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on the side-walls of the church with reasonable and useful representations of the saints, and of those actions which are really true and worthy of imitation. The altar, however, is a place whereon nothing else should be seen but a crucifix and the consecrated Host, instead of their being placed under the grand altar-piece, so that a devil cast down by St. Michael, or a gaping dragon of St. George, or St. Anthony's pig with his snout, or St. Leonard's ox should exhibit itself to the people, just above the Host and the crucifix. Auth. Let me embrace you,
landlord. Land. Well, well-take care of my wig in your ecstasies, it is all awry beforehand—but tell me now, how am I to get on with our old rector ?
Auth. Let the good old man alone. There is no hope of making anything of people circumstanced as he is. Their heads are full of nonsense, which they got in the schools which were formerly sadly mismanaged, and the confraternities. Books of research were things quite out of their way. Bad school books, a legend, other religious books of a silly nature, some stupidly patched up sermons, and their breviary, form their whole library. The Bible is a book which they can dispense with ; and, indeed, it is better that they should let it lie on the shelf; for they do not understand it, and have not the means of forming an opinion on either scripture history or doctrine, from the want of proper education. Be assured, my good landlord, that I would sooner set a common man's head right than many a clergyman's; for the common man, whose head is not stuffed with so many crude absurdities, has that blessed poverty of spirit which renders him fit to receive truth with advantage.
Land. You really describe the rector very accurately. He will not hear of any book beside the legend and his breviary. “There,” says he, “is the Truth, which has kept its ground in spite of all freethinkers and writers."
Auth. Observe, now, that this good old gentleman really does not understand his breviary; and has not the least idea of what has happened to it and to the legends. Those registers of the martyrs, which people call martyrologies, the legends, and the breviaries, have often been subjected to critical review by the order of councils, popes, and bishops, and will have to go through the same again. It cannot be all done at once.
Land. Hey ?-what do you say ?
Auth. Why, as respects the breviary, the Council of Trent, Pope Paul IV. [elected 1555), and in particular Pope Pius V. (elected 1559), immediately after the Reformation, began to consider of the matter. To be sure, Pius V. imagined that the breviary set forth by him would require no farther improvement; and on that ground forbad any alteration. But his breviary was never received by all bishops, especially in France, because it still contains improper and fabulous matter. On this account a farther correction was undertaken in the time of Pope Clement VIII. selected 1592), and a second in that of Pope Urban VIII. [elected' 1623.] And, notwithstanding this
, learned and industrious men belonging to our catholic church have
pointed out the improprieties and fables which, through human infirmity, and the want of due investigation, have been allowed to remain in the breviary, so clearly and in such a way, that the general wish of the intelligent and right-thinking clergy is, that it should be still farther purified from so many improper forms of prayer, and so many untrue stories, as have been brought into it from the fabulous legends.* Your rector might satisfy himself of the alterations which it has undergone, even from its title-page.
Land. He does not know one word of it. He gives himself but little trouble about the title-page of his breviary; for he says he feels it such a comfort when he has got it over.
Auth. What would you have farther ? Even in the Romish ecclesiastical law † there is a decree, attributed to Pope Gelasius [in the year 494], that the acts and passions of the holy martyrs should not be read in the Romish church, seeing that they were compiled with fables and improper stories, some by unbelievers, some by private persons, sometimes by persons unknown. Moreover, the holy Council of Constantinople, in the year 692, made a similar decree, that the legends, filled with all sorts of romance and nonsensical stories, should be burned, in order to withdraw the Christian people from such things. I
Land. Then why were they not burned.
Auth. My good landlord, as we have chiefly to thank the monks for the existence of these legends originally, so we are principally indebted to them for having them still.
Land. I know some very honest and good monks, who most sincerely protest, just as you do, against the abuses and fables that have crept in among catholics. .
Auth. You are right. I know myself some honest and good monks; but they are only monks in name and dress; this they are obliged to be; but they are not monks in disposition and feelings. These, how
Van. Espen, edit. Lovan. T. ii. p. 671, et seq. + Gratiani dist. 15. can. 3. [The passage referred to is as follows:-" Item gesta sanctorum Martyrum, qui multiplicibus tormentorum cruciatibus, et mirabi. libus confessionum triumphis irradiant. Quis ita (al. ista) esse Catholicorum dubitet, et inajora eos in agonibus fuisse perpessos, nec suis viribus, sed gratia Dei et adjutorio universa tolerasse? Sed ideo secundum antiquam consuetudinem singulari cautela in sancta Romana Ecclesia non leguntur: quia et eorum, qui conscripsere nomina penitus ignorantur, et ab infidelibus, aut idiotis superflua, aut minus apta, quam rei ordo fuerit, scripta esse putantur: sicut cujusdam Quirici, et Julitæ: sicut Gregorii, aliorumque hujusmodi passiones, quæ ab hæreticis perhibentur conscriptæ. Propter quod, ut dictum est, ne vel levis subsannandi oriretur occasio, in sancta Romana ecclesia non leguntur.” The genuineness of this decree, as it regards Gelasius, has nothing to do with the purpose for which it is here referred to. It has stood as his in the Decretals quite long enough to gain a settlement in Rome.- Trans.]
