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aware of the ambition, avarice, and profligacy of the Romish priesthood, from monk to pontiff, before the thunder of Luther's voice broke upon their ears, and the revival of letters gave tone and strength to popular opinion. The people were tricked and gulled by juggling and foolery, the mention of which calls up a blush on the cheeks of the more enlightened Romanist of modern times; but miracles, legends, relics, the feast of Fools, and the feast of the Ass, on which last occasion the hymn was sung, beginning,
“ The Ass, he came from eastern climes,
Heigh-ho, my Assy;" these were harmless pleasantries, when compared with the arts practised upon confiding female penitents in the confessional, the agonies inAicted npon the suspected heretic in the dungeons of the monasteries, and the hard bargains struck with rich sinners on their death-beds, to whom the promise was held out of a less fiery place in purgatory, on condition of its being paid for. A forced celibacy too often gave rise to seduction, concubinage, abortion, child-murder, and suicide-the biography of Ricci, Bishop of Pistoia, unveils, even in a later age, scenes of unbridled licentiousness in the convents of Tuscany-while, still more frequently, the priest, uncheered and unprotected by the indulgence of the domestic affections, left in his leisure hours to idleness and vacancy, became a gambler, a drunkard, or a buffoon. The spiritual provision offered to the people, consisted of ceremonies engaging the eye and ear, but imposing no discipline upon the heart; the opus operatum of the sacraments; and the Latin service, which none of the lower orders, and few of the higher could understand. History has recorded two curious cases of the ignorance of the priests themselves of the language they prayed in ; one baptised “ in nomine patria, filia, et spiritua sancta;" and another, whom Henry II. tricked, when saying mass for his departed ancestors, by erasing from his book the first syllables of the words “ famulis et famulabus," by which they became “mulis et mulabus," so that he gravely prayed for the souls of all the he and she mules in Christendom! To live at ease, amassing wealth, and gratifying lust, no matter how iniquitous the means to maintain an unlimited sway over the consciences of unenlightened and superstitious nations, and consequently an unlimited controul over their fortunes—this was the end aimed at by the papal hierarchy in the half barbarian day of Europe, and for its accomplishment, doctrine was corrupted, discipline perverted, and “ lying wonders" invented, while the son of St. Peter assumed the garb of a pontific warrior, wielding the temporal sword, and furbished from the armoury of heaven with the terrors of the world to come. Such was the Romish church in her high palmy days, when she sat as a queen and saw no sorrow, with the seven-hilled city for her throne, a continent for her territory, kings her servants, and iheir subjects slaves !
That which he had seen with his eyes, and heard with his ears in Rome, made a profound impression upon the mind of Luther, the fruit of which is now seen “after many days.” It did not, indeed, at once produce any determinate course of action. He did not see his way clear to become a rebel to the church in which he had been nursed,
and to be outlawed by her rulers, until after a long and sore travail of the spirit. To minister at her altars, and to die with her blessing, had been his thought by day, and his dream by night; and the coil of early associations was strong around his heart, and not easily broken. He offered remou strance with reference to the evils over which he mourned, he pleaded for reform, but Leo slept on his silken couch indifferent to his representations, and then Luther awoke “ rejoicing as a strong man to run a race.” The particulars of the struggle in which the two parties engaged need not be repeated. No long time elapsed before the Roman see was despoiled of some of its most profitable possessions; Norway, Sweden, Holland, Denmark, North Germany, and the Britannic isles threw off its authority, and successfully resisted all attempts to entangle them again with the yoke of bondage. Even many who remained faithful to the popedom became alive to its errors, impatient of its tyranny, and anxious for a reformation of abuses. The jurisdiction which the occupier of the papal chair had long enjoyed unquestioned, was seen to be the product of carnal ambition, and not an investment received from heaven; and concessions re, luctantly granted, but imperatively demanded, have now reduced God's vicar on earth to a shadow, when compared with the Gregories and Innocents of the days of old, before whose feet monarchs paid bumblest vassalage, and at whose rebuke they trembled for their erowns. The latter half of the last century witnessed extensive abridgments of the papal authority. In Spain, the most blinded and bigotted of nations under its sway, the pope conceded to the king, by the two concordats of 1753 and 1771, the presentation to all consistorial benefices, he gave up his old rights of disposing of the property of deceased prelates, and the revenues of vacant benefices, while arrangements were made to prevent the introduction of bulls obnoxious to the government. Naples also claimed the right of nominating to bishoprics, and by a concordat in 1791, the pope contented himself with presenting three candidates for the king's choice. In the Netherlands the chapters elect the bishops, a list of candidates being first presented by them to the king for his approval, the pope retaining only a confirming power. Bavaria is more untrammelled, for Pius VII. resigned there for ever the right of naming to the vacant archbishoprics, bishoprics, and deaneries, the prelates being also bound to give the inferior benefices in their patronage only to persons agreeable to the monarch. Austria more completely still threw off the papal shackles, by making the ecclesiastical law to depend upon the civil power, depriving the pope of his ancient privileges, such as collating to benefices, establishing new feasts, exempting convents from jurisdiction, granting dispensations as to marriage, and commuting pious foundations. Let it, however, be remembered, that whatever changes may have transpired in the Romish church as to discipline, its doctrines remain precisely what they were-bere there has been no alteration. When Bossuet and Leibnitz were in correspondence about the re-union of the Lutheran and Catholic churches, the Bishop of Meaux distinctly stated, that though in matters of discipline, or any other matter, distinct from faith, the church of Rome would show the utmost indulgence to the Lutherans, on articles of faith, there could be no com
