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miracles. These “ lying wonders” have done incalculable mischief. They have deluded the ignorant and unwary, and hardened the infidel. And although in unnumerable instances the vile imposture has been detected and exposed, or the true cause of the phenomenon (if it were such) explained, ingenuity is still at work, and new miracles " recognised and approved,” according to the requirement of the decree, are pompously announced, and lauded as irrefragable proofs of the divinity of the Roman-catholic religion.* The estab
disgusting details. The agents of religious imposture will have a terrible reckoning at the last day. See “The Holy Wells of Ireland ; containing an authentic account of those various places of pilgrimage and penance which are still annually visited by thousands of the Roman-catholic peasantry; with a minute description of the Patterns and Stations periodically held in various districts of Ireland.” By Philip Dixon Hardy. Dublin, 1836.
* The Breviary teems with narratives of miracles wrought by the saints. For instance:-St. Francis Xavier turned a sufficient quantity of salt water into fresh to save the lives of five hundred travellers, who were dying of thirst, enough being left to allow a large exportation to different parts of the world, where it performed astonishing cures. St. Raymond de Pennafort laid his cloak on the sea, and sailed thereon from Majorca to Barcelona, a distance of a hundred and sixty miles, in six hours. St. Juliana lay on her death-bed; her stomach rejected all solid food, and in consequence she was prevented from receiving the eucharist. In compliance with her earnest solicitations, the consecrated wafer was laid upon her breast; the priest prayed ; the wafer vanished ; and Juliana expired. St. Elizabeth, Queen of Portugal, had lived a long while on bread and water; in her illness the physicians directed her to take wine; when she refused to follow their prescription, the water she was about to drink was miraculously changed into wine. Cum multis aliis.-Breviar. Dec. 3 ; Jan. 23; June 19; July 8.
Many pages might be filled with accounts of modern miracles of the most ridiculous description, yet piously believed by Roman Catholics. The reader may consult Forsyth's Italy, ii. pp. 154—157. Rome in the Nineteenth Century, i. pp. 40, 86; ii. p. 356 ; iii. pp. 193—201. Lady Morgan's Italy, ii. p. 306. Graham's Three Months' Residence, &c. p. 241.
Everybody has heard of the annual liquefaction of the blood of St. Januarius at Naples. “During the first occupation of the French, the miracle failed, and was so designedly conducted for the purpose of agitating the people, and producing a re-action; but the French general sent a peremptory order to the saint to do his spiriting gently,'under pain of making an example of the attending priests, which he promptly obeyed. When the miracle fails, the people load the saint with all manner of abuse and execration; and woe to the foreigner who shall continue in the church at this juncture; the failure is soon attributed to his heretical presence, and he is sure to be outraged, if not injured."--Lady Morgan's Italy, iii. p. 189.
lished Protestant is not moved by these things. Admitting, in some cases, the truth of the alleged facts, he is fully prepared to prove that they are not miraculous, and may be easily accounted for. A strongly excited imagination has often produced extraordinary effects on the human frame, apart from all divine interposition. Besides this, he knows that the doctrines, in support of which the miracles are said to be wrought, are not found in scripture, nor can be derived therefrom by any fair argument or deduction. Of the divine origin and authority of the sacred volume he has previous and well-grounded assurance. All religious sentiments not contained in that holy book are necessarily erroneous, and any presumed supernatural interference in their behalf is delusive and false.
THE INDEX.—THE CATECHISM.
Decrees of Reformation-Acclamations of the Fathers at the Close of the
Council-Index of Prohibited Books—Rules of the Congregation of the Index-Account of a Spanish Index Expurgatorius-Publication of the Catechism-Remarks on a recent Translation of that Work.
