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himself; and, if he cannot make it entirely out, he gets the grace and indulgences of the church, and the merits of the saints, to help him; and, if all should be too little, he has a corps de reserve in the merits of Christ, to which, however, he will not likely apply if he can do better. This subject is too serious for ridicule; it is delusion and imposition all over, and the effect of it is to ruin the souls of men. He that rejects the sacrifice of Christ, or who places any confidence whatever in his own merits, or the merits of any creature, refuses the only remedy which divine mercy has provided for the salvation of our fallen race; and, by disbelieving the divine testimony concerning the Saviour, he is guilty of the dreadful wickedness of calling the God of truth a liar. Many Protestants, I am afraid, are guilty of the same thing; but it is of the nature of popery to make men do so; and the Romish church authoritatively not only indulges, but commands the commission of sin.
In my next letter I shall discuss this subject a little further, and then advert to the indulgences granted by Luther and the other reformers. I am, &c.
A PROTESTANT. GLASGOW, 15th June, 1818.
ANOTHER LETTER BY PAX.-FURTHER REMARKS OF PROTES
TANT ON THE SUBJECT OF INDULGENCES: THEIR ORIGIN. TAX OF THE APOSTOLIC CHANCERY. TESTIMONY OF CLAUDE D'ESPENCE: OF DUPIN. LUTHER'S ALLEGED INDULGENCE.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE GLASGOW CHRONICLE.
SIR :-When I concluded my last letter, and declined answering your correspondent, I did so with the conviction that no additional provocation would emanate from his pen until he had settled the previous question ; but, as Addison observes, “it is indeed impossible to kill the weed the soil has a natural inclination to produce.” I feel myself forcibly called upon to notice his letter of Saturday last, which, if I had no other, is a convincing proof of the truth of my remarks. He argues, as yet, on mere supposition, unsupported by a single fact, and is silent on those truths opposed to his fallacious assertions.
I will strictly adhere to my first principle of avoiding a controversy on the differences of religious opinions. My object is not to throw my gauntlet in the face of every man who does not think as I do, but to crush prejudices, by opposing truth to error, and the olive branch to the spirit of persecution. Who can blame me in this enlightened country, where men are allowed the full freedom of conscience, and where, I hope, these sparks of prejudice are only emitting the faint light of an expiring fire ?
Every impartial observer must have been struck with the very feeble resistance made by your correspondent in his last letter, whereby he occupies twenty-four lines of your columns in comparing his own temper with that of his opponent, and calculating how old I
shall be when the Kilravack bull expires. This is not to the purpose. I defied him to produce the bull, with the meaning he ascribes to it, even allowing the benefit of the errata he claims; and it may not be irrelevant here to observe, that it is rather unfortunate for your correspondent, that the proprietors (perhaps the manufacturers) of the bull will not allow the publication of it, which might be effected easily, without dispossessing themselves of it, and that the reverend gentleman who is reported to have seen it should be out of town. I also defied him to prove, that by an indulgence was meant the remission of sins; (for a person in sin cannot derive the benefit of an indulgence;) to which he replies by a long letter, remarkable only for its cobweb texture, and a deficiency of that courtesy and good nature he blames in the members of our constitution.
Is there not apparent, in your correspondent's writing, a spark of that spirit which Protestants themselves blame in the first reformers ? Luther enacted many things, according to his own assertion, solely to spite the church of Rome; hence, I suppose, the reiterated use of those epithets he knows are only used in derision and contempt; hence, he assures me, the repetition of that part of a former letter which he finds gave offence: and let me here observe, the Catholics of Glasgow never withheld the acknowledgment and thanks to their brethren Protestants, for having suggested, and with them framed, an institution which has drawn forth the admiration of a sister kingdom, and the patronage of one of our monarch's sons. No, sir; it was the concluding part that should never have been penned or printed, and which truth itself could not palliate. He denies Catholics even the appellation of Catholic, because he says the name is arrogantly assumed. I again refer to our house of parliament, where some enlightened Protestants, in a debate connected with the Catholic question, objected to the word Catholic being used exclusively to denote the church of Rome; they did not substitute Papist or Papists; they knew it was an odious expression, and that mockery blunts the edge of serious reasoning; they used the term Roman Catholic.
