« ПредишнаНапред »
should rather say, 'of the zealous, pious, and peaceable missionary of the holy and infallible church of Rome.'
“Soon after this event, I came to Scotland; and must say that I found in it Papists as bigoted and as intolerant as I met with in Ireland. Of their bigotry and intolerance I could mention some facts; but they are unnecessary. They would at any rate be but as drops added to the ocean.
" When I reflect, sir, on the great things which God hath done for me, I should indeed be glad. My mouth should be filled with laughter, and my tongue with singing. I have been delivered from great darkness, and, I must add, from great danger. I will not say, That none within the pale of the church of Rome are saved; I would fondly hope that there are many within the pale of that church who do not believe all, and trust in all, that is taught them by their priests; but who chiefly take the oracles of God for their guide, and firmly trust in that atonement which is revealed in them, as the foundation of pardon and acceptance with God. Being Papists, however, much of the abominations of popery must adhere to their opinions and practices; and before they can become partakers of eternal salvation, they must be purified from all these—and themselves 'saved yet so as by fire.' But, while charity leads me to hope this, I must declare that I could not hope it of one whose views of religion are similar to those I was taught, and which I entertained, when a Papist. Such views are most certainly subversive of the mediation of Christ; and render it of none effect to them who are under their influence. In such a state of things, then. I must have been lost! and lost for ever! How grateful ought I to be for the mighty and merciful deliverance I have experienced from such darkness and danger! O that I were enabled to walk worthy of it! “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul; and forget not all his benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies.'
“ With what is contained in the preceding pages, sir, you are at liberty to do as you think proper; and if you think proper to publish any part of them, you are at liberty to give or withhold my name, as you please.—Of the truth of the facts contained in these pages, you need have no doubt. Many of them must, from their nature, depend upon my own authority; but for all those of a public kind, I can, if necessary, produce hundreds of witnesses, popish and Protestant. • These things were not done in a corner. Of my own character I forbear to say any thing, but, as I presume I am entirely unknown to you, I refer you to the following gentlemen in Glasgow; gentlemen with whom I have had the honour of being more or less intimate, for many years.-Then follow the names of five clergymen, and several other gentlemen, of this city.)
“I am, sir, yours truly,
I return now to the subject of auricular confession, which will yet occupy several numbers of my work.
According to the casuistry of the Jesuits, as given in their own
words, in my eighty-seventh and eighty-eighth numbers, it appears that the disciples of Loyola, and of course our English Papists, who approve the principles of that order, may break at pleasure any or all the divine commandments, and yet not be guilty of mortal sin. I inferred from this that confession of sin once a year to a priest must be a very trifling, matter; and no more than a mere form, at least so far as regards transgressions of the law of God; for I admit that sins against any commandment of the church are not so easily passed over, or explained away, but must be atoned for by the most rigorous penance. He who shall commit the great sin of eating flesh on a Friday, or of going into a Protestant place of worship, or who shall fall short of paying any of his church dues, and who shall confess any of these faults to his priest, will be dealt with much more severely, than the man who has only blasphemed his Maker, or murdered his neighbour.
But though confession is thus made easy to the Jesuits, and all the truly initiated, it is a very dreadful thing to the simple faithful, who retain any traces of reverence for the law of God, and who are not instructed in the quibbling casuistry which makes it void. To come before a priest in order to make confession, is such a solemn and important step, that in order to do it properly, the penitent is recommended to spend several days in humiliation before God. Thus the priest is the principal object of reverence; for the sinner must not approach him without preparation and humiliation, whereas he may come to his Maker at once.
In order to prove this, I shall insert here a whole chapter of instructions from Challoner's “Garden of the Soul,” one of their most popular books of devotion ; a book that contains a great deal of matter which has the appearance of piety, but all directed to a wrong object. It is very much like what I should imagine to have been the devotion of the Babylonians, to Bell and Nebo, expressed in the language of Sion :
“ INSTRUCTIONS AND DEVOTIONS FOR CONFESSION.-In order to prepare yourself to make a good confession, endeavour, in the first place, to recommend the matter earnestly to God; and for some days before, and frequently and fervently, beg his divine grace and assistance: and this more especially, if you have for a long time lived in the habit of sin : in which case it is most proper to prepare yourself by a spiritual retreat of some days, during which time you may seriously enter into yourself, and perform the ten meditations (which we have transcribed above from St. Francis de Sales) or such like devotions, by which you may be sufficiently disposed for so great a work; which otherwise, 'tis to be feared, might be ill done by being done too hastily.
