treated with a force of argument
and language, a scope of view, and a completeness rarely equalled. No
where are the regenerating and sanctifying influences of Christianity upon
the moral, social, and political world, developed and vindicated with suob
dignity and power.

KIRWAN UNMASKED. A review of Kirwan, m Six Letters,
addressed to the Rev. Nicholas Murray, D. D., of Elizabethtown.
By the Rt. Rev. John Hughes, D. D., Bishop of New- York. dj

A LECTURE ON THE ANTECEDENT CAUSES OF THE
IRISH FAMINE IN 1847, delivered under the auspices of the
General Committee for the Relief of the Suffering Poor of Ire-
land, by the^ Rt. Rev. John Hughes, D. D., Bishop of New-
York, at the Broadway Tabernacle, March 20th, 1847. - OJ



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BERG'S ANSWER TO THE LECTURE OF ARCHBISHOP HUGHES,
ON THE DECLINE OF PROTESTANTISM.



LECTURE;

DELIVERED IN THE l^SICAL FUND HAIL,



ON TUESDAY EVENING, NOVEMBER 26, 1850,



IN ANSWER TO ARCHBISHOP^ HUGHES ON THE DECLINE Q|?
PROTESTANTISM,



BY THE REV. JOSEPH F. BERG, D.Dm

PASTOR OF THE GERMAN REFORMED CHURCljIj RACE ST.



tlct)i3c^, u)itl) tl)c abbitional Notts, bg tl)e :^utl)ot.



PHILADELPHIA:
PUBLISHED BY C. COLLINS, JR., S. SHERRERD AND A. DUMONT.

1850.



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CORRESPONDENCE.



FHlLADELfUIA, Nov, 18, 1850.

Rev. J, F. Barg^ D. D.-^pear £ftr:— Believing that the public mind ought to be disabused o^
the erroneous in^^e^i^ivi wUch. the lecent lecture of Bishop Hughes, of New York, is adapted
to convey in relation to the alleged ** Decline of Protestantism," and knowing t^jji your reading
has made you fanuliar with this whde subject, we would respectfully si^ggest the propriety of your
giving a public lectiire on this subject, at the Chinese Muwumi (V somp other suitable pli|ce, and
hereby reepectfully ie<^ue8| yov^ to take tl^f; subject into oonsideratioiv

(Signed,)— Rey* Messrs. J. Lansing Burrows, David Malin, John B. Dales, John Chaoobers,
J. T. Ward, A. A. WiUits, Ezra Stiles Ely, D.D., John Mc Dowell, D.D. , Chailes D. Cooper, D.D.,
John B. Hagany, J. H. Kennard \ Peter A. B^vme, Esq.^ Thomas Wattson, A. J. Dumont,Wilfin^
Hall, Samuel Ashmead, Aaron A. Burtis, C. Cqjlinf, Jr^ S, Sherrerd, and others.



To Rev. J, Lansing Burrows, Rev. Dib. Mc Dowell and Ely, and other clergym0n, and Meipa.
f . A. Browne, Thomaii Wattson, and others :

Respected Friends,'~So soon as the requisite arran^eq^pi^ts can be made by the cQpimittee of
gentlemen who have interested themselves in the npjatter to which your x^fifie of tl^ ^8th mst relates^
it will aflR>id me pleasure to avail myself of the opportunity to show cause why those who are not
ashamed of their Protestant profession, may reasonably demur to the strange assumptions of the
geoitlemanwho styles himself <" The Most Uev. John Hughes, D.D,, Archbishop of New Yatk,'*
Meanwhile, with due appreciation of your kindnew,— I am yours truly,

PkUada.^ 2l#( Nav^ 1850. J. F. BBRG.



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ADDRESS



RET. JOSEPH F. BERG, D.D.,

nr AN8WEB TO THB LEOTaRE OF ABOHBISHOP HUOHDS ON THB DEOLIVE
OF FROTESTANnSM.



