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revelation; and the pope himself is not ashamed to lend the sanction of his pretended divine authority to support and recommend the imposture.
The great matter with the pope, and his army of priests, is, to get the poor deluded people to believe that some miraculous virtue resides in the relics which, on certain occasions, are exhibited to their view; to
get them to come and pay their devotions to these relics, and pay their money for the sight of them; for, as I have often said, and proved, there is no blessing to be had from the church of Rome without money:
After all, to let my readers into a secret, it is not necessary that the bones which are actually worshipped as the relics of any particular saint, should really have belonged to that saint. It is enough that the worshipper has an intention of honouring the saint whose bones he supposes them to be; and though they should not be really his, yet if they were dug out of the ground in which he was buried, all the merit which his body possessed is communicated to them. I quote the following from a work entitled, “ Observations on a Journey to Naples.” It is by the author of “The Frauds of Romish Monks and Priests,” who was himself, at one time, a good Papist, and who relates what he knew from personal observation.
" To speak the truth, these are the very reasonings which the gentlemen of Rome, I mean the pope and cardinals, make use of every day, with regard to the holy bodies which they fetched out of the catacombs, and which they send so boldly, and so frequently, to places of their communion, to be worshipped there. These catacombs, in the sense they take them in, are subterranean places, where believers assembled themselves in the times of persecution, and where they buried the corpses of their martyrs; but they also indifferently buried there the bodies of all Christians; so that as these places served them for temples, or places to meet in, so they served them also as church-yards to bury their dead. The popes having, in these last ages, taken into mature consideration, the great gain they reaped from the bones of their saints, had recourse to these places, as to inexhaustible mines, and indifferently seized all the bones they met with there. Yea, their avarice lashed out to that degree, that either not knowing, or not being able to distinguish, the true catacombs, they have gone to search for dead bodies in the common sewers, or subterranean vaults, which were the sinks to carry off the filth of the city, and where in ancient times, they were used to fling the bodies of malefactors, after their execution. True it is, that amongst them were found the bodies of martyrs, which escaped the knowledge of Christians. The popes not having the power to distinguish the one from the other, and to spare themselves a trouble, which besides would have been pure labour lost, by the power of God himself, which they professed themselves to have, metamorphosed them all, dictum factum, into saints. The heathens had also caves and vaults, where they caused themselves to be interred with their whole families; and the greatest part of all these bones are now upon the altars of the Papists under the name of saints, taken up out of the catacombs. And forasmuch as the popes are ignorant of their names, they baptize them anew, and give them a name as best pleaseth them, which is the cause of so many contests and
trials between the priests and the monks, who all pretend, in good time, to be the sole possessors of the primitive saint, of this or the other name. These trials are to be determined at Rome, by means of money, which still inflames the popes with a greater zeal to send as many as they can of these saints into all parts, which one day or other will not fail to furnish them with matter for trials so gainful to them; yea, we may affirm, that there be almost as many trials at Rome, about relics, as about beneficial matters. Now the doctrine which serves to quiet the consciences of the Romanists, from the checks that might torment them, for having exposed, and still daily exposing, such abominable filthinesses upon their altars, is this, that they believe that what St. Paul saith, that the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the believing husband, ought also to be understood of their relics, forasmuch as all the bones, which are found in one vault, are sanctified by their neighbourhood with those of one saint. Or at least if this won't do, they betake themselves to their last shift
, which is this, that a good intention is an abundant excuse for all these petty irregularities in those who continue in the bosom of the church of Rome; so that is enough, according to them, to have a right intention of honouring such a he saint, or she saint, and to receive with reverence and obedience the instruments proposed to them, for to honour them.
"Now the use that the priests and monks of the church of Rome do make of these principles, is this, that there are no bones whatsoever, no, not the bones of an ass, or horse, but they may make relics of them; they need only break a piece of them, and tell you that it is a relic of one of the eleven thousand virgins that suffered martyrdom at Collen, or else one of the soldiers of the Theban legion, who were all cut in pieces at the passage of the Alps, for refusing to sacrifice to Mars, the traveller. They may show you the rib of a sucking pig, and tell you it is a relic of one of the little innocents, who were massacred at our Saviour's birth; or, lastly, tell you that it is the bone of a saint taken out of the catacombs."