The reforming decrees passed in the two last sessions of the Council of Trent yet remain to be noticed. They included the following particulars :
It was enjoined that in the election of bishops great care should be taken to select persons of suitable age, qualifications, and character; and that after due examination and inquiry, report thereon should be made to the Pope, who, with the advice of the consistory, would make the appointment; and similar regulations were decreed in reference to cardinals. Feeling, however, that it was useless to legislate for the sovereign Pontiff, a clause was added, expressive of the deep concern felt by the council that his holiness would choose none but fit and proper persons for those important stations, lest the flocks should perish through the negligence of the shepherds. Provincial and diocesan synods were ordered to be held; the former once in three years, the latter annually. Patriarchs, bishops, archdeacons, &c., were directed to make periodical visitations of the dioceses, for the maintenance of orthodox sentiments, the suppression of heresy, and the correction of evils and abuses; and priests were commanded to preach and catechise every Sunday and holiday, and daily in Lent and Advent, as also to explain to the people the nature and power of the sacraments, and give other useful instructions, in the intervals of mass, in the vernacular tongue. The Pope reserved to himself the judgment of all important criminal causes affecting bishops, especially heresy. Confessionals were ordered to be established in cathedral churches, and public penance inflicted for very scandalous offences; the latter provision, however, was nullified, by permission given to the bishop to commute public for private penance, if he saw sufficient grounds for so doing. The former decrees respecting pluralities were renewed. Cardinals and prelates were admonished not to exceed the bounds of moderation in their manner of living, furniture, dress, &c. Solemn injunctions were issued to all ecclesiastics of every rank, and to all members of universities, to receive and hold whatever the council had decreed, to promise and profess due obedience to the Roman Pontiff, and to anathematize publicly all heresies. Excommunication, which had been so often inflicted on slight grounds that it was rather despised than dreaded, was to be very cautiously enforced, and only for weighty reasons; magistrates were strictly forbidden to interfere with the bishops in this matter, or to prevent the exercise of their power. Neglect or refusal to pay tithes was especially mentioned as a valid ground for excommunication. Priests keeping concubines, or retaining any suspicious females in their houses, were condemned to suffer the loss of a third part of their incomes; if they persisted, they incurred suspension ; for a third offence, privation ; for a fourth, excommunication. Should any bishops be found guilty of such an offence, and refuse to amend, they were to be reported to the Pope, who would exercise his own discretion in the infliction of punishment. The children of priests were forbidden the enjoyment of any ecclesiastical place or office in the church in which their fathers officiated—an enactment which unwittingly betrayed the inefficiency of the laws of continence. A severe law was passed against duelling, subjecting the parties, both principals and seconds, to excommunication, (in which sentence even the sovereigns, princes, or nobles, in whose dominions the duel was permitted to take place, were included,) confiscation of all their property, perpetual infamy, and the punishments inflicted for manslaughter, with denial of the rites of Christian interment, if either fell in the conflict. It is very strange that an enactment so manifestly interfering with the civil power, and, in fact, usurping its prerogatives, should have been unnoticed by the ambassadors, and suffered quietly to pass. The clause in the first decree passed under Pius IV., by which the legates reserved to themselves the
right of proposing all business to the council, received a modified, interpretation, whereby all intention to innovate, or introduce anything prejudicial to the powers of general councils was disavowed; why, then, was not the clause expunged ? Instead of the projected reform of the secular powers, which had made so much noise, a brief but comprehensive chapter was inserted, renewing all former canons and decrees of general councils, in favour of the immunities of the ecclesiastics, and against those who should violate the same; and exhorting all sovereigns to ensure due reverence to the clergy on the part of their subjects, to prevent any infringement of their privileges, and to patronise and support the church to the utmost of their power. Lastly, it was declared that all the decrees passed respecting thereformation of manners and ecclesiastical discipline were to be so understood and interpreted as to preserve always, and in all things, the authority of the apostolic see! Thus, in open defiance of all Christendum, securing the continuance of whatever enormity or abuse the Pontiff for the time being might think fit to support and defend !* And, indeed, the whole reformation (as it was called) decreed by the council was so framed and constituted as to be altogether useless, inoperative, and vain. The greatest evils were left untouched : if some few abuses were corrected, others were introduced; the papal power, the great source of tyranny and corruption, was not meddled with ; but on the contrary, the Pope assumed the sole right to expound, administer, or dispense with the decrees of the council, and obtained by its last decree an apparently legal sanction for his usurpations.f
The “ acclamations of the fathers” closed the proceedings of the council. The Cardinal of Lorraine made himself con
* Pallav. I. xxiii.c. 10–12; xxiv. c. 7. Sarpi, 1. viii. s. 66, 77.
+ See Preservative against Popery, vol. i. tit. i. pp. 54–75. Some of the fathers at Trent, when their endeavours to procure reform proved unavailing, expressed their discontent in satirical verses, such as the following :
“ Concilii quæ prima fuit, si quæris, origo,
Quo medium dicam, quo quoque finis erat?
Le Plat, vii. pars 2. p. 389.