“Examine your conscience with care and diligence, yet without too much anxiety and scrupulosity. Consult the table of sins to help your memory; and reflect in particular on the evil inclinations you are most subject to, on the places and companies you have been in, on your usual employments, on the duties of your calling, and how you have discharged them, &c. And in every sin, whether of commission or omission, strive to call to your remembrance the number of times you
have been guilty
When you have duly examined your conscience, dont think this is all you have to do in order to be rightly prepared for confession; the
greatest part of the work remains still to be done; and that is, to take proper time and care to procure a hearty sorrow and detestation of all your sins, by which you have offended so good a God, with a full determination, with the grace of God, to avoid the like sins for the future, and to fly the occasions which usually bring you to sin; and to take proper measures to begin a new life.
" In order to obtain this hearty sorrow for your sins, and this firm purpose of amendment, you must earnestly beg it of God, whose gift it is; and you must make use of such prayers, considerations, and meditations, as be most proper to move you to it. Particularly reflect on the four last things, on the enormity of sin, on the goodness of God, and his benefits to you, on the death and passion of Christ, &c. And when you have obtained this hearty sorrow and resolution, then you may hope that you are sufficiently prepared for confession, and not till then.
“If you have any thing upon your conscience, which you have a particular difficulty of confessing, cease not with prayers and tears to importune your heavenly Father to assist you in this regard, till he gives you grace to overcome that difficulty: and be sure never to go to confession with a design of telling a lie to the Holy Ghost. Ah! what a comfort it will be to you to ease your conscience of its load! and what a rack and torture sacrilegiously to conceal it!
"Let your confession be humble, without seeking excuses for your sins, or flinging the fault on others; let it be entire as to the kind and number of your sins, and such circumstances as quite change the nature of the sin, or notoriously aggravate it. Be modest in your expressions, and take care not to name any third person.”
Then follows “a prayer to implore the divine assistance, in order to make a good confession.” The prayer is a pretty long one, and the language is very like that of devotion. The following are extracts from it :-“I desire now to comply with thy holy institution of the sacrament of penance; I desire to confess my sins with all sincerity to thee and to thy minister; and therefore I desire to know myself, and to call myself to an account, by a diligent examination of my conscicuce. But, O my God, how miserably shall I deceive myself, if thou assist me not in this great work by thy heavenly light." That is the great work of telling to a fellow-creature the sins which he has committed against God; and although God alone be the party offended by his sins, he is taught to speak as if he were certain that God would take his part, and help him to make a proper appearance before his priest. This prayer concludes as follows:- 0 blessed Virgin, mother of my Redeemer, mirror of innocence and sanctity, and refuge of penitent sinners, intercede for me through the passion of thy Son, that I may have the grace to make a good confession. All you blessed angels and saints of God, pray for me, a poor miserable sinner, that I may now, for good and all, turn from my evil ways, that so henceforth my heart may be for ever united with yours in eternal love, and never go astray from the sovereign good. Amen." The following note is appended :" This, or the like prayer, may be frequently repeated for some days before confession, in order to obtain of God the grace of making a good confession."
What is meant by a good confession is not so explicitly stated as I
think it should be; but the phrase is a scriptural one; and perhaps it was chosen by the priests, and is by them so often repeated, to make the thing go down more easily. They can tell us that Christ Jesus, before Pontius Pilate, witnessed a good confession, (1 Tim. vi. 13.) and therefore every Christian ought to make a good confession to his priest. There is no connexion or correspondence between the things. Christ confessed what was both good and true; and thus he made a good confession; but the church of Rome has been pleased, in her infallible wisdom, to apply the expression to the confession of her penitents, though it should contain nothing but that which is evil; and the greater the evil confessed, so much the better is the confession.
I shall now give a specimen of the manner in which a penitent is taught to catechise himself, with a view to his being catechised by the priest, when he goes to confess. The “ Garden of the Soul,” furnishes, “ An examination of conscience upon the ten commandments." I shall give only a few extracts as a sample. Some of the questions are not fit to meet the eye of a modest man or woman, and yet they have a conspicuous place in this favourite book of popish devotion.
