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and before which we uncover our heads and bow down, we adore Christ; and venerate those saints, of whom they exhibit a likeness.” Such is the explanation of the Council of Trent, which is amply sufficient to convey the Catholic doctrine on the subject, and to remove the coarse and vulgar objections produced by the catechist. Even children are so accurately instructed in this particular, that the answers furnished in the catechism, are calculated to fill our adversaries with that sense of shame, which misrepresentation and falsehood, clearly detected, ought, in every instance, to produce. In the Doway Catechism, (first commandment) in answer to the question, do Catholics pray to images ? it is distinctly said: “No, by no means: we pray before them indeed, to keep us from distractions, 'but not to them; for we know, that they can neither see, hear, nor help us.”
The purpose, which the Catholic church has in view, in proposing holy images to the veneration of the faithful, is so simple and obvious, that it would appear difficult to conceive, how any misrepresentation can take place. The catechist and his associates are invariably in the habit of preserving the pictures and images of their absent and departed friends; and the utmost respect is shown to these inanimate memo
I Sess, 25.
rials, in proportion to the high estimation in which the objects represented, are held in the circle of their admirers. No offence is taken at this practice, by the most scrupulous delicacy and refinement of religious feeling: the man, who should charge the custom with blame, on the ground of superstitious veneration shown to inanimate objects, would be subjected to the imputation of folly ; and he who should violate the respect due to these tokens of friendly remembrance, would be frowned out of all polished society.
If this veneration to the representations of friends, can be daily and hourly exhibited without offence, what prevents the Catholic church from showing to the images of Christ and his saints, that relative reverence so well explained by the Council of Trent, and so accurately delivered and expounded even to children? If the image of the king is to be honoured, on account of the relation it bears to the majesty of the sovereign, are we to dishonour, insult, or refuse to reverence the images of our Lord and Redeemer, of him by whom kings reign, and judges pronounce equitable decisions ?
The utility of the practice of honouring images cannot assuredly be called in question. They exbibit the most moving representations of all that is affecting in religion ; they may be justly styled the volume of the simple and unlearned; who may be unable to peruse a treatise, though they may understand a subject exhibited in a picture. They contribute to preserve the mind from distractions and roving imaginations during the time of prayer; they become the occasion of pious and fervent desires ; and they unquestionably tend to promote a holy and laudable emulation to follow those examples, which are so affectingly exhibited.
Neither can the scrupulous Christian apprehend any divine prohibition of a practice, so explained and modified, and so embodied in the common transactions of mankind. On the contrary, a relative veneration to places which God has honoured, to things which bear a relation to him, and to sacred subjects, are held up to our regard in the sacred oracles, provided always that
supreme adoration, cultus latrie, be given to God alone. Moses is told in distinct terms 1, the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. The royal prophet, alluding to the veneration shown to the ark, exclaims: adore his footstool ; for he is holy. Over the ark of the covenant the cherubim are directed to be placedo; a brazen serpent is made by the divine command, to which the people were to direct their view, for the benefit of a cure Could all this be enjoined to a people notoriously prone to idolatry, and shall no relative veneration either of places or any memorialş be allowed in the Catholic Church, at a period when idolatry is unknown in the Christian world?
1 Exod. iii. 5.
2 Psalm xcviii. 5, al. xcix.
Indeed the good and conscientious Protestant, who carries about with him a sanctified horror of what he is pleased to term the worship of images, not only reveres and venerates the picture of his friend, which he kisses with affection; but on more solemn occasions he shows an ardent love and remembrance for the book of the Gospels; he bows to the name of Jesus; he even makes a reverence to the throne of his sovereign ; and if called upon to give an explication of the act, he sensibly observes, that he honours the place, which is the seat of majesty. All this is extremely commendable ; but on the same principle, he will allow the Catholic a similar privilege of honouring the memorials of Christ and his saints.
If the catechist wishes to know, what the general practice of the church has been on this subject, let him go back to the eighth century, when the second general Council of Nice was held, and then he will find the practice established in terms as clear as those employed by the Council of Trent". If, according to his usual
See Summ. Concil. Gen. Nic. II. act. 7. Carranz. fol. 289.
mode, he is disposed to treat the practice of more than a thousand years standing as a novelty, though the boasted reform counts only three hundred, let him consult those who lived in the flourishing period of Christianity; the Basils, the Chrysostoms, the Augustines. Theauthority of the first of these eminent prelates was produced in the Council of Nice, from an oration against Julian'. St. Chrysostom, in his liturgy, şays of the priest, that he bows his head to the image of Jesus Christ, and to that of his virgin mother? : and the great St. Augustine proclaims aloud the same doctrine, relative to the honour due to images, in terms not to be misconstrued 3. But let us proceed to reply to the specific difficulties of our reformed theologian.
I. The catechist says, that God forbade any likeness to be made of himself; therefore none can be worshipped. It is true that the Jews were laid under peculiar restrictions, even to the making of any similitude or likeness of any thing in the heavens, the earth, and the waters, as appears from the passage referred to by the catechist* ; but this prohibition arose from their proneness to idolatry, and, as the Scripture expresses it, from an apprehension lest they should corrupt themselves. This order, however, was
| Act. II. ibid. · St. Chrys. Litur, apud Savil. tom. vi. ad calcem operis. 3 St. Aug. de Trin. lib. 3. c. 10. 4 Deut. iv. 15, et seq.