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to pursue the truly pious course upon which you have entered ; viz. diligently to fight the battles of the Lord in sound doctrine, and warn the people intrusted to your care, that they fall not into the snares which are prepared for them, to their everlasting ruin.”
This bull contains the very quintessence of popery, and virtually sanctions all that has ever yet been done by a spiritual domination exercised in Roman Catholic countries, as well as in Protestant lands, in the way of persecution, to this day. The “Index,” as recently explained, is a barbarous inquisitorial engine, by means of which literature has too long been kept down, and made wholly subservient to the designs of a tyrannical hierarchy ; Rome has its Index, Madrid has its Index, and Lisbon, &c. &c. have an Index ; each containing a copious list of books, which cannot be sold, kept, or read, by people professing the religion of the pope, without incurring ecclesiastical penalties, and severe pains, in body, soul, and property! This papal and antichristian invention originated with the Council of Trent, soon after Luther began to write against the Church of Rome, and his exertions in promoting the Reformation had very much influenced the hearts of all considerate men in Europe.
Pope Leo the XIIth, in the first year of his pontificate, has addressed a “ CIRCULAR LETTER to the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, and Bishops," of the Romish Church, much in the same spirit as the bull of his predecessor, Pope Pius VII. Its avowed object is to suppress the word of God, and restrict the liberties of mankind. Religious toleration, and the operations of Bible Societies, cannot exist and flourish together. The Romish Church being in no small danger from an extensive circulation of the Holy Scriptures, the pope, of course, is alarmed for her safety, and has thus called forth all the active energies of the papistical priesthood, to check or put a stop to such heretical proceedings of the protestants. The places occupied by the Bible, he calls “ deadly and destructive pastures,” and from which the faithful pastors of the Romish Church are to drive their sheep. And unhesitatingly, he says, “ We openly profess, that out of the church (the Roman Church, of course,) is no salvation !” This is
ment in Portuguese, with the terrible mark of the Inquisition on its back - Novum Testamentum Liber Prohibitus.' Hardly believing it could be true, I ventured, in spite of the Inquisition, now no longer very formidable to a British officer in India, to open it, and read a few passages. Several old English Divines were there, in folio, with the same mark • Liber Prohibitus.' ”-Missionary Register, March 1823.
1824! To show the anxiety of his Holiness to accomplish this object of his heart, and to prove how deeply affected he is at the progress of the word of life and salvation, he
says, “ How great and how furious are the contests against the catholic religion, which have been raised in these our times, and which are still almost daily excited ? What man, after meditating upon them, can refrain from tears?" Of course, Pope Leo's meditations have been of this affecting nature: and he is perfectly right, for popery can have no greater enemies than toleration and the Bible.
The documents that have recently issued from the papal chair, have, no doubt, produced a powerful excitement in the bosoms of the catholic clergy; especially those of Ireland, under the influence of which they have commenced hostilities against Bible Societies and institutions for promoting the instruction or education of the poor. & The speeches delivered at the public
Popery has a direct tendency to shut up the fountains of knowledge. Gregory the First issued an order, that the Britons should have no schools, annual meetings of those societies at Cork, Kilkenny, Loughrea, Carrick-on-Shannon, Carlow, by Catholic priests, which have appeared in the Dublin Evening Mail, as well as other Journals, are ample specimens of the truth of this remark. And it is equally clear, that the speeches delivered by the Protestant Clergy, on the same occasion, evinced a decided superiority both in point of truth and temper, over the Roman Catholic cause.