(It must be observed that the canon (No. lxiii.) particularly specifies martyrologies written by the enemies of the truth, with intent to bring the holy martyrs into contempt. (τα ψευδώς υπό των της αληθείας έχθρών συμπλασθέντα μαρτυρολογια, ώς αν τους του Χριστού μάρτυρας ατιμάζoιεν, και προς απιστίαν ενάγοιεν Tois avoúovrac.) It is, however, a clear and 'important testimony that at that time such things were in existence, and were (or, to say the least, were liable to be) adopted in the church, by those who had the power of regulating its services.- Trans. ]
ever, will not deny that the existence and circulation of false legends is to be chiefly attributed to the monks. At first, indeed, these were heretics, who even falsified the history of Christ, against whom St. Luke was moved to write his gospel ;* and, on the same grounds, St. John afterwards wrote his gospel against the Ebionites, Cerinthians, and other heretics of the same kind.t
Land. But, without this, lives written by heretics would not have gained credit.
Auth. The heretics did not publish these lives under their own names, but, as gospels, under the names of the apostles. There was the gospel of the twelve apostles—of St. Peter, St. Paul, St. James, St. Philip, St. Bartholomew, St. Thomas, St. Judas Thaddeus, St. Mathias, St. Barnabas, and of Nicodemus too-yes, even one of Judas, the betrayer of Christ. I
Land. The traitor Judas's gospel must have made a good figure.
Auth. In like manner, false lives of the holy Virgin Mary came out under the names of St. John, St. James, and St. Matthew, which were full of childish fables. There was one, especially, called, “ The Death of the Virgin Mary,” that was stuffed with them. It is to be lamented that there were some even among the ancient fathers, Clement of Alexandria for instance, who gave too much credit to the pretensions of spurious lives; and as some writers of more modern times followed them in this, as, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Epiphanius, St. Gregory of Tours, and St. John Damascene,il it is not to be marvelled at, that so many fabulous stories of the childhood of Christ, of the family and childhood of the holy Virgin Mary, have found their way down to the most recent falsifier of the history of the saints.
(To be continued.)
* Maldonat. Comment in Luc. c. i.
Richard Simon, tom. i.c. 3. Hist. Crit. Nov. Test. Hieronymi Viri illustr. c. 9. | Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. I. 2. c. 2.
♡ Baron. Annal. An. 48. Biblioth. Patr. tom. vii. p. 579. [After what I have said respecting popish expurgation, I feel it right to add that the Spanish Indes of 1612, in its review of the Paris Bibliotheca Patrum of 1589, says, “ Post præfa. tionem adde, pus apocryphum, et falso inscriptum Melitoni ;'* and, after one or two minor expurgations, it strikes out all that follows the seventh chapter,-that is to say, considerably more than half the book. The eleven condemned chapters, how ever, keep their place in my edition of the Bib. Pat. (Paris, 1624), and, I believe, in all others; but this tract is headed as one falsely ascribed to St. Melito, apocryphal, of no authority, and containing some things which ought clearly to be rejected; and the censure of the Spanish Index is noticed.- Trans.]
|| Clemens Alex. Strom. Gregorius Nyssenus de Nativ. Christi. tom. . Epiphanius Hær. 78, 79. Gregor. Turon. lib. i. Gloria Martyr. Joannes Damas. Orat. de Dormitione.
[The series of papers illustrative of the mode of disposing of Church Preferment in
former days is not closed, but only suspended for this Number.]
THE PATIENCE AND THE FAITH OF THE SAINTS.
"That thou mayest give him patience in time of adversity, until the pit be digged up for the
The poor forsake thee, and the rich despise,
Give sentence with me, Lord; avenge the cause
Petra hath fallen! Vanish'd is her power ;
And in the summit of her airy crest,
The boding owl skulks hooting to its nest. The sculptur'd shrine, the imperishable tower, The carved monument, the rocky bower,
Where Beauty, shelter'd from the sun, sought rest,
Proud in their glory, but by Heaven unblest, Have crouch'd before the dark prophetic hour.
Her gardens once the high-born maidens' pleasure,
• The Edom of the Prophecies. See Jeremiah, xlix.