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proof against his shafts of rhetoric and his paper bullets, went home in despair, and was succeeded by no less a man than the Duke de Albuquerque, who assailed his Holiness with all the theological, political, and prudential arguments that he could think of, but with no better success. Shortly after this, Paul V. and Philip III. died; but Albuquerque, being confirmed in his office of ambassador for the Virgin by Philip IV. lost no time in applying to Gregory XV. and his solicitations were powerfully seconded by those of his royal master, of the Queen and Infanta of Spain, and the Archduchess Margaret-daughter of Maximilian, Emperor of Germany. After various delays and evasions, the affair was referred to a congregation of Cardinals, who, finding themselves as unable to fathom the depths of this mystery as Paul V. had been, contented themselves with drawing up a decree that until the article should be formally defined by the Pope, none should presume to assert, either in writings or private discourses, that the Virgin was conceived in original sin, except those who should have a special privilege to that effect from the Pope ; and further, that the word conception should henceforth be used in all divine offices instead of sanctification. This was approved by the Pope, who dispatched a brief to the same effect to the King of Spain, in which, after declaring that the weightiness of the affair had restrained him from defining any thing rashly, he adds, “We who are placed by God over the Christian world, in the chair of Christian wisdom, ought to hearken to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and not weigh matters in the balances of human reason : wherefore, since Eternal Wisdom has not yet discovered to the Church the recesses of so great a mystery, the people ought to rest satisfied in the authority of God, and of the Popes of Rome.” About a month after this, Gregory published another decree, formally permitting the Dominicans “freely and lawfully to discuss the subject of the blessed Virgin's conception, in private conferences among themselves, without incurring any of the penalties specified in the former brief.” And thus, after more than four years anxious and toilsome negociation between two mighty Kings and two Popes, the matter ended nearly as it began! The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception did not advance a single step, bút remained in its former state of a pious and probable opinion. And though it might seem that if this opinion be pious, the opposite one must needs be impious, nevertheless the Holy See graciously allows the Dominicans to encourage each other in their obstinate unbelief, and to deride their adversaries as much as they please, provided they take proper precautions against being overheard !
We have been somewhat diffuse on this topic, on account of the clear illustration which it gives of the real spirit and temper of Romanism, the proneness of its votaries to embrace the most gross and childish superstitions, the duplicity of the Papal See, and the emptiness of its arrogant pretences. No boast is more frequently and confidently made by Roman Catholics than this, that they are possessed of a supreme judge of controversies to prevent all dissensions and breaches of religious unity; and yet we have here a fierce controversy of nearly six hundred years duration, which their infallible judge is confessedly unable to terminate any other way than by patching up an insincere and hollow truce between the conflicting parties, and in such a way as inevitably must do violence to truth on one side or the other. If the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception be true, the Dominicans have a special privilege from the Holy See to talk to each other in lying whispers : if it be false, the Franciscans,* who pray in direct terms for blessings from
• If a Franciscan disbelieves the doctrine, which we suppose he is at liberty to do, as it is not of divine faith, he is, nevertheless, compelled to join in a service which he cannot but regard in his heart as a tissue of falsehoods and blasphemies. How enviable the feelings of such a man would be, we leave our readers to judge.
heaven for the sake of the Immaculate Conception, are guilty of a solemn mockery and outrageous profanation of a religious service; if it cannot be ascertained whether it is true or false, it is ridiculous for the great body of the Church to keep the Virgin's conception holy, when they do not know whether it actually was holy or not. If it is said that though the doctrine is not certain, it may, nevertheless, be piously believed ; we reply that it is an insult on common sense to say that any thing may be piously believed which there is more reason to look upon as false than as true. True piety consists in doing the will of God, and if it had been his will that we should believe this doctrine, he would have revealed it more clearly.
We may also learn how to appreciate the manifold miracles and revelations so confidently appealed to as divine attestations of the truth of the peculiar tenets of Popery. If enquiry is made whether those things meet with universal acceptance among Romanists themselves ?-the answer must be " Far from it! the Immaculists disbelieve all miracles and revelations brought forward against the Virgin's sinless conception; the Maculists, on the other hand, pertinaciously reject all that are produced in its favour, however positively affirmed and strongly attested. One of their principal writers (Vincent Bandellus) roundly asserts that those to whom the revelations for the doctrine were made, were persons of doubtful character, addicted to fleshly lusts, and destitute of all marks of true spirituality; and that the miracles brought to confirm it, were wrought by the devil
, who, by God's permission, healed some diseases upon the invocation of the Immaculate Conception, that so he who was filthy might be filthy still !” As the two parties seem to have known each oiher, we Protestants may so far profit by their knowledge, as to feel no scruple in rejecting all the marvels produced on both sides of the question; and in taking the still further liberty of questioning all those wrought by holy water, relics or images, or alleged on behalf of purgatory, transubstantiation, or auricular confession. If Romanists themselves may disbelieve those things with impunity, may not we also, when we can defend our scepticism by the
example of all the disciples of Aquinas, and of the Pope himself ? For if the Pope believes the miracles and revelations on either side, he is guilty of knowingly and wilfully opposing, or, at least, disregarding a plain divine attestation of a religious truth; if he believes none of them, he furnishes us with a valid precedent for incredulity in all similar cases ; if he cannot tell whether they are true or not, how can we be assured of his competency to appreciate those produced in attestation of the holiness of those whom he canonizes as saints ? If they may be false--and they are generally no better attested than those of the Maculists and their opponents-how can we be satisfied that those who are indebted chiefly io them for their supposed celestial promotion were truly worthy of that honour -—whether, in short, they may not be actually in purgatory themselves instead of being able to help others out of it?
