Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

must the poor Papists have of heaven, when they suppose the saints would leave it to drudge after such matters ?

The division of labour among the saints which is appointed by the church of Rome, is very much like that of the servants in a great house or palace, such, for instance, as Holyrood house in Edinburgh, where one servant is not allowed to show the whole building to a stranger; but where different persons are in waiting, with the keys of their respective apartments; one shows you a suite of rooms, receives his fee, and turns you over to another, who shows you the great gallery of paintings; he having received his fee, turns you over to an old woman, who shows you the ruins of the chapel, and the shankbone of Darnly, and she also must have her fee; —such at least was the practice twenty years ago; and such is the canonical practice of Romish saints in all ages. Non omnia possumus omnes,—one cannot do all, says one of their learned men; (Gab. Biel. in can. lect. 32,) and therefore they will sometimes direct clients to other saints; as once St. Peter sent a woman to a sacrist he had at Rome, for the cure of her palsy; and it is upon this ground, that devout persons are directed to several saints for their several exigencies, to the end that every saint may have his share in the worship. This they call a discreet variety, honourable to the church and advantageous to her poor members. One prays to St. Peter for the gift of submission: to St. Agnes for continency: to our Lady St. Ann for wealth: to St. Margarite for child-bearing: to St. Rochus against the plague: to St. Petronilla against the ague: to St. Apollonia against the toothache: to St. Liberius against the stone: and so to every saint for the help that is in his way. Bachelors must not go to St. Peter, because he was a married man; nor married men to St. John, because he was a bachelor: but let every one go to a saint of his own tribe; a widow to a widow saint, and a soldier to one of his trade, for this is the humour of Romish saints, to favour their own companions.

According to this economy, there is not one Romanist but may pretend to march under the colours of several saints. For example, a native of Paris has as fair a title as Rome can give to the protection of St. Michael, St. Denis, and our lady, who are understood to rule that kingdom: of St. Genevieve, that more especially looks to Paris; of St. Germain, or St. Thomas, or St. Sulpice, if he either be born or reside in these parishes: of St. Cosmus, and St. Damian, if he practise physic: of St. Ottilia and St. Lucia, when his ears and eyes trouble him; and of St. Mathurin also, if he be troubled with folly. Over and above these, he may be sure of other saints, St. Dominick, St. Celestin, St. Francis, and twenty more, by matriculating his name into their confraternities, which he may do for a small matter. See Bel. de Sanct. Beati.Gab. Biel.-Salmero 1 ad Tim.-Salazar, Prov. cap. 8, v. 18. &c. fc. as referred to by Brevint in Saul and Samuel at Endor. Pages 72–74.

CHAPTER XLVI.

THE NUMBER OF OBJECTS OF WORSHIP IN THE PAPAL CHURCH CREATES CONFUSION, AND

18 AT VARIANCE WITH THE UNITY AND SIMPLICITY OF THE WORSHIP ENJOINED IN SCRIPTURE. PAPISTS WORSIIP CERTAIN SAINTS WHO NEVER EXISTED. EXAMPLES OF VIAR, AMPHIBOLUS, AND VERONICA. REFLECTIONS ON THE NATURE OF WORSHIP. WHERE THE SPIRIT IS WANTING, MEN ARE PRONE TO SUBSTITUTE THE FORM.

SATURDAY, May 29th, 1819. What the church of Rome calls a discreet variety in her objects of worship, could produce nothing but confusion and distraction in the minds of those who know what real religious worship is. It is the glory of Christianity, as opposed to all idolatry, that it teaches the worship of one living and true God, and that it makes known to the guilty children of men the way of access to him, by one Mediator, who has made atonement for the sins of his people; who is worthy to stand between an offended God and his offending creatures,—to make intercession for the latter, and to bring them into the blessed state of reconciliation with their Creator. Christ having made peace by the blood of his cross, came and preached peace to the Gentiles who were far off, as well as to the Jews who were nigh; for through him, both Jews and Gentiles have access by one Spirit unto the Father, Eph. ii. 17, 18. Those who believe in Christ, that is, those who are really Christians, are brought into this state of peace and reconciliation with God. They trust in God, and hope in him. They are instructed, in every thing, by prayers and supplications, to make their requests known unto God, Phil. iv. 6. Nay, they are invited to come boldly to the throne of grace, that they may obtain mercy and find grace to help them in time of need, Heb. iv. 16. They possess a confidence and steadfast reliance upon him as their Almighty Saviour, and allsufficient portion. Their confdence is that of children in a father whom they love, and whom they know loves them. To send them to a creature for help, be that creature ever so exalted, would be to seduce them from their allegiance to their God and Father ;-a crime that can find a parallel only in the successful attempt of the devil against our first parents; and a crime in which the church of Rome has been deplorably successful, to the ruin of millions of immortal souls.

