Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

pulously to be reserved for God alone: the veneration manifested to the relics of the saints and martyrs, is of an inferior description, and designed as a memorial of honour towards the servants and peculiar friends of our God and Redeemer. Their bodies which, agreeably to the doctrine of the apostle', were temples of God, and a place of abode for his divine Spirit, are on that account entitled to the veneration of the faithful. Every mark of respect, therefore, thus shown to the relics of the saints, in fact originates in the gratitude which is felt towards Him, who is the real source of every good gift, and from whom all grace and sanctity descend.

Of this veneration paid to inanimate objects, in consequence of the relation which they bore to God, or to individuals who have been highly favoured by God, the whole Scripture is literally full. Both the New and Old Testaments abound with the most distinguished instances of the kind of respect here explained, which God has sanctioned with the broad seal of his divine authority. To this effect may be produced the constant and invariable respect shown by the Israelites to the ark; the miraculous interpositions of Providence by the accident which befel Dagon®; the punishment of those who looked curiously into the ark, when fifty thousand perished'; the destruction of Uzzah, for his. imprudent officiousness'; the miraculous effects performed by the rod of Moses”; the supernatural operation achieved by means of the mantle of Elijah'; the restoration of a man from death, to life, by applying the corpse to Elisha’s bones*. If God thought proper to show such manifest indications of his divine power in the old law, in honour of inanimate objects, and to enforce respect to the bones and other relics of his departed prophets, what prevents the Catholic church from exhibiting proper tokens of honour to the relics of the saints in the new law, particularly as the practice is fully justified by what is recorded in various parts of the New Testament. What is more mean than the latchet of a shoe? yet St. John the Baptist professed himself unworthy to loosen that used by our Redeemer 5. The devout woman in the Gospel had confidence, that even the act of touching the hem of our Saviour's garment would restore her to health; and we find this ardent faith honoured with the highest commendation.

Cor. iii. 16.

2 1 Sam. v. 4.

3 Ibid. vi, 19.

The next passages to which I must call the attention of the honest catechist, are from the Acts of the Apostles. In the first passage of this description, it is recorded that the fervent disciples of the primitive teachers brought forward their

1 2 Sam. vi. 6, 7.
* 2 (al. 4) Kings, ii. 14.
3 John, i. 27.

i Exod. 7.
• 2 Kings, xüi. 21.
6 Matt. ix. 22.

sick, that the shadow of Peter might relieve them; and that those persons, and others tormented with evil spirits, received the benefit of a cure?. In the next passage it is related, by the same sacred historian, that the handkerchiefs and aprons, which had touched the body of St. Paul, removed diseases and expelled devils. Here let me ask the catechist and all his friends, in convocation assembled, as they dislike the name of a general council; if by any extraordinary combination of circumstances, any of these handkerchiefs or aprons, which had touched the body of St. Paul, had been preserved, amidst the general wreck of ancient monuments, and should be in their possession, with what eyes they would view such relics? Would they deem it superstitious to retain them with reverence, to treat them with honour and respect, because they had been applied to the body of St. Paul, and because God had honoured them with such signal marks of approbation? The answer is too obvious to be waited for: they treat the tokens of regard, left them by their friend, with affection and respect; and would their religious feelings be less awakened in the case here supposed? I am justified in saying, that their conduct would rival the practice of the Catholic church, in reverencing whatever belongs to God and to holy things; and that they would thus sanction the principle of | Acts v. 15, 16.

2 Ibid. xix. 12.

[ocr errors]

the question under discussion. Let us now proceed to solve the idle objections of our theological brother.

I. It is said that if no religious honour is to be given to the saints departed, none is to be given to their relics. The way to furnish a complete answer to this difficulty, is to lay down the converse of the proposition, with its consequence. If the saints are entitled to a relative honour and religious veneration, and this has been amply proved in the preceding article, there is no reason for withholding due respect from their relics.

II. It is alleged, that there is no precept for honouring relics to be found in the Scripture, nor is there any example of such veneration. To this we reply, that there is no precept by which we are enjoined to move a hat, or to show any mark of external reverence to a fellow-creature who merits peculiar consideration. But yet this is fully justified by the general principle of giving honour to all to whom honour is due-a principle strongly enforced by St. Paul'. In the same manner the Catholic considers himself as justified in honouring the friends of God, as such, and in testifying his respect for their venerated remains. If regard and consideration can be daily and hourly manifested for the

i Rom. xii. 7.

remains of a departed friend, what principle of religion, piety, or common sense, prevents the Catholic from honouring the remains of those, whom God has honoured in a peculiar manner, in consequence of superior sanctity? 'As to the gross ignorance or wilful misrepresentation manifested in saying, that there.is no example of this relative veneration due to relics, let those stigmatise this assertion, as it deserves, who have examined, in the passages before referred to, the unparalleled reverence both paid to the ark by the children of Israel, and occasionally enforced by awful visitations of an unusual nature. Let the reader attend to the history of Elijah's mantle, to the effect produced by Elisha's bones, or the sudden operations resulting from the aprons, which had been applied to the body of St. Paul.

III. It is asserted, that the practice of honouring relics is a novelty, because it was not known till near four hundred years after Christ. What an objection! what an admission ! what blindness is here displayed, in using a weapon which can be turned against the assailant with so much facility! Here it is clearly admitted, that the practice of venerating relics, contumeliously called the trade of relics, has been known in the church for more than one thousand four hundred years—and yet this is termed a novelty! If this be deemed a novelty, what are we to think of the

« AnteriorContinuar »