« AnteriorContinuar »
second Council of Nice on a doctrinal point, its authority as a provincial synod must have been overborne by the influence which a general council possesses in the Catholic church. But the fact is, the supposed difference between these councils, originated in a mere mistake. The second Council of Nice was held in 787; that of Francfort in 794. In the latter was produced an unfaithful translation of some part of the acts of the former ; in which these venerable fathers were represented as giving the same adoration to pictures, as is given to the Trinity: these fathers, however, carefully distinguished between relative honour and supreme adoration ; and the error existed only in the faulty translation from the Greek original'. The same supposition was also adopted by the author of the Caroline books. The knowledge of this curious fact ought not to have escaped the attention of the catechist and his friends; since one of their own divines candidly acknowledges the truth of the statement here given.
After this clear and brief refutation of the objections of the catechist, will this candid divine accept of the opinions of two eminent doctors of his own church on the subject? “ As to the use
See and compare the acts of both Councils, t. vii. p. 1057 et 187,
· See Thorndike, Epilogue, part iii. p. 363.
of images in the worship of God,” says Dr. Samuel Parker, “I cannot but wonder at the confidence of these men, to make so bold a charge against them in general, (the Catholics) when the images of the cherubim were commanded by God himself', which instance is so plain and obvious to every reader, there being nothing more remarkable in the Old Testament than the honour done to the cherubim, that it is a much greater wonder to me that those men would advance the objection of idolatry so groundlessly, and can so slightly rid themselves of so pregnant a proof against it?".
“The pictures of Christ,” says Montague, "of the Blessed Virgin, and the saints, may be had in houses, set up in churches ; respect and honour may be given to them, the Protestants give it ; you say that they must not have latria, so say we; you give them dulia ; I quarrel not with the word; though I could. There is a respect due to the pictures of Christ and his saints. If
you call this dulia, we give it too ; let doctrine and practice go together, we agrees.”
After all these authorities and reasonings on the subject of that veneration which is paid by the Catholic church to images, and after this
18. 2 Parker's Reasons for Abrogating the Test, p. 130. : Montague, Gagger gagged, p. 300.
candid and honourable admission of those two ancient Protestant divines, the ornaments of the established church in their times, will the catechist forgive me for supposing, that if a particle of truth and candour enter his composition, he will retract his errors, and do homage to that church, which our Redeemer promised to support to the end of the world?
Why do you reject the use of indulgences, and dispensations
of the treasure of the Church?
1. Because they are built upon false foundations, such as pur
gatory, supererogations of saints, i. e. their doing more than was necessary, God's imperfect forgiving of sins, and
satisfactions to be made to the justice of God. 2. These indulgences are not things so much as heard of in the
primitive church, for they are wholly engrossed by the pope, who sends his servants abroad to sell them for
money. 3. Though in the primitive church the respective bishops, in
their dioceses, relaxed the time of a true penitent's severity he was to undergo, yet they never pretended to free the penitent from the pains of purgatory, much less to apply to them the superfluous merits of saints, as is done in these
popish indulgences. 4. They have no foundation in Scripture, by the confession of
their own learned men; and they came very late into the church, not till twelve hundred years after Christ; and it is
evident they are used as a means to get money. 5. By these indulgences men are hindered from a true repen
tance; for they pretend to release men both from sin and punishment, at least the people are suffered to think so, if they do but say so many prayers, or go in pilgrimage to such a place, or abstain on certain days from certain sorts of meat, or give a large sum of money for the building of a church, or go to war against infidels, &c.
BEFORE I commence my series of observations on this article of indulgences, I must congratulate the catechist, at least on this single ground, that he has not adopted the vulgar and disingenuous misrepresentation so often resorted to, that an indulgence is understood in the Catholic church to be a license to commit sin, or an anticipated pardon of sin to be committed. This he probably considers a slander; and he shows a certain liberality of mind in rejecting so foul an imputation. But still the catechist has much to learn on this, as well as other subjects connected with religion ; and for his information, and that of the general reader, I must proceed to state, that the Catholic church means nothing else by an indulgence, than a release of the temporal punishment due to such sins as have been actually forgiven by the sacrament of penance. This plain statement of the Catholic doctrine is sufficient to discountenance the vulgar notion of the ignorant, the prejudiced, or the malevolent, that an indulgence implies either leave to commit sin, or grants, by anticipation, the pardon of future transgressions; for, in fact, it regards not immediately and directly the pardon of any
sin whatever; on the contrary, it requires and presupposes sin to be already forgiven by hearty contrition and the sacrament of penance. Thus all the scandal, slander, and infamy, which have been heaped on the Catholic church on this ground, during the course of three centuries, are scattered in the wind, by the fair statement of our doctrine.