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brook, I believe there is one; in that of Greenwich, there is a painting of St. Paul; and such there are
many other places of Protestant worship. We cannot suppose, therefore, that the representation of human beings is prohibited under any circumstances; and consequently the first part of the first commandment is modified essentially by the second, and from it only receives its force. We agree that no image should be made for adoration or worship, because the first commandment is against idolatry, or the making of images for such purpose. But the making of images was prescribed by God: for in the Tabernacle there were two cherubim in the Holy of Holies, aná the walls of the Temple were sculptured with graven images; and a brazen fountain, supported by twelve oxen, stood in its court. Indeed, there is no doubt that the temple was adorned with carved images and representations of the human countenance, as much as it was possible for any building to be. The whole question then turns upon this: whether the Catholics are justified in making use of them as sacred memorials, in praying before them, as inspiring faith and devotion. I may be asked, what warrant there is in scripture for all this? I might answer, that I seek none; for rather I might ask, what authority there is, to deprive me of such objects: because it is a natural right to use any thing towards promoting the worship of God, which is not in any way forbidden. I might as well be asked, what warrant there is in Scripture for the building of churches, for the use of the organ, for the ringing of bells, for music, or for a thousand other things that appertain to the worship of the Church. Do I want a warrant, do I require Scripture, for the use of the organ? Certainly not: because if the thing be innocent, and serve to raise our hearts towards God, we consider that we have a right to use it, and nothing but a positive enactment can deprive us of it. And I wish to know, would any one charge me with bad feeling, if, on coming before the representation or image of any one whom I had loved and had lost, I stood before it, fixed in veneration and affection, as
though the object itself were really before me? And even if my eyes were filled with tears, and I appeared to address it with feelings of affectionate enthusiasm, I might be guilty perhaps of some extravagance in sentiment, of too vivid a feeling; but no one surely would say that I was superstitious or idolatrous in its regard.
Such is precisely all that the Catholic is taught to believe regarding the images or pictures set up in churches. They are memorials in the same way as other representations are, and we consider them calculated to excite similar feelings, only of a religious class. And if I find that the gazing on that picture or representation will bring my cold and stagnant feelings into closer communion with the person whom I have loved and cherished, undoubtedly I may lawfully indulge myself without any one presuming to blame me.
In like manner then, if I find that any 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. It is precisely the same motive as that for going to one place of worship rather than another, because in it I find my feelings more easily drawn to God. This is an obvious and simple ground, on which to uphold the Catholic practice: that it is no where forbidden; and as the prohibition formerly made was only against making images to worship them as Gods, that prohibition does not apply here, because ours are only made as those were which God ordered to be erected in his very temple.
Whether pictures and images were used in the Church of old, is not a point of much importance; for their use has always been a matter of discipline. The Council of Trent does not decree that we are obliged to use them; it only says that it is wholesome to have them, and that they are to be treated with respect: with a relative respect, that is, such as is shown to the portrait of a father, or of any one whom we esteem and
But the Council of Trent, in its directions to the
parochial clergy, expressly enjoins them to explain this doctrine to the faithful; it commands them to warn the people, and make them understand, that these images are nothing but mere representations; that any honour paid them is to be referred to the prototype, or being represented; but that the image itself cannot have any virtue, nor give them the slightest help
However, although the Christians were careful, and most anxious, while idolatry was around them, to distinguish their religion from it, we find that they used these representations in the oldest times. In the catacombs, we have exceedingly ancient ones; some of them are cut in two by the tombs of the martyrs, and consequently rust have been made before these were opened. D’Agincourt has compared the paintings of the sepulchre of the Nasoni family, with those found in the catacombs, and has decided that they are contemporary productions, or paintings of the second century. In the same manner, Flaxman, in his Lectures on Art, acknowledges them to be of great antiquity. So that this practice of decoration was very ancient; and this is singularly confirmed by the fact that throughout the catacombs, the representations are uniformly the same, and precisely those described by the oldest father, Tertullian, as used on Africa, on the