It is needless to enlarge on the same argument as subversive of the Pope's claim to be the sole definitive judge of the sense of Scripture, as it is sufficiently obvious that if he knows the texts alleged in favour of the disputed dogma plainly to prove that point, he permits the Dominicans to disbelieve the word of God; if he knows that they convey no such meaning, he allows the Franciscans to pervert them by false glosses and interpretations ; and if he is unable to discover whether they have that meaning or not, what becomes of the soundness of his claim The subject which we have been considering will suggest many such reflections to our readers, and will, we trust, help them to discover of what stuff papal infallibility is composed. And we may safely appeal to every enlightened and unprejudiced mind whether we, who unite with the angel in calling the Virgin highly-favoured, and with all generations of true Christians in calling her blessed, do not honour her in a more becoming manner than those who make her an usurper of her blessed Son's prerogatives; who pay her an extravagant adoration founded on falsehood, cherished by folly and superstition, and supported by craft and deceit, which was discountenanced by the wisest and best Romanists as soon as it was known, and which the rulers of the Church of Rome dare not unreservedly sanction, but have not the honesty to renounce and to disavow.
AN ACCOUNT OF A MONUMENT IN THE PAROCHIAL
CHAPEL OF ST. MICHAEL, MACCLESFIELD;
the Roman Church.
In “ The History of the County Palatine and City of Chester," by GEORGE ORMEROD, L.L. D., F. R. S. & F. S. A. Vol. iii. pp. 369, 370, an account will be found of a Monumental Brass Plate of the family of the Legh's, in the Savage Chapel, or oratory, in the Parochial Chapel of St. Michael, Macclesfield. Of this Plate I have an impression on paper, taken by rubbing lead on the surface. This was done somewhere between the years 1770 and 1780. It is, therefore, a perfect fac-simile of the Plate as it then existed. The Engraving which is taken from it on stone, is reduced exactly one third. On the left side appears a grown female figure with a label from her mouth-a dampnatoe ppetua liba nos dne. There is a group of six daughters behind her. At the bottom is the following inscription :-Orate p acab- Rogeri Legh et Elizabeth uxis sue qui quid'm Rogerus obiit iiiio die Novembris Ao dni mo v vio Elizabeth uxor obiit yo die Octobris Ao dni mocccclxxxixo quor acabs ppicietur des. But the most extraordinary and important part of this monument is that placed at the top. There is a figure of the Pope kneeling before the altar, and a naked one of our Saviour behind it. Underneath is the following inscription :- The pdon for saying of v pater nost & v aves and a cred is xxvi thousand yeres and xxvi dayes of pardon. Such is the present, and for a long time has been the state of the Plate. But it is evidently imperfect; and Ormerod affirms that it was engraved when in a more perfect state. A little more explicit information on this point would have been desirable, at least as much so as that concerning the re-erection of the Sandbach Crosses. We have, however, in some measure, the means of supplying the present deficiency. In a MS. of the Harleian Collection in the British Museum, No. 2151, referred to by the Topographer just named, entitled Liber Cest., (entitled on the back “Chester Monuments by the Rev. Randle Holme,”) Jan. 15, 1662, there is the following notice, Fol. 12. “Macclesfield Chapel, Oct. 14, ano 1584, engraven on a brasse, and set in the wall on the north side in Savage's Chappell this monument.” A VOL. I.
representation is given of the Plate, as it then existed, drawn with a pen, and from the imperfection evident from the parts in which it may be compared with the present remains of the monument, in a very incorrect manner, except for substance, From this drawing, however, it appears, that the right side, now vacant, was filled up by a figure, appearing more like that of a woman than of a man, which it must be, in a similar position and attitude with the opposite one; with a label, answering to the other-in die indicii libra nos dne--and followed by seven children, or sons. On the two upper vacant sides are, on the left, the Arms of Legh, Gules, a cross engrailed Argent, in the centre point a mullet Sable; on the right, quartered with the former, the Arms of Sutton, Argent, a chevron Sable between three bugles, strung of the second. Ormerod must be answerable for this description, which I collect from different parts of his work. This Plate is remored from the exact place which it formerly occupied. In answer to an application to a friend on the spot, I was informed by letter, dated March 3, 1821, that “it was formerly fastened into the wall with pins. These probably became loose, and it is now fixed in a wood frame and fastened to the wall."