It would require much time to state and refute all the peculiar doctrines and practices of the Church of Rome. We shall only observe, in a brief manner, that these boasters of infallibility take on them to corrupt the Bible, to curtail the ten commandments, to multiply sacraments, to withhold from the people the cup
of communion, to enjoin public prayers, to sanctify vice by bulls of indulgence, and to fix the prices to be paid for the commission of the most enormous sins. By the impurities of their mass, the merit of Christ's death is denied; by their fable of purgatory, the horrors of future punishment are defeated—into which souls must pass at death, and out of which there is no redemption without prayers
only monasteries, for fear of heresies. So Paul II. used to call scholars heretics ; and exhorted the Romans not to suffer their children to go to school too long ; nor could he endure the name of an academy.—Platina in Vita ejus.
a Cassander says, that we shall not easily find any before Peter Lombard, who lived about 1139, that did define the number of the sacraments, or determine the sacraments to be seven. Art. 13. & de num. Sacram. St. Austin is very positive that there are but two of divine institution. Epist. ad Januar. 118. “ Our Lord Jesus Christ,” says he, “has knit Christians together, with sacraments most few in number, most easy to be kept, most excellent in signification, as are Baptism and the Lord's Supper.” Now that there should be sacraments of divine institution, that are neither instituted in the gospel, nor known to be so, till 1100 years after our Saviour, nor be made a matter of faith till A. D. 1500, may be a doctrine received in the Church of Rome, but will not easily be believed by any out of it.
and masses, and none of these without money. They teach, that without auricular confession, and priestly absolution, there can be no forgiveness with God; and as the finishing stroke of ecclesiastical tyranny, that all the efficacy of the means of grace, and even men's salvation itself, depend entirely on the inward intention of the priest. · They would have people to deliver up their senses and reason in the matters of transubstantiation; to bind themselves in matters of faith to the decisions of popes and councils; to adore angels, and the spirits of persons departed; to worship images; to add human merit to the satisfaction Christ made for sin; and to submit to any penances the priest is pleased to impose, on pain of damnation.
The temper and spirit of the Roman Church is smooth and courteous indeed, while unarmed with power; but, at other times, most intolerable and unrelenting, persecuting, with implacable fury, where her power reaches, all, without exception, who dare deny the absurdities she commands to be believed, or refuse to practise the superstitions she enjoins. Persecution is a fundamental prin- : ciple, an established article of popery, standing unrepealed on record. Every weapon the Romanists use is sanctified, every instance of fraud, every degree of violence is consecrated. Cruelty is not only allowed, but
The Church of Rome declares, that “ in order to the validity of any sacrament, it is absolutely necessary the person who administers it, should do it with a holy intention.” For it follows, that wherever there is not this intention, the sacrament is null and void. And so there is no certainty, whether the priest, so called, be a real priest ? For who knows the intention of him that ordained him ? And if he be not, all his minis. trations are of course null and void. But if he be, can I be sure that his intention was holy, in administering Baptism or the Lord's Supper ? And if it was not, they are no sacraments at all, and all our attendance on them is lost labour. Who can believe this palpable error ?
enjoined as a duty, and recommended as meritorious. No good nature of their own, no obligation, arising from amiable dispositions in others, no sanctity of oaths, no sense of honour, no awe of the Divine Being, are to restrain them from any thing that is likely to promote the temporal advantage of their church. This is known to all who are acquainted with the 4th Council of the Lateran, and the Council of Constance. It is there solemnly decreed, that faith is not to be kept with heretics ; and that all whom the pope condemns as such, are to be delivered up to the secular arm, and burnt without mercy. But how absurd is this principle ! how criminal is this practice! The pretence is to promote religion : but what do they mean by religion ? What, but to repeat a creed, to subscribe a confession, or to perform a ceremony. Is this religion ? No, surely; religion is something better than this; it consists in doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God; in visiting the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and keeping ourselves unspotted from the world; in a divine nature, and a divine life. It is a reasonable and voluntary service, flowing from the full conviction of the mind, and the approving sentiments of the inward man. And what can violence do towards producing this inward conviction? Can fines take away error, and banishment drive men nearer to truth?
Can dungeons illuminate the
a The author has chiefly followed the authorities “ faithfully drawn out of the allowed writings of the Church of Rome,” as collected and arranged by the Rev. John Wesley, who, speaking of his Roman Catechism, says,
“ I am very confident that the quotations throughout are true, having again and again examined them; and I have been as careful as I could not to mistake the sense of them, that I might rightly understand and truly represent the doctrine which I profess to censure; for without a faithful and important examination of an error, there can be no solid confutation of it.”—Preface.