of the Christians; such as the good shepherd carrying a sheep on his shoulders ;-an emblem of our Saviour's charity used, thus early, to excite feelings of affection towards him. This uniformity, especially in such distant countries, proves that the common type was much more ancient,—for all could not accidentally have agreed on the same subjects and same methods of representation; but not an inconsiderable time must have elapsed, between some one's inventing the type, and all artists in different parts adopting it. This very
brief sketch must suffice for the present. Perhaps I might be expected to say something of abuses, had I not interspersed several observations throughout my discourse, which must be, I flatter myself, sufficient. In one word, I
will only remark that the charge of abuse arises, in a grea' measure,
from persons not taking the pains to understand oi know the feeling of Catholics. If we go into other countries, we find demonstrations of outward feeling, ever of a much warmer and more enthusiastic character than here; and con
ently nothing is more common than to condemn these exhibitions, by comparison with what occurs in colder countries, and among more phlegmatic characters, as superstitious and idolatrous. But they who are acquainted with the people, and who have been instructed concerning their belief, know that, however.extravagant they may outwardly appear, inwardly their faith and conviction are perfectly safe, and in accordance with that laid down as the belief of the Church.
This subject closes the lectures, with the exception of those on the Eucharist, which I will enter upon at our next meeting. Before concluding this evening, I wish to make one or two remarks, which seem connected with our subject. They regard those vague declamations which are daily heard respecting the Catholic doctrines. I have not the least doubt, that this course of lectures will give rise to others of a contrary tendency;* in which attempts will be made to show that the doctrines and practices of Catholics are superstitious, idolatrous, and deserving of every opprobrious epithet. I entreat all who may be induced to listen to such replies, to keep their minds and imaginations exceedingly cool, not to allow themselves to be carried away by eloquence however fervent, nor by assertions however positive, but to demand proof for every proposition which affects Catholics; and if opportunity to do so is not afforded them, to search for proofs, and try to verify the grounds on which our doctrine is impugned, before yielding up their minds to the arguments by which we are attacked. I am confident that that method will save a great deal of trouble; because I am sure it will be found in almost every instance, that the doctrine assailed is not that of Catholics, and that consequently the argument against it is throwo
* This was actualiy the case.
away; the reasons may be very good against the imaginary doctrine attacked, but worth nothing, as confuting ours.
I am satisfied that we have nothing to fear from persons carrying on the discussion in the way I have represented. I am confident that the time is gone by, when they could raise against us the war-cry of our practising superstitions injurious to God, as much as it is for raising the cry of disloyalty and disaffection to the state. Both have had their day, and the day of both is passed; and no one can serve our cause better, or more thoroughly disgust his hearers, than he who shall endeavour to found his attack upon Catholics, on such declamatory and groundless imputations as these. Thank God, and thank also the generosity and uprightness of our fellow-countrymen, we can now stand fairly and openly before the public. We are anxious, not to shrink from enquiry, but to court it; we throw open our places of worship to all men, we publish our books of
prayer and instruction before the world; we submit the least of our children and their catechism to examin. ation; we invite all to inspect our schools, and present the masters and their scholars to their interrogation; all that we write and read is at the command of the learned; and, if in our power, we would open our breasts, and ask them to look even into our hearts,-for God knows that we have nothing to shade, nothing to conceal;—and there let them read our belief, as written on its tablets in the simplest and plainest terms. No attack can any longer be allowed by any sensible, reasonable, generous, or liberal-minded man, except through calm and cool investigation, based entirely on the correct statement of our doctrines, and conducted exclusively, not by vague quotations from the word of God, but by arguments clearly and strongly addressed to his understanding.
These are the concluding admonitions which I wish to im press upon you. At our next meeting, I shall commence, as I have promised, the most important of all subjects, the Eucharist. Perhaps the length to which it will lead me, may not allow me time to make many concluding reflections; and I did