Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

be possible to use language of more direct address, in the form of prayer, to the divine Being himself, than is addressed to the Virgin Mary. She is declared to be worthy of the "utmost duty of every Christian, which is as much as can be said of what is due to God. Mr. Andrews himself holds her up as an object of devotion; and that he means it in a religious sense, is evident from the blessings which, he says, this devotion will obtain. One of the most effectual means "for acquiring virtue in youth," is, according to him, "devotion to the blessed virgin.” Nay, Mr. Andrews says expressly, “the pray, ers we offer her for our salvation bring to us all that we desire ;" and he quotes St. Bernard as saying, “ That never any person invoked that mother of mercy, in his necessities, who has not been sensible of the effect of her assistance." Şee the whole chapter in my fortieth number, pp. 300—307.

The most copious book of devotion that has come in my way, is entitled, “ Heures, imprimees par l'ordre de Monseigneur le Cardinal De Noailles. Archevesque de Paris." I could fill many sheets with prayers to Mary and other saints from this book; but I shall satisfy myself at present with the following translation from pages 395, 396 :

Give us access to thy Son, Mary, who hast found grace before the Lord, who art blessed among women, who hast brought life into the world and art the mother of salvation. Let him who hath been given us by thee, receive us by thee. Let thy purity excuse to him our corruption ; let thy humility, which hath been so agreeable to God, obtain pardon of our vanity ; let the abundance of thy charity cover ihe multitude of our sins; and thy glorious fruitfulness shed on us a happy fruitfulness of merits and good works. Thou art our queen, our mediator, our advocate. Reconcile us with thy Son; recommend us to thy Son; present us to thy Son," &c. See again: “We come to thee, fruitful mother, mother without spot; to whom God, the Master of the universe, who dwelleth spiritually in the other saints, hath also dwelt in thee bodily," &c. &c.

Though the style of this prayer is not so gross as some others which I have given, the sentiment is equally abominable and idolatrous. Christ alone brought life and salvation into the world; but here this honour is ascribed to Mary. No man can obtain the pardon of sin but through the merits or righteousness of Christ; but the deluded votary of the Virgin Mary is taught by his church to ask this blessing for the sake of a mere creature. The purity, the humility, and the abundant charity of Mary, are supposed to be so meritorious, as to make up for the want of these qualities in her devout worshippers. This is the great comprehensive sin of popery. It is trusting in a creature, instead of trusting in the living God, and this, according to the word of God, brings down a curse instead of a blessing.

In short, popish devotion consists, according to their approved liturgies, in little else than calling upon the Virgin Mary and other saints; that is, invoking and praying to mere creatures, which is downright idolatry. We are taught in the scriptures, “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved;" and then it is asked, “ how shall they call on him in whom they have not believed ?" Rom. x. 13, 14. From this it is evident that there can be no acceptable worship without faith in the object of worship. Those, therefore, who

call upon the Virgin Mary, must believe in her; and unless they can show, from the word of God, some authority and warrant for believing in a mere creature, they must stand in the awful predicament of those who believe a lie, and who receive not the love of the truth, that they may be saved.

CHAPTER XLIII.

REMARKS ON THE TITLE OF SAINT.

CRITICIAN

WORSHIP OF CREATURES, CONTINUED.

ON FIRST TIMOTHY, FOUR: ONE. EXTRACT FROM MIDDLETON'S LETTER FROM ROME ACCOUNT OF ST. WENEFRIDE, THE TUTELAR DEITY OF WALES.

SATURDAY, May 8th, 1819. No part of the word of God is more plain and explicit than the command to abstain from the worship of creatures.

The Almighty himself spoke these words from Mount Sinai, "I am the Lord thy God;—thou shalt have no others gods before me.” And when the devil tempted Jesus Christ to commit idolatry by worshipping him, he replied, in allusion to the above, “ It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." When, through mistake, the apostle John fell down before an angel to worship him, the heavenly messenger instantly rejected the proffered homage:"See thou do it not ;-I am thy fellow-servant:-worship God." Rev. xix. 10. If the fact of being a fellow-servant was an argument in the mouth of an angel, that he should not be worshipped; how much more forcible would it be in the mouth of those who are fellow-creatures, as well as fellow-servants? This is the condition of all the saints in heaven, who are mere fellow-servants, and fellow-creatures with the saints on earth; that is, with all Christians: for to apply the title of saint to some Christians and not to others, is a popish error, and one that has been retained too long in some Protestant churches. The sinner who believed in Jesus Christ yesterday, for the first time, is as really a saint as Paul, or Peter, or even the Virgin Mary. He is “washed, and sanctified, (that is, made a saint,) and justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God;" 1 Cor. vi. 11. In times of primitive purity, the words Christian and saint were synonymous; and, to use the words of an acute writer, it was not till after the churches had begun to depart from the faith and prac apostles and evangelists, that, to make amends, they knighted these servants of God, and called them saints, by way of eminence and distinction. I am aware that the passages of scripture, to which I have here referred, will be of no weight with my popish readers, because they do not submit to the authority of the Bible alone; but I am sure my Protestant readers will be convinced by such authority, that I do the church of Rome no injustice, when I charge her with both idolatry and absurdity:

