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Christ, by an act of supreme adoration, is no idolatry; because he is truly GoD, and consequently a legitimate object of supreme worship.
But if Catholics, using the ancient language of the Christian Church, are said :
1st, to worship the saints; this worship must be understood to be only an inferior worship, honour, and respect, paid to them proportionate to the limited perfections and excellencies which GOD has bestowed upon them; but this worship is infinitely below that supreme worship which they pay to GOD. Catholics acknowledge no perfection or excellence in any saint, (not even in the Blessed Virgin Mary) which they do not profess to be the work and gift of GoD in them so that in honouring the saints they celebrate the works of GOD, and consequently give glory to him. Whatever act of religious veneration we pay to the saints, is ultimately referred to Go D.
2d,-to adore the cross; this word, if applied to the cross itself, means no more than an inferior and relative respect paid to the instrument of our redemption; but if in view of the cross it be applied to Christ himself, then it means, as it ought to mean, an act of supreme adoration.
3d,-to worship the images of Christ or of the saints; the word is here again understood by Catholics only of an inferior and relative respect shown to images, in consideration of the respect due to the objects which they represent, and to which the respect shown to the images is referred. In this sense respect is shown to the statue or to the throne of the king, in consideration of the majesty of the person to whom they relate. An insult offered to his statue would be considered as intended to be offered to the king himself. In this sense a son respects the image or picture of his parent; a parent that of his child; a friend that of his friend; not for any intrinsic virtue in the material, substance, or work of art; but because it relates to, and brings to his mind, the object of his respect or affection.
To condemn this relative regard for images or pictures, would be to condemn the very feelings of nature. To charge the Catholic with idolatry, because the term worship, meaning only an inferior and relative regard, is found in the ancient and moderu liturgies of his Church, is not consistent with candour or charity.
The charge that the Catholic Church sanctions the praying To images, is a calumny, and carries with it an imputation of stupidity too gross to be noticed. Catholics sometimes pray BEFORE images, because they serve to collect their thoughts, and fix their
REPRESENTATION of any thing; and that the special reason given for this was, that IDOLATRY might be effectually avoided. (Deut. iv. 12-19.) The idolatry is equally palpable, whether JEHOVAH be worshipped under the semblance of a golden calf, as by Aaron and the Israelites in the instance lately alluded to; or under the semblance of any of the saints, as is supposed in the first head; or whether CHRIST be worshipped under the semblance of a cross, or that of any of his images, as is supposed in the second and third heads; or under the semblance of the consecrated elements, as in the Eucharist, and sacrifice of the Mass.
But to worship "the images of the SAINTS" is, according to the doctrine here advanced, to worship the images of those," the RELI"GIOUS VENERATION paid to whom is ULTIMATELY referred to "GOD." This is therefore a remove into a still deeper and more debased IDOLATRY than the former. Upon this subject, at least, it would have been prudent in these defendants" to have let judgment 'go by default."
"Catholics do solicit the intercession of the angels and saints reigning," etc.] This doctrine, and the practice founded upon it, are utterly unscriptural and absurd. They proceed upon the false supposition, here stated, that "the angels and saints reign with "CHRIST in heaven." This, as applied to the ANGELS, argues a downright contradiction in terms; for the very term angel (ayyeλos) signifies a messenger; and, with the exception of the Great Messenger of the Covenant, the Lord JESUS CHRIST, is utterly inconsistent with a regnant state. In a scriptural sense, "Are they not all "ministering spirits, SENT FORTH to minister unto them who "shall be heirs of salvation?" (Heb. i. 14.) And, as applied to the departed SAINTS, it is still more preposterous; " for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, IN THE GRAVE, whither "they are gone." (Eccles. ix. 10.) It is a gross error therefore to say, that they are in heaven, before the event of their resurrection: it is a grosser, to assert that they reign there with CHRIST: it is the grossest of all, to pretend that they interfere with the mediatorial office of CHRIST, by praying there to GOD for men.
"From the age of the apostles."] That the doctrine of the exsistence of PURGATORY was unknown to the apostles, and to the primitive Church, has been already shown in page 28, from the records of ecclesiastical history.
"By invoking the intercession of saints in heaven," etc.] Thus do they, in effect, represent, that, " by doing evil, good may come;' and that, from the practice of idolatrous and superstitious rites, they can extract "the communion of saints !"
attention in their meditations and prayers; but they are not, on that account, to be supposed to be so void of reason and sense, as to pray To the image; for they know that in it there is no virtue or power; and that it can neither see, nor hear, nor help them.'
