Popery Raises its Impious Head Yet Again
A warning issued by Rev. Joseph Irons during a sermon preached in Grove Chapel, Camberwell, London, on Guy Fawkes Day 5th November 1837. Guy Fawkes was a papist conspirator who tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament and kill King James I.
Rev. Joseph Irons
And this infernal monster, Popery, is now rearing his impious head again in this long-favoured country, and will, I fear, soon repeat his diabolical cruelties upon the Church of God. Those who are permitted to tarry long in the wilderness will then have their religion put to the test; and that Christianity which stands only in the wisdom of men will give way, and not only turn to Popery, but will become its most active agent in betraying the people of God, as Judas betrayed their Master; for nothing but vital godliness will stand that fiery ordeal, when penalties, prisons, and death, are put in force to make converts to Antichrist. Many, I know, will be inclined to treat this warning with contempt, and denounce such an alarm as groundless. This matters not to me. As a watchman on the walls of Zion, I feel it my duty to give them warning, as I see the sword coming, that their blood may not be upon my head; and , peradventure, when the Lord hath said to me, as he did to Daniel, "Go thy way, for thou shalt rest," those who now sneer at my forebodings may be the victims of the very serpent which they are now warming in their bosoms, and, too late, remember my words.
The Coming Storm
Everything around us portends the coming storm; and look which way we will, the clouds gather blackness. Political changes—the rapid growth of open Popery—the compromising spirit of nominal Protestantism—the wide-spreading contagion of Arminianism, and the apathy of real Christians, all seem to demand the fulfillment of that solemn declaration, "Lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel (the Church) among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth" (Amos ix. 9). I say not these things to excite unnecessary fears, but to send my hearers to the throne of grace, if, peradventure, God may avert the judgment, and save my beloved country.
If we review political changes, have they not, invariably, for many years past, made successive concessions to Popery? As I do not like dwelling upon politics, I shall only mention that one dark deed which has blackened the page of English history, and sealed the nation’s doom. I mean the falsely-called Emancipation Bill, which was passed in spite of the voice of the nation against it; there being TWO THOUSAND, NINE HUNDRED AND FIFTY-THREE petitions against it, and most of them numerously signed, while only two hundred and seventy-four petitions of (even nominal) Protestants were presented for it; and a large majority of gospel ministers petitioned against it. Yet it passed into a law; and neither the voice of the nation, nor the oath of the monarch, prevented it. What but Popish influence, and blind infatuation, could have produced such an event?
What has been the result? The rapid growth and uncovered impudence of open Popery. And yet hundreds of nominal Protestants still refuse to open their eyes, and are wicked enough to deny the fact, or foolish enough to imagine, that Popery is not the barbarous monster it once was, though facts of daily occurrence—especially in Ireland—demonstrate the Romish beast to be the same diabolical beast now as in the days of Queen Mary.
What! Are English Protestants still determined to slumber, as if all were secure, when Papists are making the landed property of this island their own, by immense purchases in every corner thereof? Will they still hum the lullaby of an "enlightened age," and "march of intellect," while Popish chapels, colleges, and nunneries, multiply from fifty to more than five hundred in a few years? Will they still dream of Protestant prosperity amidst a nation almost PEOPLED already with Popish emigrants and Jesuits swarming in every circle of society? Is it, indeed, a proof of the enlightening of society, that they can tolerate, and gaze with wonder at the profane idolatry of elevating the host in our open streets? O England! O ye nominal Protestants! "Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud: for the Lord hath spoken. Give glory to the Lord your God before He cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains; and while ye look for light, He turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness. But if ye will not hear, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the Lord’s flock is carried away captive" (Jer. xiii. 15-17).
Shall Popish influence sway a Protestant senate, and even insinuate itself into a Protestant Cabinet, unsuspected and unopposed? And will professing Protestants yet persist in wearing the mark of the beast in their foreheads, until his cloven foot treads down all their liberties and privileges? My God, forbid it! And command thy ministers to cry, "Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them. Wherefore should they say among the people, where is their God" (Joel ii. 17)?
Popery is not less deceitful than cruel; it is a compound of the serpent and the tiger; and it is notorious, that the most solemn oaths may be taken and violated by Papists at their convenience. The whole priesthood are sworn to extirpate heretics, whenever and wherever it is practicable; and yet in England, those very priests (while their power is limited) can address such heretics from pulpit and press, as "dear brethren," while they thirst for their blood: "Art thou in health, my brother?" is on the tongue, and a dagger concealed under the garment (2 Sam. xx. 9). What they cannot accomplish by force, they will, if possible, effect by fraud; they can menace or fawn, as best suits their diabolical purpose.
