Imatges de pÓgina
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with joy.

of which have been falsified in the most audacious manner, in order to make them speak the doctrine of the Romish Church, or rather, of a part of it, more explicitly than they do in their genuine form. A few specimens will suffice to give our readers some idea of the liberties which those thorough-paced votaries of the Marian religion, as a Jesuit happily calls it, are allowed to take with truth, Scripture, and common sense. Antiphone.—Thou art all fair, Mary, and there is no spot

in thee. Capilulum.-Prov. viii. I love them that love me, and they who awake early for me shall find me.

I walk in the ways of righteousness, that I may make those rich who love me. They who work through me shall not commit sin ;* and

they who make me conspicuous shall have eternal life. Versicle.—To-day is the immaculate conception of the

Holy Virgin Mary. Response. —Whose illustrious purity fills all devout minds Collect.-0 God, who by the immaculate conception of

the Virgin, didst prepare a worthy habitation for thy Son; we beseech that thou, who, through the death of the same Son, by thee foreseen, didst preserve her from every defilement, wouldst allow us to come unto thee, being

made pure by her intercession. Through the same Lord. Versicle.-Thou hast delivered me, O Lord, from the

mouth of the lion. Response..And my lowliness from the horns of the unicorns.

Then follow some long lessons from Ecclesiasticus xxiv. 5—31, (according to the Vulgate, which contains several verses not found in the Greek copies.) Our readers will be able to judge, without any assistance from us, how fitly such expressions as the following are applied to any mere human creature, however exalted.

“I came out of the mouth of the Most High, begotten first of all creatures. I caused a never-failing light to arise in the heavens, and I covered the whole earth like a cloud. I dwelt in the highest heavens, and my throne was in a pillar of cloud.

From the beginning and before all

*

The reference is here as faithful as the application of the passage to the Virgin is suitable. This latter sentence is not in the eighth chapter of Proverbs at all; but is taken from the vulgar Latin version of the twenty-fourth chapter of Ecclesiasticus.

+ It may be proper to apprize the uninitiated reader, who might otherwise be puzzled to trace any connection between lions and unicorns and the conception of the Virgin Mary, that this is meant as a clear scriptural proof that she was preserved from all sin, both original and actual !

ages I was created, and for the time to come I shall never fail. * I am the mother of fair love, and fear, and knowledge, and holy hope. In me is every grace of the [right] way and of truth; in me is every hope of life and of virtue. Come unto me all ye who long for me, and fill yourselves with my fruits," &c. &c. Antiphone.—Many waters cannot quench love, neither will

the floods of sin overwhelm Mary. Versicle.-Thou hast delivered my soul, O God, from the

sword. Response.- And my only mother from the power of the dog.

The fountains of the great deep were broken up: and there was a deluge of sin over all the earth. Versicle.—But the ark which bore God was lifted up and

borne upon the waters, and all the high mountains of the

saints were covered. Antiphone.—My dove is one, my perfect one is one, the

chosen of her mother is one. The holy souls saw her and declared her to be immaculate !!!*

Besides the above adulterations of Scripture, there is a good deal of base coin nominally from the Fathers. find a long extract purporting to be “a discourse by St. Jerome the presbyter," but in reality taken from that senseless composition---the Epistle to Paula and Eustochium on the Virgin's Assumption, which has long been condemned as spurious by all Romanists of taste and learning. There are also lessons from the commentary on Kings, falsely attributed to Gregory I.; from the treatise on the Conception, falsely ascribed to Anselm, and from the counterfeit Acts of the Martyrdom of St. Andrew, under the name of the presbyters of Achaia. There are also lessons from St. Augustine, Bede, and Bonaventure, who, though they unanimously assert that the Virgin was subject to original sin, are dragged forward to make a shew, and to induce people to suppose, that as their names appear in the office of the Immaculate Conception, they were of course, believers in the doctrine.

REMARKS. Such of our readers as are novices in Romish theology, may require to be informed that this festival is not meant to celebrate the immacu. late conception of our Saviour--a mystery which every true Christian will contemplate with feelings of gratitude and reverential awe-but the supposed one of the Virgin herself, which, though never heard of among the orthodox during the first thousand years of the Christian æra, is now as industriously taught and as zealously insisted upon by the ma

If our readers turn to the original passage, (Song of Solomon vi. 9) they will admire the bold figure of speech by which the personages there mentioned have been metamorphosed into the holy souls.

