« AnteriorContinuar »
profess it. Every cardinal doctrine of the papacy can be traced to a certain period, when it became an element of the system.
Monachism began to be taught by St. Anthony in the 4th century.
Auricular confession in the 5th; but was finally established by Innocent III. early in the 13th century.
Theoretical purgatory began to be spoken of from the Pagans and Jews in the 6th century; but did not obtain a fixed residence till in the council of Florence, it became an integral part of infallibility A. D. 1430.
Early in the 7th century the idea of universal father, or pope obtained. . "'
In the 8th century, after many and various fortunes, images began to be set up; and in the 9th became an integral part of Roman Catholicism.
In the year 730, a council summoned by Leo. III. with only one dissenting vote, called the worship of images and relics idolatry.
Celibacy among the clergy began to be canonical in the 11th century.
In the 9th century, the doctrine of transubstantiation began to be talked of commonly; but was made infallible by pope Innocent III. 4th Lateran council.
Scotus, of Roman Catholic memory, affirmed that it was not an article of faith before the Lateran council of 1215, and that it cannot be proved from scripture. Bellarmine, Book iii. chap. 23, on the Eucharist, quotes Scotus as saying so, and admits, "though the scriptures quoted last above, seems clear to us, and ought to convince any man that is not forward; yet, it may justly be doubted, whether it be so, (proved by scripture,) when the most learned and acute men, such as Scotus, in particular, held a contrary opinion." Cardinal Cajetan, Ochan, and bishop Fisher, cum multis aliis, held the same opinion.
Among Protestants, the reason and authority of religious belief and practice, is, "Thus saith the Lord." It is not important to ascertain when any opinion or practice began, nor who introduced it; but if it be not in the bible, no matter how ancient it may be. It wants apostolic sanction, for the apostles sanction only what was written and ordained before their death. St. Clement, and St. Ignatius, and St. Irenaeus, and all the other saints in the Roman calendar, were born too late to sanction any article of faith, or morals, by their vote.
But a few words on transubstantiation. "A sacrament," says the church, "is an outward and visible sign of some inward and spiritual grace." Now, it cannot be both the sign and the thing signified. If, then, the Eucharist be a sacrament, it cannot be true that it is the body and blood of Christ transubstantiated. Rome ought, then, to strike it from her list of sacraments.
But Jesus gave the eucharist for a sign, a keepsake, a memorial of his love. It is, then, a commemorative institution, as well as a sign of New Testament blessings: "Do this in remembrance of me." Like other tokens of love, it has inscribed upon it the name of the donor. As was said of the passover; it is the Lord's passover: so says Jesus, "this is my body."
Now, as all words have a literal and figurative meaning, the only
Juestion here is, Are these words to be taken literally or figuratively 1 f literally, some good reason must be offered: and what is it? Because some father, pope, or council so decided? We most have tl>s
reason which authorised them, else their decision is a mere assumption.
Where shall that reason be found? Is it because Jesus always so speaks, that he must be thus understood? Then I contend, that when he said, "/ am the door," he was literally transubstantiated into a door; and when he said, "/ am the bread which came down from heaven," he was converted into bread; and when he said, "lam the true vine," he was literally changed into a real vine. And why not 1 Is it more irrational, marvelous, incredible, than that "this loaf is my body," should mean that this loaf was converted into his body, and changed into flesh; and that while the apostles were eating the loaf, they were eating the living flesh of him that stood before them 1! If, then, the bishop assumes a literal interpretation in the one case; I assume it in these and various other passages. For, if he may assume ad libitum, so may I; and so may every one else; and then what comes of the certainty of language? It is, then, without law, precedent, or authority, to assume the very point in debate; and to say, that because it reads this is my body, it means that bread is converted into flesh.
This style, of the passage in dispute, is very common in both the Old and New Testaments. So early as the time of Joseph, we read "the seven good kine are seven years,"—and "the seven good ears are seven years." What a transubstantiation! But change are into represent, which is its meaning, in a thousand places, and all is plain.
Again: says Jesus, "Destroy this temple," pointing to his body. "The field is the world—the reapers are the angels."—Are these, also, transubstantiations? Paul also speaks thus, when he says of the rock Horeb, "that rock tea* Christ." And John the apostle, "the seven stars are seven angels;" "the seven candlesticks are seven churches." And what is the difference between these phrases, and "this is my body ?"—but finally on this part of the subject, Jesus said of the cup, "this cup is the New Testament." Does not that, on the bishop's premises, prove that the cup was changed into the New Testament,! But, if by pronouncing over a loaf the words of consecration a priest has power to change bread into flesh, and wine into blood, he has, indeed, a power truly miraculous and divine; and works as many miracles in the whole course of his life as he says masses. A claim to such a divine, supernatural, and extraordinary power, ought not to be claimed upon an arbitrary, capricious, and whimsical interpretation of a word! Good reasons ought to be offered by any man, who passes himself on the community, as possessing power equal to quickening the dead and suspending the laws of nature.
