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1845: THE POPE AND THE GOSPEL, OR ANOTHER FAREWELL TO ROME. BY J. J. MAURETTE, LATE PARISH PRIEST OF SERRES, DEPARTMENT OF THE ARIEGE, IN FRANCE, NOW MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL.

 

"He, who would arrive at the true faith, must seek it in the  Holy Scriptures alone." Prove all things, holdfast that which is good."—1. T/ttss.  T. 21. 

TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH  LONDON: W. H.  DALTON, COCKSPUR STREET.  1845

 

. PREFACE.

THE present pamphlet was preceded in France  by one entitled My Farewell to Rome, written  by Monsieur Bruitte, another parish-priest, who,  with an aged mother, and a sister, dependant  upon him for their bread, had suffered the  loss of all things for the faith of Christ; left  his living, and Rome; and cast himself upon  God's promises.

 

 Monsieur Maurette, who had  been brought to the knowledge of the truth  before Monsieur Bruitte, took up his pen upon  the publication of the First Farewell, to confirm  and strengthen its effect by another.

 

A third,  by a third converted priest, is to appear in a few days, or has appeared by this time. Each of  these three gentlemen is well known to many of  the friends of the Gospel in France and Switzerland,  who would at any time be willing to  bear testimony to them ; if their faith, and what  they have suffered for the Gospel's sake, were  not sufficient witnesses in their behalf. 

 

This Second Farewell, like its predecessor,  met with a ready sale on its publication, and as  many as eight thousand copies had been put  into circulation, when the remainder were seized  by direction of the French government, and an  order issued for the arrest of the author, who,  as it happened, was then absent from home,  and preaching the faith of Christ in the department  of the Var, in the south-eastern extremity  of France

 

 Just at this time occurred the discussion  in the French chambers on the question  of religious liberty. The Keeper of the Seals,  grounding what he said on Monsieur Maurette's  absence, declared that he had fled from the pursuit  of justice. As soon as Monsieur Maurette became aware of this, he wrote immediately to  contradict it, returned, and appeared on the  17th of last May before the Court of Assize at  Foix.

 

 He was there arraigned on three counts,  and charged:—  1st. With outrage and derision against a religion  whose establishment is legally recognised  in France.  2nd. With having sought to disturb the public  peace.  3rd. With promoting enmity among the different  classes of society. 

 

The two last charges were rejected by the  jury, but he was condemned on the first to a  fine of 600 francs, (a£24,) and one year's imprisonment.  Against this decision he afterwards  appealed to a superior tribunal, the Court de  Cassation, in Paris. The judgment of the inferior  court was there confirmed, and Monsieur  Maurette is now suffering the imprisonment to  which he was condemned. 

 

The translator has thought it might be useful to make these things known in England ;—1st.  That English Christians may be thankful for  their greater liberty, and may pray for their  brethren in the faith in France : 2ndly. That at  this season, so critical to our dear native land,  when many think and speak favourably of Rome,  she might be once more exhibited (and that by  the voice of one who has been in the midst of  her, and knows her well,) as the invariable adversary  of the Gospel of God's grace.

 

 Lastly,  that if, among the clergy and the people of the  Church of England, a few are turning their backs  on the open Bible, to throw themselves into that  which the Bible openly condemns, it might be  more generally known than it is, that in France  the knowledge of the Scriptures is beginning to  be more and more appreciated ; so that, in one  instance, not a few individuals only, but a whole  parish, and in other cases, large parts of parishes,  have come out of Rome, and welcomed those  who brought them the doctrines of Christ and  his apostles.

 

The translator would urge those who feel an  interest in the progress of scriptural faith in  France, to consult the reports and quarterly  papers of the Foreign Aid Society, the British  and Foreign Bible Society, and, if they have the  opportunity, those of the Societes Evangeliques  of France and Geneva. 

 

December 1, 1844. DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES.

 

A reflecting Christian has said, "  Be not deceived by certain appearances. The  community cannot be indifferent to the opinions of  its members ; it feels a desire to know the real  motives that govern their actions. The community  wants to know the conscience of the individual."

 

I am but a simple and obscure individual; but  having arrived at a very strong conviction, 1  think it right to make it known. A debt is not the  less a debt for being a small one. I come forward  therefore to discharge mine, to lay open  my thoughts and my conscience, and to relate  the conclusions to which this conscience has led  me.

 

God grant that these reflections may be the  means of enlightening "some of those into whose  hands these simple pages may fall!  All that relates to myself may be reduced to  this double declaration, viz.

