« PreviousContinue »
ARCHBISHOP WHATELY ON MODERN ROMANISM.
cacy depend not on the sincerity and rectitude of intention of the communicants themselves but in those of the priest, he profanely usurps the office of the 'One Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus' (1 Tim. ii. 5). The very terms of pastor and flock expressing the relation between minister and people are corrupted by the Romish system, which makes the people the priest's flock, and he the mediator between them and God. Hence confession to a priest, the efficacy of the penance which he enjoins, the absolution which he bestows, the celibacy which he follows as a badge of peculiar sanctity, and the doctrine of the transferableness from him to others of merits of such peculiar sanctity, as are not required of Christians generally, and which is virtually 'going to heaven by proxy.' But the language of Holy Scripture is 'feed the flock of CHRIST,' So the faithful Christian minister, like Paul and Peter, earnestly warns the people that they are not his flock, but CHRIST'S, that he himself is only CHRIST'S minister or servant, and at every step he warns the people not to take upon trust his interpretation, but, like the noble Bereans, to search the Scriptures daily whether these things be so which he teaches.
Pious Frauds naturally spring up when the people give themselves blindly to the guidance of the priests, for it tempts them to maintain and increase their spiritual tyranny by deceit, laying, perhaps, the flattering unction to their souls, that it is for a good end. So the pagan philosophers and statesmen deluded and over-awed the ancient Romans with prodigies and oracles not much less than the Romish priests. The path of falsehood, though in reality slippery and dangerous, will often be the most obvious and seemingly the shortest. So nothing more common among the indolent and thoughtless, when entrusted with the management of children, than to resort to this short way of controlling them; for the employment of deceit with those who are so easily deceived will often
serve a present turn much better than scrupulous veracity, though at the expense of tenfold ultimate inconvenience. Indeed, with persons ignorant of Holy Scripture, there is generally a craving after delusions; and there is this reply recorded of a Romish priest, when taxed with some monstrous imposture of his Church-The people wish to be deceived; and let them be deceived!'-Aaron's defence when he made the Israelites an image at their desire! Indeed most monkish miracles and other pious frauds have begun with the superstitious people themselves, and were merely connived at-for a good end-by the priests, who gradually in repeating the falsehoods began to credit them. The very curse sent on those who do not love the truth, is that of a strong delusion that they should believe a lie.' So a man succeeds in persuading himself in time, first, that the object he is eagerly bent upon is a good end-then that it is justifiable to promote it by tolerating or inculcating falsehood—and lastly, that that very falsehood is truth.
Undue Reliance on Human Authority is another natural disposition of sluggish minds, which are disposed to carry almost to idolatry the veneration due to the wise, the good, and the great, and which shrink in dislike from doubt and troublesome investigation. Hence GOD's wisdom, doubtless, defended us from a danger which no human wisdom would have foreseen, the danger of indolently assenting to, and committing to memory, some short inspired catechism or creed, which would speedily become no more than a form of words, received with indolent and blind obedience. On the contrary, GOD has appointed that laborious search of the Holy Scriptures should be the Christian's lot, and shall bring with it amply its own reward. The care and diligence, and patient thought and watchful observation required in drawing for ourselves the Christian truths from the pure spring-head, will be repaid by our having-through Divine grace-those truths ulti
ARCHBISHOP WHATELY ON MODERN ROMANISM.
mately fixed in the heart as well as in the understanding. We shall not only read,' but 'mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,' so that the heavenly nourishment shall enter into our whole frame, and make us not merely sound theologians, but, what is much more, sincere Christians, truly wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.' But nothing can be more natural to sluggish and ignorant minds than resting on the pretended infallibility of their chief priest. Unhappily this awful claim to exemption from human error shnts the door against reform. The smallest change in any article of faith, would break the talisman of infallibility, and the magic edifice of papal dominion would crumble into ruins. In discipline, indeed, there might be reform, but the regulations of the Romish Church concerning it have been so intertwined with doctrinal points, that she has always dreaded to alter anything, lest her infallibility should be called in question. The wisest popes have always dreaded to touch a single stone of their infirm fabric, lest another and another should be displaced.