For what can be more absurd, than fellow-creatures and fellow-servants worshipping one another ? What can be more impious, as well as absurd, than praying to fellow-creatures, and requesting them to intercede and mediate with God for us, when we are assured by the word of God, that there is “one Meditator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus ?" What can be more impious than to call on the

VOL. I.-41

name of a mere creature to save us, when we are assured that besides Jesus Christ, there is no other name by which we can be saved? The church of Rome is guilty of all this impiety, by teaching her deluded adherents to worship and call upon mere creatures.

I grant that those members of the church of Rome, and of every other church, who are not Christians, are not saints. Let men call themselves by what name they please, if they are not subjects of that gracious and radical change, which is affected by the Holy Spirit upon all who are led by his divine influence to believe in Christ, and trust in him for the salvation of their own souls, they are not Christians. There is, therefore, an infinite distance between them and those who are properly called saints. They are sinners. This is their distinctive appellation. But, as sinners, Christ makes them welcome to come to himself

, directly and immediately, for the pardon of their sins, and the salvation of their souls. “Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out," is the language of the gracious and almighty Saviour; but he never required or encouraged any sinner to go first to Mary, or to any of the saints.

It was false humility that led men first to think of approaching to God through the medium of mere creatures. They professed to believe him too great, and themselves too unworthy, to admit of direct intercourse. This would have been true, if he had not, of his infinite mercy, provided and revealed to us a medium of intercourse, and declared that his throne of mercy was accessible to any sinner of the human race who should come to him in the name of Christ. Having this revealed to us in the scriptures, it is both our privilege and duty to come to him, in obedience to his invitation. He knows best what is suitable to his own glory, and to our circumstances; and as it is his glory to show mercy to the chief of sinners, they cannot honour him more than by coming to him as sinners, submitting to his righteousness, and accepting his overtures of mercy.

It is not humility, but pride, that prevents sinners from coming to God in the way which he has appointed. True humility would lead them to him in his revealed way; but pride will come only in its own way. Affecting to think themselves so very unworthy, and to believe God too great to regard them, Papists have devised a way of their own, by which alone they will come to him, that is, through the medium of creatures, whom they call saints. For this they have not the shadow of a warrant from the word of God; but being a way of their own devising, they adhere to it most pertinaciously: rather than not come to God in this way, they will not come at all; and as he never promised to accept any who came in this way, they can have no ground to hope that they will be accepted.

In my late numbers, I have shown that the Virgin Mary is regarded by Papists as the principal medium of intercourse with God; but there are innumerable others whom they regard as objects of worship, to whom they address their prayers, and who are supposed to have such interest in the court of heaven, that they can obtain whatever their votaries ask of them. Thus the church of Rome is proved to be the antichrist that should arise in the latter days, that should "depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrine3 of devils;"' 1 Tim. iv. 1.

The words which our translators have rendered“ doctrines of devils," are, in the original, diduokalíais da povíwv, doctrines of demons, or concerning demons. Devil is the English word for diaßólos not for daipw. The word here rendered devils, is the same that in Acts xvii. 18, is rendered gods. Οι δέ Ξένων δαιμονίων δοκεί καταγγελεύς είναι: Others said, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods ; that is, because he preached Jesus and the resurrection.” The Athenians supposed these to be two new deities whom Paul wished them to place among their other objects of worship. Our translators saw the impropriety of rendering the passage, “ He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange devils," and they deviated accordingly from their usual way of rendering the word sa povíwr. Suppose them to have translated i Tim. iv. 1. the same way, it would have been “ doctrines of, or concerning gods,"* that is, inferior deities, objects of religious worship, which are yet allowed to be mere creatures. This was the error of the heathen,

* I make these remarks without intending the least disrespect to the memory of our translators, or wishing to detract from the merit of their labours. They did not give themselves out as infallible. They took advantage of the degree of knowledge which they possessed, to improve upon their predecessors; and they left their successors at hiberty to improve upon them. It is worthy of remark, however, that in those passages of the Bible which relate directly to the way of salvation,—that is, those which are of vital interest and importance, the fidelity and correctness of our authorized version stand unimpeached. That they have, in some instances, mistaken the meaning of a Greek or Hebrew word,--that they have translated da povíwv, devils, or any thing of a like nature, is comparatively of very little importance, seeing they have given us the gospel of salvation pure, and 'unadulterated by any inventions of their own.

