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rious voyage for eternity ;--no deliverance from the pains of purgatory, should the voyage prove adverse, and the haven of rest not be attained, but by virtue of the masses which he subsequently offers. - Now, unfounded, and irrational, though these rites and pretensions appear to the mind of the Protestant, we must not wonder, that they are contemplated in a very different light, and with very different emotions by the Catholic ;—that to his mind the rites of his religion should be fascinating, soothing, and deeply impressive. They come to him hallowed by the palpable impress of a venerable antiquity, while he is taught to derive them from the highest and most sacred authority. They carry with them the influence produced by their very extensive observance in christendom; an observance, within what he is taught to consider the boundaries of the true church, universal. They are most skilfully adapted to the human constitution. They were successively introduced by those who well understood the weaknesses of our nature,—the easiest way of access to our passions,—the most effectual mode of binding the soul in fetters. They ally themselves with all that is splendid, imposing, and exciting in architectural skill,in the disposition of light and shade, colour and form, -in the harmony of sounds,—in the inspirations of genius, whether embodied in the breathing marble, or impressed upon the living canvass. They address the senses, and artfully appeal through them to the yielding and captivated mind. In their observance, the imagina
tion is excited by the associations which are connected with the objects present to the eye; and when excited, is left to range amid all that is mysterious and profound. The breast heaves with powerful emotion, and the soul, subdued by the spell of a system which has held millions in its enchantments, complacently cherishes the persuasion, that this is devotion, and the only devotion which can be acceptable to the Most High.
Nor, in accounting for the power which the Romancatholic system exercises over the minds of its professors, must we omit to mention the confidence of spiritual security which it inspires, and the comparatively easy and tangible means by which that security is produced. We naturally wish to be at ease in reference to our spiritual affairs, and our prospects in a future state of being; and the system which proffers ease on the terms most acceptable to our imperfect nature, will enlist on its side the inclinations of the heart, and insensibly warp to its favour the decision of the judgment. We find the observance of outward and tangible rites less difficult than the cultivation of inward and spiritual principles; and are therefore prepared to welcome the former, as an agreeable substitute for the latter. To this tendency of our nature the church of Rome has pre-eminently ministered. Her ritual is the most complete which the world ever possessed, and, if her own testimony upon the subject is to be received, as efficacious as can be desired. She has no less than seven sacraments (the number being the number of
perfection,) and each one of them of wondrous power and virtue. There is no guilt, original or actual ; no defilement, inherent or casual, which she does not undertake, by some one or other of these sacraments, to
Let her pretensions be admitted, and the doctrine which she inculcates be received, that the rites of the church when properly administered are efficacious to salvation, and that the completeness and perfection of these rites, depend, not on the personal character, but on the official authority of the priest who administers them, and then, the mind of their recipient must be completely at rest. The path to heaven is made obvious to the very senses, and he must be scrupulous indeed who is not fully content to walk in it. Abstraction from chings earthly and material,-investigation of subjects spiritual and divine, anxious inquiry for truth,-internal conflict with the corrupt principles of our nature, are superfluous and unnecessary. Give what it requires to the church, follow the guidance and rely implicitly on the authority and work of the priest, and then all is secure.
Before, however, any rational individual ventures the tremendous risk of his eternal welfare upon this security, there are two questions which it behoves him seriously to ponder, and fully to understand. ARE THE RITES, SO HIGHLY EXTOLLED, OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH ESSENTIAL PARTS OF CHRISTIANITY ? AND, IS THE PRIEST DIVINELY AUTHORISED TO ADMINISTER THEM? If these questions can be satisfactorily
answered in the affirmative, the writer will directly renounce his Protestant heresy, and enter, through the medium of the first priest who will receive his recantation, and give him absolution, into the bosom of the Roman Catholic church. But if they cannot be answered, and if it can be shown, that priestly rites as performed by the ministers of religion form no part of christianity; and that the priest himself has no right to the title which he assumes, no authority for the orders with which he is invested, then will it be the duty of every member of the Roman-catholic church into whose hands these pages may fall, to seek some better and surer foundation for his hope of future happiness.
Be it premised, that the appointment of a priesthood under the dispensations of religion which preceded christianity is admitted. It is admitted, that the first ministers of religion who were specially set apart from their countrymen for the service of God in holy things were priests ;—that their office was of divine authority ;-that its functions were sacred ;—that no individual who was not lineally descended from Aaron, and caly consecrated according to the appointed forms, could lawfully enter on their discharge. It is admitted, that before Aaron was consecrated, not only Melchizedec who blessed Abraham, but also that Abraham himself was a priest ;-—that the head of every family by which God was worshipped according to the rites of his own institution, was a priest ;—that he had an altar for his household, and, what ever was and ever
must be essential to a priesthood, a sacrifice to offer to God upon it. It is admitted, that in this respect, the Catholic priest is more consistent than the Protestant who wears the title, and calls the table at which he officiates an altar, but disclaims the power of presenting on it an oblation or sacrifice. The Protestant altar, if not erected, like that at Athens, to an unknown God, is erected for an unknown purpose. The Catholic church has this inducement for those who desire “priests orders,” that in it they may find a complete office.
But, before an individual, who wishes fully to understand the ground of every step which he takes, will seek “priest's orders” any where, or repose any confidence on priestly rites by whomsoever performed, he will require to be shown the scriptural authority by which, under the christian dispensation, the office is sustained, and the rites are discharged. The reasonableness of such a requirement must at once be seen and felt. There have been so many impositions practised upon men under the name and profession of religion, in all ages, and in almost all countries, that caution, in surrendering ourselves to religious orders of men, rather than unhesitating and implicit credence, becomes a duty :—a duty, enforced not only by the reason of the case, and the immensely important interests which it involves, but also by the direct injunctions of the Saviour and his apostles. “Take heed that no man deceive you.” “ Prove all things; hold