 

I SEPARATE MYSELF  FROM THE POPE, TO ATTACH MYSELF TO JESUS  CHRIST ! 

 

I separate myself from the Pope, because I say  with St. Clement, Bishop of Rome, who died  A.D. 81 : "  Jesus Christ is with the humble only; He  is not with those who exalt themselves above  his flock. Our Lord Jesus Christ, notwithstanding  his power, came not into the world in  pomp and pride."*

 

 I separate myself from the Pope, because I say  with St. Ignatius, Martyr, Bishop of Antioch,  A.D. 108 : "  Whoever blindly follows those, who wander  from the way of truth, shall not inherit the kingdom  of God ; and whoever is able to distinguish  truth from error, but does not make use of this  faculty, and abandon a teacher of lies, God will  punish.'

 

I  separate myself from the Pope, because I  say with St. Justin, Martyr, A.D. 163:  He who is truly pious and wise, will value  the truth which he has been led to discover  above all things; and reject the opinions of the  ancients, (majorum opiniones,) as soon as he perceives  the falsity of them."* "

 

 I separate myself from the Pope, because I say with St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, A.D.  258 : "  Neither ought any bishop in the world, to  pretend to be a bishop of bishops, nor to exercise  any constraint over the faith and actions of  his colleagues by threats or punishment (tyran-  nico terrore); for every bishop has full liberty,  and may use his spiritual power according to his  own convictions; and if he does so, he ought not  more to be judged by another than to judge  other bishops himself.''

 

 I  separate myself from the Pope, because I say  with St. Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers, A.D. 369: "  Because of that Antichrist, you do wrong to  attach importance to the walls of temples, to regard  a building as the Church of God, or if  you repeat the name of peace under their roofs. Is it  then doubtful that Antichrist may not establish his throne there?  The mountain, the forest, the  lake, the prison, and the cave, are to me safer  places."* "

 

 I separate myself from the Pope, because I  say with St. Basil, Bishop of Caesarea, A.D. 379 : "  Let us compare the discourses and writings  of our teachers with the doctrines of the Bible,  and accept only that which is conformable to the  scriptures."

 

I  separate myself from the Pope, because I  say with St. Ambrose Bishop of Milan, A.D. 397 : "  The Lord has forbidden us to call any man  master in matters of religion, because we have  only one master, Jesus Christ the anointed one,  who is always ready to enlighten our understandings,  if we shut not out his light from our souls   Our faith in the church, (i. e. in its visible heads,)  must be tried by the declarations of scripture, and  we must admit the church as our guide, only when  it can be proved that Christ dwelleth in her."§ 

 

I separate myself from the Pope, because I  say with St. Jerome, A. D. 410 : " Bishops are all equal amongst themselves!  Let no one imagine that the church of Rome differs essentially from any other church in the  world: the Gauls, the Britons, the Africans, the  Persians, the Indians, and the whole earth, in a  word, all christian nations acknowledge the  same Jesus Christ for their common Saviour, and  have the same rule of faith, viz. the Bible. Whether  a man be a bishop of the great city of Rome,  or of the small town of Egubium, of insignificant  Rhegium, or of despised Tanis, is of little importance ;  the merit and the dignity are the same.  Riches and power, poverty and lowliness, neither  exalt a bishop nor disgrace him."

 

I separate myself from the Pope, because I  say with St. Augustine, A. D. 430 : "  If disputes arise in the church, who shall be  the arbitrator? None but Christ and the apostles,  that is to say, their written word. When Peter confessed that Jesus was the son  of the living God, the Lord said to him: Upon this  rock.; that is to say, he will build His Church, not  upon Peter, but upon the faith that Peter had in  the Rock and Corner-stone of the church, and  this Rock was Christ Himself."!

 

I separate myself from the Pope, because I  say with Theodoret, bishop of Cyricus, A.D. 460 : "  A blind faith is, on the contrary, the source  of all the errors and all the evils of the church.  Of all heresies, the worst and most dangerous is  that, which is raising its head so high and so  mighty in our days ; that, viz., which requires of  man, with equal absurdity and injustice, to renounce  his understanding, and not to examine  his religion ; and thus prevents him from ever  attaining a firm and living faith. Faith is called  a blind assent to dogmas, that have no force and  are based upon no proof."*

 

 I separate myself from the Pope, because I  say with Gregory 1st, Bishop of Rome, A.D.  604: "  If a bishop is called by the name of universal  bishop, then when this bishop falls, the whole  church must fall with him. Away with such folly, such levity, such blasphemy, which deprives  all other priests of the honour, that one in  his folly arrogates to himself alone. To accept  such a title is no less than to make shipwreck of  the faith The Bishop of Constantinople" (says the  same writer) " has had the audacity to call himself  Universal Pope, Catholic Father, Bishop of  all the Bishops ; but can this unexampled pride,  this criminal ambition, be ought else than the  fore-runner of Antichrist ?"