Catholics do solicit the intercession of the angels and saints, reigning with Christ in heaven. But in this, when done according to the principles and spirit of the Catholic Church, there is nothing of superstition, nothing which is not consistent with true piety. For the Catholic Church teaches her children not to pray to the saints, as to the authors and givers of divine grace; but only to solicit the SAINTS in heaven to pray for them, in the same sense as St. Paul desired the FAITHFUL on earth" to pray for him."
Catholics, according to the faith and pious practice of the Christian Church from the age of the apostles, do pray for the release and eternal rest of departed souls, who may be detained for a time in a state of punishment on account of their sins: but in this we canuot discover even the shadow of superstition.
By invoking the intercession of the saints in heaven, and by praying for the suffering souls in purgatory, Catholics exercise acts of that communion of charity, which subsists between the members of
'This is treading on rather precarious ground. Has the secret mechanism of sacred images never been brought to light, by which they have been made to perform various motions, that appeared to the ignorant
By fixing an exclusive meaning to TERMS," etc.] Throughout the whole of the REMARKS on this fourth Section, the attention of the reader has been directed to principles and to practices, and not to the mere arbitrary use of terms. The purpose of this part of the DECLARATION has been diametrically opposite: and therefore those who have adopted it, have been only combating a shadow of their own projection.
REMARKS ON SECTION V.
"The belief of both rests on the same foundation."] This is a great mistake. Baptism rests on the supreme authority of CHRIST, who instituted it; penance, as a sacrament, rests solely on the authority of the Church of ROME. The members of that Church may assert the contrary, but they have never been able to prove it. They MUST assert it, however, and believe it, on the faith of the following
Canon I. "If any one says, that, in the Catholic Church, PENANCE "is not truly a sacrament instituted by our Lord JESUS CHRIST, to "reconcile the faithful to GOD, as often as they fall into sin after "baptism, let him be Anathema."
And this is followed by fourteen other canons, all relating to the same doctrine, and each backed by an ANATHEMA.'
The doctrine itself, however, has originated partly in a misunderstanding of the proper sense of the word ustavoite, which is rendered by the Vulgate "panitentiam agite," and by the Rheimish translation, "do penance;" and which, therefore, as penance is a SACRAMENT of the Romish Church, ascribes it to St. JOHN the BAPTIST, and not to CHRIST; and partly in an erroneous view and application of those words of Christ to all his apostles after his resurrection :-" Re
Du Pin's Hist. Sess. xiv. of the Council of Trent.
the mystical body of Christ; the principle of which communion they profess to believe, when they say, "I believe the Holy Catholic "Church, the communion of saints.'
After this explanation and declaration, we hope that our countrymen will never be so unjust and uncharitable as to charge Catholics with idolatry and superstition, nor so illiberal as to attempt to give a colour to these injurious charges, by fixing an exclusive meaning to terms, which, in the language of Scripture, Christian antiquity, and common usage, bear different senses in different circumstances.
On the Power of forgiving Sins, and the Precept of Confession.
The Catholic Church is charged with impiety, in usurping the power of forgiving sins; and with spiritual tyranny, in imposing on the people the yoke of confession.
The Catholic Church cannot be charged with impiety, for exercising powers given by Christ to his apostles and to their lawful successors; nor with tyranny, in enforcing the observance of the precept of Christ.
Catholics believe, that Christ granted to his apostles, and the priests of his Church, power to forgive sins, by the administration of the sacraments of baptism and penance, to those who are duly disposed to receive this grace. They believe that the sacrament of penance is an institution of Christ, no less than the sacrament of baptism. The belief of both rests on the same foundation.
In both these sacraments, sin is forgiven by the ministry of man. "Be baptized every one of you, for the remission of sins," Acts ii. 38; "whose sins YOU SHALL FORGIVE, they are forgiven," John xx. 23. But no actual sin can be forgiven at the mere will of any pope, or any priest, or any person whomsoever, without a sincere sorrow for having offended GOD, and a firm resolution to avoid future guilt, and to atone for past transgressions. Any person who receives absolution without these necessary dispositions, far from obtaining the remission of his sins, incurs the additional guilt of hypocrisy and profanation.
multitudes to be miraculous, and were contrived by the artful priesthood, for the express purpose that they might appear to be so? To go no farther back, have there been no weeping and winking MADONNAS in Rome and Italy during the last thirty years?
Nay, is it not within the last four years that the king, queen, royal