Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub
[ocr errors]

Andrew, and all the other apostles of Christ, together with the rest of his disciples, and the four evangelists, curse him. May the holy and wonderful

company

of

martyrs and confessors, who by their holy works, are found pleasing to God, curse him. May the holy choir of the holy virgins, who, for the honour of Christ, have despised the things of this world, curse him. May all the saints, who, from the beginning of the world to everlasting ages, are found to be the beloved of God, curse him. May the heaven and the earth, and all things therein remaining, curse him. May he be cursed wherever he may be, whether in the house or in the field, in the highway or in the path, in the wood or in the water, or in the church. May he be cursed in living, in dying, in eating, in drinking, in being hungry, in being thirsty, in fasting, in sleeping, in slumbering, in waking, in walking, in standing, in sitting, in lying, in working, in resting," - I must omit some words, for the pope is far more gross than Luther; see page 9.1—"and in blood-letting. May he be cursed in all the powers of his body. May he be cursed within and without. May he be cursed in the hair of his head. May he be cursed in his brain. May he be cursed in the crown of his head, in his temples, in his forehead, in his ears, in his eyebrows, in his cheeks, in his jaw bones, in his nostrils, in his foreteeth and grinders, in his lips, in his throat, in his shoulders, in his wrists, in his arms, in his hands, in his breast, and in all the interior parts of the very stomach, in his reins, in his groin, in his thighs," in his hips, in his knees, in his legs, in his feet, in his joints, and in his nails. May he be cursed in the whole structure of his members. From the crown of his head to the sole of his foot, may there be no soundness in him. May the Son of the living God, with all the glory of his majesty, curse him. And may

heaven, and all the powers that move therein, rise against him to damn him, unless he repent and make full satisfaction. Amen, Amen, Amen." Ledger Book of the church of Rochester, and Sir Henry Spelman's Glossary, p. 206. Quoted by both Bruce and M'Culloch.

CHAPTER VI.

ABSURDITY OF CALLING THE POPE THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH. CHRIST AND NO OTHER

THE TRUE HEAD OF HIS CHURCH. HUMAN AUTHORITY NEITHER DEMANDED, NOR JUSTIFIABLE. SHAMEFUL PROFLIGACY OF THE POPES. HENCE THE WICKEDNESS OF THE COMMUNITY. THIS HAS BEEN SO GREAT, THAT POPISH WRITERS OF NOTE HAVE DECLARED REFORM TO BE INEXPEDIENT. THE CHARACTER AND INFLUENCE OF POPERY REMAIN THE SAME. ALL ALTERATION IS CIRCUMSTANTIAL, NOT RADICAL.

SATURDAY, August 22d, 1818. It is impossible to enumerate, in one paper or two, the absurdities involved in this article of the popish creed, “We believe the pope to be the head of the church.” It is absurd and impious enough for a man to profess to be head of any Christian church, though it be so small as to be actually within the sphere of his personal oversight. It is worse to pretend to be head of the church in a whole diocess, or nation, to which one man cannot possibly do the duty of a bishop

or overseer; but to pretend to be head of the Catholic or universal church is, beyond expression, impious and absurd. Such, however, is the avowed belief of Pax; and he speaks for his brethren as well as himself, for he says, “they believe him (i. e. the pope) to be the head of the church ;' and it is of the Catholic, or universal church, that he is speaking..

In my last number, I gave a sketch of the pope's claims to infallibility, and universal authority over all things, and all persons, with regard to both spiritual and temporal matters; and if he were really the head of the Christian church, such authority and power would not be too much for him; he would require it all, in order to conduct the affairs of the church, and to defend her against her enemies. Nay more, as the greatest enemies of the church are not fellow creatures, but principalities, and powers, and the rulers of the darkness of this world, if the pope were the head of the church, he would require to have greater power than these, else the church would soon be overcome,-the gates of hell would soon prevail against it. The real Head of the church has such power; and because he has it, we rest assured of the safety of the church throughout all ages. Christ says truly, and he only can say it, “All power is given to me in heaven and in earth.” God “raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand, in heavenly places, far above all might, and dominion, and principality, and power, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”

The Head of the church is represented as sitting upon a throne of glory; thousands of holy angels minister to him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stand before him; he employs them in the service of his church; they are ministering spirits sent forth to minister to them who are the heirs of salvation; and they acknowledge themselves to be the fellow servants, and the brethren of them who have the testimony of Jesus. Nay, they are a constituent part of the church of Christ ; not that part, indeed, which he purchased with his own blood; but they are a part of that great assembly which surround the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple.