I AM not ashamed of the Protestant name ! I hold it to be associated
with all that gives character to the most liberal and enlightened nations
on the globe. I am not ashamed of the Protestant faith. It is not the
Tague, unmeaning thing which its enemies would make it It is some-
thing positive. In proof of this we point to the two most powerful
Christian nations on earth ! The kingdom of Great Britain^ and the
Republic of the United States of North America are Protestant, and
they owe their greatness to this very cause. We claim, as due to
Protestantism, the most brilliant achievements and embellishments of
literature, and the most profound investigations and discoveries of
science, and we declare openly that neither literature nor science can
flourish in any land that is bereft of the fostering care of Protestant
culture. We bold Protestantism to be essential moreover to the very
existence of sound Christianity. — No form of religious faith or worship,
which distinctly discards the Protestant element from creed or cultus,
whilst it holds on to the Christian name, ever has been, ever can be,
aught else than a caricature of the religion of Jesus Christ. Protest-
antism is as essential to civil liberty and to religious freedom, as the
air we breathe to the maintenance of life. You can have no just
government, no equitable laws, protecting the sacred rights of person
and property, securing to all honest and moral men liberty to worship
God as conscience bids them, without Protestantism. If the principles
which belong to the great charter of human rights are losing favour
with the masses of mankind; if the people of any nation under heaven
are weary of the enjoyment of that liberty which secures to every man
the largest amount of personal comfort, wealth and happiness, com-
patible with the equal right of his neighbour to the same; if the
inhabitants of any civilized country are longing for the chains of
despotic authority, or reaching forth their hands that they may be
manacled, or bowing their necks in voluntary servitude to the yoke of
2



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BR. BBRg's RBPLT TO ABCBBISHOP H1JOHB8



tyranny — then I will admit " Protestantism is declining;" but, if
throughout the wide earth, wherever men have heard of Jesus Christ,
and seen the light of heaven beaming from the Sacred Scriptures, there
is a struggling against the old fetters of feudal tyranny — a loud and
earnest remonstrance against the extortions and exactions of an esta-
blished hierarchy — if there is a heaving of the down-trodden millions,
who may not enjoy the rich bequest of heaven, because the heel of
oppression tramples upon and crushes them — then, in all these symp-
toms of resistance to perfidy and despotism, you have tokens of the
animating power of Protestantism — a vitality which never can be
exhausted or destroyed, for it is imperishable as its Divine Author.

I am here this evening to respond to an invitation addressed to me
in the name of some of the most excellent and venerable men in this
community, both ministers of Christ and private Christians ; and whilst
I can say, with all sincerity, that I would most heartily have put my
name to a similar application, had it been addressed to another, I deem
it a high honour to be your servant on this occasion, and I thank them
for the privilege. A man of Gath has come forth to seoflfat the tribcB
of our Protestant Israel. He comes not, it is true, like him of old,
with a helmet of brass upon his head — and verily he does not need it —
but equipped with the mitre of an Archbishop, and redolent of conse-
crating oil, if not of the odour of sanctity. The tones of his voice
sound like the echo of the ancient champion of Philistia, who shouted,
*^ I defy the armies of Israel this da}'!" In reliance upon the promise
of Him who has declared that the weakest in that day shall be as David,
I hope I shall be enabled to deal with this Goliath, argumentatively,a9
the stripling of old dealt with his prototype; and I deem it altogether
in accordance with the usages of honourable warfare, that he should
lose his head by the edge of his own sword : in other words, to drop
the metaphor, his lecture shall be the instrument of his rebuke.
This lecture is entitled ** The decline of Protestantism, and its cause.'*
It purports to have been delivered in St. Patrick's Cathedral, on Sunday
evening, Nov. 10th, 1850, by the Most Reverend John Hughes, D. D.,
Archbishop of New York.