The principles of the Catholic church do not emanate from a pope, but from the great Founder of the Christian faith ; and, if a pope were to preach tenets contrary to those contained in the Testament, he would be deposed, and a successor appointed; and the followers of the ex-pope would then, and only then, be called Papists. Before I conclude, let me beg of those who are not tainted with the venom of prejudice, not to receive as truths those allegations ungenerously charged on Catholics, because they remain unanswered. There are in every Christian some points of faith so delicately refined, so hallowed, so sacredly planted in their bosoms, that to encourage a discussion of them with those whose boast it is to treat every sentiment and opinion not their own with contempt, would to me appear a sinful provocation.
Had your correspondent taxed the Catholics with any one principle which they profess
, I would gladly have acknowledged it; but he proceeds in the same unheeded course, and deals out misrepresentations with an unsparing hand. He asserts the Catholics believe the pope to be infallible. They believe him to be the head of the church; but they know him to be a man, and not their god, as he contemptu
ously asserts. But, if by such absurd sophistry he means to prove his first assertion, I must acknowledge they are fit pillars to support the unholy edifice he has raised with his own hand, at the expense of his neighbour's nicest feelings, his own integrity as a writer, and his charity as a Christian.
My pursuits and my absence will prevent me troubling you for some time; and, as I hope your correspondent will be silent when I return, I hope I shall not be tempted to take up my pen again, which, if it were to raise one angry frown from me, would be my greatest regret. Yours, &c.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE GLASGOW CHRONICLE.
Sır:-I know that Papists maintain that indulgences are meant only to relieve sinners from the temporal punishment which their sins deserve, or, at most, from the pains of purgatory; but this is disproved by the catechism, of which I quoted so largely in my last letter. We are there told that the church, as a good mother, when she grants indulgences, "gives nothing to her children but what serves to relieve them in this world and in the next." Indulgences, therefore, serve to relieve Papists from the punishment which their sins deserve in the world to come. To this, let me add the declaration of the divine, angelic, and seraphic doctor, St. Thomas, a pillar of the popish church. “There actually exists,” says he, "an immense ireasure of merit, composed of the pious deeds and virtuous actions which the saints have performed, beyond what is necessary for their own salvation, and which are therefore applicable to the benefit of others. The guardian and dispenser of this precious treasure is the Roman pontiff, and, of consequence, he is empowered to assign, to such as he thinks proper, a portion of this inexhaustible source of merit, suitable to their respective guilt, and sufficient to deliver them from the punishment due to their crimes." Here, then, is a plenary remission of all their crimes, and of all the punishment which they deserve, whether in this world or the next. It is not said to those who can afford to pay for it; but the practice of the Romish church showed that they knew how to supply the ellipsis. The merits of Christ are out of the question here. Nothing is necessary but the merits of fellow-creatures, who, it seems, had done more good works than were necessary for their own salvation ; while the man who takes his religion from the Bible knows that, though all the good works of all the men in the world, since the fall of Adam, were put into one common stock, they would not be sufficient to merit one breath of air.
It was the practice of the Romish church to enjoin certain penances for certain transgressions. By and by, they began to relax in the severity of their discipline. Dupin, a popish historian, writing of the twelfth century, says, “The practice of public penance for public sins was not yet entirely abolished; but it was become very rare, because the remission of sins was to be obtained in other ways, and chiefly by the crusade and pilgrimages. They began to reserve the remission of certain sins to the pope and the bishops.” So far as appears, nobody then doubted that it was in the power of the church,
and of the pope as her head, to allow certain sins to be committed, without subjecting the individual to the usual penances; and, when the permision was signified in writing, the document alone, or the fact and the document taken together, constitute what, in the primary sense of the term, was called an indulgence. But the matter did not remain long in this situation. An additional import was given to the word; the practice was extended, and the remission of penances prepared the
way for the remission of sins. If the individual was freed from all penitentiary inflictions in the former case, in the latter he was freed from all punishment whatever; and, if the indulgence was plenary, he might transgress with impunity every statute of the decalogue, and every ordinance of the church. To this favoured individual, purgatory, and even hell itself, were divested of their terrors; in the prospect of the last judgment, he was already acquitted. Edin. Ency. Vol. VIII. p. 316.
