Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

the favour of God, and of their restoration to their lost title to the kingdom of heaven.” 5

Roman Catholic writers are very angry with Protestants, for saying that their church "gives leave to commit sin, and grants anticipated pardon for sins to come by indulgences.” But their anger is causeless. For though it be not asserted that the Romish church actually gives license to sin, it cannot be denied that the doctrine of indulgences, so far from repressing evil, powerfully tends to blunt the moral sense, and encou. rage the sinner in his vicious courses;? since he is able, by a very small sacrifice of his property, to secure the remission of the temporal punishment for his sin, for hundreds of thousands of years to come; and he knows that pardon, involving the release from eternal pains, may be obtained without much difficulty from his confessor; while absolution from such crimes as the sovereign pontiff only can forgive, has its fixed price in the Roman chancery. 8. On the impiety of such assump

5 Ibid.
6 Declaration of the Roman Catholic Bishops, p. 12.

7 Speaking of the notoriously depraved state of morals in Italy, Mr. Eustace asks—“May it not be ascribed to the corruptions of the national religion, to the facility of absolution, and to the easy purchase of indulgences?" (Classical Tour, iii. p. 131.) Facts furnish the best answer to these questions. “At Tivoli,” says a modern traveller, “a man was pointed out to us who had stabbed his brother, who died in agonies within an hour. The murderer went to Rome, purchased his pardon from the church, and received a written protection from a cardinal, in consequence of which he was walking about unconcernedly, a second Cain, whose life was sacred." (Graham's Three Months' Residence in the Mountains East of Rome, p. 34.) Again: “Those that have interest with the Pope may obtain an absolution in full from his Holiness for all the sins they ever have committed, or may choose to commit.” “I have seen one of these edifying documents, issued by the present Pope to a friend of mine. It was most unequivocally worded.” Rome in the Nineteenth Century, ü. p. 271.

& Mr. Butler labours to prove that this is nothing more than a ne. cessary fee of office. (Book of the Roman Catholic Church, p. 111.) That does not alter the case. The simple fact is, that absolution of those sins which are reserved for the Pope's pardon is to be had for money-cannot be had without it. The · Tax-book of the Roman Chancery” has been frequently published, much to the annoyance of the priests and Popes. Some staunch Catholic has thus written in the blank leaf of a copy of this book, in the author's possession: " A calumniating and lying, therefore, a prohibited book a calumny of the heretics, a most cunning li, concerted by the instigation of the

Duil."

tions as are advanced by the church of Rome, and the enormous guilt contracted by those who so awfully deceive the people, it is unnecessary to make any observation. The reader will not, however, fail to note the powerful support given by the inventions of purgatory and indulgences, to those antiscriptural notions of human merit and satisfaction which have been already described and exposed.

The following decree was also passed at the last session of the council of Trent, respecting "the choice of meats and drinks, fasis, and feast-days."

“Moreover, the holy council exhorts all pastors, and beseeches them by the most holy coming of our Lord and Saviour, that as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, they assiduously recommend to all the faithful the observance of all the institutions of the holy Roman church, the mother and mistress of all churches, and of the decrees of this and other æcumenical councils; and that they use all diligence to promote obedience to all their commands, and especially to those which relate to the mortification of the flesh, as the choice of meats and fasts; as also to those which tend to the increase of piety, as the devout and religious celebration of feast-days; admonishing the people to obey those who are set over them—for they who hear them, shall hear God, the rewarder-but they who despise them, shall feel that God is the avenger."

This decree is short, but pithy and important. The fathers here declare their unalterable determination to suffer no retrenchment of the follies and superstitions of the church of Rome, but to enforce obedience to the multifarious canons and enactments that had been accumulating for ages, and had almost exhausted even the inventive genius of priestcraft. None need wonder at such a resolve: the infallible cannot err, need not change. But mark the character of that religion which audaciously claims the sole right to be called "apostolic." Of faith in Christ, love to God, and holiness of life, according to the scriptures, little, very little, is said : but abstinence from meat, eggs, milk, and butter; during Lent--and hearing mass, and idleness on saints' days together with implicit subjection to the priest, elevate a man to a high rank among the pious, and are imagined

to procure for him the special favour of heaven; while disobedience or neglect of these human inventions is denounced as mortal sin, which exposes the unrepenting offender to endless damnation. Thus the commandments of God are nullified by tradition; and for true piety, "judgment, mercy, and faith,” is substituted “the show of wisdom, in will-worship, and neglecting of the body."'10

See “ Abstract of the Douay Catechism,” p. 44. Slighting or neglecting the precepts of the church, and living in habits of breaking the fasts commanded, or of eating meat on Saturdays or other days of abstinence, without just dispensation, were sins which excluded from the benefits of the jubilee, unless confessed and forsaken in the same manner as drunkenness, swearing and debauchery, (Instructions and Directions, &c. p. xxiv.) But a papal dispensation changes the nature of things; the Spaniard who has paid the Pope for a flesh bull may feast even in Lent; while his neighbour, who has neglected or declined to purchase the privilege, cannot eat an egg or drink a spoonful of milk, during that period, without committing mortal sin!

