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RECAPITULATON.- REPLY TO PAX:--KILRAVACK BULL. INDULGENCES.
RAPACITY AND CRUELTY OF THE PRIESTS. DOUAY CATECHISM ON PENANCE, CONFESSION, AND INDULGENCE. PAPISTS DISREGARD THE MERITS AND MEDIATION OF CARIST. THE BIBLE A PROHIBITED BOOK.
SATURDAY, July 18th, 1818. My controversy with the Papists originated in a paragraph, sup posed to be written by one of them, in the Glasgow Chronicle, relating to an Oratorio, which had been performed in their chapel, for the benefit of the Catholic Schools. A few remarks made on that paragraph brought forth a reply from Amicus VERITATIS; and another letter from me produced a second from a person, under the same signature, and one by another Papist, under the signature of Pax. The controversy was continued in the Glasgow Chronicle, till it began to assume a shape, and take an extent of range, such as to render it impossible that the editor of a public journal could give place to the discussion with any degree of regularity. I have, therefore, determined to publish a paper every Saturday, under the above title; and if I am favoured by the countenance of the public, I may continue to do so for some considerable time.
I intend to follow my opponents through all their windings__to refute what they assert, and confirm what they deny ; for their letters hitherto consist of little more than bare assertion, and bare denial, with a good deal of abuse, in which it has been my study not to imitate them; for though I have written, and may still write, with great severity against the system of popery, and the wickedness of its abettors in general, I have abstained from attacking individuals by name, whether ancient or modern, while they (at least one of them,) have poured a torrent of abuse against the persons of men, to whom the world is indebted for all that it enjoys this day of civil and religious liberty.
The present paper is published in the form in which it was intended for the Glasgow Chronicle of last Tuesday.
SIR-I now sit down to answer the letter of your correspondent, Pax, which appeared in your paper of June 18th. He has a quotation from Addison, which I do not profess to understand, in its connexion with other matter. He talks of my fallacious assertions—my prejudices-venom of prejudice—my spirit of persecution-my absurd
sophistry—the unholy edifice which I have reared with my own hands, at the expense of my neighbours' nicest feelings
of my own integrity as a writer, and my charity as a christian. I do not profess to answer this. I never studied at Billingsgate college; and have little skill in the art of calling names. I am quite deaf to the cry of bigotry which is reiterated in every letter of my opponents. The continued outcry by Papists against bigotry, reminds me of the thief who was the first and the loudest to cry "Catch thief !” that he might remove suspicion from himself
, and escape in the crowd. He accuses me of arguing upon mere suspicion, without the support of a single fact; and being silent upon those truths which are opposed to my fallacious assertions. Pax was here cutting before the point. The letter which he was answering, was professedịy an introduction to a series of letters, in which I promised to go over, and answer, all the objectionable matter contained in his letter, and that of his friend, A. V. It was rather too much to expect that the introduction should contain all that the work was meant to contain: yet such seems to have been the expectation of Mr. Pax. I hope he will read over all the letters which I have since written on the subject, and if he does not confess, I think he ought to confess, that I have given of facts quantum sufficit.
He seems to enjoy his triumph very heartily; and far should I be from depriving him of any enjoyment which he may have in this controversy. It seems “ every impartial observer must have been struck with the very feeble resistance which I had made in my
former letter. He defied me to produce the Kilravack Bull, with the meaning I had ascribed to it. This would have been very fair, if I had said the bull was in my possession, or in the possession of any person to whom I had immediate access. All that I asserted was, that a reverend gentleman hadassured me he had seen it, and that such were its contents. This gentleman is willing to meet with Pax any day, and maintain his assertion, and to bring other witnesses to vouch for the fact. In short, the document has been seen by hundreds; and Pax may see it himself, if he shall please to make a pilgrimage to Kilravack. I venture to assure him, he will find it as good for his soul as a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Loretta, and far less expensive.
He makes some insinuations here, which ought not to be passed over slightly. He speaks as if he took me for a jesuit
, who could shuffle and quibble, and say the thing which is not; in short he means it to be understood, that I had asserted what I could not make good concerning this bull; and that I had recourse to the mean subterfuge of slurring over the matter with an apology on account of the absence of my witness. I think Pax would not, on such slight grounds, have made this uncandid insinuation, if he had not been habituated to the quibbling, shuffling arts to which Papists always have recourse, in the defence of their system. It is not easy for an honest man to suspect his neighbour of dishonesty; but a rogue suspects all who are about him. If Pax be an honest man, he will confess that he has wronged his neighbour, and I shall not insist on his doing penance: at least, he shall not, if I can help it, be obliged to walk round his chapel on his bare knees, as some of his brethren and sisters in Ireland do, till the blood flow from the flesh stuck full of small stones.
