« VorigeDoorgaan »
“The church of Rome is no apostolical, orthodox, or Catholic church. It has not true faith.- Archbishop Bramhall.” 1
That this belief is now so strenuously assailed, we feel to constitute one of the peculiar perils of the times. And that Mr. Arnold has thrown the weight of his name and influence, such as it is,into the scale of Rome, was one chief reason with us for noticing his pamphlet. Ought we not to feel alarm, when, everywhere, fresh concessions made to Rome, are met by fresh demands on her part? She, at least, will deserve no part of the blame, if the relative positions of Popery and Protestantism are misunderstood. Not one word drops from Count Montalembert or Dr. Wiseman, from Dr. M‘Hale or Dr. Murray, to indicate any relaxation or yielding on their part. We may call Rome “siste" or "mother” if we please; but nothing else than “rebels" and "heretics" will she call us. As the concession begins with us, so it must end with us also. In other words, we may pass over to Rome, by gradual or by hasty steps, if we choose : but she meets us not half-way,--no, nor a single step over her" threshold! But we cannot give more time or space to Mr. Arnold's tract. Viewed merely as a criticism on Mr. Elliott's book, it is a failure ;-a mere hasty, ill-prepared attack on one of the greatest and most deservedly-celebrated works of the present generation.
A Narrative of the present Movement, &c. p. 22. 1, gan
A NARRATIVE OF THE PRESENT MOVEMENT IN THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH : with Authentic Documents relating to the Coat of Treves. Edited by H. Smith, Esq. With a Preface by the Rev. W. Goode, M.A., &c. London: Wertheim. 1845.
This is a work which was greatly needed. All persons must have read, from time to time, accounts of the movement now taking place in Germany; but these accounts, appearing in newspapers of various kinds, are tinged with prejudices of all sorts ; and no one reads them without a degree of doubt and incredulity. In this little volume the whole of the facts of the case are simply and faithfully narrated; all the documents connected with the matter are given at length; and thus the reader feels, at last, that he begins to know something of what is going on in Germany.
Mr. Goode, in a few sensible observations, prefixed to the work, remarks, that,
" Few probably are ignorant that Germany has lately been the scene of events very similar to those which, three centuries ago, produced the Reformation. The corrupt practices of the church of Rome, staggering the credulity, and exciting the disgust even of those who had been brought up among them from infancy, have again led one and another even of the members of her own priesthood to inquiry and reflection, and a comparison of her doctrines and practices with the declarations of the Word of God. The result has been, what from an impartial and careful perusal of that Word might be expected: that their eyes have been opened to the awful departure from the truth which characterizes that corrupt church, and their whole hearts engaged to the task of, by God's blessing, rescuing their countrymen from her yoke. Notwithstanding all the care and all the subtilty with which she entangles in the meshes of her unscrupulous sophistry, and throws the chains of error and superstition over the minds of her members
, and especially her priests, inculcating a blind submission to the dictates of what she calls the church' as the sum and substance of religion, a voice has been heard even from the recesses of her own sanctuaries, warning her members of the perils to which they are exposed while remaining in her communion.
“ The priest to whom is due the honour of being the leader in this movement, is, as we usually find in such cases, an humble and obscure individual, whose sole claim to occupy such a post is to be found in the importance of the truths to which he has directed
the attention of his countrymen. There were many things in the doctrines, discipline, and practices of the church of Rome, which had long weighed heavily upon his mind; but the particular circumstance which first led him formally and openly to denounce its corruptions, was the public exhibition of one of the so called) relics of the cathedral of Treves, said to be our blessed Lord's seamless coat, to which more than five hundred thousand pilgrims were allured, during the autumn of last year, by a papal promise of complete absolution given in 1514 by Leo S. to all who should go and worship this coat, and mendacious reports of miraculous cures effected by contact with it; the notorious reason for its exhibition being that the bishop of the diocese wanted to obtain money for completing the fabric of the cathedral, which, it was hoped, would be supplied by the offerings of the pilgrims.
“A more melancholy and self-condemnatory exhibition of the errors of the church of Rome could hardly be conceived. Eighteen different churches claim the honour of possessing the seamless coat of our Saviour, and the garment preserved as such at Argenteuil has been pronounced by the present pope to be genuine, (contrary to the decision of his predecessor, Leo X., who pronounced in favour of that at Treves,) while, at the same time, he has sanctioned the pilgrimage to Treves. Moreover, throughout all the centuries during which this relic has been deposited at Treves, it has only been publicly exhibited about half-a-dozen, if 80 many, times, for a few weeks at most each time, and invariably for the purpose of getting money, the avowed object on more than one of these occasions being the acquisition of a fund for the repairs, &c., of the cathedral. Now, if this relic can work such wonders, and is possessed of such privileges, as its owners report, the wickedness of locking it up out of sight, century after century, and only bringing it out when money is particularly wanted, is transparent and undeniable.
« With these few remarks, however, I leave the ensuing narrative to the reader's own reflections, and I trust that it will obtain a careful perusal both from Protestants and Romanists.
