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papal antichristian power can be established. “And then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming Even him whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be condemned who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thess. ii. 3—12. They were first guilty of the wickedness of not receiving the love of the truth. The expression implies positive hatred of the truth; that is, of the gospel. It was a positive dislike of God's method of salvation by Christ alone, without regard to merit on their part. This is the most heinous wickedness; but having chosen this fatal error, and refusing to be reclaimed, God inflicted the righteous punishment of leaving them to the influence of the father of lies, who seduced them to believe one delusion after another, till he brought the church of Rome to that monstrous height of wickedness which she exhibited to enslaved Europe, at the period of the reformation; and which she still exhibits in every country in which the spirit of delusion has room to operate at his pleasure.
Thus we see, that instead of promising security against such an apostasy as that which is justly ascribed to the church of Rome, it was declared by the inspired apostle, that such should be the consequence of certain errors which began to be broached in his own time, but which were more extensively propagated after the death of all the apostles; which soon affected all the churches, and prepared the way
for that man of sin, and son of perdition, who established his dominion, not only over the churches, but also over the kings of the earth.
The fallacy of the argument, if argument it may be called, may be shown in another way. It is urged, that if the Romish religion were not the true one, God would not have suffered it to prevail so extensively, and continue so long. But the same argument will apply to the religion of Mahomet, which has existed nearly as long, and been as widely diffused as that of Rome. I believe there are more Mahometans than Papists in the world; and though popery appeared a little sooner, the two systems were perfected nearly about the same time. A Mussulman, therefore, may argue, that if my religion were not the true one, it would not have been so extensively propagated, or so long maintained in the world.
But both must give way to pure heathenism. She has a better claim to antiquity and universality, than either Mahomet or the pope. These are mere upstarts in comparison of Fohi and Zoroaster, and the other fathers of pagan worship; and as for the number of their adherents, I am persuaded Rome cannot muster one to ten of the heathen. Rome boasts of holding the catholic, or universal religion; and she holds forth this as a proof of her being the true church; but heathenism has ten times a better right to the term catholic; because it was for many ages the religion of the whole world, with the exception of a small country, not so large as Scotland; and because it is at this day the religion of at least three-fourths of the human race. A heathen, therefore, might use the argument which I am combating,
with much more force than any one else :-“ If my religion were not the true one, God would not have suffered it to prevail over the whole world, and continue for four or five thousand years.” Our modern Papists, and their Protestant advocates, will, I hope, answer this heathen argument, before they again attempt to defend popery on the ground of its antiquity and universality.
I shall ascend a step higher, in order to expose the folly of this popish argument. It is known that the whole world lieth in wickedness. All flesh hath corrupted its way. Wickedness prevails universally in the earth, and has done so ever since there was a race of men upon it. The sect of sinners, if I may use the expression, is more ancient than even heathenism, and also more extensive, as they are to be found in every other sect, not excepting the Protestant part of the world. If, therefore, antiquity and universality will prove the truth of a system, the wicked of all nations and sects have a better plea than the church of Rome.
It will be replied, that Christ has promised to preserve his church from fatal error, and final apostasy; that he has given no such promise to Mahometans or heathens; and therefore that his church having this promise, can appeal to it, as well as to the fact of her existence for many ages, in proof of her divine origin. It is true, Christ has promised to preserve his church, and to be present with her to the end of the world; but this is not the church of Rome, nor the church of any other city or nation, nor all the churches in the world put together, unless they hold by Christ as the Head, and do what he has commanded. Any company, however great, or however small, is his church, if they hold fast ihe confidence, (or faith in him,) and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end, Heb. iii. 6, 14.
There is a promise, that Christ shall have a seed to serve him in all generations. These he will keep by his mighty power through faith unto salvation. But there is no promise of perpetuity to the church of Rome, or any other church known by an earthly name. Nay, we know in point of fact, that churches which were planted by apostles, and favoured by their personal ministry, have perished from the earth ; and we find in the New Testament, that the standing of any church is connected with their holding the faith of the gospel, which, if they let go, Christ will fulfil his word by leaving them to all the consequences of their apostasy. It was to the church in Rome that the apostle Paul said, “ Thou standest by faith; be not highminded, but fear; for if God spared not the natural branches, (the church of the Jews,) take heed lest he also spare not thee.” Rome did become high-minded, and has been long, not only cut off from the spiritual body of Christ, but has actually become the enemy of Christ, and has a name given her by divine authority, “ Mystery, Babylon, the mother of harlots, and abominations of the earth."
