תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

John was commanded not to do. When Cornelius, the centurion, fell down at St. Peter's feet, and worshipped him, the Apostle forbade him, saying, “ Stand up, I also am a man,"

3. The common people, neither understand, nor observe this distinction. This is confessed by one of their own writers. « The manner in which the Church invokes the Saints, cannot be called idolatry, although the ignorant people have carried the abuse almost as far as idolatry, either in considering the Saints as the authors of the favours they ask, or in placing more confidence in their mediation, than even in that of Jesus Christ; or, finally, in persuading themselves, that, independently of a good life, the merits and intercessions of the Saints might enable them to obtain salvation."

By whatever modified appellation Romanists may designate the worship they pay to images, its practical tendency on the minds of the lower orders must be collected from the effect it produces in those countries, where the religion of the Church of Rome is the only one of which they have

any notion. In the “ Christian Examiner, or Church of Ireland Magazine," (an ably conducted Journal,) for Feb. 1827, pp. 149–151, there is an account of the coronation of the Image of the Virgin Mary, of the Immaculate Conception, in the church of Gesu Vecchio, in the city of Naples, so lately as December 30, 1826. The account, with its illustrative remarks, is too long to admit of insertion in this place. It must, therefore, suffice to state, that “when the crown was placed on the head of the infant Jesus, there was a general movement: but when she (the image of the Virgin) was crowned, the lower orders could no longer contain themselves, and the shouts of the men, the cries, the outstretched imploring hands, the tears and convulsive shrieks of the women, showed how vehemently and profoundly they adored the Virgin, and worshipped her image.” After the coronation, the Archbishop of Naples, and the Priests, pronounced certain sentences and responses, in which the unlimited power of the Virgin over all nature was unhesitatingly proclaimed, in phrases almost scriptural.

4. The Doctors of the Romish Church are not agreed concerning the distinction between Latria, or supreme worship, and Dulia, or inferior worship.

Many writers in that Church deny, that there is any difference be. tween the two words, and admit, “ that it is one and the same virtue of religion which containeth them both.” If some say that it is idolatry and mortal sin to give Latria to a Saint, or image, which ought only to receive Dulia ; and if others tell you, that these words signify the same thing, let a man do what he will, he incurs the guilt of idolatry, in the opinion of either the one or the other of these parties.

If the Papists excuse themselves from the charge of idolatry, by making a distinction between two different kinds of religious worship, which the nature of the thing does not admit of, which the Bible no where mentions, which the common people cannot understand, and concerning which, their own doctors have disputed; the Protestants have a good excuse for not worshipping saints or images.

(3.) By the Scriptures, we are taught, that the ground of our hope toward God, rests upon the death of Christ; the three great results of which, are, 1. His Merits; 2. His Satisfaction ; 3. His Intercession. By these, we may come boldly to the throne of grace, and pray to God, through Jesus Christ; but, if we believe the Church of Rome, we must pray to God, through the Saints, too, and rely also upon their merits, their satisfaction,—and their intercession. Is it not plain, then, that this is to make the Saints al to Christ in kind, though not in degree? So that nothing remains of the honour due to our Redeemer, and of the confidence in him, which is not in every kind imparted also to Saints. What then is all this, but to alter entirely the Christian faith, and to destroy the very essence of religion. Rather let us say with St. Austin, “I can address myself more cheerfully, and more safely, to my Lord Jesus Christ, than to any of the holy spirits of God. For this we have a commandment, for the other we have none. For this we have examples in the for the other we have none. promises made to him who prays to Christ, that he shall be heard; but to him who prays to Saints, there is not one in the whole Bible.”

There are many

[ocr errors]

OF INDULGENCES. (1.)