Archbishop Hughes proclaims that Protestantism is declining, and
that he finds the strongest authorities for this opinion among Protest-
ants themselves, '^ who acknowledge, while they deplore and aim to
arrest," this downward tendency. First, let us settle what we mean
by Protestantism. Bishop Hughes is at a loss for a definition that will
answer " the purposes of logical or theological accuracy," though, in
its popular sense, he owns the term is clearly understood. This diffi-
culty arises, in his mind, from the great diversity of the phases of
Protestantism; there are so many Protestant sects, that a scientific man
is puzzled to know what this thing you call Protestantism is. I pro-
pose to answer this question, first, by asking another. What is Light ?
Suppose this inquiry to be made by an unfortunate man, who has lived
all his life, like one possessed, among the tombs, or who has, by a
strange perversion of reason, or by the stress of circumstances and
early prejudices, deliberately chosen a subterranean habitation. He is
suddenly brought out into the sunshine, and dazzled and blinded by
the subtile agent which brings tears into his eyes; he asks, with peevish
impatience, " What is this thing you call light?" He sees it, or
blinks at it, as its rays fall upon the prism which hangs before his



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ON THE DECLINE OF PROTESTANTISM.



bleared eye-balls, and he cries out; with indignant amazement. What a
confusion of colours! What a worse than confounded and confounding
blending of tints and hues! Here this thing you call light, looks
blue — and here it is azure — and there it kindles into purple — now it
glows in crimson, and then it is yellow, and anon it is green as the
grass in the Emerald Isle! What is this thing you call Light?
Away with the nondescript ! Give me my subterranean shade! Now,
what is Protestantism ? it is the light of God's truth ! The effulgence
that kindles on the inner man, as the soul is baptized in the glow of
revealed religion! It is the religion of the Bible! The form which
it takes, or the hue which it assumes, depends upon the structure, and
the position and the capacity, and the conditions of the mind that
receives it. It strikes this man's conscience and heart, and he is a
Methodist — warm, and red, and glowing; it falls upon another, and
he is a Presbyterian — true, regular blue; it comes upon another like
the light azure tint of water, and he is a Baptist; and so through all
the Bright and ever-varying and all-glorious colours of the moral rain-
bow, it produces variety without the sacrifice of real unity. It is God's
bow in the clouds that hang lowering over our land, the beacon of the
covenant, promising that the flood of Popery shall never again deluge
the earth, or steep it in blood and sorrow! The blending of all the
prismatic colours is seen in the bright, colourless light ; and the moral
influence of all the varieties of evangelical Christianity is perceptible
in the general intelligence, happiness, and piety — shedding peace, and
contentment, and glory, upon the land — divesting Protestantism of
all sectarian hue, by making hol}^ living the essence of the religion
which it universally prescribes. These men who cannot tell what Pro-
testantism is, are the same who love darkness rather than light — who
hate the light, and will not come to it, lest their deeds be reproved !
The same who suppress and forbid the free circulation of the Scrip-
tures, who burn the Bible, and curse and anathematize all who read it
without their perversions and without their permission !

But " Protestantism began in the year 1517." Softly, most Reverend
Sir! The name was given a little later than 1517, but the object
designated by the name is as old as the canon of the New Testament,
Old things have sometimes new names besto^yed on them, and hence
Protestantism, though as ancient as the days of the Apostles Paul and
John, obtained a generic name, though for a specific purpose. I will
not yield this question of antiquity. I will not concede that the Pro-
testant faith is an invention of yesterday, or only a little more than
t hree hundred years old. The champion of the Papac}' asks, Where was
your religion before Luther? I answer, it was in the Bible; in the
same book in which your religion is also revealed, with this difference,
that the system you uphold stands forth as a predicted apostacy, which
the Lord abhors, and which he will destroy! This answer will not do,
however. We are told, this religion of yours y this Protestantism^
must have had some adherents — now where were they ? Who were
they before the days of " Brother Martin Luther?"

To this I answer, the armies despatched by the Popes of Rome, or
at their instigation, made war upon certain Christians dwelling in the
valleys and amid the mountain fastnesses of Piedmont, centuries before
the birth of Luther, because these Christians protested against the very
doctrines and usages of the Papacy against which we protest — protested