With all this power Jesus Christ is invested; and it is all necessary to his being the Head of the church. But who was ever the pope that possessed such power, or that could exhibit such glory? The pope, indeed, pretends to it; but the pretence is as vain and impious as was the pretence of Baal to be the God of Israel; and the priests of the one idol may very justly be compared with those of the other, as zealous supporters of that system of idolatrous worship, which is as much opposed to Christianity, as was the worship of Baal, or of the golden calves, to the worship of the true God.

The pope affects to be like Jesus Christ. He has also his throne, and his attending worshippers, who fall down before him, and kiss his feer. * He cannot, indeed, make the winds his messengers. He can

• It is recorded, as an instance of singular humility in one of the popes, that he had a cross embroidered on his slipper, that it might appear to be the cross, and not his foot, that was worshipped by the prostrate devotee.

VOL. I.-11

we are.

[ocr errors]

not send lightnings that they may go, nor do they say unto him, Here

But he has his bulls, which he sends ihroughout the world, and his legates, a latere, who stand at his elbow, waiting his commands, and who go forth from his presence to do his will throughout all his dominion,—to rule the hearts and consciences of men; to order all their spiritual concerns; to pardon or retain their sins; to save or condemn their souls; or, to use his own language, "to pluck up, to overthrow, to destroy, to scatter, to build, and to plant.” All this is pretended by a poor dying worm.—While it is unspeakably impious, it is infinitely more ridiculous than children playing at kings and queens. It is a creature affecting the style, and majesty, and authority, and power of the Creator.

I shall be told, perhaps, that it is only the church on earth of which the

pope is the head, and that, as it is composed of mere men and women, there is nothing more unreasonable in one man being constituted the head of such a body, than in one man being constituted the head of a state or nation. The cases are by no means parallel. Human laws and human government are proper and necessary for human creatures: a mere creature, like ourselves, may be constituted the head of a kingdom; and his authority and power may be sufficient for all the purposes of the constitution. But the church, even in this world, is a congregation of faithful men, that is, believing men, who, as such, are renewed in the spirit of their minds, are united to Jesus Christ in the most intimate relation,* and to the saints in heaven, so as to form, with them, one body, of which Christ is the Head. I use the word congregation, not as denoting a visible assembly, for this church never can come together in this world; but though not visibly, they are really gathered together as one in Christ.

This is a society of spiritual men. They are separated from the world for spiritual purposes. When companies of them come together as a visible organized church, be they ever so few, or ever so many, it is for the purpose of serving God in the way which he has appointed, in which he has promised to accept their service,—to promote the edification of themselves and one another,--and to propagate the gospel in the world. This society is divine in its origin, in its constitution, in its laws, and these laws are administered under the sanction of divine authority.

No mere creature is capable of being the head of such a body, because he is incapable of taking cognizance of the spiritual concerns of the members, even upon the smallest scale on which we can suppose a church to exist; how much more of all the members throughout the world. The head must know the heart of every member, must be acquainted with all its wanderings, its errors, and its sorrows, that he may know how to correct, to restore, and to comfort. The pope, indeed, affects to obtain this knowledge of the hearts of his subjects, by means of confession; but, supposing such knowledge to be actually obtained by all his priests, not one in a million of the sins so confessed can ever reach the cars of the pope; and supposing one sin

* It is not said that every member of a visible church stands in this gracious relation; because there are many who have intruded themselves into the church, who have not observed the appointed order of first coming to Christ and believing in him.

in a million to reach him, and supposing he enjoins the necessary discipline, he must, in many instances, be unable to apply it; the sinner may live at the distance of thousands of miles; he cannot reach him with the rapidity of thought; he must send some corporeal messenger with a bull in his pocket: but the poor sinner may be in the other world long before the messenger reach the spot. If it be answered, that every priest has the power of granting absolution, as well as of enjoining penance, then the priest is doing what belongs only to the head to do; the pope is ignorant of the individual case; and, in so far, he is not the head of the church. The real Head of the church knows every thought of the heart of every member; and this is necessary to his being head of the church. He walketh in the midst of the golden candlesticks, that is, in the midst of the churches. His eyes are like a flame of fire, searching the reins and the heart, and he will give to every man according to his works.