The conferring of Indulgences, which are denominated “ the heavenly treasures of the Church,” (Con. Tri. Decret. Sess. XX.,) is said to be the gift of Christ to the Church.” (Sess. XXV.) To understand the nature of Indulgences, we must observe, that “the temporal punishment due to sin, by the decree of God, when its guilt and eternal punishment are remitted, may consist either of evil in this life, or of temporal suffering in the next, which temporal suffering in the next life, is called Purgatory; that the Church has received power from God, to remit both of these inflictions, and this remission is called an Indulgence.” (Butler's Book of the Rom. Cat. Ch. p. 110.) “It is the received doctrine of the Church, that an Indulgence, when truly gained, is not barely a relaxation of the canonical penance enjoined by the Church, but also, an actual remission by God himself, of the whole, or part, of the temporal punishment due to it in his sight.” (Milner's End of Controv. p. 305.) Pope Leo X., in his Bull, de Indulgentiis, whose object he states to be “that no one in future may allege ignorance of the doctrine of the Roman Church, respecting Indulgences, and their efficacy,” declares, “ that the Roman Pontiff, Vicar of Christ on earth, can, for reasonable causes, by the power of the keys, grant to the faithful, whether in this life, or in Purgatory, Indulgences, out of the superabundance of the merits of Christ, and of the Saints; (2.) (expressly called a treasure ;) and that those who have truly obtained these Indulgences, are released from so much of the temporal punishment, due for their actual sins to the divine justice, as is equivalent to the Indulgence granted, and obtained. (3.) (Bulla Leon. X.adv. Luther.) Clement VI., in the Bull Uni Genitus, explains this matter more fully :-“ As a single drop of Christ's blood would have sufficed for the redemption of the whole human race," so the rest was not lost, but "was a treasure which he acquired for the militant Church, to be used for the benefit of his sons; which treasure he would not suffer to be hid in a napkin, or buried in the ground, but committed it to be dispensed by St. Peter, and his successors, his own vicars upon earth, for proper and reasonable causes, for the total, or partial remission of the temporal punishment due to sin; and for an augmentation of this treasure, the merits of the blessed Mother of God, and of all the elect, are known to come in aid.” “We have resolved,” says Pope Leo XII., in his Bull of Indiction, for the universal Jubilee, in 1824, “ in virtue of the authority given us by heaven, fully to unlock that sacred treasure, composed of the merits, sufferings, and virtues of Christ our Lord, and of his Virgin Mother, and of all the Saints, which the author of human salvation has entrusted to our dispensation. During this year of the Jubilee, we mercifully give, and grant, in the Lord, a Plenary Indulgence, remission, and pardon of all their sins, to all the faithful of Christ, truly penitent, and confessing their sins, and receiving the holy communion, who shall visit the Churches of blessed Peter and Paul," &c. &c. “We offer you,” says Ganganelli, in his Bull de Indulg., "a share of all the riches of divine mercy, which have been entrusted to us, and chiefly those which have their origin in the blood of Christ. We will then open to you all the gates

of the rich reservoir of atonement, derived from the merits of the Mother of God, the holy Apostles, the blood of the Martyrs, and the good works of all the Saints. We invite you, then, to drink of this overflowing stream of Indulgence, to enrich yourselves in the inexhaustible treasures of the Church, according to the custom of our ancestors. Do not, then, let slip the present occasion, this favourable time, these salutary days, employing them to appease the justice of God, and obtain your pardon."

The reasonable causes, on account of which, Indulgences are given, are, where “ the cause be Pious; that is, not a work, which is merely temporal, or vain, or in no respect pertaining to the divine glory, but for any work whatsoever, which tends to the honour of God, or the service of the Church, an Indulgence will be valid. We see, occasionally, the very greatest Indulgences given, for the very lightest causes; as when a Plenary Indulgence is granted to all who stand before the gates of St. Peter, whilst the Pope gives the solemn blessing to the people, on Easter day;” for “Indulgences do not depend, for their efficacy, on consideration of the work enjoined, but on the infinite treasure of the merits of Christ, and the Saints, which is a consideration surpassing and transcending every thing that is granted by an Indulgence.” In some cases “ the work enjoined, must not only be pious and useful, but bear a certain proportion with the Indulgence; that is, the work enjoined, must tend to an end more pleasing in the sight of God, than the satisfaction remitted,” “although it is not necessary, that it be in itself very meritorious, or satisfactory, or difficult, and laborious, (though these things ought to be regarded too,) but that it be a mean apt and useful, towards obtaining the end for which the Indulgence is granted.” “As the large resort of people,” before the gates of St. Peter, when

« הקודםהמשך »