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the days devoted to their honour the edifices which contain their images are crowded with devotees, who embrace and kiss these images with a fanatical fervour. What a degradation of worship itself, to be thus divided between the Redeemer and mortals, even if they had been as pure and perfect as Popery pretends !
So universal is the worship of the Virgin, that the religion of Italy might more correctly be called the religion of the Virgin than the religion of Jesus Christ. She is called the Divine Mary, Queen of the Universe, Bridge of Salvation, Our Co-Redemptress, the Complement of the Trinity, Mistress of Paradise, and at least forty similar titles. Greater faith is avowed in her mediation than in that of the Saviour himself. An English Protestant recently heard the children in a Roman Catholic school taught to address the Lord's Prayer to the Virgin Mary, and to say, not “Our Father,” but “ Holy Mary, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done;" thus most absolutely putting a creature in the place of the Creator. Can we wonder at this, when one Pope addresses her as “ The Illustrious Saviour of Sinners," another speaks of her as “Our greatest hope ; yea, our entire ground of hope ;” and when the present Pope, besides similar extravagant and idolatrous expressions, has enforced the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, as an infallible truth, which men are bound to believe on pain of eternal damnation ? Even Dr. Pusey, in his “ Eirenicon," a work written to advocate union between the Roman and Anglican Churches, mourns over this idolatrous devotion to Mary in the Church of Rome, as constituting a formidable obstacle in the way of this union-an "insoluble difference” between the Churches. His book abounds with quotations in proof of the idolatry and blasphemy of the Marian devotion. He says, “ There seems no limit to the extent, either of the increase of devotion to the blessed Virgin, or the subjects which may be made the doctrines of faith.” “Where our natural language would be, God will do this or that,' there it seems equally natural to Roman Catholics to say,
Mary will do it. At least, where we expect before-hand in the unfinished sentence to find : God' or "Jesus,' we find Mary ;'" and this system, he understands, "is developing," so that if there is "a lower deep" than the depths to which idolatrous superstition has sunk in the worship of the Virgin, Popery may be expected to find it. Thus, on the testimony of a friend and admirer of the Romish Church, this Church is convicted of putting the Virgin in the place of the only Mediator between God and man, and adopting Mary as the name that is above every name! Is it any wonder, looking at this saint and Virgin-worship, that Popery leaves the second commandment out of her Catechisms and Prayer-books, or mutilates it, or so anxiously withholds the Scriptures from her people! To a system so degrading to the human soul, and so dishonouring to its Creator and Redeemer, darkness is evidently a great necessity.
More degrading still, however, is the Papal faith in relics. It seems akin to nothing so much as to heathen fetish worship. Among the relics mentioned by D’Aubigné as carefully treasured in different churches were--a piece of Noah's ark; soot from the furnace of the three young men ; a bit of the manger in which the Saviour was
laid; the breath of St. Joseph, which Nicodemus received in his glove; hair from the beard of the great Christopher, and nineteen thousand other relics. Sir J. Stephen mentions a collection of relics, which included one of the arms in which the aged Simeon raised the infant Jesus in the Temple, and the very hand which the sceptical Thomas had stretched out to touch the wounded side of his risen Lord. He illustrates also the kind of evidence on which the Church rests her faith in the genuineness of these precious treasures. The fathers of Vendôme exhibited in the convent one of the tears which fell from the eyes of Jesus as he wept at the grave of Lazarus. An angel gathered it up and gave it to Mary, the sister of the deceased. It passed some centuries afterwards to the treasury of relics at Constantinople, and was bestowed by some Greek emperor upon some German mercenaries in reward for some services to his crown. They placed it in the abbey of Frisengen, whence it was conveyed by the Emperor Henry III., who transferred it to his mother-in-law, Agnes of Anjou, the foundress of the monastery of Vendôme, where she deposited it; and Catholic learning has expended its resources in defending the genuineness of the relic on the ground of these facts ! We know a good Catholic in Bradford who has upon her rosary five nails which she firmly believes to be the nails of the true cross. Doubtless they are as genuine as the tear. Let none suppose, however, that this absurd and degrading superstition is confined to poor ignorant Irishwomen. The Rev. W. Arthur found it one of the specialties of Rome. At the Lateran he saw numbers crowding the holy stair, stained with the blood of the Redeemer ! At the top of this stair is a dark little chapel, called “The Holy of Holies.” It contains a picture by St. Luke—an exact likeness of the Saviour when twelve years old. No woman may enter, it is so holy ! On a Good Friday evening, Mr. Arthur saw the Pope, before whom men kneel, in God's house, himself kneeling, and to what? Some robed canons held up something in their hands three times in succession.
