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Pray for us,
" Virgin most renowned,
Vessel of honour,
Help of Christians,
Queen of virgins,
" Queen of all saints, " Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world-Spare us, O Lord.
" Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world—Graciously hear us, O Lord.
" Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world-Have mercy on us.
“ Christ, hear us. Christ graciously hear us.
" Lord have mercy on us. Christ have mercy on us. Lord have mercy on us.” 25
25 Garden of the Soul, p. 134, 169, 296,301. Other specimens of this profane and idolatrous service may be seen usque ad nauseam, in “ The devotion and office of the sacred heart of our Lord Jesus Clirist, with its nature, origin, progress, &c.; including the devotion Relics hardly merit any notice. The reader will observe, that by them, according to the declaration of the council, “God bestows many benefits upon men.” The fathers may be believed : “many benefits,” truly, have been enjoyed by monks, and priests, and popes, through the intervention of relics. Happy is that church or monastery which possesses a tooth or bone of some renowned saint, or any, the minutest fragment of the instrument of his martyrdom. There cannot be a surer road to wealth. The shrine shall glitter in diamonds: the treasury shall be replenished with silver and gold. We cannot wonder that the late Pope should so pathetically urge the faithful to visit Rome at the jubilee, that they might see the cradle in which the Saviour was laid, a piece of the true cross, the nails used at the crucifixion, &c. 36 He knew that this was the most effectual method to empty their purses, and fill his own coffers. But what is the tendency of this part of the system? In the first place, it affords ample encouragement to avarice and imposture. When men will believe any thing that priests choose to assert, it is too much to suppose that the latter will not take advantage of the credulity of their victims. Accordingly, the grossest frauds have been committed, and are still practised, in connexion with supposed relics. Examination and inquiry would make sad havoc among these imaginary treasures; and a large proportion of them would come off with as little honour as St. Peter's chair at Rome, or the emerald dish in which it is said that our Saviour ate his last supper. 27 Again (and the reflection is most
to the heart of the blessed Virgin Mary, &c.” Thirteenth Edition, 1830.
26 They show at Rome the heads of St. Peter and St. Paul, encased in silver busts, set with jewels, a lock of the Virgin Mary's hair, a phial of her tears, and a piece of her green petticoat, a robe of Jesus Christ, sprinkled with his blood, some drops of his blood in a bottle, some of the water which flowed out of the wound in his side, some of the sponge, a large piece of the cross, all the nails used in the crucifixion, a piece of the stone of the sepulchre on which the angel sat, the identical porphyry pillar on which the cock perched when he crowed after Peter denied Christ, the rods of Moses and Aaron, and two pieces of the wood of the real ark of the covenant! Rome in the Nineteenth Century, ii. p. 234, 289.
27" At the extremity of the great nave of St. Peter's, behind the altar, stands a sort of throne, composed of precious materials, and painful,) it cannot have escaped the observation of those who are conversant with Roman Catholic writings, that irreligion of the worst kind is promoted by the use of relics and images. We say, of the worst kind; because under the specious garb of piety is concealed practical forgetfulness of God. He who is so favoured as to obtain possession of something that is called a relic, transfers to it the veneration and trust which he owes to his Creator, and is not a whit superior to the idol manufacturer of old, whose folly is so powerfully exposed in holy writ.2 8
supported by four gigantic pillars. This throne enshrines the real. plain, worm-eaten wooden chair, in which St. Peter, the prince of the apostles, is said to have pontificated.” When the French were at Rome, “they removed its superb casket, and discovered the relic. Upon its mouldering and dusty surface were traced carvings which bore the appearance of letters. The chair was quickly brought into a better light, the dust and cobwebs removed, and the inseription faithfully copied. The writing is in Arabie characters, and is the well-known confession of Mahometan faith. There is but one God, and Mahomet is his prophet.'” It is supposed that the chair was brought from Palestine by the crusaders. * Lady Morgan's Italy, iii. p. 81.
The church of St. Lorenzo in Genoa possessed a most sacred relic, a dish of one entire and perfect emerald, said to be that on which our Saviour ate his last supper. It was guarded by knights of honour, and only exposed to view once a year. The French seized it, and most sacrilegiously sent it to a laboratory! “Instead of submitting it, with its traditional story, to a council of Trent, they handed it over to the Institute of Paris; and chemists, geologists and philosophers, were called on to decide the fate of that vessel which bishops, priests and deacons had pronounced to be too sacred for human investigation, or even for human touch. The result of the scientific inquisition was, that the emerald dish was a piece of green glass!” Ibid. i. p. 414.