“I was once in the abbey of the Trinity at Vendome, in France, when they exposed their treasury of relics. They showed us, among other things, a jaw-bone, which the monks told us was that of St. Magdalene; and a very able physician, who was present at the same time, was ready to maintain to their face, and would forfeit his head, if he did not prove to them, by the texture, scaling, and largeness of the bone, that it never belonged to a human body, but it was a piece of the jaw-bone of some beast or other. But the fathers were so far from desiring him to disabuse them in the case, that they presently popped up another relic, to put him by his displeasing discourse. This relic was that they call the holy tear, which is so famous in that country. The tradition they pretend to have concerning it runs thus, that when our Saviour wept over Lazarus, an angel gathered up his tears, in a small crystal phial, and that having preserved them a long time, he gave them to St. Mary Magdalene, who was then doing penance at a place which is called La Sainte Baume, near to Marseilles; that, in process of time, this relic was carried to Constantinople, where it continued during the reign of the Greek emperor; and being afterwards fallen, together with all the riches of that great city, into the hands of the Turks, a Turkish emperor presented it to Godfrey, earl of Ven
dome, who deposited it in this abbey. It seems by this tradition, that it took many turns before it came thither, and above all, that which s consider is, that it passed through the hands of infidels and enemies to the name of Christ. But for all this the Roman Catholics, and, above all, the monks of that abbey, have not the least doubt or scruple concerning it; but bestow upon it the worship of latria, even the same they give to Jesus Christ himself.” “We viewed this crystal very attentively, holding it up against the light, and afterwards took a view of it at the light of a wax taper, but we could discover nothing of what they were pleased to tell us. They have recourse to this relic in all maladies of the eyes, and upon this account, it brings a vast income to these fathers.
" If all the false relics, which at present are adored in the church of Rome, had voices and could speak, what strange stories should we hear! Some would say, We are the bones of heathens, or of malefactors; others, of horses, asses, dogs, &c. And yet I question, after all this, if they would quit them. They would say, “ It is like that these voices are only the illusions and artifices of the devil, who is envious at the glory that is bestowed on the saints; and that their church being infallible, having proposed these relics to believers to be worshipped, she can neither err in matter of right, or in matter of fact.
"Many English Roman Catholics cannot endure to hear that they bestow adorations upon things that are so very vile and contemptible; but it is only by reason of their ignorance of what passeth in those countries where popery is rampant; for there may be seen things yet far more ridiculous, such as the lantern of Judas; a shoe of St. Joseph; hair, parings of nails, and all manner of excrements of their saints and saintesses. The treasures of their churches are top filled with these kinds of precious relics; and Protestant travellers may make themselves very merry in Italy, if they will give themselves the leisure to go and see the treasures which are kept in their churches, and more especially in the country where the capuchins, and other mendicants, take care to have great store of them. At least, they may be sure to find there, those implements the Papists call Agnus Dei, and almost in every parish one of St. Margaret's girdles. The Agnus Dei's are pieces of white wax, upon which is imprinted the figure of a little lamb, carrying a cross upon his shoulder. The popes bless them in holy week, at Rome, with great ceremony, in memory of the words which St. John the Baptist said of our Saviour, `Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world. They believe, therefore, comformably to this, that these Agnus Dei's do forgive sins; at least those that are not very heinous ones indeed; and they almost pay as great respect to them as they do to the host itself. They carry them in procession, they kneel before them, they pray to them. Secular persons may not touch them with their fingers; they must be priests, or monks, or nuns, to whom the bishop gives this permission and privilege. The nuns make it a great part of their employment to make inclosures of silk for them, very neatly wrought with a needle into all manner of figures, and then they bestow them upon such seculars as present them highest for the sanctification of their souls. And besides the remission of their sins, they are over and above very good to preserve a Roman Catholic from all the evil and accidents
of this life.” Observations on a Journey to Naples; second day's journey
It is an important observation of the above writer, that “many English Roman Catholics cannot endure to hear that they bestow adorations upon things that are so very vile.” The fact is, Papists in Eng. land owe much to their intercourse with Protestants. They are, in consequence of this, more refined, and in some respects, more enlightened than they are aware of. They would shrink from the idea of falling down and adoring some of the articles enumerated in this sheet; but then, instead of abandoning the church which sanctions such abominations, they impudently deny the fact of their existence. They maintain that the faith and worship of their church is the same all the world over; and yet they would be ashamed to worship what is authorized by their religion where it reigns in all its glory.