“What are those things the priests are holding up, as if they meant us to look at them?"
“Those, signore, are the most holy relics."
“There is the most holy cross, the sacred spear, and the most holy visage.”
These, says Mr. Arthur, were word for word the answers given him by his next neighbour. The holy visage is an imprint of the countenance of Christ, made in the hours of his agony, upon a handkerchief wherewith he was then wiped by St. Veronica. After quoting the evidence Romish writers give of the genuineness of this visage--something like that in the case of the tear-Mr. A. says, “And on this evidence we are to fall down upon our knees before a cloth! On such grounds, the whole pomp of Rome is brought out to teach the world to worship relics! As an elaborate attempt on the part of the great to teach superstition to the low, this ceremony of adoring the major relics seemed to surpass all I had ever seen.” Popish superstition has many ramifications and reticulations, which we need not, however, trace further. The spectacle of a Pope worshipping old rags and bones is surely conclusive illustration and proof of the degradation inflicted by this system on the intellect, its terrible abuse of the religious nature of its votaries, and the equal dishonour it does to the only true object of religious worship.
It is startling, however, to find our English Protestant Church following so closely and eagerly as she is doing in the wake of Popery as a system of superstition, down even to the preservation of relics. The twenty-second Article of the Church of England says—“The Romish doctrine concerning purgatory, pardons, worshipping and adoration, as well of images as reliques, and also invocation of saints, is a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.” One of the Ritualist writers says of this, that “It may mean a great deal, or it may mean very little ;” and Ritualistic practice proclaims that it means little indeed, and is obliterating the distinction between the one Church and the other. Our Anglican Ritualists use at least one image in their worship-an image of Christ. Describing the altarcross, the “Anglicanum Directorium” says—“ It is often jewelled, and not unfrequently has upon it an engraved representation in alto relievo of our Lord's passion;" alto relievo really signifying "image," as they are one and the same. Of the archbishop's crozier it also says, “The crozier ought, according to Catholic custom, to have a figure of our Lord hanging nailed to the rood on each of its two sides. Thus one figure of Christ crucified looks towards the archbishop as he follows it, whilst another meets the eyes of those in front.” There are societies for giving effect to Popish views of the Lord's Supper, which is described as “ The adorable sacrament of the altar," in which the bread and wine are to be worshipped as concealing the actual person and deity of the Saviour, which is in reality the grand Papal superstition of transubstantiation. The directions for this service in the “Anglicanum Directorium" all proceed, indeed, on this assumption, and are as degradingly superstitious, almost, as anything to be found in Popish mass-books. One or two extracts will clearly show this.
“Also : if by negligence any of the blood be spilled upon a table fixed to the floor, the priest must take up the drop with his tongue, and the place of the table must be scraped, and the shavings burned with fire, and the ashes reserved with the relics beside the altar, and he to whom this has befallen must do penance forty days.
“But if the chalice have dropped upon the altar the drop must be sucked up, and the priest must do penance three days.
“ But if the drop have penetrated through the linen cloth to the second linen cloth, he must do penance for four days. If to the third, nine days. If the drop of blood have penetrated to the fourth cloth, he must do penance for twenty days, and the priest or the deacon must wash the linen coverings which the drop of blood has touched three times over a chalice, and the ablution is to be reserved with the relics."
If the eucharist have been lost, “this is to be observed, that wherever the species of the sacrament are found in their integrity they are severally to be consumed; but if this cannot be done without risk, they are still to be reserved for relics."
Here we have quite a cluster of superstitions, Romish both in spirit and in form, penance and relic worship included. That is clearly the spirit in which the relics are to be reserved, and these relics would doubtless form a nucleus around which would gather in due time collections similar to those to which we have referred. No wonder that these men repudiate the name and associations of Protestant, and sigh for re-union with the Church of Rome.
