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Γνoίεν δ', ώς δη δηρόν εγώ πολέμοιο πέπαυμαι.
THE ANGEL OF THE CHURCH.
Why is our glorious Angel seen to mourn,
With earth-bent brow forlorn ?
Ah me! his silence speaks,
And the apostate land,
And put aside her cup of grace :
Bow'd down in pitying love,
The short precursive moan,
« Not for the Spoiler's parricidal hand,
Nor this apostate land,
With earth-bent brow forlorn ;
Her sackcloth laid aside,
Her ancient strength and glory shorn.
Therefore each wandering air,
And ere it reach Heav'n-gate,
The flood-gates on me open wide,
And old imperial Rome
Her seven-horned head,
Blend in one pestilent star,
“ Not for the flood-gates opening wide,
To see her present Lord.
The Angels bow and weep;
How should we see the Light!
Again I hear thy plaintive tale
In the autumnal gale,
With our old martyr Sires,
And heart-deep prayers of earlier years.
Now e'en far more
Than then of yore,
Doth seem in act to go,
And foot that heaven-ward springs ;
“ Can they who flock to Freedom's shrine,
Themselves to me resign?
And here in meekness bow?
And now, behold and see
In semblance fair,
And saint-like air,
He hath his altar found;
Is o'er thy pathway set,
The Editor begs to remind his readers that he is not responsible for the opinions
of his Correspondents.
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF THE TERMS MATERIAL AND FORMAL
IN THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CONTROVERSY. SIR,— The importance of the terms material and formal in the present state of the controversy existing, and likely to proceed, between the Protestant-catholic and Roman-catholic churches, cannot be too strongly inculcated. There are many distinctions without a difference; and they ought to be banished from all rational discussion. There are other distinctions with a substantial and important difference; and the one just stated has the highest claim to that character. It is the more entitled to notice, because there is not a form of logic under which papal controvertists more effectually and generally conduct the sophistications which their religion requires. And it is done, as I hope to make appear, by merging and concealing the difference between what is material and what is formal, and transferring at pleasure the argument from one to the other,
As the terms, however, are rather remote from ordinary usage and understanding, and it is important that the present observations should be made as intelligible and extensively serviceable as possible, it will be desirable to give them a popular explanation.
It may be observed in the outset, that with authors who wrote in the dialectic style common in the seventeenth century, the terms in question are sometimes varied and amplified by calling the one the subject matter, and the other the formal manner. The same distinction precisely is intended as by the single words.
The subject to which the epithet material is applied signifies the substance or being of that subject, whatever it may be, and particularly if a virtue or a vice, a truth or a falsehood. And the term formal expresses the consciousness or intention of the individual who may be the agent in respect of the thing specified. In short, the first term expresses the thing, the other the person, here of necessity considered as an intelligent and moral person.
To illustrate hy instance, which is the most satisfactory explanation, assume the fact of drunkenness. The material portion is, the act of being overcome by intoxicating liquor so as to be deprived of the use of reason. This is sufficient for a general definition. The formal portion belongs to the consciousness, intention, or motive, or any other mental accompaniment, of the individual who may be so overcome. Now here it is plain enough that, although drunkenness is materially, in its own essence, a vice; yet formally the person who falls into the act may have so done without any consciousness or knowledge-with, indeed, a persuasion to the contrary—that the liquor of which he partook had in it any intoxicating quality whatever, or to the extent which was the fact. In such a case, evidently, the man has not been guilty of drunkenness—he has been free from guilt in the action. But this by no means alters the substantial quality, or materiality of act: and that is vicious, and entailing guilt, wherever it is committed with knowledge or intention.—We might give several other illustrations, as murder, or theft.
We are now to shew how Romanists work with the instruments thus provided for them; and it is generally in the way of self-exculpation.