 

I separate myself from the Pope, because the  Word of God says to me—" Now the Spirit  speaketh expressly, that in the latter times  some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to  seducing spirits and doctrines of devils; speaking  lies in hypocrisy ; having their conscience  seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and  commanding to abstain from meats, which God  hath created to be received with thanksgiving of  them that believe, and know the truth."

 

I  separate myself from the Pope, because the  Word of God says to me—" Come out of Babylon," ( the Church of Rome) " my people,  that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye  receive not of her plagues : for her sins have  reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered  her iniquities.

 

But, in separating myself from the Pope, I  ATTACH MYSELF TO JESUS CHRIST

 

I attach myself to Jesus Christ, because  Simon Peter says, " I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone,  elect, precious, and he that believeth on  Him shall not be confounded."

I attach myself to Jesus Christ, because St.  Paul says, " According to the grace of God  which is given unto me, as a wise master-builder,  I lay the foundation, and another buildeth thereon.  For other foundation can no man lay, than  that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."

 

I  attach myself to Jesus Christ, because St.  John says, " And now, little children, abide in  Him," (in Jesus Christ,) " that when He shall  appear, we may have confidence, and not be  ashamed before Him at his coming."

 

I attach myself to Jesus Christ, because He says Himself, " I am the way, the truth, and  the life."  He that believeth on the Son hath  everlasting life." || " Come unto me," saith  again this good Saviour, " all ye that labour and  are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."  1 Peter ii. 6. t 1 Cor. iii. 10, 12.  J 1 John ii. 28. § John xiv. 6.  I! John iii. 36. H Matt. xi. 28. 

 

Such is my declaration.  I will now attempt to show by what means I  arrived at these convictions ; but first let me say  that I am but a simple priest, who for twenty-  one years have used no dialect, but that of  the mountains of the ancient Comte de Foix ( Ariege). I entreat you, therefore, benevolent  reader, to excuse the simplicity of my language,  and my faults of style. 

 

II.  Glory to God in the highest; peace on earth, and  good-will towards men. 

TO THE INHABITANTS OF SERRES,  MY PARISHIONERS,  SALVATION AND BLESSING, THROUGH JESUS  CHRIST OUR LORD

 MY DEAR FRIENDS,

 

 If circumstances, as painful and delicate for you  as for myself, had not detained me, I should have  gone nearly two years since to refresh my heart  and my faith in Jesus to a country, whose inhabitants,  by the help of God, had the happening two hundred and seven years ago, of abolishing  the Papacy, and of re-establishing the religion  that Jesus Christ instituted, and the apostles  taught, that is to say, freed from all the dogmas  and superstitious practices with which popes and  bishops have disfigured it, since about the year  700. 

 

But as you yourselves were witnesses, two  months and a half after I had given in my resignation  of the office of priest, and member of the  Church of Rome, certain priests took advantage  of the weakness of a few poor women to get up  a charivari.

 

Amidst the insulting cries and  noise that these persons raised amongst you,  the cry of assassination and poison reached your  ears—cries that recalled, but too forcibly, the ages  of ignorance and barbarity that marked the reign  of the Popes.  In the face of this unscriptural commotion, I  felt myself obliged by duty, as well as by love  for you, to defer my departure ; for I was willing  to draw upon myself the fury of those spirits of  darkness, and to seal with my blood those gospel  truths, which it has been our happiness to know. 

 

God willed in his eternal decrees, which I  seek not to penetrate, that neither assassin nor poisoner should be found amongst the worthy  inhabitants of Serres. It will ever be to your  honour and glory, that in spite of all the falsehoods  of certain priests, you never for a single  instant lost sight of that commandment, which  says, " Thou shalt do no murder." (Exod. xx.  13). 

 

Inhabitants of Serres ! you have heard your  church resound with the_ cry, " Destroy those  people, (meaning the Protestants,) and your indignation  was so roused, you were so scandalized  by it, that many of you have never entered  it since, while many others do it with  regret, and only from deference to man, in the  hope of better days.

