Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

and you only give “due honor and veneration to 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 com. mandments. 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 has to say.

25. 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 am 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

[ocr errors]

it; as, for example, the rope with which Judas hanged himself, and the tail of Balaam's ass, both of which are kept and shown as relics.

But it may be asked if relics are not out of date. The inquirer should know that nothing ever gets out of date with the Catholics. Always and every where the same is their boast respecting their religion. Be. sides, in the Baltimore publication, “the Guide to Heaven,” notice is taken of relics. It says that the saints are to be honored and invocated, and that their relics are to be respected. Well, and where is the harm of respecting relics ? I might retaliate and ask where is the use-what is the good of it? They must think that devotion is promoted by these relics. But I cannot see how the spirit of devotion is to be promoted by contemplating St. Joseph's axe and saw, or the comb of the Virgin Mary, or even the finger of St. Ann. If a person even knows that he is handling a piece of the identical wood of the cross, it does not occur to me how that is to enkindle the flame of piety in his heart. The ancient method of exciting the glow of devotion was quite different. It was by me. ditation on spiritual subjects. It was while the Psalmist was musing, that “the fire burned" within him, But it seems the Catholics come to the same thing by the aid of their relics. Well, if devotion is kindled by relics, towards whom does it flame? Towards the saints, to be sure, whose relics they are.

These remains can only remind them of those to whom they once belonged. So that it is the religious veneration of saints, not the worship of Jehovah, that is promoted by relics. All that can be said for them is, that they serve the cause of idolatry.

But I have been writing as if these relics were genuine remains of the saints—the saw they show really St. Joseph's, and the finger St. Ann's. The seader must excuse me for indulging such a supposition. The very idea of such things being preserved, and transmitted through eighteen centuries, is preposterous. Their own writers acknowledge that many of them are spurious—that bones are often consecrated, which, so far from belonging to saints, probably did not belong to Christians, if indeed to human beings. If this be so, how are we to know which are genuine? There can be no internal evidence to distinguish them. The bones of saints must look just like other bones. I know it is said there is an odor about the genuine relics which does not belong to the remains of the vulgar dead. How that is I cannot say. I understand that, in the failure of the ordinary, external evidence, the Pope takes it on him to pronounce them genuine. This is making short work of it. But some of the authorities of the church of Rome go so far as to say that it is not necessary the relics should be genuine. It is enough that the worshiper has an intention of honoring the saints whose bones he supposes them to be. If this is correct doctrine, churches and chapels may be readily furnished with relics, and the defect in this particular, which Catholics deplore in regard to many of their establishments, be supplied without going farther than the nearest graveyard.

If any one should still think that the relics may be genuine, there is a consideration which, if I mistake not, will carry complete conviction to his mind. It is, that there are altogether too many of these relics, só that some of them must be spurious. Five devout pil

Pоpеру.

« PreviousContinue »