Perhaps, some Protestants will not go all the length with me in rejecting human authority in the church. If so, I cannot help it. It is my decided conviction that there never was, and never will be, any authority lawfully exercised in the church of God, but the authority of God himself. The church is the kingdom of heaven,-the king. dom of God,—the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ; and why should not he be the sovereign, and lawgiver, and judge, in his own kingdom? He never delegated his sovereign authority to a creature; he never appointed a creature to be the head of his body; the pretensions of the pope, therefore, are direct treason against the authority of Christ, as really as it would be treason in Pax to give himself out as the king of Great Britain.

I should maintain this principle though there never had been a pope of an immoral life. I maintain that no creature, not even a holy angel, is capable of being head of the church; and that God never appointed a creature to fill that station. But many of the popes were men of the most profligate lives; they were fit successors of the worst of the Cesars: the Vatican, for all manner of wickedness, will bear à comparison with any heathen temple. Can any man suppose it possible that Christ would delegate his authority to such men ? that he would constitute such the head of his church, which is called to be holy, even as he is holy? The head and the body, in all cases, must partake of the same character. Thus the church of Christ is a holy community. It consists of sinful creatures, indeed; but they are sinners, “washed, and sanctified, and justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God;" —not personally free from sin while in this world; but their perfectly holy Head is carrying them forward to a state of sinless perfection. That church, then, of which the pope is the head, must be of the same character with himself. The head and the members must be, in some measure, like one another; and such, in point of fact, it has always been. While the head was practising all manner of wickedness, the church was represented as “the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth.”

“ It is known by every body," says a writer of the seventeenth century, “that the celibacy of that wretched clergy is among them the source of a universal and loathsome impurity, and that the least crimes committed by those of that order are fornications and adulteries."

" It is also known that the pope authorizes and protects public stews, in order to draw a considerable revenue from them; but it is not so universally known, that, to advance the reputation of that crime, (which, indeed, is not accounted any by the court of Rome,) the popes will not suffer any women to prostitute themselves, unless they be Christians; and, therefore, by order of his holiness, Jewish, Pagan, and Mahometan women, who have a mind to set up that trade at Rome, must first be baptized." Philosophical Library for May, 1818, p. 81. What must Mahometans and Pagans think of that religion, initiation into which is a necessary qualification for the commission of wickedness?

The church of Rome had gone such a length in wickedness, that her reformation became impossible; the vital principle had long been extinct. Real Christianity was unknown within her pale, except by some solitary individuals here and there, who were of no consideration in the church. It was, therefore, as impossible for her to reform herself, as for a dead body to raise itself to life. “When, at the era of the reformation,' says Mr. Cunningham, p. 141, “Pope Adrian the sixth, a well-meaning pontiff, wished to introduce a reform into the court of Rome itself, he was dissuaded from it by Cardinal Francis Soderini, bishop of Preneste, who, among other reasons, used the following:- That there was no hope of confounding or destroying the Lutherans, by a reformation of the court of Rome. That, on the contrary, it was the true way to give them more credit; for if the people, who always judge by the event, were to see a reformation begun, they would suppose that, since there had been good cause to oppose some abuses, there was room for believing that the other novelties proposed by Luther were well founded.'-—That, in reading the history of past ages, it may be seen that the heretics, who had rebelled against the authority of the church of Rome, had always founded their arguments upon the corrupt manners of the papal court. Still, however, the popes had never thought it would be of any use to introduce a reform, but had satisfied themselves, after employing exhortations and remonstrances, with engaging princes to protect the church.'—* That heresies had never been put an end to by reformation, but by crusades, and by exciting sovereigns and nations to extirpate them. That it was by those means that Innocent the third happily extinguished that of the Albigenses in Languedoc; and his successers had employed no others against the Waldenses, the Picards,' &c.- That it would be impossible to effect any reform, without diminishing considerably the ecclesiastical revenues, which were derived from four sources: the one temporal, namely, the domains of the state; the three others spiritual, namely, indulgences, dispensations, and the collation of benefices; and that none of these could be dried up without occasioning to the holy see a loss of a fourth of its revenues.'" The above is extracted from the work of a Catholic writer of great authority.-Histoire du Concile de Trente. Par Fra. Paoli Sarpi, tome I. p. 42, 43.

Mr. Cunningham then gives an extract from the Tax of the Apostolic Chancery, containing the expense of committing certain sins, which see part first, p. 28, of my letters, republished from the Glasgow Chronicle; and then proceeds :-“ Pope Leo X. having, in the year 1517, published a sale of plenary indulgencos, modo o muno ng

« ПредишнаНапред »