 

You felt that that voice  was not the voice of a disciple of Him who has  said, " Love one another; by this shall all men  know that ye are my disciples."* You felt that  that was not the doctrine of Him, who, through  love to man, was born in a manger, and who, a  short time before breathing his last sigh upon  the cross, said to his dear disciple Peter, who  had just struck one of the servants of the High  Priest with a sword, " Put up thy sword into  thy sheath ; for all they that take the sword  shall perish with the sword."

 

No, no, good friends, that voice which commanded  you to destroy the Protestants, is not  that of a minister of our good Saviour; neither  is it his doctrine, but the voice and the doctrine  of a scion of that priesthood, which has for too  many centuries bathed a great portion of our  globe in blood. Let us hope, that by the grace  of God, whatever may be the cruelty of these  enemies of mankind, their sanguinary doctrine  may no longer find an echo in our dear and  beautiful country; and that the voice of these  priests will be for ever extinguished, as are the  fires of their inquisition.

 

You now know what  you have to expect from them; it is, therefore,  impossible for them to delude you with their  falsehoods. Whatever they may do, or whatever  they may say, be not troubled; the noblest  vengeance that we can take, the only vengeance  we are permitted, that which alone can disarm  and subdue them, is from the bottom of our  hearts to offer up that prayer, which our beloved  Saviour, when expiring on the cross, addressed  to God his Father for those who caused Him to  die in torments, such as make nature shudder, " 

 

Father forgive them, for they know not what  they do."

 

I, for my part, forgive with all my heart all  the abuse, that the priests have poured forth  against me, whether in public or in private.  You heard them likewise, inhabitants of Gan-  nac, and you too were indignant. Since that  time I have never ceased to ask myself, how  these self-styled ministers of Jesus Christ could  receive the communion of the Lord's Supper,  whilst their hearts were swelling with anger,  and their mouths filled with fury

 

The religion  that came down from heaven, commands us to  consider all men as brethren, and to love our  most cruel enemies. But, alas! these priests  teach the contrary ; to hear them, one would  think they sought to rekindle the fires of the  Inquisition, which they themselves extinguished  by the number of victims they cast in. 

 

Dear inhabitants of Serres ! Was it thus that  our divine Saviour acted ? Oh no ! for if ever  the indignation of this God-man was roused, it  was against those who had turned his house of  prayer into a den of thieves ; against those hypocritical chief priests and Pharisees for their  abuse of the law.

 

Inhabitants of Serres ! I authorised the free  circulation of the New Testament amongst you  in a language that you understand—I have read  and meditated upon some chapters of this holy  book with you and your children, both in public  and in private, and this they say is a grievous  crime, for which I received the malediction of  the episcopal court; but tell me, I pray you,  what harm there is in this?

 

If Esdras the  priest rescued the old law from oblivion, and set  it before the people,  what evil have I committed  in also rescuing from oblivion, and setting  before your eyes the book, which contains the  law of grace, THE GOOD TIDINGS OF FREE SALVATION;— that book, which even according to  the confessions of some philosophers, is the only  one which can make men honest. 

 

If Moses was not wrong in abandoning the  flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, priest of  Midian, to go and deliver the Israelites, his brethren,  from the bondage to which the tyranny of  Pharoah had reduced them, what evil have I committed in abandoning the flock of the Pope  to deliver you, and bring you out of the slavery  to which this impostor has devoutly handed us  over? 

 

If Zerubbabel was not wrong in contributing  to the reestablishment of the city of Jerusalem, what evil can I have done in contributing, as  much as in me lies, to the re-establishment of  that religion, which Jesus Christ gave to our  fathers ? 

 

If the Daniels, the Amos's, the Samuels, and  so many other courageous spirits, were not wrong  in giving up all for the honour of religion, what  evil do we do in sacrificing all for the restoration  of that religion, which Jesus Christ gave to our  fathers, and which the Bishop of Rome has by  little and little taken from us, by adding doctrines  and ceremonials of his own invention  to it ? 

 

Scarcely, however, was my resignation of the  office of Romish priest made known, than some  of them immediately reported that I had only  quitted their banners, that I might have it in my  power to give freer scope to my unruly passions,  or from motives of interest at the best.

 

But tell me, inhabitants of the towns of Ax, of  Masset, and of Serres, did I ever scandalise you  by irregular conduct? And you, priests, tell  me,—when defending your gods and your chimerical  ceremonies, are you exempt from passions ?  Are not these passions perhaps the very cause,  which render you vile and odious in the eyes of  the people ?