10 It is observable, that in explaining the fourth commandment, the compilers of the Catechism place “Sundays and holidays" on the same level, as if they rested on the same authority. (See p. 320, 381.) The day of God is scarcely treated with so much honour in the Roman Catholic portions of the Continent, as some of the saints' days. “When it is spoken of, it is called a fête or lioliday, indiscriminately with the Nativity or Assumption of the Virgin Mary; and these fètes are the regular seasons of public processions or cele. brations. ' Nay, the newspapers, the theatres, &c. are actually suspended on St. Francis's day, or the feast of the Virgin, but on the Sunday are regularly carried on, and more eagerly followed than ever." Rev. D. Wilson's Letters from an Absent Brother, ii. p. 179 348

CHAPTER IV.

SAINTS, RELICS, AND IMAGES.

Decree respecting the invocation of Saints-Relics-and Images

Facts and Observations relative to each--Worship of the Virgin

Mary

It has been already stated, that on the first day of the last session of Trent, a decree was passed, concerning the “invocation, veneration, and relics of the saints, and also concerning sacred images;" it is here subjoined.

"The holy council commands all bishops, and others who have the care and charge of teaching, that according to the practice of the Catholic and apostolic church, received from the first beginning of the Christian religion, the consent of venerable fathers, and the decrees of holy councils, they labour (with diligent assiduity to instruct the faithful concerning the invocation and intercession of the saints, the honour due to relics, and the lawful use of images; teaching them that the saints, who reign together with Christ, offer their prayers to God for men—that it is a good and useful thing suppliantly to invoke them, and to flee to their prayers, help, and assistance, because of the benefits bestowed by God through his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who is our only Redeemer and Saviour; and that those are men of impious sentiments who deny that the saints, who enjoy eternal happiness in heaven, are to be invoked-or who affirm that they do not pray for men, or that to beseech them to pray for us is idolatry, or that it is contrary to the word of God, and opposed to the honour of Jesus Christ, the one Mediator between God

and men, or that it is foolish to supplicate, verbally or mentally, those who reign in heaven. 11

"Let them teach also, that the holy bodies of the holy martyrs and others living with Christ, whose bodies were living members of Christ and temples of the Holy Spirit, and will be by him raised to eternal life and glorified, are to be venerated by the faithful, since by them God bestows many benefits upon men. So that they are to be wholly condemned, as the church has long before condemned them, and now repeats the sentence, who affirm that veneration and honour are not due to the relics of the saints, or that it is a useless thing that the faithful should honour these and other sacred monuments, and that the memorials of the saints are in vain frequented, to obtain their help and assistance.

" Moreover, let them teach that the images of Christ, of the Virgin, Mother of God, and of other saints, are to be had and retained, especially in churches, and due honour and veneration rendered to them. Not that it is believed that any divinity or power resides in them, or

11 " True, there is but one Mediator, Christ the Lord, who alone has reconciled us through his blood, and who, having accomplished our redemption, and having once entered into the holy of holies, ceases not to intercede for us; but it by no means follows that it is therefore unlawful to have recourse to the intercession of the saints. If, because we have one Mediator, Christ Jesus, it were unlawful to ask the intercession of the saints, the apostle would not have recommended himself with so much earnestness to the prayers of his brethren on earth. In his capacity as Mediator, the prayers of the living should derogate from the glory and dignity of Christ, not less than the intercession of the saints in heaven." Catechism, p. 357. If the Roman Catholic dogma be true, how is it that the apostle says nothing of the prayers of the saints in heaven, but restricts himself to those on earth? Why did he not commend himself to Stephen, James, John the Baptist, and other martyrs ? The answer is obvious: prayers to the saints in glory w?re not then invented.

“ How the saints in heaven know the pi ayers and necessities of such who address themselves to them, whether by ine ministry of angels, or in the vision of God, or by some particular revelation, it is no part of his [the Papist's] faith, nor is it much his concern it should be determined. For his part, he does not doubt but that God, who acquainted the prophets with the knowledge of things that were yet to come many hundred years after; that informed Elisha of the king of Syria's counsels, though privately resolved on in his bedchamber, and at a distance, (2 Kings vi. 12,) can never want means of letting the saints know the desires of those who beg their intercession here on earth.” Gother's Papist Misrepresented, &c. p. 17.

« PoprzedniaDalej »