Having occupied this entire number with introductory matter, I shall proceed, in my next, to that branch of popish idolatry that consists in worshipping relics.
RELICS IN THE ROMISH CHURCH. WORSHIP THAT IS PAID TO THEM, AND THE USES TO
WHICH THEY ARE APPLIED. CURIOUS CATALOGUE OF RELICS. IMPOSITIONS PRACTISED WITH THEM, ON THE TESTIMONY OF A CONVERT FROM POPERY.
SATURDAY, July 10th, 1819. The Protestant has not the privilege of being, like the man with the short face who wrote the Spectator, entirely unknown by person. He has, however, sometimes been placed in situations in which he could hear what people said of him, without being known to be present. He was much gratified one evening, in the shop of his publishers, by hearing a decent looking man tell the shopman, that he was so much taken with THE PROTESTANT, that he had given up the use of tobacco that he might be able to buy it, for he could not afford to indulge himself with both.
On entering into conversation with this man, I found he was well acquainted both with popery and Papists; and to use his own expression, he was “unco chief wi' some o' them.” He told me that one day he looked into their chapel in a neighbouring town, which had recently been opened; that the beadle very kindly showed him all the excellences of the sacred building, and feeling, no doubt, the importance attached to his own person, while he had the charge of the holy place, he said “We have all things very complete here, except one ihing which we want, that is relics, we have no relics." This officer, no doubt spoke the mind of his superiors; and from this we learn the important truth, that relics are considered necessary to the completeness, or perfection, of a popish chapel. How near Mr. Scott has brought his to perfection I cannot tell.
By relics we are to understand certain remains of the bodies, or of the dress or furniture of persons who were renowned in their day; and also of some who were renowned only after their death. It is not easy to define the precise degree of worship which devout Papists give to relics. The objects themselves are so multifarious, and the degree of value which is attached to each, depends so much upon the fancy of the worshipper, that it can scarcely be reduced to a system. As my friend, Mr. M'Culloch observes, “a great deal must be left to the judgment of the simple faithful. Thus, for example," says he, " there must be some difference in the worship offered to the parings of St. Edmund's toes, and that given to the coals which roasted St. Laurence, or to the stones preserved among the Glastonbury relics, as the identical stones which the devil tempted Christ to turn into bread. Some we know are to receive divine worship; for, says Aquinas, 'if we speak of the very cross upon which Christ was crucified, it is to be worshipped with divine worship; both as it represents Christ, and touched the members of his body, and was sprinkled with his blood: and for these reasons, we both speak to the cross, and pray to it, as if it were Christ crucified upon it.' P.3, Qu. 25, Art. 4. But others, intended merely to terrify the witches, cure the diseases of cattle, kill vermin, and serve other little necessary purposes, must receive a veneration suited to the nature of their uses.
There is no part of popery that depends so much upon downright lying and imposition, as that upon which I am now entering; and there is no part of the system that gives such an humbling view of the beastly prostration of human intellect. When the prophet Ezekiel saw in vision (chap. viii.) the idolatrous Jews worshipping “ every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel,” he saw little more than what is practised every day in popish countries, where the wretched and delnded people pay their devotions to rotten rags, to the decayed bones of human carcasses, and to all manner of nastiness, the very mention of which would fill with loathing the mind of every human being that is not brutified by an abominable superstition.
I have before me a catalogue of some hundreds of relics, which are objects of popish devotion in several churches in France, Spain, and Italy. Many of them are too gross to appear in a modern publication, though the editors of a periodical work (The Philosophical Library) have lately polluted some pages of very fine paper, by inserting several articles, which, for decency's sake, they might have omitted. The least offensive, are the arms, fingers, legs, and toes, of certain saints; and some of them must have had as many limbs as a centipede; for in Flanders, Spain, and France, there are no fewer than eight arms of St. Matthew, which would of course produce forty fingers, and these would enrich as many churches. The author of one catalogue in my possession, assures his readers, that he himself had seen three arms of St. Luke; and he could not tell how many St. Thomas à Becket had.