Popish worship is not the affectionate approach of a child to a gracious father, but the sullen averted look of a slave, who dares not approach his master but through the medium of some fellow-creature, who, he supposes, stands higher in favour than himself, and whose good word, he thinks, will promote his interest with his master. I need not tell those who understand the Bible, that this is not the worship of the true God at all. To say that God is too great to admit of direct approach in the name of Christ, and that he is accessible to sinners through the medium of mere creatures, is a false representation of him; and to worship the true God under a false character, is as really idolatry as to worship a false god. Of this the church of Rome is notoriously guilty; and this is not merely a human error grafted upon a divine religion, as some of their fooleries are supposed to be. It is a

radical and fundamental error, which declares popery to be quite a different, and an opposite religion ;-to be, in short, that antichrist that should come into the world.

In lieu of that spiritual divine worship which is enjoined by the word of God, Papists are taught to worship they know not what; and they are so madly set upon their idols, that they have multiplied to themselves gods, more than the heathen whom they have supplanted. Not satisfied with those who are known to have been saints on earth, and who we believe are now glorified in heaven, such as the apostles of Christ, they have added multitudes of names whose saintship and whose very existence is doubtful: to these they address their idolatrous prayers and supplications, and in these they put their trust for preservation from evil, and for obtaining both temporal and spiritual benefits.

That Papists are taught to worship they know not what, is evident from their worshipping

certain saints of whose existence there is not the shadow of evidence, which comes directly under the Apostle Paul's description of an idol,—that it is nothing in the world. “ The Spaniards, it seems,

have a saint held in great reverence, in some parts of Spain, called VIAR; for the farther encouragement of whose worship, they solicited the pope to grant some special indulgen. ces to his altars: and upon the pope's desiring to be better acquainted first with his character, and the proofs which they had of his saintship, they produced a stone with these antique letters, S. VIAR, which the antiquaries readily saw to be a small fragment of some old Roman inscription in memory of one who had been PrefectuS Viarum, or overseer of the highways.” Middleton's Letters, page 173.

This St. Viar, or Viarius, was, notwithstanding, worshipped for I do not know how many ages. “Over the bishop's sepulchre is a table of stone, upon which the mass was wont to be sacrificed in honour of his saintship, whom they call Viarius; and hither came all persons who were pained about the loins, and were invariably cured. When Ressendius, who designed to publish his life along with those of the other saints, visited the spot with a view to pick up information, he inquired of the priests if they possessed any records or inscriptions respecting St. Viarius. Upon this he was directed to the table over his sepulchre; which was inscribed with a Latin epitaph of considerable length. But Ressendius, who happened to be better acquainted with Latin inscriptions than the priests, soon discovered that the celebrated tomb of St. Viarius contained only the heathenish carcasses of two menders of Roman highways. Information was immediately sent to Cardinal Alphonsus, at that time bishop of Evora, who ordered the place to be shut up, to the great discontent of all the simple faithful who were pained about the loins.” M'Culloch Pop. Cond. p. 345. "Such legendary lore drew from a learned man of the Romish church the following complaint. “There is also another error not unfrequent. that the common people, neglecting in a manner the ancient and known saints, worship more ardently the new and unknown, of whose holi ness we have but little assurance, and of whom we know some only by revelations; so that it is justly doubted of several, that they never eristed at all.'» Cassand. Consult. p. 971, quoted by M'Culloch, p. 346. This is an important concession by a popish writer. He speaks

as if it were universally admitted that the ancient and known saints should be worshipped; he finds fault only with the prevailing practice of worshipping those upstart saints who were unknown, and of whose existence there was no evidence.

“We have in England," says Middleton, p. 174, "an instance still more ridiculous, of a fictitious saintship, in the case of a certain saint called Amphibolus; who, according to monkish historians, was bishop of the Isle of Man, and fellow-martyr and disciple of St. Alban; yet the learned Bishop Usher has given good reasons to convince us, that he owes the honour of his saintship to a mistaken passage in old acts or legends of St. Alban: where the Amphibolus mentioned, and since reverenced as a saint and martyr, was nothing more than a cloak, which Alban happened to have at the time of his execution ; being a word derived from the Greek, and signifying a rough shaggy cloak, which ecclesiastical persons usually wore in that age.” Middleton, page 174.