He also defied me to prove, that by an indulgence is meant the remission of sin. Without quibbling about the popish meaning of the word indulgence, I have proved from a variety of documents, to which I refer him, that the pope and his bishops claimed and exercised the power of granting the remission of sins to those who paid them for it. I have proved that an indulgence, or permission to commit the grossest sins, might have been procured for half a guinea. I have proved in the words of a celebrated divine of the Romish church (see your paper of June 23d,) that of the greatest crimes, there were some that persons might have liberty to commit for money, while absolution from all of them, after they had been committed, might be bought. This fact, and the existence of the book which contained the price of pardon for certain sins, are asserted by Claude D'Espence; and A. V. slurs this over without any remark, while he is calling all my other documents forgeries. If Pax be able to look a heretic in the face, I invite him to call on me, and I will show him such a list of pardons proclaimed, and of course granted, to all who would purchase them, as perhaps he never saw in his life. For instance, “ Pope Sextus hath given and granted to every brother and sister that shall visit the said altar (that is, the great altar of St. Hilary,) upon the 2d day of June, and the 16th day of July, every year, for every of the said days, a plenary remission of all their sins." “ Pope Innocent hath granted to the said brothers and sisters, upon Easter-day, and eight days following, four thousand years of quarantains, and remission of the third part of all their sins. Item, he hath granted to Twelfth-day, and the octaves thereof, five thousand years: to the day of the nativity of our Lady, and the octaves of it, thirty thousand years of true pardon.”—“Pope Sextus IV. hath granted to the said brothers and sisters that shall visit the said altar in the church of St. Hilary, on which the blessed sacrament of the altar standeth, upon any of the festivals of our Lady, from the first vespers to the second, plenary pardon of all their sins. Imprimis, the first day of Lent, three thousand years of true pardon, and plenary remis. sion of his sins, over and above. Thursday, ten thousand years. Friday, ten thousand years. The first Sunday in Lent, eighteen thousand years of pardon and remission of all his sins to boot. Monday, ten thousand years, and a plenary indulgence. Tuesday, twenty-eight thousand years, and as many quarantains (or periods of forty days) and the remission of the third part of their sins, and the delivery of one soul out of purgatory," &c. &c. &c. See Eccles. Hist. France, 4to. p. 222—224. There are several quarto pages of such matter: the above is extracted merely as a sample.
Who would not imagine from this, that the pope possessed an infinite fullness of grace and mercy? This, indeed, is what he wished to be understood. He placed himself in the seat of God, showing himself as God-able to open and shut the gates of heaven at his pleasure. But when any poor sinner came to claim the benefit of that grace which the pope possessed in such abundance, he found there was no grace for him, unless he could pay for it, which made it in fact no grace at all. Christ invites the chief of sinners to come to him, and receive all the blessings of salvation, without money and without price; but the pope in this, as in every other part of his system, is antichrist, that is, opposed to Christ,--there is no pardon, no blessing of any kind, to be obtained from him, except in some rare instances, without money. Such is the cruelty of the system-such is the hard-hearted. ness of the whole priesthood, that, though they profess to have the power of releasing souls froin the pains of purgatory, they will not do it without payment. Not to speak of christian principle, no man of ordinary humanity would suffer his neighbour to remain one hour under the pain of the tooth ache, if he could afford relief; but thousands of souls may lie wallowing in the fiery lake for thousands of years; and though the priests have the power, not one will move a finger to release them, till he be paid for it. There is no need of colouring here; the monstrous deformity of the system appears on its very front.
The only apology that can be made for the priests is, that they do not themselves believe in purgatory. If this apology be sustained, then they are guilty of robbing the poor people who confide in them, by means of lies and imposition. If they do believe in purgatory, and that the souls in it suffer greater misery than any creature can suffer in this world; and if, believing this, they will not grant the relief which they can grant, till some poor relative has parted with his last shilling as a price for it, then the priests stand convicted of a cruelty of disposition which will scarcely find a parallel among the most bar. barous savages.