The conduct of Balaam towards Israel, seems to be the model by which their present policy toward Protestants is formed. Balak, king of Moab, sought to d3estroy god’s Israel, and mustered his forces for that purpose; he hired Balaam to curse them, being superstitious enough to suppose, that the curse of a soothsayer would make the whole Church of God an easy prey to his vengeance; but their God interposed, and neither the curse nor the sword could touch them. What then was the plan which that agent of Satan adopted? Intrigue! He "taught Balak to case a stumbling-block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed for idols, and to commit fornication" (Rev. ii. 14. Read Numb. xxv. 1-3).
This has been, and still is, the conduct of Popery in England; and this day (the 5th of November) reminds us of the plot which was formed, more than two centuries ago, and of the force which was then prepared, to subjugate England to Rome. God frustrated their infernal designs, and saved His people from their vengeance. And are we to suppose that Popery has abandoned its purpose? Oh! No. It has indeed changed its mode of warfare, from violence to intrigue; but its designs are not less cruel and diabolical. Balaam could insinuate, that there was no such great difference as was supposed between Moabites and Israelites, and they might very well associate on common ground, marry, and intermarry, and so amalgamate their interests. Thus Israel was ensnared and subjugated to Moab; and thus the Papists are now insidiously attempting the ruin of Protestantism in England. They profess to be liberal, because they know that the popular cry of the ignorant is for liberalism, whereas they are sworn to be illiberal, and well know that no principle of liberality, can live in the bosom of Popery. They aff4ect to be harmless, and tell s they are misrepresented and maligned, when their real character and principles are exposed; whereas they know that the half of their wickedness has never been told, and that all their bloody laws and edicts are yet in full force, only waiting for oppor6tunity and power. They can marry with Protestants, and contract that their children shall be educated some for Papists, and some for Protestants. Oh, treacherous beings! Moabites indeed! And all this is winked at by their Balaam, the Roman Pontiff. How was holy Nehemiah grieved at this same conduct in Israel of old! And in what pathetic words has he left it on record! "In those days saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab; and their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod" (Neh. xiii. 23). This is awfully the case now. The artifice of Popery, in mingling itself with nominal Protestantism, has so corrupted the pure language of the gospel, that the phraseology of modern divines is more like the speech of Ashdod than of Zion, yea, more like Popery than Protestantism.
Treachery Without Parallel
The treachery of Popery is without parallel, and its perseverance therein the most untiring. Nothing will eve satisfy it, but the entire prostration of the lives, property, and consciences of all mankind, to the despotic sway of the cruel and blasphemous tyranny of Satan’s vicegerent at Rome. And will British Christians persist in helping forward such a terrific conspiracy against God and man? Will they allow themselves to be duped, with fair pretences and hypocritical lies, until they are drawn under the paw of the apocalyptic beast? It was a saying of one of the old divines, "Popery came in like a lion once, but its next coming in will be in the character of a lamb." That character it is now assuming; though, even its own champions declare it to be unchanged and unchangeable. Let it only reach that ascendancy for which it is now striving, and this lamb-like appearance will soon be exchanged for the ferocious barbarity of its former, and real character. I say not these things in bitterness of spirit, but in affectionate faithfulness, anxious, if possible, to undeceive the deluded multitudes, who are the dupes of priestcraft; and to warn multitudes more, who are in danger of being swallowed up in the hungry maw of the apocalyptic beast. There is an essential difference between the ignorant populace who are enslaved in Popish chains, and the wicked priests who enslave them; the former are indeed objects of pity, far more degraded than any Negro slaves under the most cruel slave-owners. Their eyes are blinded, so that they cannot, may not see, but with their priest’s eyes. Their tongues are tied, so that they cannot, may not speak, but as their priests permit and direct. Yea, their very thoughts are chained down in their confessional, so that they cannot, may not think, speak, or act, but as they are ordered by the cruel tyrants who plunder them for their support. A fly caught in a spider’s web is a fit emblem of a Papist peasant; his legs and wings are first tied, and then his blood is sucked by the venomous creature that prepared the net for him. But, the priests know better; they are willful deceivers; for their whole system is so palpably opposed to the word of God, and to common sense, that it would require a great stretch of charity to think there is an honest man among them, from the pontiff to the mendicant friar; with them the whole system is an organized scheme of wickedness, the master-piece of infernal ingenuity, the concentration of every crime, one remove beyond infidelity.