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DR. BKRO S REPLY TO ARCBBISHOP BV6HBS



against the Pope as the Anti-Christ — protested against the worship of
images, and relics, and canonized saints — protested against purgatory
and pilgrimages, and works of satisfaction and penance — protested
'against the mass and auricular confession — and all the distinctive
characteristics of the Papacy ! And because they were Protestants —
because they bore this unwavering and consistent testimony against
the abuses of Rome, from the very date of their publication; and, on
the other hand, had contended for centuries before, with all earnestness,
for the positive truths of the gospel, the legions of the kingdoms that
lent their power to the Papacy poured in upon them, devastating their
country, and slaying men, women, and children, without pity for the
gray hairs of age, or the tender helplessness of infancy; and for cen-
turies did this ruthless wrath bear down upon them, until scores of
thousands and hundreds of thousands were slain; yet they were not
exterminated; and to this very day, in the same fastnesses, the candle
of the Lord is shining, and witnesses, lineal descendants of the Wal-
densian Churches, still testify, amid poverty and scorn, with the ancient
ardour of their forefathers, that the Pope is the Anti-Christ, and that
his image worship, and saint worship, and man worship, are so much
idolatry — that his purgatory, and penances, and masses, and auricular
confession, are devices of Satan — a scandal to all good Christians,
and an abomination before God !* Say you, " Protestantism began
in the year 1517?'' Most Reverend Sir, you are a learned man, and
5'ou know better. You have heard of one John Huss, who suffered
martyrdom in 1415, more than a hundred years before Luther stood
forth as a Reformer. He perished in the flames as a « ringleader of
Heretics," because he preached the doctrines of the Waldenses, suffer-
ing a cruel death, despite of the safe conduct of the Emperor Sigis-
mund,that monarch yielding reluctant obedience to the decree of your
CEcumenical Council of Constance, which proclaimed and settled in-
fallibly, that NO FAITH IS TO BE KEPT WITH HERETICS ! A dognna

* The rancorous cruelty of the Papacy, exhibited for centaries agaiost the Wal-
denses, is not ^et extinct. Within the last few years, they have again been subjected
to the most injurious attempts to force upon them laws infringing on the rishts of
conscience, and designed gradually to extinguish the last remnant of apostolic pro-
testantism in Piedmont. Apart from all this, however, the most abominable slanders
have been circulated respecting the Waldenses, and though a thousand times refuted,
they ars put forth with renewed audacity, whenever the defenders of papal tyranny
are driven to the wall for some justification of the merciless persecutions inflicted on
these indomitable Christians. They have been stigmatized as Manicheans. The
accusation is not only false, but ridiculously untrue. The Waldensian confessions
and homilies, which are still extant, will bear comparison with any evangelical sys-
tem presented in the purest and most scriptural creeds extant. In proof of this see
Perrin's History of the Waldenses, published by Griffith & Simon, Third Street, a
work which should be in the library of every intelligent Protestant. Suppose, how-
ever, for argument's sake, that these papal accusations were true. What then 1 Then
we have the Roman Archbishops, Bishops and Priests, justifying the infliction of all
these cruelties upon the Waldenses, because they were heretics^ Why, then, may
they not inflict the same or similar cruelties upon Protestants now, seeing that we
hold substantially the same doctrines as the Waldenses % Why? Simply because,
when the Church has not the power, it is not expedient to assert the claim too boldly,
as Peter Dens teaches! The Church of Rome expounds the passage in 1 Tim. iv.,
in which the Apostle Paul describes the marks of the apostacy, as relating to the
Manicheans. If this be correct, these ancient heretics came very near being " good
Catholics.'' at least in so far as regards the points enumerated by the Apostle, and
had the Waldenses conformed so far to the discipline of papal Rome as to be even
Maoicheans, the Hildebrands and Innocents would not have troubled them.



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ON THE DRCLINE OF PROTESTANTISM. 9



which Still darkens the pages of your statute book with its infamy,
and which, on your own principles, you never can repeal! Time
would fail to tell of Jerome of Prague, of Gerson, of the Bohemian
Brethren, of Savanarola in Italy, of Wickli&e, and the Lollards in
England, of the Culdees in Scotland, and a host of martyred '< Re-
formers before the Reformation." Enough. Protestantism began
before 1517. It began when an inspired Apostle protested against
the apostacy which he describes in his first epistle to Timothy, when
he says: ^* Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times,
some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and


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Online LibraryJohn Hughes Joseph Frederick BergAnswer to the lecture of Archbishop Hughes, on the decline of protestantism ... → online text (page 3 of 11)