In the above quotations, there are so many thousand years of true pardon granted to those who shall visit the altar; but it is well known, that the visiting of the altar was nothing but for the gift that was left at the altar. The expression true pardon, too, which is often repeated, seems to intimate that there was such a thing as false pardon, or pardon falsely granted, which is perhaps the only true thing which the poor people were taught to believe.
Pax, in a parenthesis, gives us a piece of very important information :-“A person in sin cannot derive the benefit of an indulgence." It is well known that indulgences have been given to thousands. Is it then to be understood, that all the persons to whom they were granted, were in a state of sinless purity ? Certainly; otherwise, according to Pax's own showing, the indulgence was of no use; and those who bought such favours were swindled out of their money. From this plain avowal of the popish doctrine, we are led to the conclusion, that every person to whom an indulgence is granted, is, in the esteem of the church, a sinless person. He was brought into this state by means of the sacrament of penance, and the absolution of the priest : he is taught to believe that the priest really can grant such absolution; and that there is a virtue in the sacrament of penance fully adequate to cancel all his guilt. Now, suppose it possible that persons so absolved and purified are still sinners, notwithstanding the mysterious process which they have undergone-a supposition by no means irrelevant; and supposing they should die in this state, they are undone forever: and the church has swindled them not only out of their money, but out of their everlasting happiness. It was foretold of this church, that her traffic would be in “the souls of men;" and who can tell how many millions of souls she has sold to perdition!
To direct a sinner to any thing but the merits of Christ for the pardon of sin, is to deceive him; and if he be so simple as to believe
what he is told, he is utterly undone. The church of Rome stands convicted of thus deceiving and ruining those that confide in her. Some unknown friend has sent me, through the Chronicle office, a Douay Catechismn, from which I abstract the following, on the subject of penance. Q. What is penance ? A. A sacrament by which the sins we fall into, after baptism, are forgiven us.-Q. When did Christ ordain this sacrament? A. After his rising from the dead, when he breathed on his disciples, saying, receive ye the Holy Ghost : whose sins
ye shall forgive, they are forgiven; and whose sins ye shall retain, they are retained. John xx. 23—. Q. What is the matter of this sacrament? A. The sins of the penitent, accompanied by contrition and satisfaction.-Q. What is the form of it? A. I absolve thee from thy sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.-Q. What are the effects of it? A. It reconciles us to God, and either restores or increases grace.-Q. How many parts has it, as it concerns the penitent? A. Three; contrition, confession, and satisfaction.-Q. What is contrition ? A. A hearty sorrow for, and detestation of, our sins, by which we have offended so good a God; with a firm purpose of amendment.-Q. What is confession ? A. A full and sincere declaring of all our sins to our ghostly father.-Q. What is satisfaction? A. A faithful performance of the prayers or good works enjoined us by the priest, to whom we confess.-&. What is required to a good confession ? A. 1. That we seriously examine our consciences; 2. be heartily sorry for all our sins, with a firm purpose to amend, taking care and time to make an act of contrition; and, 3. confess them faithfully to the priest.-Q. What is a firm purpose of amendment? A. It is a resolution, by the grace of God, not only to avoid sin, but also the occasion of it.-Q. What if a man knowingly leave out one mortal sin? A. He commits a great sacrilege, by lying to the Holy Ghost, and makes his whole confession nothing worth-Q. What is an indulgence? A. Not leave to commit sin, or a pardon for sins to come, as some slander the church; but only a releasing of temporal punishment due to such sins as are already forgiven us, by the sacrament of penance."
Such are the principles of the Douay Catechism, on the subject of penance and indulgence. Your readers will see they are not very different from those of the French Catechism, which I quoted in a former letter; except that, instead of giving indulgence the honour of a section by itself, they attach it to the end of the section on penance. The catechism before me, indeed, is only an abstract, and does not go so much into detail as the French one; but the ground work and leading principles, so far as I have compared them, are substantially the
Let any intelligent person consider the extract which I have made from the acknowledged standard of the church of Rome, as it exists in Britain, and
say if it be not a mass of error and corruption throughout. Here the priest is every thing, and Christ is little or nothing. In fact Christ is nothing at all in the popish system, after he had delegated his authority to the priests. Most absurdly they apply to themselves what Christ said to his inspired apostles; and then they take the whole work of Christ into their own hands, as if he had left the entire charge of his church to them. The priest administers the sa