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terms in which all could agree, that they actually published a decree without a definition.
The transmission of original sin from Adam to his posterity was scarcely less perplexing. Some thought that it resembled cases of hereditary deformity or disease. Some were of opinion that human souls are created immediately by God, and that the corruption of our nature chiefly affects the body, and is transmitted by ordinary generation, the mind being infected thereby, as liquor may be deteriorated by being put into a tainted vessel.
All agreed that eternal death is the punishment of the original transgression. All affirmed that baptism is the remedy, though some would have joined with it the merits of Jesus Christ, and some would have added faith. Infants dying unbaptized were variously disposed of. The Dominicans said, that they would remain in Limbo, a dark and subterraneous place, without fire. The Franciscans thought they would reside on the earth, and enjoy light. Some were of opinion that they would become philosophers, understand natural science, and make great discoveries. Ambrose Catharine added, that they would be visited and comforted by angels and the spirits of the just. Many other fantasies and frivolities were uttered.
The efficacy of the remedy was considered to be so great that no sin remains, and that in the regenerate (i. e., the baptized) there is nothing hateful to God. There was a long dispute respecting concupiscence, which it could not be denied dwells in all men, even in true Christians. The question was, “ Is it, or is it not sin ?” It was decided in the negative.*
When the debates were ended, and the decree produced for examination, a fresh discussion arose. If Adam's sin was transmitted to all his posterity, the Virgin Mary was born in sin. This impugned the dogma of the immaculate conception, which was zealously maintained by the Franciscans, and by the Dominicans as fiercely denied. The legates were divided : De Monte favoured the immaculate conception ; Santa Croce opposed it; Pole's opinion is not recorded. A large party
* Pallav, ut sup, c. 8. Sarpi, lib. ii. s. 63–65.
sided with the Franciscans, but the fear of a schism induced them generally to agree to a suggestion proposed by the Bishop of Astorga, to this effect—that the Council declined any interference with the point in dispute, leaving it undecided and free.
Some historical notices on this subject may not be unacceptable to our readers. Those who hold the immaculate conception maintain that the Virgin Mary was conceived in the womb of her mother with the same purity that is attributed to Christ's conception in her womb." The festal celebration of this pretended fact commenced in the twelfth century.* The Dominicans and Franciscans early embraced opposite views. Their contentions were extremely violent, and engendered such animosity that the Popes were often obliged to interpose. Sixtus IV., in the years 1477 and 1483, enacted, that indulgences should be granted to those who devoutly celebrated the 6 wonderful conception” (mira conceptione) of the Virgin, to the same extent as were enjoyed on Corpus Christi day; and that the disputants on both sides should refrain from reviling and condemning each other, since the church had passed no decision on the subject. (It may be observed, by the way, that the conception of the blessed Virgin Mary” is annually celebrated by the church of Rome, on Dec. 8: the word “ immaculate” is not used, but the services of the day are full of expressions in honour of the Virgin, in the most laudatory style, which cannot be acquitted of the charge of profanity : the Scripture lesson is Prov. viii. 22–35.) These did not quell the contest, nor did the decree passed at Trent restore peace. In the seventeenth century, the kingdom of Spain was thrown into such confusion, and so miserably divided into factions by this controversy, that solemn embassies were sent to Rome, to engage the Pontiff to determine the question, or, at any rate, to put an end to the dispute by a public bull. But “ after the most earnest entreaties and importunities, all that could be obtained from the Pontiff by the court of Spain was, a declaration, intimating that the opinion of the Franciscans had a high degree of probability on its side, and forbidding the Dominicans to oppose it in a public manner; but
* Mosheim, Cent, xii. part 2. chap. 3. s. 19.
