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not designed to operate in all cases, or under all circumstances; otherwise how could the catechist tolerate at this day, the likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air, the likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth". If this order were generally and permanently to be carried into effect, how could the Almighty himself have directed the brazen serpent and the figure of the cherubim to be formed? Even the honest catechist has no objection to see the Holy Ghost represented in the form of a dove; the whole concern that he has or ought to have is, that the creature be not adored for the Creator.
II. The worship forbidden by the second commandment, or according to our division of the commandments, by the first, is of this latter description ; that divine adoration be not given to idols ; but the relative veneration paid to images, so satisfactorily explained, is by no means opposed to the paramount duty which we owe to God.
III. When the catechist asserts, that the Israelites adored the true God under the figure of a calf, he appears to me to possess some properties of that animal, which was the object of the Jewish adoration; for the intent of those idolaters cannot be mistaken, as appears incontestibly from the clear recital of the sacred historian, who records the transaction?; and the Lord said unto Moses, go, get thee down ; for thy people which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, these be thy Gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. Such was the crime of Israel, complete and manifest idolatry ; but what connexion has this hideous transgression with the relative' veneration paid to a picture, founded on the same principle, on which the catechist cherishes the memorial of a departed parent?
1 Dent. iv, 17, 18.
IV. Here, in the corresponding number, we possess an additional instance of the unparalleled skill of the catechist in the practices of Christian antiquity. Let it be published in Gaza, let it be heard in Askalon. He says, that the Primitive Christians never suffered images to be painted on the walls of their churches, as they accounted the worship unlawful. The truth is, they had no churches for the first three hundred years, on the walls of which they could exhibit the decorations of painting and statuary. It is well known that the Christian religion, during that lengthéned period, was proscribed by the majesty of Rome; that its observance was assailed by almost a continual and relentless persecution, and that it was not till the beginning of the fourth century, that the public exercise of the religion of Christ was established in the Roman empire. That the first Christians, however, did not consider the veneration of images as unlawful, appears from a fact recorded by Tertullian, that in his time, that is, in the second and third centuries, it was usual to have the image of the good shepherd engraven on their chalices.
| Exod. xxxii. 7, 8.
To the same effect Eusebius, the parent of ecclesiastical history, relates, that he had seen a brazen statue of the woman cured by touching the hem of our Saviour's garment, and various paintings of him and of his apostles Peter and Paul; and that a plant grew at the base of the statue, which removed every species of disorder”.
V. When the catechist asserts, that many councils of old have condemned this practice of venerating images, he should have added, that these were either false councils, not admitted by the Catholic Church, or provincial councils, that were studious to remove local abuses; for no general council, the grand organ of Catholic belief, ever censured this practice. On the contrary, the seventh general council, held in 787, fully established it ; and no doubt was ever entertained in the church of the propriety of the decision.
i Tertull. de Pudicit. c. 10.
· Euseb. Hist. lib. 7. c. 18.
VI. It is really a matter of some toil, to correct the errors of the catechist, on the subject of ecclesiastical history. Let me tell him to this effect, that the Carpocratians were not accounted heretics, for following the Catholic practice, as here explained; but for treating images as the Pagans treated their idols; and for placing the memorials of our Redeemer on the same level with the representations of Homer, of Pythagoras,
and of Plato. VII. But, says the catechist, God not only forbids us to place any virtue in images, but any falling down before them in a religious way, whatever the intention may be. My answer is, that all this is directly untrue ; for the reader has only to turn to the two passages cited”, to be convinced that God forbids manifest idolatry only, but by no means every demonstration of respect to religious memorials : otherwise how could the Protestant venerate his Bible, bow at the name of Jesus, and perform a variety of actions, which are rendered lawful by the intention that directs them?
Compare St. Irenæus, lib. i. c. 24, with St. Epiphan. Hær. 27 et 79.
* Jer. xi. 26, 27. Is. xliv. 17, 18.
VIII. Again the catechist confounds the actions of heathens with the practice of the Catholic church respecting images, but the difference is immense. The Pagans, as appears from every monument of antiquity, gave divine honours to created objects; the Catholic church ever honoured created memorials, for the relation which they bore to God and holy things.
IX. The fact relative to St. Epiphanius is cor-rect; but it by no means justifies the conclusion of the catechist. The holy prelate apprehended some superstitious practice relating to images, among his converts from idolatry; and this induced him to remove what, under certain circumstances, might prove hurtful'. On the same principle, we snatch legitimate weapons of defence, and even common instruments of use, from the hands that are likely to pervert them to mischievous purposes.
But as to the general practice of the church at that period, not the smallest doubt can exist”.
X. The statement concerning the supposed difference between the second Council of Nice and that of Francfort, invincibly proves, among many instances, how superficially the catechist is versed in ecclesiastical antiquity. If the Council of Francfort had really differed from the
See St. Epiph. ad Joan. Hier. inter
Hieron. ? See the body of this article.