“They pretend to show here at Rome,” says the same author, “two original impressions of our Saviour's face, on two different handkerchiefs; the one, sent a present by himself to Agbarus, prince of Edessa, who by a letter had desired a picture of him; the other, given by him at the time of his execution, to a saint or holy woman named Veronica, upon a handkerchief which she had lent him to wipe his face on that occasion: both of which handkerchiefs are still preserved, as they affirm, and now kept with much reverence; the first in St. Sylvester's church; the second in St. Peter's; where in honour of this sacred relic, there is a fine altar, built by Pope Urban VIII., with a statue of Veronica herself."* “But, notwithstanding the authority of the pope, and his inscription, this VERONICA, as one of their best authors has shown, like Amphibolus before mentioned, was not any real person, but the name given to the picture itself, by the old writers who mention it; being formed by blundering and confounding the words VERA Icon, or true image, the title inscribed, perhaps, or given originally to the handkerchief, by the first contrivers of the imposture." Page 176.

Thus, in their rage for multiplying objects of worship, Papists have set up some that never had any real existence. This is no less impious and absurd than the conduct of the grossest idolaters among savage tribes, who worship a piece of wood or a piece of stone. These worship the works which their own hands have made; Papists worship the creatures which their own imaginations have formed: and there is this difference in favour of the savages, that they have not the means of knowing better; while the Papists continue their idolatries notwithstanding the enlightened state of Europe, and the repeated exposure which has been made of their absurdities and impieties.

But I cannot allow Papists even the small advantage of being more intellectual in their idolatries than the untutored savage; for they do worship wood, and stone, and paste, which their own hands have made. They have not only set up idols which they call saints, but

* There is a Latin inscription which it is unnecessary to quote here. The following is a note by the author :-" There is a prayer in their books of offices, ordered by the rubric to be addressed to this sacred and miraculous picture, in the following terms.

Conduct us, O thou blessed figure, to our proper home, where we may behold the pure face of Christ.'”

they have set up images of these saints, and they fall down and wor. ship before them. Nay, so far do they degrade themselves, that they worship “cast clouts and old rotten rags,” if they can persuade themselves that these were part of the clothing, or had touched the body of any of their idols. But as the subject of worshipping images and relics deserves the honour of a paper by itself, I shall not enter upon it here.

I have just said, that to worship the true God under a false character, is as really idolatry as to worship a false god; and I intend to dilate a little on this subject, as it is one of great importance; and as I am afraid many, who are not Papists, will be convicted of this error.

All true and acceptable worship proceeds from the true knowledge of the object of worship. He that cometh to God must not only believe in his existence, but must believe that of him which he has been pleased to reveal in his word; he must know his true character as it is there exhibited; and if any man profess to approach to him without this knowledge and belief

, he is not approaching to the true God, but to an idol of his own fancy. He may form in his own mind an idea of that great Being to whom he addresses himself; but if his idea of God be not that which is declared by his own word, that which is exhibited in such endearing characters in the gospel of Christ, it is not the God of the Bible whom he is worshipping; and as there is no other living and true God, he is worshipping an idol,a thing that has no existence.

It is only in the gospel of Christ that God is represented in such characters as to warrant and encourage us to approach to him, and to worship him with the hope of being accepted. We must not forget that we are estranged from God, and enemies to him; and that he is justly offended with us. In this state of estrangement there can be no friendly intercourse between heaven and earth. We cannot approach to him as holy angels, who never offended him, do; nor will he aecept of the homage or worship of enemies and rebels. This is the state in which the gospel finds the whole human race; and this message

mercy makes known the expedient devised by infinite Wisdom for effecting our reconciliation. This was no less than the gift of his own Son; he gave him up to the death to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness. Every man who believes this on the authority of the divine record, and submits to the righteousness of God, has his sins forgiven; he is reconciled; he receives a new heart and a right spirit; and in the exercise of faith and cordial repentance, on account of his many transgressions, he is enabled, by divine grace, to worship God in simplicity and godly sincerity. Such worship is graciously accepted. Jesus Christ is the only medium of it. He is the one Mediator between God and man. His righteousness alone is the footing on which our persons and services are accepted; and his intercession alone is available to our spiritual advantage.

I am aware that every Papist, and many a nominal Protestant, will cry out against this as cant and nonsense. No matter : It is just what the plain truth of divine revelation has been from the beginning of the world, in the esteem of those who did not like to worship God in the way which he himself had prescribed; who in fact did not like

of

« ПредишнаНапред »