Our next charge is that Popery is a demoralizing system. One of the glories of the Gospel of Christ is, that it is perfect as a system of morality. While it justifies the ungodly, it strikes at the root of ungodliness, and brings men under the operation of all those principles and motives from which springs a pure and faultless morality. Popery, to a frightful extent, dissevers morality from religion, weakens or destroys the motives to personal holiness, and fosters and shelters vice. From its substitution of the mere form for the reality of religion; its false doctrines as to sin and forgiveness; the fact of its priests taking the moral responsibilities of their flocks; its indulgences; its doctrine of purgatory ; its confessional ; its clerical celibacy; its monastic system ; and its Jesuitism, it seems as if it had been expressly planned for what it has certainly become—a grand engine for undermining and corrupting the morality of the Papal world. The only difficulty in relation to this charge is that of selecting from the overwhelming evidences of its truth, and in so selecting as to avoid offending the sense of decency. Whether we reason from cause to effect, or from effect to cause, the result is the same. Take first the Confessional, as it is a part of the Papal system on which Ritualism looks with especial favour, and for which, as we have seen announced, it makes regular appointments. We remember having received a vivid impression of the manifold evil effects of the confessional, from reading a work on the subject by a distinguished French historian.* In our happy English homes we can form but a faint conception of the system of espionage the confessional establishes in society, and the amount of immorality, jealousy, suspicion, and misery it creates in families. It is evidently, on the showing of M. Michelet, a fatal foe to the family constitution. On its effects in the destruction of female virtue we dare not dwell. But look at the inevitable effect of the confessional on the minds of the priests themselves, making them, as Isaac Taylor expresses it, the receptacles into which the continual droppings of all the debauchery of a parish are falling, and through which the copious abomination filters.
“It is hard not to suppose that the Romish Church, in constituting her hierarchy, had wittingly kept in view the purpose of rendering her clergy the fit instruments of whatever atrocity her occasions might demand them to perpetrate, and so bad brought to bear upon their hearts every possible power of corruption. Not content with cashiering them of sanatory domestic influences, she has, by the practice of confession, made the full stream of human crime and corruption to pass-foul and infectious—through their bosom ! Having to construct at discretion the polity of the nations, the Romish architects have so planned it, as that the sacerdotal order shall constitute the Cloacce—the sewers—of the social edifice; and thus they have secured for Rome the honour of being, through these channels, the great stercorary of the world! How fitly, then, in the language of prophetic vision, is the apostate Church designated, sitting as she does at the centre of the common drainage of Europe, as the mother of abominations, and as holding forth, in shameless arrogance, the cup of the filthiness of her fornications !"* He mentions one of the books in which the mysteries of the art of the confessional are expounded, of which even a respectable Romish writer speaks as a most subtle examination of all imaginable impurities—a lazar-house, containing the most horrible things the pen can pourtray; and says, “It is impossible to conceive how an author can so far have divested himself of shame as to write such a book.”
* Michelet's "Priests, Women, and Familieg."
Thus Rome, by her system of clerical celibacy, prepares her clergy in the highest degree for being tempted, and then places them in circumstances of the strongest possible temptation. The results, on the testimony of even Papal writers, have corresponded with the circumstances. One of them-Maimburg--says, “The lives of the clergy themselves are so horribly debauched, that I cannot, without trembling, relate the hideous description." Mr. Arthur found the opinion of the Italians as to the morals of the priests, agreeing with the view of their position here given. “Black in robes, black in heart," one expression which he quotes, is fearfully significant. The Pope speaks of the poisonous pastures of the Bible Society; but what must be the kind of pastures into which the poor sheep are led by shepherds such as these? And can we be surprised that a large proportion of the intelligent minds in Popish countries should hate and reject a Christianity thus misrepresented by its teachers, and that infidelity should there prevail so extensively as it does ?
The monastic system, making all possible allowance for exceptional cases, is open to the same charge. In the thirteen Papal dioceses of England and the three districts of Scotland, there are now over 250 conventual and monastic establishments, and the Anglican Ritualists favour the system. While Papal countries, including even Spain to some extent, have been dismantling these institutions as å pest to society, in our Protestant land we are re-planting them. * The Reformation cleansed our soil from these abodes of lawlessness and lewdness, of licensed beggary and sanctified vagabondism ; but the locust brood have again returned. Along with them, we may be sure, will return the same moral and physical devastation which marked their course in other days. We cannot imagine a more effectual way of inoculating society with the most virulent vice than by permitting the erection within its bosom of such establishments uncontrolled by law." + We refrain from giving evidence of the immoral tendency of these establishments drawn from the horrible discoveries which have been made in connection with them. We shall, however, give the testimony of Signor Gavazzi, as that of a