Page images

grims happening to meet on their return from Rome found, on comparing their notes, that each had been honored with a foot of the very ass upon which Christ rode to Jerusalem. Here were five feet for one ani. mal. Moreover, it is said that there are as many pieces of the timber of the true cross in different parts of Europe, as would supply a town with fuel for a winter!

But, say they, were not the bones of Joseph preserved, and afterwards removed to Canaan. Undoubt. edly they were. But they were all kept together in a coffin, and they were removed, not to be worshiped, but to be buried. Joseph, being persuaded that God would visit his people, and bring them out of Egypt into Canaan, enjoined it on them to take his remains along with them, for he wished them to repose in the land of promise. What this has to do with relics I have not the discernment to perceive. How it bears any resemblance to the Catholic practice of disturbing coffins and separating bone from bone, and cherishing them as things to be revered, I cannot see.

Yet no less a character than · Cardinal Bellarmine appeals to this fact in support of their doctrine of relics. So also they cite the case recorded in 2 Kings, 13:21, of the dead 'man that was revived by coming in contact with the bones of Elisha. But how does this favor relics? The bones of Elisha were quietly reposing in the place where they were laid at his death. Not one of them had been touched. But if relics had bcen in vogue then, do you suppose the remains of such an eminent saint as Elisha would have been lest uudisturbed ?

I was surprised to find that Bellarmice refers to

Deut. 34: 6, in support of relics. It is that remarkable passage in which the Lord is said to have buried Moses in a valley in the land of Moab, and that no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day. I suppose the cardinal would have us infer from this, that if the place of Moses' body had been known, it would have been dug up and converted into relics, And therefore the Lord took care it should not be known. The devil, it seems, from Jude, 5: 9, contended for it for some such purpose as this, but he was foiled. The reference to this passage strikes me as rather an unhappy one.

But were not handkerchiefs and aprons brought from the body of Paul, and miracles thereby wrought? Yes, but they were not relics. Paul was living. Besides, who does not see that those articles of dress were but signs to connect the miracles, in the minds of the people, with the person of God's inspired arnbassador ? Was any honor due to them ? Do we hear of their being preserved and revered ? No. I do not find them in any list of relics. They passed again immediately into their former appropriate use as handkerchiefs and aprons. Finally, they appeal to the efficacy of the shadow of Peter, as related, Acts, 5: 15, in proof of the virtue of relics. But as there appears to be no substance in this argument, I·leave it unanswer. ed; and have only to add, that I wonder not that infidels abound so in Catholic countries, when Christianity is held up before them as embracing and even giving prominence to such doctrines as the veneration of relics, the invocation of saints, and many more like them.

26. Seven Sacraments.

What! Seven ! How is this? I read in the Bible of only two. Whence have they the other five? O, they come from the other source of Christian doctrine, tradition. They were handed down. It is true, the apostles wrote of only two sacraments; but Catholics would have us believe that they preached and conversed about five others : and those that heard them spoke of these sacraments to others; and they to others still; and so the story passed from lip to lip, until the Council of Trent, I believe it was, concluded that something had better be written about these five extra sacraments. I wonder that was never thought of before. It is surprising that it never occurred to the apostles, when they were writing their Epistles, to say a syllable about these seven sacraments. It would seem to have been very thoughtless in them. I may be very hard to please, but I cannot help feeling a desire to have Scripture, as well as unwritten tradition, in support of a doctrine or practice called Christian. I like to be able to trace a doctrine all the way back to the Bible, and to find it originating in the very oracles of God themselves. Some think it sufficient, if they' can follow a doctrine back as far as the earlier fathers; and especially if they can trace it to the Epistles of Ignatius. But this does not satisfy me. There are certain other Epistles, rather more ancient, in which I would like to find the doctrine. Ignatius was a very good man, but he did not belong to the days of Paul by any means. Ignatius, Clemens, and all those good fathers, stood on the bank of the stream, but Paul and

his associates sat around the fountain. These last saw truth in its rise; the others only saw it in its flow. True, they were near the source, but they were not at it; and who knows not that a stream may be corrupted very near its source? If I live eighteen or nicteen miles distant from a certain fountain, whose stream passes by my residence, and I want to know whether its waters have been corrupted, do I trace back the stream until I come within a mile or two of the fountain, and there stop, concluding that such as the water is there, such it must be at the spring? Do I not rather go all the way up to the fountain ? Which ought I 10 do? It strikes me as very strange, that any should suspend their search after truth a century or two this side of the Bible era. I think they should go all the way back to the Bible,

But I am wandering from my subject, which is the sacraments. What are those other five? One is marriage. What ! marriage a sacrament! How does it answer to the definition of sacrament? What spiritual thing is signified by it? Marriage is said to be “honorable in all,” but nothing is said of its being a sacrament. If it be a sacrament, why are not priests, as well as others, permitted to take this sacrament? Why should the universal clergy be debarred the privilege of this holy thing? Does its sacred character render it unsuitable to those who fill the sacred office ?

The other day I was thinking-for, being a Protestant, I dare think even on religion--and this thought occurred to me: “Is it possible that God has denied the whole body of the clergy, of all nations and ages, the privilege of knowing how he pitieth them that fear him; and of approaching to the experimental know

ledge of his exceeding readiness to give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him—the privilege, in other words, of being able to feel the force of some of the most touching representations which he has made of his dispositions towards his creatures, founded on the parental relation ?" I read in the Bible that “like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.” Now, can it be sinful for a minister of Jesus Christ to know by experience (the only way in which it can be fully known) how a father pitieth, and how, consequently, the Lord pitieth his people? I think it is man, and not God, that constitutes this a sin. Again, does God make this general appeal to his creatures, “ If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him!”-and has he at the same time excluded a large class of his creatures from the privilege of ever knowing how well disposed parents are to bestow good things on their children? And has he laid under this ban the very persons whom he has ap. pointed to represent and testify of him to men? Has he appealed to the parental feelings of his creatures, and then forbidden a large and important class of them to know what those feelings are ? This is rather more than I can believe.

A minister of Jesus Christ may decline the privilege of marriage in his own case—he may not use that power, as Paul, in his peculiar circumstances, did not, and as many a Protestant minister does not. This is one thing; but has God cut off the whole order of the clergy from even the right to marry? That is the question. And that is a very differeut thing.

« PreviousContinue »