Once more, for the present: If, you believe the priest and receive the bread as flesh, you never after can with reason believe your own senses: for, when your eye declares it bread, and your senses of smelling, tasting, feeling, and I might add, your hearing—all declare that it is still bread and not flesh—If, I say, you can, contrary to your own senses, which God has given you as the means of knowledge and certainty, thus implicitly believe the declaration of a priest; you are disqualified for reasoning, for believing the christian religion, or your own senses on any subject of which they are witnesses. So that it may be truly said, he that believes in transubstantiation, can rationally believe in nothing else. All the christian miracles, were to be believed—not because they were contrary to the evidence of sense; but because they were in accordance with that evidence.
I cannot argue this point with any sort of ability. I cannot feel in earnest. I seem to myself as if I were reasoning against a thing which no person believed; and I never could with any sort of spirit, discuss a matter, unless there was some little show of plausibility, or shadow of reason in it. The doctrine of transubstantiation is so absurd, that I do not know that I ever read a tract through against it in my life. But this subject gives such glory to the priests and has wrought such miracles upon the superstitious crowd, that it is worth more to sustain the priesthood, than all the other six Roman sacraments. And that which causes this most incredible of all things, to be devoured by such multitudes is, that it expiates sin. Hence the body of Christ is daily eaten by hundreds of thousands, as a sin offering together with " his soul and divinity," as decided by the council of Trent! The Messiah is then always suffering, always bleeding, always dying, always expiating sin by the sacrifice of himself; and his people are always literally devouring his flesh! What a picture!! I shall turn away from it; for my soul sickens at the thought.
Protestants know that the sin of forgetfulness is the easily besetting sin of mortals; and that they need commemorative institutions. Hence, they highly appreciate the honor of having a Lord's table, a Lord's supper, a holy communion and fellowship, through these sacred emblems of a Savior's love. "The loaf, which we break," says the apostle, "is it not the communion of the body of Christ 1 The cup over which we give thanks, is it not the communion, or the joint participation of his blood ?"—Hence, the New Testament with its spiritual and heavenly blessings is always contemplated, realized, and remembered with holy thankfulness in the christian assemblies, while they partake of the sacred emblems of that great sacrifice "once offered for the sins of many. For by one offering up of himself, he has forever perfected them who are sanctified."
Having yet remaining a few minutes, I shall prepare the way for the introduction of my seventh proposition. Having touched at the roots of all the principal corruptions, and having yet heard nothing in reply, I will anticipate that proposition with a few remarks on the papistical notion of a judge of controversy.
The council of Trent decreed "that the oral traditions of the Catholic church," (meaning the Roman) "are to be received, pari pietatia offectu ac reverentia suscipit ac veneratur,—with equal piety and reverence as the books of the Old and New Testament."—Council of Trent 4th session.
Then she asserts: "It belongs to the church to judge of the true sense and interpretation of scripture; and that no person shall dare to interpret it in matters relating to faith and manners to any sense contrary to that which the church has held, or contrary to the unanimous consent of the fathers."—lb. Id.
And according to the 23rd article of the creed of pope Pius IV. "I do acknowledge the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Roman church to be the mother and mistress of all churches; and I do promise and swear true obedience to the bishop of Rome, the successor of Peter, the prince of the apostles, and the vicar of Christ."
Here then, we have the essential elements of mental slavery and degradation: for, if no person dare to interpret the Scriptures contrary to what the church has already held, or to the unanimous consent of the Fathers; where is that liberty of thought and speech and action, on the most important of all subjects, our moral and religious relations, without which, liberty is without meaning, and mental independence but a name 1 •
In all monarchies, save that of Rome and Mahomet, a judge is not constitutionally a judge of his own case. But the Roman judge of controversy is the whole church, says my learned opponent, and her councils affirm with him. The whole church judging then between what parties? Herself and the heretics!! What a righteous, infallible and republican judge, is the supreme judge of controversy in the Catholic church! The controversy is between two parties—the church, or the clergy, on one side; and the heretics or the reformers on the other, as they may happen to be called; say the church and the heretics. And who is umpire, who is supreme judge of both? One of the parties, indeed, the church herself! This is the archetype—the beau ideal, of civil liberty, and republican government, in the supreme Roman hierarchy. It will not help it to place the ermine on the pope. He is that instant exparte judge. And besides, he is executive of, the church. If the pope is to be judge, and executive, and lawgiver, in the case as he frequently is, what a splendid picture of a republican president or judge have we got in the Roman church!