“Of the circumstances of which we have been speaking, the following work gives a full and faithful account, supported by copious extracts from the various letters and documents that have been published on both sides on the subject; and, without pledging myself for every sentiment expressed in it, I have great pleasure in recommending it to the attention of the public. It cannot fail to interest all who desire the advancement of true religion and the emancipation of the world from the fetters of popish superstition. And at a time when Popery is again everywhere
struggling for its ancient dominion, it is peculiarly seasonable. For while it shows that that corrupt system is essentially the same now as it was at the time of the Reformation, it admonishes those who may be allured by its high-sounding pretensions or fascinating exterior, how the noble-minded and truth-loving among those who are instructed in its real tenets, even though imperfectly acquainted with the truth, writhe under its yoke, the iron entering into their very soul.
"On the precise position at present occupied by those who have just separated from the church of Rome, I offer no remark. A review of the confessions that have been issued by them would carry me far beyond the limits within which I must here confine myself
. I will only observe that the present movement and that originated by Luther in the 16th century, if compared at corresponding stages in their progress, will be found very similar to each other; and, therefore, when we reflect upon the glorious results which crowned the latter effort, we may surely hope that effects, at least equally, if not more beneficial to mankind, may flow from this second attempt to disenthral the minds of men from the degrading bondage of error and superstition. To men earnestly and heartily desirous of knowing and proclaiming the truth, light will be vouchsafed from above, and if in anything they be now otherwise minded, God will reveal even this unto them.”
It is remarkable, that now, as in A.D. 1517, the first external and visible cause of the movement, was, the arrogant folly of the papal church, in using its power for the purpose of amassing wealth by the most flagitious impositions on the credulity of its votaries. In our days, too, as in the days of Leo X., the completion of a cathedral is made the pretext for the pillage of the people. Holy Coat” is exhibited at Treves,—not for any moral or spiritual end-but because money is wanted to pay stonemasons and bricklayers. Let us, however, look at the history of this “ pious fraud."
" Tradition says, that the coat of Christ, mentioned by St. John in his account of the crucifixion, as without seam, woven from the top throughout,' upon which the Roman soldiers cast lots, in order that it might not be rent, was miraculously preserved till the time of Constantine the Great in the fourth century, when his mother, the Empress Helena, discovered it in Palestine, and on her return to Europe presented it to the church of Treves. It lay buried, in oblivion, as we are told, for many centuries, in an obscure part of the cathedral, when it was discovered by the archbishop in 1196," who at once resolved to avail himself of this
- Joseph Von Hommer, Bishop of Treves, states, that there can be no question abont its identity, as it bore the following inscription when it was thus unexpectedly brought
precious relic as a means of enriching the coffers of the cathedral, which was then undergoing repair.
“ According to Von Hommer's equivocal testimony, the coat was first publicly exhibited in the same year. In 1514, Leo X. issued a papal bull, in which he promised complete absolution of sin to all who should go in pilgrimage to Treves to worship the coat, once every seven years.
“ It was on this occasion that Martin Luther exclaimed: How has the devil dressed up dead bones, garments, and vessels, into the holy bones, garments, and vessels ! How confidently have men believed all impudent liars !-how have they crowded on the pilgrimages ! All this the pope, the bishops, the priests, and the monks, have confirmed—or at all events they have been silent,and quietly received the money and offerings, while the people go astray! What results have been brought about, by this parading at Treves of the coat of Christ !'
“ In 1655 the same exhibition was renewed under circumstances of great splendour, and attended by a vast concourse of people. In 1810 the coat was once more made the object of a general pilgrimage in Germany, from the 9th till the 27th of September, when upwards of 200,000 pilgrims are stated to have paid their devotions at its shrine.
“ So great, however, were the scandals which attended the ceremonial, that the late Bishop of Treves, Dr. Von Hommer, although he wrote an elaborate pamphlet to prove the genuineness of the holy vestment, always refused to make it the object of a general pilgrimage. The present bishop, however, as we have already seen, has taken a different view of the case ;-he wished to raise funds to complete his cathedral, and at the same time to make an imposing
-Tunica Domini in aditu maximi templi, spatio inter utramque turrim medio recondita ... Manifestis indiciis patefacta. Brower II. 91, sive lib. xv. No. xvi. The nineteen possessors of the duplicate tunics, or portions of the vestment without seam, each bring forward quite as good proofs of the identity of their relics, whether exhibited at Argenteuil, Friburg, Moscow, Constantinople, or elsewhere, as Bishop Von Hommer.
“ Such an ubiquity of relics is by no means uncommon in the Roman Catholic Church. Thus there are no less than fourteen true nails which fastened our Lord to the Cross, and four spears which pierced his side. The Council of Constance declares, that the head of St. John is in possession of the Monastery of St. Silvester, at Ronie, while Amiens and Arras affirm it to be with them, and St. John d'Angély owes its renown to the same relic. Leo IX., in a Papal bull
, pronounces the inhabitants of St. Denis to be under a delusion in supposing that they possess the body of Dionysius the Areopagite, as it subsists entire at Ratisbon !
“ The Roman Catholics have only followed in the footsteps of the Heatben priesthood; for the Lacedæmonians, the Athenians, the inhabitants of Pontus, Cappadocia, and Lydia, all affirmed that they possessed the true statue of Diana, brought from Scrthia by Orestes; while two other cities claimed the honour to possess the actual knife with which Iphigenia was sacrificed.