this declaration was accompanied by another, by which the Franciscans were prohibited, in their turn, from treating as erroneous the doctrine of the Dominicans.”* Although the declaration decided nothing, the advocates of the immaculate conception interpreted it in their favour. Public rejoicings were celebrated on both sides of the Atlantic. An order was instituted in honour of the supposed event, and “ a law was enacted, requiring a declaration, upon oath, of a firm belief in the immaculate conception, from every individual previous to his taking any degree at the universities, or being admitted into any of the corporations, civil or religious, which abound in Spain. This oath is administered even to mechanics, upon their being made free of a guild.”+ The Spaniards are remarkably zealous for the Virgin ; she is honoured by them at all times; the customary salutations and common courtesies of life are not exchanged without mentioning her name. 6 When you enter a house,” says a respectable traveller, “unless you wish to be considered as impious, you must begin with these words--- Ave Maria purissima, (hail ! spotless virgin ;) to which you will certainly receive this answer, sin peccado concebida, (conceived without sin.)” | In 1708, Clement XI. went far beyond his predecessors, by appointing a festival to be annually celebrated in honour of the immaculate conception, throughout the Romish church. Still the Dominicans deny that the obligation of this law extends to them, and it does not appear that they are ever molested, or even censured, for refusing to join their brethren in the celebration. Bellarmine asserts, that the immaculate conception is “piously believed” by “the greater part of the church." || We have not the means of ascertaining the truth of this affirmation; but the fact is probable. I
To return. The fifth session was held June 17. Thus ran the decree on original sin :
* Mosheim, Cent. xvii. sect. 2. part 1. chap. 1. s. 48.
From “ The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Latin and English, for the use of the Confraternity of the Scapulary, and of other devout Christians,” published by the Roman-catholic
" That our Catholic faith, without which it is impossible to please God, may be cleansed from error and remain in its purity, whole and undefiled, and that Christian people may not be carried about with every wind of doctrine, the sacred, holy, æcumenical, and general council of Trent, lawfully assembled, &c., wishing to reclaim the wandering and confirm such as waver, doth, in the following manner, decree, confess, and declare concerning original sin, according to the authority of the sacred Scriptures, venerable fathers, approved councils, and the judgment and consent of the church. For among the many evils with which the old serpent, the perpetual enemy of the human race, has troubled the church in our times, is this, that he has revived the old, and excited new dissensions respecting original sin and the remedy thereof.
“1. Whoever shall not confess that when Adam, the first man, transgressed the commandment of God given him in paradise, he lost immediately the purity and righteousness in which he was created; and by the sin of his prevarication incurred the wrath and indignation of God, and consequently death, with which God had before threatened him; and with
booksellers in London, we extract the following passages, that it may be seen how this subject is regarded in England :
“Sing, O my lips, and joyfully proclaim
The spotless Virgin's praise and glorious name.
Ordained the mother of his own pure Word:
Thee, he adorned his Spouse, and made thee free
From Adam's sin, that stained his progeny."
Holy and pure before thy joyful birth.”
Rising in glory o'er his hills afar :
Be thou our refuge, and our port of rest.”
O bounteous Queen, with stars of glory crowned,
death, captivity to him who thence hath the power of death, that is the devil ; so that by this offence of prevarication the whole man was changed for the worse, both in body and soul : let him be accursed.
62. Whoever shall affirm that Adam's prevarication injured himself only, and not his posterity, and that he lost the purity and righteousness which he had received from God, for himself only, and not also for us; or that when he became polluted by disobedience he transmitted to all mankind corporal death and punishment only, but not sin also, which is the death of the soul: let him be accursed. For he contradicts the Apostle, who saith, “By one man sin entered into this world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.' (Rom. v. 12.)*
“3. Whoever shall affirm, that this sin of Adam, which originally was one offence only, but being transmitted to all by propagation, not by imitation, becomes the sin of all, can be taken away by the strength of human nature, or by any other remedy than the merit of our Lord Jesus Christ, the one Mediator, who hath reconciled us to God by his blood, and is made to us justice, sanctification, and redemption.' (1 Cor.
All fair art thou, immaculate and chaste,
By heaven's exalted throne, on God's right hand.
Heaven, at thy prayer, will set the guilty free:
“O guard us safely in our dubious way,
Lead us secure to heaven's eternal day;
Sweet Virgin Queen, receive our parting breath .!”. Is not this downright idolatry? Yet the late Dr. Milner prefixed to the book his " approbation,” stating, that he had found nothing in its contrary to the faith of the church, or to the belief and devotion of its most learned and pious Doctors."
* The quotations from Scripture occurring in the decrees are taken from the Roman-catholic authorized version.