N. S. VOL. IV.
promise. The doctrinal decrees of the Council of Trent have been received by the whole Catholic world, and these solemnly declare, that whosoever receives not the doctrines of transubstantiation, the sacrifice of the mass, tradition, purgatory, penance, justification by works, invocation of the Virgin and the saints, “ let him be accursed.”
During the five and twenty years of peace which have elapsed since the close of the long continental war, the temporal sovereigns of Europe have been employed in re-establishing their prostrate or trembling thrones, and correcting those democratic principles which the French revolutionary wars introduced into their territories. The same policy has been pursued by the church of Rome with reference to its spiritual authority; and the borror of modern liberalism occasioned by the frightful excesses of its licentious advocates has powerfully favoured the attempt. The emissaries of the congregation, De Propaganda Fide, have been stealthily prosecuting this object, working, as usual, under ground, but movements not to be misunderstood, have occasionally brought their plans and views before the world's eye. The archbishops of Cologne and Posen have openly preferred the authority of the pope to that of the king, and in direct contravention of the civil law, have refused to give spiritual legitimacy to mixed marriages. It seems, indeed, to be the special aim of Rome to acquire dominion over the people, by opening a channel of direct communication between them and the papal chair. It is not upon the mighty men and the chief captains that her eye is turned ; she knows full well that her power with the kings of the earth is gone; and hence the object now contemplated is to establish a league between the Holy Father and the democracy of this world. For this purpose the services of the Jesuits have been put in requisition; and out to the four quarters of the globe they are gone, to invade our missionary stations, and proselyte the heathen from their old superstitions to the idolatry of the papacy. In home circles, reforms grateful to the popular mind have in various parts been introduced or winked at by the papal authorities. Wessenberg, the Vicar-General of the Diocese of Constance, reads the gospel in the mass in German; and in the church of the Canonesses of St. Andrew, at Warsaw, the mass is said in Polish. Dignified ecclesiastics have assumed the character of reformers, aiming to strengthen the Roman see, by removing those palpable abuses in the administration of discipline and in the manners of the clergy, which were objectionable to the people. In the reformed parts of Germany, long under the influence of mere nominal Christianity, or the cold and comfortless doctrines of Socinianism, or bewildering metaphysics, these Catholic crusading reformers have not laboured in vain.* The following is the language of one of these men, the Abbé Lamennais, which, though it met with a rebuke from Rome, correctly represents the sentiments of a class who have no wish to abjure tlie Roman communion, but to make it palatable to the people :
* The following anecdote is current in Germany. When the Duke and Duchess of Anhalt Cöthen embraced the Romish faith a few years back, the court followed their example, with the exception of one maid of honour, who abided by her protestant principles. Shortly afterwards a young gentleman arrived at Anhalt Cothen from Vienna, who won the affections of the lady, but informed her that being à Roman Catholic he could not conscientiously ally himself to a heretic. She consented, after a struggle, to forsake Protestantism,
"Your power is dissipating, and with it the faith. Do you wish to save both? Unite both to humanity, such humanity as eighteen centuries of Christianity have produced. Nothing in this world is stationary. You once reigned over kings, and then kings enslaved you. Separate yourselves from monarchs, and extend your hand to the people. They will support you with the strong arm; and what is better, with firm affection. Quit the earthly relics of your ancient ruined grandeur; spurn them from you as unworthy of you. You will not long retain them. For what end do you wear these purple rags, save in mockery of what you were ? And what use are they, save to veil the glorious scars which indicate the holy wars, waged by you in ancient times for the human race against their rulers? Your might is not in exterior pomp. It is internal. It consists in the deep sense of your paternal duties, of your civilizing mission, in a devotedness which knows neither fatigue nor limit to exertion. Resume with the spirit of the early pastors of the church, the simple crook, and if it must be so, even the martyr chain. Victory is certain, but at this cost only."