On this subject, Dupin speaks with great tenderness. He had mentioned the origin of indulgences in the twelfth century; and, when writing of the fifteenth century, he informs us, in few words, that “indulgences granted by the popes were more common than ever: they had become a kind of traffic.” This is as much as could be expected from a Papist; but it shows that the wickedness of the holy church had by this time risen to a great height. It will amuse your readers to see the nature of this traffic, and the prices which were paid for indulgence to commit certain sins. A book was published at Rome, entitled, “ The Tax of the Apostolic Chancery," in which the price of absolution, for every vice that the pope professed to pardon, was fixed. I will not pollute your pages by many extracts, but mention two or three things, to show your readers in what estimation Papists held the privilege of committing certain crimes, and how the crimes themselves were estimated : for a layman murdering a layman, a sum equal to about 7s. 6d.; for him that killeth his father or mother, wife or sister, 10s. 6d.; for laying violent hands on a clergyman, so it be not to the effusion of blood, 10s. 6d.
Thus, it seems, to strike a clergyman, though it did not break his skin, was as great a crime as killing one's own parents.
For a priest to marry was a crime for which no sum could atone; at least I find nothing for this in the list; but for a priest to keep a concubine was only 10s. 6d. For license to eat flesh in Lent, 10s. 6d; for a queen to adopt a child, 3001. This book has been often printed, both in popish and Protestant countries; and the Protestant princes inserted it among the causes of their rejecting the council of Trent. When Papists saw what use the Protestants made of it, they put it into the list of prohibited books, upon the pretence of its having been corrupted by the Protestants ; but the many editions of it which have been published in popish countries, and which the Papists themselves could not, and did not, disown, (though perhaps they will disown it now,) were more than sufficient to justify the reproaches of Protestants, and to cover Rome with confusion, if she were capable of it. It was printed at Rome, 1514; at Cologne, 1515; at Paris, 1520, 1545, and 1625. See Free Thoughts on the Toleration of Popery, by Calvinus Minor, (the late Rev. Archd. Bruce, of Whitburn,) a book which contains a great mass of information on the subject of popery, with the most
ample authorities. See also the Morning Exercise against Popery, with the authorities cited, quarto, page 489.
But the following authority alone, I should think enough. Claude D'Espence, a Parisian divine of great note in the Romish church in the 16th century, bears the following testimony to this dreadful abuse: “ Provided money can be extorted, every thing prohibited is permitted.
There is almost nothing forbidden that is not dispensed with for money; so that as Horace said of his age, the greatest crime that a person can commit is to be poor. Shameful to relate! they give permission to priests to have concubines, and to live with their harlots who have children by them, upon paying an annual tribute. And, in some places, they oblige priests to pay this tax, saying, that they may keep a concubine if they please. There is a printed book which has been publicly sold for a considerable time, entitled, the Taxes of the Apostolical Chancery, from which one may learn more enormities and crimes, than from all the books of the Summists. And of these crimes there are some which persons may have liberty to commit for money, while absolution from all of them, after they have been committed, may be bought. I refrain from repeating the words, which are enough to strike one with horror." Claudius Espenceus Comment. ad cap. I. Epist. ad Titum degress. II.
For the existence of the famous Kilravack bull, and that it is such a one as I represented, I am authorized to refer your correspondents to the head of that house, Col. Rose, of Kilravack, near Nairn, to the Rev. Mr. Cormack, of Stow, near Edinburgh, and to Dr. Brewster, of Edinburgh; but why should modern Papists doubt of such a thing? It is a mere trifle to some that might be mentioned. In the treasure of indulgences published by the Franciscans at Roan, 1614, were the following words: "For every day until the nativity of our Lady, there are 862,000 years and 100 days of pardon and remission of the third part of sins granted." See Free Thoughts, &c. Some, however, went a great deal farther than this, and gave a full pardon of all sins, and a third part of sins besides. (Ibid.) I think the reverend author ought to have acquitted the pope of this bull: for it bears internal evidence of having been made in Ireland.
As Dupin informs us, it was only against the abuse of indulgences that Luther began to preach : " he did not yet directly attack the indulgences, nor the power of the church, but maintained that the pope could only forgive the penalties he imposed himself; that, therefore, indulgences were only a relaxation of canonical punishments; that they only regarded the living; that those in purgatory could receive no benefit by them; that at most they could only be useful by way of suffrages," &c. Such was the erroneous opinion of Luther, when he had only begun to see the errors of popery; and he was answered by the pope himself as Dupin relates :-“When these things were doing in Germany, Pope Leo X., thinking by his decision to put a stop to the disputes that might arise against indulgences, set forth a brief, on the 9th of November, 1515, by which he declared that the successor of St. Peter, and the vicar of Jesus Christ on earth, had power to forgive, by virtue of the keys, the guilt and punishment of actual sins, viz. the guilt by the sacrament of penance, and the temporal punishment by the indulgences which he could grant to believers for