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ject, and will present to us an abundance of facts, proving the corrupt state of the Church and the urgent necessity which called for the Reformation.
The hour will not permit me to detain you, brethren, by any reflections on the subject of our discourse. But while we bless God that we enjoy the pure worship of his Church,—while we are content to love the memory of his saints, without either speculating about their present state, or attempting to hold with them any direct communication,-while we utterly abjure the notion of any mediator, advocate, or intercessor, besides the blessed Son of the Highest, or any sanctifier, save the Holy Spirit,- let us never forget, that an enlightened opposition to the dangerous corruptions of the Church of Rome, must be united with the kindest feelings of charity towards her people; and let us earnestly implore the Giver of every good and perfect gift, that the pure truth of his own sacred Word may open their eyes to see their errors, and enable them to put their whole trust and confidence in Christ alone.
And for ourselves, beloved brethren, let us be admonished of another kind of idolatry, not less perilous, although it be, indeed, not the doctrine of our Church, but the fruit of our own worldly and unholy temper. Let us look within, and search the secret chambers of our hearts, lest the creature should be suf. fered to occupy the throne of love and honour which belongs of right to the Creator. The worship and service of our appetites and passions, the idolatry of wealth, and pride, and pleasure, are yet more fatal to the soul than even the servile supersti. tions which have formed the subject of our lecture. Our hearts must be given to God, our souls must be devoted to the Re. deemer, or the sentence of destruction will await us. For it is written: “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema, maranatha.” May the powerful grace of the Holy Spirit arouse and quicken us: may the infinite compas
sion of the divine Saviour rest upon us: may the blessing of our Father in heaven guide and direct us, that we may avoid the snares of all idolatry, and be brought at last, in safety, to the mansions of eternal peace and joy.
Exod. xx. 4.—Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing, nor the
likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, nor of those things that are in the waters under the earth. Thou shalt not adore them, nor serve them. (Doway version.)
THESE words, my brethren, are a part of the divine law, pronounced on mount Sinai, by the voice of the eternal and invisible God, in the hearing of all the host of Israel. Sad and strange is the history of the disobedience, which the chosen people displayed towards this commandment. But yet more wonderful and melancholy is it to see, how the Christian Church, the spiritual Israel, despising the threatenings and warnings of Scripture, fell into the same corruption; and even consecrated the awful error by a solemn and perpetual decree, so that the absolute reverse of the celestial precept was set forth as an important part of the service of God, and the curse which he proclaimed upon the worshippers of images, was formally denounced against those that worshipped them not.
There is no part of the modern doctrine of the Church of Rome, however, which has been more influenced by the spirit of the Reformation in Protestant countries, than that which regards the worship of relics, images, and the cross. And therefore, in order to place you in full possession of her system, I shall first state the form which it assumes in the hands
THE ROMAN DOCTRINE CONCERNING RELICS.
of Dr. Wiseman; secondly, give you the authoritative decrees of the Councils of Nice and Trent; thirdly, answer the arguments on which our ingenious author relies; and lastly, present some facts, which will exhibit the practical operation of the doctrine in our own day, in those parts of the world where the sovereignty of the Church of Rome exists in full perfection.
According to this arrangement of our subject, we are to commence with the statement of Dr. Wiseman, which is in the following words:
“The Roman Catholic believes," saith he, “that any thing which has belonged to men, distinguished by their love of God, and by what they have done and suffered in his cause, deserves that respect and honour which is constantly shown, in ordinary life, to that which has belonged to any great, or celebrated, or very good man.”—“They believe that they please God by showing respect to those objects, and that by honouring these relics of the saints, they are incited to imitate their example.” (Vol. II. p. 96–7.) “They further believe, that it has pleased God to make use of such objects, as instruments for performing great works and imparting great benefits to his people; that they are to be treated with respect, and with an humble hope, that as God has been pleased often to employ them, so he may again; and thus they are considered as possessing symbolic virtue. Now we do find,” continues our author, “that God has made use of such instruments before. In the Old Law, he raised up a dead man by his coming in contact with the bones of one of his prophets. The moment he touched the holy prophet's bones, he arose, restored to life.” “We read that upon handkerchiess which had touched the body of St. Paul being taken to the sick, they were instantly restored to health ; and these were relics in the Catholic sense of the word. We read that a woman was cured, who only touched the hem of our Saviour's garment; that the skirts of his raiment were impregnated with that power which issued
THE ROMAN DOCTRINE CONCERNING IMAGES.
from him, so as to restore health without his exercising any act of his will. Here is the foundation of our practice,” saith Dr. Wiseman,“ which excludes all idea of superstition. Those examples prove that God makes use of the relics of his saints as instruments for his greatest wonders,—and consequently there can be no superstition in the belief that he may do so again.” (Ib. 99.)
On the other point of the worship rendered to images and pictures of the saints, our learned advocate contents himself with saying, that “the Council of Trent defines two things as the belief of the Roman Catholic Church; first, that it is wholesome or expedient to have pictures, or images, and representations of the saints; in the second place, that honour and respect are to be paid to them. This,” saith he, “is therefore the whole of our doctrine.' (Ib. 105.) 6. We
agree image should be made for adoration or worship. But the simple making of them is not sinful, for it was prescribed by God. In the tabernacle, there were cherubim in the holy of holies, and the two walls of the temple were sculptured with graven images.”“The whole question, then, turns upon this: whether Roman Catholics are justified in making use of them as sacred memorials, and in praying before them, as inspiring faith and devotion. I may be asked,” continues he, “what warrant there is in Scripture for all this? I might answer, that I ask none; for rather I might ask, what authority is there to deprive me of these objects? because it is the natural right of man to use any thing towards promoting the worship of God, which is not in any way forbidden.” (Ib. 106.) “If I find that a picture, or representation of our Saviour, or of his blessed mother, or of his saints, acts more intimately on my affections, and excites warmer feelings of devotion, I am justified and act well, in endeavouring so to excite them.”
There are errors enough, brethren, in this argument of Dr. Wiseman, which I shall notice by and by; but I must pre