Their church is accused of idolatry. I carefully say their church, for they usually commence their subterfuge from this very point. They assert their own freedom from idolatry, and think this is the same thing as exonerating their church. The fact may be so as to them
selves; but we assert, and offer to prove, that it can only be so by their disagreement with their church-their ignorance of her doctrines, or their personal rejection of them. In the latter case, however, they take refuge from idolatry in hypocrisy. To confine myself to one specimen of alleged idolatry, the adoration of the consecrated host, or bread and wine, in the Eucharist, Romanists justify themselves from the charge, and treat it as a calumny, because, according to the creed of their church, and here assumed to be their own, they believe that the elements, when consecrated, are converted into the person, divine as well as human, of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to adore him is no idolatry. We may allow this to be the fact, and that they are formally innocent. But even themselves allow, that if their doctrine on the subject be not true, idolatry is, by the fore-mentioned adoration, materially committed, So that their own authorized Manuals do not hesitate to declare, that when ignorant priests exhibit the host before consecration in such a way as to lead the people to believe that consecration has taken place, they force the people, in their act of adoration, to commit idolatry—i. e. materially, in fact really. What is this but to give up the point, and allow their church at least to be guilty ? And what are we to think of those Romanists who force Protestants to receive the Eucharist after their form? We do not ransack the consciences of our papal brethren : we confine ourselves to their church ; only reminding them, that there is a Judge of their very consciences. Every one at all versed in the polemics of Rome, will recollect the unfair representation which is currently made of the sentiments of Bishop Taylor on this subject; and he will hope, in charity to such misrepresenters, that they were ignorant, or not aware at the time, of the distinction, which sets all right.
In the most authentic documents of Rome, principles are inculcated which will justify breach of faith to the extreme point; and therefore it is no wonder that perjury has been imputed to that church. There certainly have not been wanting instances, and they are not far. to seek, of those who have appeared to avail themselves of the encouragement, or comply with the injunctions, of so authoritative a church. And what is the course taken, in the case of plain, grammatical violation of the most sacred obligation-an oath ? Why, the conscience of the juror ; who may think fit to understand it in any sense which may suit him. The consciences of some persons are doubtless very inscrutable things. Yet, in secular affairs, it would hardly be tolerated that a person under bond to pay a certain sum to another should say, that he understands the bond of money to be paid to him. At least the strong arm of law, and of justice too, would teach him a better lesson. In worldly matters, it is possible for words to have a definite meaning; but in the sacred business of a religious appeal to the Almighty, it seems this is impossible; and, according to what are now esteemed liberal views of the subject, perjury has become an impossible crime. Without, however, dwelling longer upon an argument which is a mockery both of common sense and of common morality, let us admit cases of ignorance, doubt, or misconception, which may really exempt the false juror from guilt; this is only formal exemption, not material ; VOL. VIII.- Dec. 1835.
and if the plain grammatical meaning of an oath be to a certain purpose, the violation of that oath is in itself material, substantial perjury, and he who is guilty of it is guilty in the sight of God, and ought to be, perhaps is, in the sight of his own conscience, whatever he may say or pretend. It is sickening to observe how a loose and perverse morality, from whatever motive, will often concur with the most profligate speculations of men who are universally believed to make conscience of nothing.
There is another point on which the sophistry of Romanists, aided by a perverse use of the distinction which we are considering, is employed. Individuals of the Italian communion are rather sore under the imputation of exclusiveness and intolerance, particularly at a time when they wish for every credit for liberality and charity. They not only profess to decline passing a judgment upon individuals, but they allege various circumstances occasionally attending heresy which may deprive it of its condemning quality,-necessary ignorance, absence of wilfulness, idiotcy, &c. This refers entirely to the formal character of the act or state of heresy, and is just nothing at all: no individual or body of men presuming to pass actual sentence as to the final guilt and future state of particular persons.* But will any priest of the church of Rome who has sworn the creed of Pius IV., which banishes from salvation all who do not hold the articles of that creed, turn round and eat his own oath, and admit, in flat contradiction to that oath, that those who bona fide and simply, and with no extenuation, reject the creed of his church, and are therefore proper heretics, can obtain salvation or escape damnation ? He cannot-he dares not. No: the wilful and obstinate heretic, whether the indulgent censor can or will point him out, is both a material and a formal heretic, and condemned to eternal damnation. It would be worth while for the reader after this to run over in his recollection the articles, truly the pope's, which compose the final and main body of the creed of Pius IV. It must, however, be acknowledged, that the garment of liberality, politic as it may be at times to use in this country, hangs but awkwardly on the shoulders of a genuine Romanist. He is far better at ease when, as he sometimes ventures to do even in this country, he endeavours to intimidate into conversion by this argument: “You admit that we may be saved in our religion; we do not admit that you may be saved in yours. It is therefore your most prudent, because safest, course, to adopt ours." But this at once lets in all the intolerant exclusiveness alleged against the Roman church. No matter for that if it succeed.
Upon the whole, let me impress it upon all who would be Protestants more than in name, to keep a constant eye to the distinction which is the subject of this communication. It will serve as a clue in most of the mazes of papal controversy. It will detect error and sophistry: it will guard against them; and, in so doing, it will give fair play to truth, if it does not positively promote it. This of itself and alone is an important point.
J. M. The sermons, however, at an Auto da fé, generally, if not universally, make sure of the damnation of the victims.