jority of inodern Romanists, as if it were the corner-stone of all true religion. There is, indeed, a powerful body of non-conformists, nor has the Church as yet ventured to prescribe any uniform practice to the adherents of the opinion. The Franciscans, who contest with the Carmelites and the Jesuits the honour of being the Virgin's Janizaries or body-guards, are allowed to celebrate her immaculate conception; most of the other orders, along with the secular priests, are commanded to keep her conception holy, but they must not presume to call it immaculate, at least in their regularly appointed devotions; and the Dominicans, who, unfortunately for themselves, are pledged to defend the opposite opinion, compound the matter by solemnizing the Virgin's sanctification. Much Christian ink has been spilt in this quarrel between the Maculists and the Immaculists, and on some occasions, particularly in Spain, the contending parties have, with great difficulty, been restrained from cutting each others' throats. If it were our object to heap up every thing capable of throwing odium on the Church of Rome, we could easily fill a volume with the indecencies and absurdities which the partizans of this opinion have put forth, all in zeal for the honour of the Virgin Mary; but as we have too much respect for the feelings of our readers, to disgust them with a long rehearsal of fancies only fit for lunatics, expressed in the language of the brothel, we shall content ourselves with a few remarks on the rise and progress of this conceit, and on the devotions which have been engrafted upon

it. Mr. Alban Butler's article on this festival, is a signal example of the deliberate and systematic coolness with which modern Romish divines of the highest reputation can suppress what is true, and insinuate, or even directly assert what they well know to be false. “It is an undoubted truth,says he,“ in which all divines are agreed, that she was sanctified and freed from original sin before she was born, and that she was brought forth into this world in a state of perfect sanctity.This is bold language in the mouth of one who knew very well that this undoubled truth is a mere opinion broached by the schoolmen of the middle ages, and that not a single divine of the first seven centuries, great or small, affords it the smallest shadow of countenance or support ;t nay, that the most eminent Greek and Latin Fathers, whenever they are led to touch upon the subject, invariably take it for granted that she was in the same condition with respect to original sin as every other descendant of Adam, and moreover, guilty of actual sin on a variety of occasions. It is true that since the time of St. Bernard, this tenet of the sanctification of the Virgin before her birth has acquired such stability among the Romanists, that it would be temerarious, scandalous, and almost heretical to oppose it; but we Protestants are not to be reconciled to a doctrine contrary to Scripture, reason, and the universal belief of the primitive Church, by being told that it is almost seven hundred years old. However, Mr. Alban Butler having, as he thinks, firmly entrenched himself in the post of sanctification, next makes an attempt to secure that of the Immaculate Conception, and like a cunning general who wishes to have a fort quietly surrendered to him without fighting, he does not

• A near approach to this was made in 1708, by Clement XI, who appointed an eight days festival to be kept by the whole Church, in honour of the Conception of the Im. naculate Virgin. Bnt though the term immaculate conception is carefully avoided in the offices, the Dominicans obstinately affirm that they are not included in the mandate, and that they are under no obligation to observe the festival.

+ This is distinctly admitted by Vasquez, who says, “It is manifest, that before the time of St. Bernard, there was no dispute among the ancient Fathers concerning the blessed Virgin's preservation from original sin, since none of them so much as montion it." Vasquez might have added that many of them assert the contrary opinion with sufficient plainness.

fail to exaggerate the amount of his forces. 'It is needless to produce," says he, " the passages of Holy Scripture usually alleged by theologians, and other proofs by which this assertion is confirmed. It is sufficient for us, who desire, as dutiful* sons of the Church, to follow in all such points her direction, that she manifestly favours this opinion, which is founded in the clear testimonies of the most illustrious among the Fathers, in the decrees of several provincial Councils, and the suffrages of most learned and eminent masters of the theological schools.” The confident tone with which all this is affirmed, is well calculated to impose upon the ignorant; but they who are moderately versed in Romish theology, know that when Mr. Butler talks of their being proofs from Scripture, and clear testimonies from the most illustrious Fathers on behalf of this chimera, he says the thing which is not. Even Bellarmine, who thinks that the dogma is almost an article of faith, confesses that no express text of Scripture can be produced in its favour; and those “usually alleged by theologians,” are expounded on such a ridiculous and childish principle of mystical application, that Mr. Alban Butler acted very discreetly in not producing them, but very dishonestly in insinuating that they are of any force whatever. Besides the deliverance from the lion, the horns of the unicorns and the power of the dog, which the Dominicans would be just as much authorized in applying to the conversion of Mary Magdalene, or any other distinguished penitent, as the Franciscans are in interpreting them of the conception of the Virgin Mary,– the sharp-sighted Immaculists find their favourite doctrine clearly typi. fied in the garden of Eden, the ark of Noah, the ivory throne of Solomon, and fifty other things of the like sort. But the cardinal argument from Scripture is deduced from Psalm xlv. 6—"God shall help her, and that right early !words which invincibly prove that the Virgin's conception was immaculate, for if she had been allowed to remain one moment in sin, God would not have helped her so early as he might have done!