POPERY A SYSTEM OF FALSEHOOD AND IMPOSITION. ANECDOTE OF PRINCE CHRIS
TOPHER, AND HIS BOX OF RELICS. CATALOGUE OF RELICS THAT BELONGED TO GLASGOW CATHEDRAL. FARTHER IMPOSITIONS. ARGUMENT IN FAVOUR OF RELICS, FROM THE RESPECT PAID TO THE BONES OF THE PROPHET, AND THE BONES OF JOSEPH, conSIDERED.
SATURDAY, July 17th, 1819. THERE are some persons who are surprised by the explicitness with which I charge lying upon Papists as a body; and who think I would do better to abstain from the use of such language. Such persons are not acquainted with the people I have to deal with, or with their writings, else they would be convinced that I could not do them justice without speaking of them as they are, in broad plain English. Papists themselves know that I do them no injustice by accusing them of lying; and they would only laugh at my simplicity, if I were to affect to think otherwise of them. I refer not merely to the instances of falsehood which have come under my own observation, and which attach to individuals only, without being justly chargeable upon the general body. I speak of the system of popery, which is built upon falsehood, is supported by falsehood, and is, in fact, nothing but fraud and falsehood throughout. I do not say that there are not individuals attached to the church of Rome, who have a regard to truth, who would abide by it in their dealings with their neighbours, and who are therefore better than their religion; but I do not hesitate to affirm, that it is impossible for any man to be an active promoter or defender of popery without having recourse to lying and imposition.
Their tricks and miracles are lies, every one of them. The virtue ascribed to their relics is founded on sheer lying and imposition; and when his holiness condescends, or rather presumes, to authenticate a parcel of dry bones, found in the catacombs, or common sewers, to be relics of certain saints, it is nothing less than the head of the church telling lies; and what must that church be whose head practises such an abominable vice?
In my last number, I gave some account of popish relics, or the honour or worship which is given to them, and of the manner in which
some of them were procured. I proceed now to speak of the wonderful things which they are said to have done.
"Prince Christopher, of the family of the dukes of Radzecil, having gone a pilgrimage to Rome, to kiss his holiness' toe, received as a reward of his piety, a box of very precious relics. These, on his return home, became the consolation of the afflicted, and the terror of the devil. Even the most stubborn of those evil spirits, over whom ordinary relics possessed no influence, acknowledged their virtue in bellowings of submission.
“Scarcely had a few months illustrated their power, when some monks with humble entreaty, requested the use of them for the benefit of a man into whom the devil had entered. As the foul fiend stuck to his new habitation with the utmost stubbornness, and disregarded their most potent conjurations, the prince readily complied, and no sooner were they applied to the body of the demoniac, than the devil was forced to decamp. The spectators exclaimed, A miracle! a miracle! and the prince lifted up his hands and heart in pious gratitude to God, for bestowing upon him such a holy and powerful treasure.
“Some time after when the prince was relating to his friends this wonderful deliverance, and extolling the virtues of his relics, one gentleman who had been in his retinue at Rome, discovered uncommon incredulity. Being posed to account for his rejecting such plain evidence as attended this transaction, he told him that in returning from Rome, he had unluckily lost the box of relics which had been intrusted to his care. To screen himself, therefore, from his resentment, he had provided another exactly similar, and filled it with bones and little trinkets; and this was the identical box which had wrought such wonders.
“Next morning, the prince sent for the monks, and asked, if they know any other demoniac who needed his relics. A person of this description was easily found; for the devil, in popish countries, is particularly remarkable for his spirit of opposition, and is generally to be found nestling in the neighbourhood of relics. When the monks produced the demoniac, the prince caused him to be exorcised in his presence, but without effect. The devil kept his birth with all the obstinacy of a mule, and would neither be moved by threats nor coaxing. The prince then ordered the monks to withdraw, and delivered the demoniac to some Tartars whom he kept about his stable, with orders to give the devil his due. At first the devil thought to terrify them by his horrible gestures and grimaces; but these Tartars used their whips with such faithfulness as the devil never witnessed before. Having never dreamed of such a mode of exorcising, he found himself taken on the weak side; and, therefore, without the use of either relics, hard words, or holy water, he began to cry for quarter, and confessed that the monks had hired him to personate a character which he was ill qualified to sustain.
"The prince again requested the presence of the monks, and produced to them the man, who threw himself at his feet, and acknowledged the imposture. They at first declared this to be only an artifice of the devil, who employed the organs of this man to propagate such a falsehood, to the discredit of religion. But when the prince told them, how necessary it was to exorcise the father of lies out of them