Page images
PDF
EPUB

that you

can't see it any longer. This is a new way some have of reconciling things; but I, as an individual, do not think much of it. I like the old way of laying things alongside of each other, and then shedding as much light as possible on both. If this is done with the two things in question, I fear there is no hope of reconciling them. To this conclusion our Catholic brethren themselves seem to have come; and seeing that the two things could not be so explained as to appear in harmony, they have most effectually explained one of them away. They have suppressed it. The second commandment has been thrown out of the Decalogue, as I have shown on a former occasion. This is a part of the Catholics’ “short and easy method with Protestants.” It beats Leslie's with the Deists all to nothing. Whether it be as honest and correct a method, as it is short and easy, I refer to the judgment of my readers. One thing is very certain ; the Catholics must think that the old second commandment is, or at least looks very much against them, otherwise they would not have meddled with it. Can any other reason be given for the suppression of the second commandment, but that it seems to forbid that use which Catholics make of images in their churches ? If any body can imagine another reason, I will thank him to state it. Now, where there can be but one motive impelling to an act, 1 suppose it is not uncharitable to refer the act to that motive.

I believe the reader is aware that, even in the little modern Baltimore book, “the guide to heaven.' the second commandment is suppressed. I think I have stated that fact in a former article. It is so. And

why should it not be ? Why should not the invaria ble religion be the same here that it is in Ireland or Italy? Why should American Catholics be bound to keep one more commandment than European Catholics? Why should they of the old countries have greater liberty of action than we of the new world ? The circumstances under which the second com. mandment is omitted in the guide to,” &c. are these. An examination, preparatory to confession, is recommended to the devout Catholic, on the ten commandments, that he may see, before he goes to the priest to get forgiveness, wherein he has transgressed any of them. Now, he is not directed to examine himself on the second, but twice over on the tenth, so as to make out the full number. Now I acknowledge it would have been awkward to have set the person to examining himself in reference to the second commandment. It might have led to a conviction of sins not recognized by his confessor. If he had asked himself, “is there any graven image, or likeness of any thing in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, to which I bow down ?” himself would have been apt to answer, “Why yes, there is that image of Christ I kneel before and there is that likeness of the blessed Virgin I bow down to and adore-I am afraid I have broken the second commandment.” If then he had gone to the priest with his scruples, you see it would have made work and trouble. It is true, the priest could have said to him, “O, my child, you don't mean any thing by it. You only use the image as a help to devotion. Your worship does not terminate on it. Your worship of it is only relative. Besides, you don't adore the image-you only venerate it

to

and you only give “due honor and veneration” images-nothing more than that. You should consider, my child, the distinction between adoration and veneration and also between latria and dulia.But this might not have satisfied the person's conscience. It might have been all Greek to him. Wherefore it was judged most prudent not to recommend any ex. amination on the commandment about images. Pernaps it was the more prudent course. The policy of the measure I do not dispute.

But, say the Catholics, have not Protestants their pictures and statues ? Certainly we have. We do not make war against the fine arts. We can approve of painting and statuary without practicing idolatry, Yes, we have representations of deceased Christians, but we do not kneel before them, nor do we on that account drop the second commandment, as some do. The Catholics make a great many explanations and distinctions on this subject of image worship, some of which I have adverted to above, in what I have supposed the priest to say. But they are substantially the same that the ancient Israelite might have made, and the modern Pagan makes in justification of himself. Idolaters, when called upon to explain themselves, have always been in the habit of saying that it was only a relative worship they paid to the visible object, and that the adoration was meant to pass through and terminate on an invisible object beyond. This explanation is not original with the modern Christian idolater. It is as old as Jewish and Pagan idolatry. Tha worshipers of the golden calf worshiped something beyond the calf. The calf was only a help to devotion, and they only paid “due honor and veneration” to it. Nevertheless they "sinned a great sin,” and “the Lord plagued the people" on account of it. “ There fell of the people that day about 3,000.” I suppose it would have been just the same had they made ever so many explanations. But their explanations were not waited for. What signifies all these explanations and distinctions to the great mass of the Catholic laity? They do not even understand them; and it seems that if they both understood and regarded them, it would not help the matter. It is this very explained and qualified worship which the commandment forbids.

I have nothing more to say about images, but I wish the Archbishop of Baltimore would allow the second commandment to appear in the next edition of “the Guide to Heaven." I wish he would let the publisher's stereotype plates be altered so as to conform to the tables of stone. I am afraid the people will not get to heaven if they have not respect to all God's commandments. The Psalmist seems to have thought that necessary. Ps. 119: 6. It would gratify me much, if the archbishop would permit the Lord to say to his people all he lias to say.

23. Relics.

My last was on the subject of images. Here are some more things to which the Catholics, if they do not exactly worship them, pay a respect and veneration which is very apt to run into worship. They are relics, só called. I have just come from the dictionary where I went to find the word. I consulted Cruden's Concordance first, but I found no such word there. That contains only the words which are used in the Bible. Relics came in fashion after the Bible was written. In those old times they were not in the habit of mutilating the bodies and disturbing the bones of the pious dead. They respected the remains of the departed by letting them alone, as king Josiah ordered the people to do in the case of the bones of the two prophets. They were going to disturb them, but he told them to let them alone, 2 Kings, 23: 18. This is the way in which Protestants respect the remains of the dead. It is rather queer that Catholics, in the lack of other scripture to support their doctrine of relics, appeal to this, and they will have it that Josiah, like themselves, entertained a great respect for relics. The reference to that passage must be on the principle of lucus, a non lucendo, [light from no light.] I cannot account for it in any other way.

By the way, I did not even find relics in the concordance to the Apocrypha. But Johnson has it. A dictionary, you know, takes in all words. I find the general signification of the word to be remains. In the Catholic church it is used to designate “the remains of the bodies, or clothes, of saints or martyrs, and the instruments by which they were put to death, devoutly preserved, in honor to their memory ;kissed, revered, and carried in procession." This is the best definition of relics I can any where find. I an indebted for it to the Encyclopedia. But it is not a perfect definition. There are some things preserved and revered as relics which don't exactly fall under

« PreviousContinue »