 

You have accused me of having  from motives of interest deserted the banners of  his holiness the king of Rome. But, inhabitants  of Ax, Masset, and Serres, tell me, I pray you,  have you ever heard the sound of my voice in  your chambers, asking anything of you? Have  I ever imposed the infamous " Casuel " * upon  you ? And ye priests who accuse me, tell me,  I pray you, are you clear from all interested  motives? I think not; for ordinarily it is your  refusals to inter, to give the blessing at marriages,  to say masses for the dead, which make the  people cry out against your avarice.

 

Ay, much  more, you push your cupidity so far, as to deprive  your parishioners of the Sunday mass, if  money is not forthcoming.* Nevertheless, (in  my opinion at least,) you do well to act thus,  for you prove by this single fact that you consider  your ministry as a mere trade, and your  masses simply as merchandise : " no money, no  mass," that is your motto.

 

The Romish church,  gentlemen, opened her treasures and her riches  to me as well as to you; but I preferred the  truths of the gospel to all her treasures and all  her riches,—although those truths only bring  me persecution and suffering. But it cannot be  otherwise. Did not our blessed Saviour forewarn  us of this ? Did not he say, " Blessed are  ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you  falsely for my sake; rejoice, and be exceeding  glad, for great is your reward in heaven." *

 

 

The municipal council of the city of Masset (Ariege) not  thinking it proper, in the year to vote the sum of one  hundred francs in favour of the officiating priests of the parishes  of Biert and du Port, these priests complained to their bishop,  who gave them authority to suppress the morning mass on  the Sunday; and this decree of the prelate was put into execution. 

 

From thence I premise one of two things—either the  Bishop of Pamiers considered that the mass is necessary to  salvation, or not; if the former, the bishop should have commanded  the officiating priests to perform the mass, instead of  allowing them to suppress it. By this act of diocesan authority,  it is plain that he does not believe in the efficacy of the  mass, and that he regards it as useless,—for it is not to be  presumed that the bishop desired, that souls should be damned. 

 

 

 Inhabitants of Serres and Gannac! who was  it, I ask you, that got up a charivari against us ?  The priests—who wanted women and children  to insult, abuse, and cast stones at us? The  priests—who urged the mayor to exert his  authority to prevent our religious meetings ?  The priests—who called in the aid of the gendarmes !  The priests—these are the men, who  for the defence of their arguments, and the protection  of their religion and their God, require  the assistance of the sword ! ! !

 

Did not Mahomet  use the same means?  Cursed !—ay, thrice cursed be the religion  of the sword ! Does not this levy of shields betray,  but too plainly, the weakness of the cause  they defend ? "  To cry for help betrays a failing cause." 

 

Inhabitants of Serres and Gannac, and you  too, dear reader, what is it that we ought to  wish for, to ask for, and to obtain ? The religion  which Jesus Christ instituted,—that is to  say, religion disencumbered of all the doctrines, and all the mummeries with which the monks have soiled it in the sink of their convents.

 

If religion were thus re-established, it would suit the wants of all, except those who make a  trade of it. Then we should have the delight of  seeing our churches, deserts as they now are,  filled with the faithful servants of God,—the  rich seated by the side of the poor,—the learned  by the unlearned,—the old man by the young  child,—all listening attentively to the Word of  God, addressing to Heaven the same prayers and  the same vows, and forming one heart and soul. 

 

I know well, my friends, that in re-establishing  the religion that Jesus Christ gave to our  fathers, we should ruin the pretty little revenues  of the priests. This is what grieves them, and  makes them cry out incessantly in their despair, "  You are lost ! you are lost!"  But let not this alarm you, dear inhabitants of  Serres; hear what Jesus Christ said to those  who held similar language, " Judge not, and ye  shall not be judged ; condemn not, and ye shall  not be condemned;* and elsewhere, " Woe unto  you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites ! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men ; for  ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye  them that are entering to go in.

 

Let the priests cry as much as they will, "  You are lost! you are lost!" be not alarmed.  Seek Him who is " the resurrection and the  life;" " He that believeth in me," says Jesus  Christ, " though he were dead, yet shall he live ;  and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall  never die." Let us then trust in thee, divine Saviour,  let us be always ready to say with the  same firm assurance as Martha, " Yea, Lord, I  believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of  God, and the sentence of condemnation, which  the priests are in the habit of pronouncing  against all who do not submit to their will,  shall vanish into air

 

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the  love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the  Holy Ghost, be with you all, to guide and guard  you !

 

 Pray for me !

 Serres, July 15, 1843. MAURETTE

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