Such relics are considered the treasure of the churches to which they belong; and in fact they bring no small gain to the church, as great sums are received annually from devout pilgrims, who come hundreds of miles to feast their eyes and warm their devotion by looking upon those limbs, which would have been more honoured by being allowed to rest quietly in the earth.
They have, however, many things besides fragments of human bodies; and some articles are of great antiquity, which one would think could not possibly be in existence, or find their way into what is called Christendom; but when the pope has said that they are what they are called, the simple faithful have nothing to do or say, but to believe what they are told. For instance, they have in the church of Lateran, in Rome, the ark of the Lord which Moses made in the wilderness, together with the rod of Moses; and they profess to show in the same church, the identical table on which our Lord ate the last supper with his disciples. Though this table is shown entire in Rome, there are pieces of it in both Spain and Flanders. I suppose no Papist doubts that a thing may be entirely in one place, and partly, or even wholly, in another at the same time. For instance, they believe that the whole body of Christ is in every place where the mass is celebrated, and in every particle of every consecrated wafer, though it were broken into a thousand pieces, and scattered to the winds. There is, therefore, nothing incredible in the story of the miraculous table, which has done many wonderful things, if we may believe the Jesuits.
Upon the high altar in the said Lateran church, there stand the heads of the apostles Peter and Paul; and whenever these are shown to the people, there are so many pardons and indulgences granted.
Though the heads be in Rome, there is a great piece of the skull of Peter in the possession of the Augustines in Bilboa, and of that of Paul in the possession of the Franciscans in the same city; and I believe Peter has an entire head somewhere else.
It is by no means my intention to disgust my readers with a complete catalogue of the trumpery in which the wealth of many a church consists. I shall merely mention a few of the most harmless, and then proceed to describe the use which is made of them. The Augustine friars in Burgos are said to have the Virgin Mary's chamberpot, which they regard as a very precious relic; but whether they honour it with hyperdulia, that is, the same degree of adoration as they give to the virgin herself, I cannot say. In St. Peter's church they have the cross of the good thief, somewhat wormeaten; Judas' lantern, a little scorched; the dice the soldiers played with, when they cast lots for our Saviour's garment; the tail of Balaam's ass; St. Joseph's axe, saw, and hammer, and a few nails he had not driven; St. Anthony's millstone, on which he sailed to Muscovy. These are taken from a catalogue dated 1753; and I presume the articles remain there still, though I cannot prove the fact. The same catalogue contains the following, among hundreds more, which enrich different churches; part of the wood of the cross, a little decayed; and a nail of the same. There are said to be as many pieces of the timber of the true cross in different parts of Europe, as would supply a town with fuel for a winter. Part of the manna in the wilderness; and some blossoms of Aaron's rod. The arm of St. Simeon, ill kept. The image of the blessed virgin drawn by St. Luke, the features all visible; one of her combs; and twelve combs of the twelve apostles, all very little used. Some relics of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The arm and some part of the body of Lazarus; ill kept, and smells. A part of the body of St. Mark; and a part of his gospel, of his own handwriting, almost legible. A finger and an arm of St. Ann, the blessed virgin's mother. A piece of the virgin's veil, as good as new. The staff delivered by our Lord to St. Pa. trick, with which he drove all the venomous creatures out of Ireland. Some of St. Joseph's breath, which an angel enclosed in a phial, as he was cleaving wood violently; which was so long adored in France, and since brought to Venice, and from Venice to Rome. The head of St. Dennis, which he carried two miles, after it was cut off, under his arm, from Montmartre to St. Dennis. A piece of the
Judas hanged himself with. Large parcels of the blessed virgin's hair. Great quantities of her milk; some butter, and a small cheese made of it, which never decays, &c. &c. Phil. Lib. June, 1818.
These precious relics are solemnly certified to be what they are said to be; and many of them have proved themselves genuine by most stupendous miracles; all which is piously believed by their devout worshippers. I appeal to every man of common sense, whether he can imagine a system of more palpable and abominable falsehood than that which is he exhibited ? It is impossible that any one of the articles which I have enumerated can be verified or proved to be what it is called. There is not one of them entitled even to the credit of probability, few of them to that of possibility; and yet the priests of the churches in which they are deposited, will assert their authenticity with more confidence than they will maintain any article of divine