This is extraordinary language, but what chiefly concerns us, is the tendency to amalgamate with popery, now displayed by influential men in the Church of England -a tendency so apparent that it has not escaped the notice of Romanists at home or abroad, but been hailed with manifest delight in their leading journals.* Error becomes far more dangerous when its face is masked, and its form is veiled; and Romish delusions must not be allowed to go to and fro among us in a protestant disguise without exposure and rebuke. Some may laugh at the idea of any assault being made upon the protestantism of England; but so pleasing a house of bondage does the papal system present, to those who would have the conscience and heart lulled into inglorious ease, that we cannot regard it with unconcern, whether as maintained at Rome or modified at Oxford. At any rate it must not be owing to our neglect if error prospers for a season.
but fainted when her recantation was made. The lover then informed her that he had paid his addresses to her for the good of her soul, marriage being out of the question, as he was a priest and a Jesuit, a fact of which she was convinced, when taking off a wig which he wore, he showed her the tonsure.
* “ Most sincerely and unaffectedly do we tender our congratulations to our brethren at Oxford, that their eyes have been opened to the evils of private judgment, and the consequent necessity of curbing its multiform extravagances. Some of the brightest ornaments of their church have advocated a re-union with the church of all times and all lands; and the accomplishment of the design, if we have read aright the signs of the times,' is fast ripening. Her maternal arms are ever open to receive back repentant children, and as when the prodigal son returned to his father's house, the fatted calf was killed, and a great feast of joy made, even so will the whole of Christendom rejoice greatly, when so bright a body of learned and pious men as the authors of the Tracts for the Times,' shall have made the one step necessary to place them again within that sanctuary."-Catholic Magazine, March, 1839, p. 175.
1. As Protestant Dissenters, then, we conceive that we are called upon at this period, prominently to bring forward, through the pulpit and the press, and religiously to respect in our practice, the prophetic office of our Lord. He is the centre and source of truth, its teacher to the church. He has not left it to be preserved and transmitted by oral communication ; but to keep it clear from the incrustations with which human weakness or wickedness might deface it, he has permanently recorded its revelation in a volume, which, written by inspiration, bears his image and superscription, as much so as the tables of stone given on the Mount bore the impress of the Almighty's finger. We contend for the supreme authority and all-sufficiency of the written word of truth, against the Rationalist, who would invest with these attributes, the weak, fallible, and erring faculty of human reason. We contend for it against the Papist, who appeals to the opinions of the church declared by its councils as the standard of right and wrong, and thus hides from the gaze of the vulgar the “ light of the world,” by a vail of earthly testimony as thick as that which concealed the Shechinah from the Jewish laics. We contend for it against the high Anglican churchman, who, though boasting of the reformed name, is still anti-protestant enough to worship at the shrine of antiquity, and to associate the Fathers with scripture as necessary to form the rule and test of truth. The Tridentine Council gave to the Apocrypha the honours of canonicity, and proclaimed unwritten tradition to be of equal authority with the written word; and closely in its wake a large section in the Church of England has followed to the present hour, not only reading in their solemn assemblies the stories of Bel, Tobit, and Susanna, though not more deserving of the distinction than “ the tale of Troy divine;” but sprinkling their writings far more plentifully with references to primitive antiquity than to the inspired text. Heylin made the acknowledgment, wrung from him by the Jesuit Knot, that “ in the exposition of scripture they were by canou bound to follow the Fathers ;"* and that able controversialist, Dr. Waterland, contended for the junction of the authority of the early church with that of sacred writ, the Fathers with the Apostles, and sought to advance the writings of fallible men to a parity with the words of the Holy Ghost. He declares that “ the true interpretation of scripture cannot run counter, in things fundamental, to the judgment of the first and purest ages"—that “to depreciate the value of ecclesiastical antiquity, and to throw contempt on the primitive Fathers, is to wound Christianity through their sides" that “Christ never sits so secure and easy on his throne, as with these faithful guards about him"—that “ scripture and antiquity are what we ought to abide by, in settling points of doctrine"-that, “ these two ought always to go together, and to coincide with each other"-and that " when they do so, they stand the firmer in their united strength, but if ever they clash, or appear to clash, then undoubtedly there is an error somewhere, like as when two accountants vary in casting up the same sum.”+ Here, then, we have antiquity and scripture linked together as necessary and inseparable
* Life of Laud, p. 238.