Though all this trifling with Scripture is offensive enough to a soberminded Protestant, the gross absurdity of it is more calculated to excite pity and contempt than anger. But there is another application of the sacred text to this subject, which it is scarcely possible to vindicate from the charge of downright blasphemy; namely, of the passage in the eighth chapter of Proverbs, descriptive of Eternal and Celestial Wisdom, which not only the ancient Fathers, but even modern Romish divines, when the Virgin Mary happens to be out of their heads, almost unanimously agree in interpreting of the Eternal Word of God—the Second Person of the Trinity; which, nevertheless, is applied to the Virgin in several offices both of the Breviary and the Missal! Several of the Romish expositors betray, a secret consciousness that this is hardly defensible, by the shifts which they are driven to to palliate and explain it, and to show that the two interpretations are not inconsistent with each other. Carthagena argues as follows :-"Since those things which are spoken of the Infinite Wisdom of God are verified also of the blessed Virgin, it is necessary that from the Infinity of the Son, she borrow a kind of infinite dignity, and from thence those words may agree to both, though in a different sense.” The English author of “Sweet thoughts of Jesus and Mary,” affirms that * what was said of the Eternal Wisdom by eternal birthright and property— Our Lord possessed me in the beginning of his ways '-is applied to her by the wisdom of the Church, guided by the Holy Ghost "!! It being thus determined that the passage belongs to the Virgin as well as to the Son of

• This might seem to imply that the Dominicans, who persist in rejecting the doc. trine, are not dutiful sons of the Church, notwithstanding all the saints which the order keeps producing

God, the Romish commentators next set themselves to demonstrate in what sense each particular proposition is to be understood of her. They do not go so far as to assert that she actually existed from all eternity, but as the expressions used by Solomon_“I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was made,” literally imply so much, they interpret them to denote that she was predestinated in an especial manner, and existed from all eternity in the divine mind; and what is more, the Jesuit Salazar discovers from this text that all the elect were predestinated through her! “God,” says he, “foresees and knows all that are predestinated, but Mary more especially; because, through her, as through an astronomer's telescope (tanquam per dioptram)-he views and measures the greatness, height, and degrees of their sanctity. So that, as it is true that all are elected and predestinated through Mary, so also it is true that in that vast space of eternity, his sight reached all other just persons, because, before them all he foreknew Mary. Through her he viewed and measured the magnitude of Peter, the height of Paul, &c. &c. because by her prayers they attained to the greatness of sanctity which God bestowed on them.” Nieremberg, another Jesuit, expounds the declaration—"Before the hills I was brought forth,” to mean that the Virgin was brought forth by predestination before all ungels, who are called hills on account of their exalted nature, and with equal sagacity-"When there were no depths I was brought forth," is discovered to signify that "her production was decreed, when original sin, which is like a deep and obscure abyss, was not yet considered as foreseen by God!* Such expositions as the above -and we know of none more convincing and cogent, though we could produce many which are still more outrageously blasphemous-are the scriptural proofs " usually alleged by divines,” greatly, no doubt, to their own credit and that of the cause which they are brought to support! Such distortions of Seripture are as contrary to piety as they are to truth and common sense. Whether the passage in Proverbs is to be understood of the divine nature of the Son of God, or of that eternal and infinite wisdom which is a peculiar attribute of the Deity, it is clearly blasphemous to apply it to any creature whatever; and it is as false, 'absurd, and unscriptural to affirm that the Virgin is in some sense made partaker of her Son's infinite dignity and other divine attributes, as it would be to say that in some sense she created heaven and earth, or communicated the gift of inspiration to Moses and the prophets.

To Mr. Alban Butler's assertion that this opinion " is founded on the clear testimonies of the most illustrious of the Fathers," it will be sufficient to oppose the counter-statement of the learned Bishop of the Canaries--Melchior Canus. In his Theological Common-places, lib.7, c. 1, be observes :-All the holy Fathers who have touched upon this subject, affirm with one accord that the blessed Virgin was conceived in original sin;" and after referring to the distinctly specified testimonies of eighteen Fathers, beginning with Ambrose and Augustine, and ending with Hugo de S. Victore, he adds, that not one holy Father has contradicted this assertion! In fact, if Mr. Butler had made any attempt to muster all the illustrious Fathers whose alliance he is authorized to claim in this conflict, it would have come out that the senior captain and commandant of the whole band is our own countryman, Duns Scotus, who died in the fourteenth century! Though Scotus professes to be on the whole, most inclined to espouse the tenet of the Immaculate Conception, partly as being most honourable to the Virgin Mary,

. This is a precious piece of Catholic theology! The Virgin confessedly derives all her claims to consideration from being the chosen instrument of our Lord's incarna. tion; and it is here intimated that she was predestinated prior to God's foreseeing man's sin, which was the very thing that made the incarnation requisite ! VOL, 1.

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