This ghostly despotism is to be sustained and defended too, by the whole church, by vows, oaths, and pledges, the most solemn and binding thatreligion can suggest, or human ingenuity devise. It is true she governs by her bishops. The popes make bishops, on the recommendation of bishops, and these bishops serve the pope and govern the people. Their oath, which is the same in all countries, 1 will now read,—so far at least, as relates to this matter. I have the original, and different translations of it, and if it be disputed, I am prepared to sustain it. To reconcile it to the genius of our institutions, and to the safety and happiness of our country, will require the explanations and reasonings of my friend.
"I, N. elect of the church of N. from henceforward will be faithful and obedient to St. Peter the Apostle, and to the holy Roman church, and to our lord, the lord N. Pope N. and his successors, canonically coming in. I will neither advise, consent, or do any thing that they may lose life or member, or that their persons may be seized, or hands any wise laid upon them, or any injuries offered to them, under any pretence whatsoever. The counsel which they shall intrust to me withal, by themselves, their messengers, or letters, I will not knowingly reveal to any to their prejudice. I will help them to defend and keep the Roman papacy, and the royalties of St. Peter, saving my order, against all men. The legate of the apostolic see, going and coming, I will honorably treat and help in his necessities. The rights, honors, privileges, and authority of the holy Roman church of our Lord the Pope, and his foresaid successors, I will endeavor to preserve, defend, increase, and advance. -I will not be in any counsel, action, or treaty, in which shall be plotted against our said lord, and the said Roman church, any thing to the hurt or prejudice of their persons, right, honor, state, or power; and if I shall know any such thing to be treated or agitated by any whatsoever, I will signify it to our said lord, or to some other by whom it may come to his knowledge. The rules of the holy Fathers, the apostolic decrees, ordinances, or disposals, reservations, provisions, and mandates, I will observe with all my might, and cause to be observed by others. Heretics, schismatics, and rebels to our said lord, or his foresaid successors, I will to my utmost power persecute and oppose."
The Latin of the last sentence of which reads:
"Hereticos, schismaticos, et rebelles, eidem domino nostra vel successoribus pnedictis pro posse persequar et impugnabo."—[Pontificale Roman. Edit. Antwerp. A. D. 1626. "*,
Here then is the most solemn pledge and vow given by every bithop
of Rome, that he will to the utmost of his power persecute and destroy heretics and schismatics! Does not this indisputable fact, alone, sustain my seventh proposition, and prove that the genius of the Latin church is anti-American and essentially opposed to the existence of all free institutions? [Time expired.]
Half past 10 o'clock, A. M. Bishop Purcell rises—
You perceive, my friends, that there is scarcely a single tenet of the Roman Catholic faith, which my friend has not brought into view this morning. How then am I to escape the charge of desultoriness, in following such an argument 1 The whole category, from Alpha to Omega, shoots up before me, shifting with the rapidity of lightning. It is the necessary effect of the confusion of my learned friend's ideas, and of the order in which he arranged the propositions whose discussion was to call them forth. The very first of these propositions—the first word of it—Holy—would have called up for discussion all we have heard on the immorality of the church. As my friend thought fit to commence as he has done, order and method continue to be exiled from this debate. He selected the points of attack and the plan of campaign; let him not charge on me his own blunders, which he sees now, too late. There was one great question which he should have determined, a limine; it would have cutoff all this desultory argumentation. It is this. Did Jesus Christ establish an infallible tribunal to determine the meaning of scripture? If so, we are bound by its decisions. If not, the whole Catholic religion falls to the ground. Now, my friends, I endeavored to prove that Christ did establish such a tribunal, and I defy any one to bring from the Bible proof to the contrary. One text alone is sufficient to put this matter at rest for ever. "The church is the pillar and ground of the truth." I began to enforce my argument, when my time expired, and my friend seemed unwilling to let slip the opportunity, but got up immediately, and said that my last observations of yesterday were unworthy of notice.
He brought as a parallel to the words, "I am with you all days even to the end of the world," the customary ancient salutation, "the Lord be with you;" and argued from this, that Christ's words mean no more than that! But, my friends, what point of comparison is there between the words, " God be with you," which one frail man addresses to another, and the words, the solemn promises of the Savior, commissioning his apostles to preach his gospel, and cheering their despondency by the divine assurance, "Behold, I am with you all days even to the end of the world?" Are the two cases the same? Are we not more sure that Christ is with his church forever, than we are of the effect of the salutation of a poor fallible man? What Christ does is infallible; what he says will come to pass. If his church was to fail, we should have had an assurance to that effect in the Bible. There is none. If his church was to fail, we should have had miraculous displays like that of Sinai, and of the descent of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost, marking the commencement of a new era. Or Christ would have come again upon earth, rebuked and banished error, and restored the primitive lustre and beauty of truth. This has not been done, nor has such a prophecy been any where made. As Christ, by one oblation, has perfected those that were to be sanctified for ever; so has he by one