In this singular and most interesting piece of ecclesiastic antiquity, the mind of the spectator or reader, leaving the family whom it concerns with a feeling of unfeigned pity, fixes at once, electively and most steadily, upon the enormous pardon perpetuated and secured, as it were, by this enrolment. I know not that this brazen document has a duplicate in this country. Some may perhaps think, or be persuaded, that it has not in any. However, there have been something more than stifled murmurs upon the subject; and the supposition, that various monuments of the same description exist, particularly in countries which have been or are, subject to the once dominant See of Christendom, has been combated and silenced by the counter position, that such things are not, and were not, because they were too bad to be; or that, if their existence must be admitted, they are not connected with the allowance or sanction of the Roman Church ; or that, if this ground cannot be maintained, the sense is to be interpreted in opposition to the sound. The affair, therefore, evidently demands a statement.
And first with respect to this country. Although Pardons for Hundreds and Thousands of Years have no present existence among us, except that which presents its brazen front in Macclesfield, a deliverance (for such we must esteem it) which we owe to the heaven-descended Refura mation of this country from the idolatry and impiety of Rome; yet are there, even now, existing a sufficient number of unquestionable documents to demonstrate that Centenary and Millenary Pardons, issued by the personage depicted as obtaining them by his prayers in the Macclesfield engraving, were, before that Reformation, as familiar and abundant as almost any temporal possession. The proof is contained in those liturgical volumes, in general adoption according to the use of Salisbury, denominated Horæ .Beatæ Virginis, or to the same effect. Bp. BURNET in his History of the Reformation, vol ii. Recordis, Book 1, No. 26, or pp. 150, &c. of the folio edition, has extracted from one printed at Paris, 1526, Sixteen instances of Pardons beyond one hundred years granted by Popes, on consideration of repeating such and such prayers with Ave Marias and Creeds. I have in my possession three small Horæ B. V.-one without title or date, and the two others printed in London under Mary I. 1554, and 1555, which all contain pardons of this description. But the largest in size, the most respectable in appearance, and the most prolific in this commodity, is one resembling that described by Bishop Burnet, but printed a year later (1527) at the same place, by Nicholas Prevost, at the expence of Franc. Byrkman, a citizen of Cologne, and sold at St. Paul's, London. The book is described in the second volume of Gough's British T'opography. This volume contains some dozen of these articles of papal munificence, several amounting to hundred and thousand years. I will give a specimen. Passing over the moderate one, at fol. 49, of a Bishop of our own, Lawrence of St. Asaph, which offers only eleven days, we encounter, at fol. 52, this, which immediately follows a devout prayer to our Lady-" To all them that be in the state of grace that daily say devoutly this prayer before our blessyd Lady of Pitie she wyll shewe them her blessyd vysage et warne the the dayé et the oure of dethe et in theyr laste ende the angells of God shall yelde theyr sowles to heven et he shall obteyne v hondred yers et soo many letes of pardo graunted by v holy fathers popes of Rome.” Again, fol. 56 :"Our holy fader Sixts the iii pope hath graunted to all the that devoutly say this prayer before the ymage of our Lady the some of xi M yers of pardon.” After a prayer of St. Brigide follows, fol. 68 :-"Tho all them that before this ymage of pyte devoutly saye v Pater nr et v Aves et a Credo pytuously beholdinge these armes of Chrystes passio are grauted xxxii. M. vii hondred & lv yeres of pardon. And Sixtus the iïji pope of rome hath made the iiii and the v prayer and hath doubulled hys forsayde pardon.” Passing over millenary pardons, at fol. 70, 72, 80, and 82, I will quote this only additional one, fol. 93:-"Alexander the vi pope of Rome hath graunted to all the that sayé thys prayer devoutly in the worshyp of Sainte Anna & our lady & her son Jesus x M yers of pardon for deedly synnes & xx yers for venyall synnes totiens quotiens." The volume extends to 221 folios, and contains abundant gleanings besides, both of minor pardons and similar matters.
Removing from our own country, I just observe, first of all, the testimony of a learned Romanist in favour of the extended pardons or indulgences. In the Pontificale Romanum, edited and commented upon by Jos. CATALANE, and printed at Rome in 3 vols. fol. 1739 ; in the second, p. 367, in answer to the assertion that before the holy wars the Popės nevér granted more than a year's indulgence, he writes, that Ferd. UGHELLI, in the fifth volume of Italia Sacra, adduces an inscription by a patriarch of Aquileia, A. D. 1031, in which were recorded indulgences thus described : Ob cujus solemnitatem Romanus summus Pontifex Joannes Papa XIX gratia Apostolica concessit Indulgentiam centum annorum, et centum dierum singulis annis, &c.