“Mr. Andrews, in some of his late VINDICATORS," says an anonymous correspondent, “musters up a long list of passages from Protestant translations of the Bible, and takes it for granted that they are, and must be, errors, because they differ from the same passages, as translated by Catholics. Good, honest soul ! it never occurred to him, I suppose, that this kind of proof would be quite thrown away upon us. A Catholic is the last person in the world, whose word we would take for what is, and for what is not, in the Bible. But it is needless to waste time in addressing The VinDICATOR upon this topic. The two lists of passages which he contrasts may all be inistranslations, for any thing he seems to know about the matter. But although we admit that the passages he has quoted from Protestant translations are all and every one of them errors, the admission will be of little service to the popish cause. Still we say that a translation of a book like the Bible, in which all classes are vitally interested, although it have many faults, is better than no translation. We might say that a perfect or faultless translation of any one book is nowhere to be found: we do say that a perfect or faultless translation of the Bible, now is, and probably will continue to be, a desideratum. We have no right to expect such a translation, because we have no right to expect that the same blessed Spirit who dictated the originals will ever be imparted to any translator, or body of translators, so as to make them infallible. In plain language, Papists are hostile to all translations of the scriptures, whether they be good, bad, or indifferent. They are offended with ours, not because we have missed the meaning in a few passages, but because we have found it in all but a few; not because we have thrown too little light upon the Bible, but because we have thrown too much light upon it. It is the Bible,-the Bible they are against, and not the errors of our translations of it; and for this very good reason, the Bible is against them. But it will be replied, as indeed it has been, that Papists cannot be hostile to all translations of the Bible into modern languages, for they have made and published such translations themselves. Yes, indeed, they have; but such translations as literally tantalize the unlearned reader. He takes up one of them: he goes on a little way, and begins to feel interested; when lo! and behold! he comes to a passage, which, if properly translated, would expose some popish dogma, or some popish ceremony. To prevent the exposure, the prudent translator either retains one or more of the original words, or accompanies his translation of them by a note, which, to the insulted, abused reader, wrests the whole passage, or envelopes it in impenetrable mystery.

who deified the spirits of departed heroes and lawgivers, and made them objects of idolatrous worship, though still considered to be infe. rior to the supreme Deity.

In this respect, popery is nothing else than the ancient heathenism under a new name.

Their saints

occupy

the

very place in their worship that demons, or inferior deities, did in that of ancient Rome; and as every country, and almost every city, had its own tutelar deity, so, in popish countries, every city or province has its patron saint.

· The noblest heathen temple now remaining in the world, is the pantheon, or rotundo; which, as the inscription over the portico informs us, having been impiously dedicated of old by Agrippa to Jove and all the gods, was piously consecrated by Pope Boniface IV. to the blessed virgin and all the saints. With this single alteration, it serves as exactly for all the purposes of the popish, as it did for the Pagan worship, for which it was built. For as, in the old temple, every one might find the god of his country, and address himself to that deity, whose religion he was most devoted to; so it is the same thing now: every one chooses the patron whom he likes best; and one may see here different services going on at the same time, at different altars, with distinct congregations around them, just as the inclinations of the people lead them, to the worship of this or that particular saint.” Middleton's Letter from Rome, 4th ed. p. 161.

"And what better title can the new demigods show to the adoration now paid to them, than the old ones, whose shrines they have usurped? or how comes it to be less criminal to worship images erected by the pope, than those which Agrippa or Nebuchadnezzar set up? If there be any real difference, most people, I dare say, will be apt to determine in favour of the old possessors : for those heroes of antiquity were raised

up

into gods, and received divine honours, for some signal benefits of which they had been the authors to mankind; or the invention of arts and sciences; or of something highly useful and necessary to life : whereas of the Romish saints, it is certain, that many of them were never heard of but in their own legends and fabulous histories; and many more, instead of any service done to mankind, owe all the honours now paid them, to their vices or their errors; whose merit, like that of Demetrius in the Acts, was their skill of raising rebellions in defence of an idol, and throwing kingdoms into convulsions, for the sake of some gainful imposture.

“And as it is in the pantheon, it is just the same in all other heathen temples that still remain in Rome; they have only pulled down one idol to set up another, changing rather the name than the object of their worship. Thus the little temple of Vesta, near the Tiber, mentioned by Horace, is now possessed by the Madonna of the sun; that of Fortuna Virilis, by Mary the Egyptian; that of Saturn, where the public treasure was anciently kept, by St. Adrian; that of Romulus and Remus, in the via sacra, by two other brothers, Cosmus and Damianus; that of Antonine the godly, by Laurence the saint: but, for my part, I had sooner be tempted to prostrate myself before the statue of a Romulus or an Antonine, than that of a Laurence or a Damian; and give divine honours rather, with Pagan Rome, to the founders of empires, than, with popish Rome, to the founders of mo. nasteries.Ibid. pp. 162–164.

« ПредишнаНапред »