The Church of God cannot change; what she was that she is. What our forefathers were, such are we; we look like other men, but we have that in us which none others have,—the latent element of an indomitable fortitude. This may not be the age of Saints, but all times are the age of Martyrs. The arrow is on the string, and the arm is drawn back, and, "if the Lord give the word," great will be the multitude of His champions. O my Brothers, it is difficult for you and me to realize this; it is difficult for us to believe that we have it in us, being what we are,—but we have. And it is difficult for us to believe that this can be a time for testing it, nor do I say it is; I think it cannot be; I only say, that if it were to be a time for calling out the Martyr's spirit, you and I, through God's grace, have it in us. I only mean that it is profitable, in such lesser trials as may easily come upon us, to be reminded that we may humbly trust we have that in us which can sustain the greatest. And it would be profitable also for our opponents, high and low, if they too would lay this to heart. It would be well for them to recollect, that there is a certain principle, which we call zeal, and they call fanaticism. Let them beware of awaking what they would, in scoffing, call the fanatical spirit of the Catholic. For years and years the Catholics of England have borne personal slander, and insult, and injustice. In their own persons, and not merely in their religious profession, have they been treated as the adherents of no other creed have been treated, with scorn, hatred, and cruelty. Men have shrunk from coming near them, and have almost discarded from their society those who did; as if inflicting on them the greater excommunication, as upon those who were the extremest reprobates and blasphemers on the face of the earth. They have borne, and they bear, an ill-usage, which, in its mildest and most amiable form, has never risen higher than pity and condescension. They have borne, and they bear, to be "the heathen's jest," waiting till the morning breaks, and a happier day begins.
So has it been with us up to this hour; but let our enemies remember that, while they have their point of honour, we have ours. They have stripped us of power, wealth, name, and station; they have left us nothing but our Apostolical inheritance. And now they wish to take from us the "little ewe-lamb," which is our only treasure. There was a saying of old, "Let alone Camarina, for 'tis best let alone." Let them, as sensible men,—I do not say, accept Catholicism as true, but admit it into their imagination as a fact. A story goes about of a sagacious statesman and monarch of our own time, who, when urged by some of his advisers to come to an open rupture with the Holy See, made answer, "If you can put your finger upon the page of history, and point out any one instance in which any civil power quarrelled with Rome with honour and success in the event, I will accede to your wishes." And it has lately been given to the world, how that sagacious politician, apostate priest as he was, Prince Talleyrand, noted it as one of Napoleon's three great political mistakes, that he quarrelled with the Pope. There is only one way of success over us, possible even in idea,—a wholesale massacre. Let them exterminate us, as they have done before, kill the priests, decimate the laity; and they have for a while defeated the Pope. They have no other way; they may gain a material victory, never a moral one.