28 Isa. xliv. 9–20. In the church of the Escurial, in Spain, there are eleven thousand relics. A few extracts from a Spanish account of them, printed in 1764, will probably amuse the reader.
" We will first begin with the relics of our Saviour, who, as he gave himself to us, left us some of his precious jewels, which are incomparable and divine.
“A sacred hair of his most holy head or beard is preserved here with the utmost veneration in a precious vase; and opportunity can never offer us a better hair to obtain glory by.
“Several pieces of his most holy cross, all admirably garnished with gold, silver, and jewels, especially that which is adored on Good Friday.
" Thirteen thorns out of his crown which pierce the soul with
That part of the decree which relates to images is evidently written with caution. The fathers felt that this is a very vulnerable part of the Roman Catholic system. But their attempts to defend it were impotent and vain. After all the volumes of sophistry that have been written on the subject, it still remains true that the veneration of images is nothing less than idolatry. The pagan would make the same excuse as is now made by the papist: he did not worship his image till it was consecrated, and then he supposed his Deity to be in some sense present; yet Scripture unhesitatingly calls him an idolater. The prohibition in the second commandment is express, and the reason thereof is weighty and solemn; “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.”29 In direct contravention of this
their points, when we consider them as in the delicate temples of that most loving King of glory.
“Some pieces of the column to which he was bound, and of the manger in which he was born to die for us; which invite hearts to break in pieces through compassion and gratitude.
“In the second place, are the relics of his most holy mother, which gladden the hearts of those who seriously consider their incomparable value. Three or four pieces of the habit which adorned that most pure and virginal body, in which was formed that of Jesus Christ our Lord, her son, are placed in one case. Also a piece of the handkerchief with which she wiped her eyes, at the foot of the cross, when those tears, as precious as the gems of Aurora, joining themselves with the rubies of the western sun, incorporated themselves with the treasure of our redemption.
“ Besides these, we possess a hair, which may be suspected to be that which, flowing down her neck, enamoured her spouse.
“We possess also a thigh of the glorious martyr St. Lawrence; it is entire, but the hair is singed: the holes which were made in it by the prongs which turned him on the gridiron, are very visible.One of this saint's feet: the toes are entire, though contracted: between two of them is a small cinder, which in the eye of piety shines like a carbuncle.
“In order to protect the edifice from lightning, there are several relics, especially those of St. Lawrence, its patron, in metal cases, inserted in the balls and crosses which are on the tops of the towers." -Twiss's Travels in Portugal and Spain, p. 105.
29 Exodus xx. 4, 5.
command, the Roman Catholic "bows down and serves"! his image, sets up his light before it, carries it in procession, anathematizes and persecutes those who refuse to render it any honour. It is very easy to affirm that the reverence is paid to the being represented, and not to the representation: it is equally easy to reply that the distinction is too refined for the mass of the people, and that it does not exist in practice. "Superstition" and “base gains are prohibited in the decree; but in truth the whole is superstitious and base. It would seem a harmless thing to set up an image or painting of a good and great man, and even to pay it some kind of homage: but "the Lord our God is a jealous God," and the oft-repeated denunciations of his word have been amply justified by fact. “ Due honour,'' adoration, and idolatry are inseparably connected together. Nor should it be forgotten, that in religion the absence of a command is a virtual prohibition. "What thing soever I command you, observe to do it, thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it." 80
For ages has the credit of images and relics, as well as of every other papal invention, been sustained by pretended miracles. These "lying wonders” have done incalculable mischief. They have deluded the ignorant
30 Deut. xii. 32. Akin to the worship of images is the use of Agnus Dei's. “An Agnus Dei (so called from the image of the Lamb of God impressed on the face of it) is made of virgin wax, balsam, and chrism, blessed according to the form prescribed in the Roman ritual. The spiritual efficacy, or virtue of it, is gathered from the prayers that the church make use of in the blessing of it. which is to preserve him who carries an Agnus Dei, or any particle of it, about him, from any attempts of his spiritual or temporal enemies; from the dangers of fire, of water, of storms and tempests, of thunder "and lightning, and from a sudden and unprovided death. It puts the devils to flight, succours women in child-bed, takes away the stains of past sins, and furnishes us with new grace for the future, that we may be preserved from all adversities and perils, both in life and death, through the cross and merits of the Lamb who redeemed and washed us in his blood.
“ The Pope consecrates the Agnus Dei's the first year of his pontificate, and afterwards on every seventh year, on Saturday before And this in the nineteenth Century, and believed and held by En glishmen!! See “ Devotion and Office of the Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ,” p. 375.
Low Sunday. with many solemn ceremonies and devout dravers.'