On the first commandment :-“ Have you been guilty of heresy, or disbelief of any article of faith, or of voluntary doubting of any article of faith? How often ? And for how long a time? Or have you rashly exposed yourself to the danger of infidelity, by reading bad books, or keeping wicked company? How often ? Have you by word or deed denied your religion, or gone to the churches or meetings of heretics, so as to join with them any way in their worship? Or to give scandal ? How often ?" On the third commandment, (or what they call the second, for they omit in their catechisms what is properly the second,) such questions as these are asked ;—"Have you sworn falsely, or what you did not certainly know, whether it was true or false? Or have you sworn to do any thing that was wicked or unlawful ? Or broken your lawful oaths ? How often? Have you had a custom of swearing rashly and inconsiderately by the name of God, by your soul, or by the way of imprecation upon yourself? How long have you had this custom ? How many times a day have you sworn after this manner ? Have you sworn by the blood or wounds of God, or any other blasphemous oath ? How often ? Have you cursed yourself or others, and if so, was it from your heart? How often ?”' &c. &c.
“ Have you neglected to hear mass upon Sundays and holydays of obligation ? Or have you heard it with wilful distraction ? Or not taken care that your children or servants should hear it? How often ? Have you spent those days in idleness, or sin ? Or been the occasion of others spending them so ? How often ? Have you done any servile work without necessity on those days ? Or set others on doing so ? How often ? Have you broke the days of abstinence commanded by the church? or eaten more than one meal on fasting days? or been accessary to others so doing? How often ? Have you neglected to confess your sins once a year ? or to receive the blessed sacrament at Easter ? Have you made a sacrilegious confession or communion by concealing some mortal sin in confession, or what you doubted might be mortal? Or for want of a hearty sorrow for your sins and a firm purpose of amendment ? Or by being grossly negligent in the examination of your conscience? How often ? Have you received any other sacrament, for ex
ample, confirmation, or matrimony, in mortal sin ? Have you neglected to perform the penance enjoined in confession ? Or said it with wilful distractions? How often ? Have you presumed to receive the blessed sacrament after having broken your fast? Have you, after falling into mortal sin, neglected for a long time to return to God by repentance ? And for how long a time ?" I have here given the whole of what is to be inquired into relating to the divine command, “Thou shalt remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy:" and the reader will see, that there is scarcely a word that relates to the spirit and meaning of the divine precept. The holy day of spiritual rest is quite forgotten; the fasts and feasts of the church are put in its place; and the sinner professing penitence, is taught to purge his conscience only with regard to the latter.
I shall not disgust my readers by taking them over the catechetical exercise upon the other commandments
. The above is sufficient to show what sort of a thing auricular confession is, so far as regards the things confessed upon the commandments of the first table. And here there is one thing which must, I think, deeply affect the reader's mind. The interrogatories are all formed upon the supposition that the penitent may be a great and habitual transgressor. He may be one who has had a custom of swearing rashly and inconsiderately by the name of God, by his soul, and by way of imprecation upon himself; and who has been in the habit of doing so many times in a day. Now, in order to make “a good confession," it is not necessary that he have actually forsaken this wicked habit. It is enough that he confess his fault, and promise or resolve to forsake it; or make a firm resolution of forsaking it; and the priest, upon this confession and resolution, and promise, grants him absolution.
Now in this, as in every thing else, popery appears directly opposed to the religion of the Bible. True Christianity knows nothing of good resolutions distinct from good practice. There is not in the whole Bible a promise of pardon to him who only resolves to forsake his sins. This, however, in ordinary cases, is as much as the priest expects from his kneeling suppliant.
VANITY OF WHAT ARE CALLED GOOD RESOLUTIONS." FURTHER EXTRACTS FROM THE
GARDEN OF THE SOUL. NO OTHER WAY OF FORGIVENESS AND SALVATION FOR SINNERS, THAN THE DIVINE METHOD OF MERCY REVEALED IN THE SCRIPTURES. POPERY AFFECTS TO IMPART BY HER SACRAMENTS. STORY OF A POPISH PRIEST BY MR. GAVIN.
SATURDAY, April 8th, 1820. My last number broke off in the middle of what I had written on the subject of good resolutions, with which, therefore, I commence the present.
In answer to the question, “ What is required to a good confession ?" the Douay catechism answers :—“ 1. That we seriously examine our consciences; 2. Be heartily sorry for our sins, with a firm purpose to amend, taking time and care to make an act of contrition," &c. And,