Intolerance is alone to be prevented by Christian love, for otherwise the encounter with persons differing from us in religion is certain to excite a spirit of persecution in our minds. Speculative infidelity, for instance, is rare and startling, whilst we are but too much accustomed, alas! to see ungodly professors of our own creed; it also shakes the support which the indolent derive from authority; it is a personal affront to our own understanding; we suspect moral corruption biassing an infidel's judgment- the evil heart of unbelief." Hence even the rabble were often foremost in persecuting early Christians, whom the rulers blamed and punished for occasioning those tumults-' those that have turned the world upside down have come hither also!' Our SAVIOUR has told us that the penalty incurred by an incorrigible offender is, his
exclusion from the religious community which he has scandalized, and his consequent union to heathenism, to whose level he has reduced himself (Matt. xvii. 17). But in reply to the proposal of His disciples to call down fire from heaven upon the Samaritans that rejected Him, He showed that no earthly punishment should be inflicted upon His foes. But, guarding them from the opposite error of supposing that the rejecters of His Gospel should have no punishment at all, he soon afterwards tells them of the punishments to be inflicted upon them, not in this world but in the next, in the Judgment' (Luke, ix. 55; x. 14). The pretended successor of Peter does, indeed, proclaim his own degeneraey by his palpable disobedience to the command, to put up his sword into its sheath.' In literal and direct disobedience of our SAVIOUR'S command, the Roman See, though pretending to be the Church, will not regard her opposers as 'heathen, but as rebellious subjects,' whom she must subdue or destroy by fire and sword. The history of the world bears terrible testimony to the frightful massacres and martyrdoms perpetrated by the Church of Rome, for force and fraud have ever been the two great engines for the support of her spititual dominion. Witness the Inquisition! Witness Jesuitism! We are gravely told that persecution does not exist in Romish. countries. But the fetters gall only those who struggle against them. Where the Inquisition reigns triumphant there are no punishments for religious offences. Why?— Because the offenders have been long ago exterminated by it. No tree is withered by the frost of the polar regions, or by scorching winds of the Arabian deserts, because none exists in those regions. And no Protestant is now brought to the stake in Spain, because there persecution has done its work, by the murder of myriads of victims of all countries, including many Englishmen, guilty of the heresy of saying that the
REVELATIONS OF THE ROMAN INQUISITION.
pope has no authority in the kingdom of England, either in spiritual things or temporal.
Here I must pause to observe that, by the zeal of the Rev. Richard Gibbings, the Professor of Ecclesiastical History, T.C.D., and the munificence of its late Vice-Provost, Dr. Wall, the Dublin University Library now possesses as one of its choicest treasures, about seventy huge folio volumes of the Records of the Roman Inquisition, brought by the French from Rome after its capture in 1849. Months have rolled away since I completed my examination of those awful volumes, and yet the horror which froze my blood during their perusal haunts me still. I never could continue more than a few days at a time in this examination, without experiencing the intense feelings which melted even stern Wellington to tears, as he heard the muster-roll of his dead and dying companions in arms read on the night after the battle of Waterloo-the community of interest the same, the heroism of the fallen champions of the cross as signal-the havoc far greater. Those Records extend over several centuries, they bear the sign manual of most of the popes and cardinals. The handwriting in which they are kept is of itself startling. Often whole pages appear in beautiful Italian type, denoting the hand of some young and fiery official. Oftener the writing is cramp but firm, the tracing of an old and stern Inquisitor. But what chiefly strikes the reader is the legal accuracy of all these documents, showing that Roman persecution was systematized by its canon laws to a common, every day prosecution. Then it comes home to us
when we find our own most cherished Christian principles and hopes professed by some of those victims, stigmatized as 'heresy' by the Inquisitors, and the order made for 'gentle' or 'severe' torture to discover the criminal's 'motive and intention.' More terrible still is the discovery-never known