Page images
PDF
EPUB

was never devised, to show to the vulgar the paramount dignity, nay, omnipotence of the priesthood: for the power of making God himself, at any moment they chose, nnd of carrying him about the streets, whenever his presence was thought necessary by them, for public show, was a power which the greatest potentate upon earth could not boast of possessing. Thus fraud invented, and credulity swallowed, what is nothing less than folly to believe!

I may here incidentally observe, that if this Transubstantiation really takes place, no evil could arise although the wafer should be poisoned: and 1 therefore once ventured to ask a Romish priest, if he would take it with a knowledge of such circumstance. He hesitated in giving me a reply: when I told htm that I was sufficiently answered. If he had believed the elements really changed from corruptible bread to incorruptible Deity, his reply would have been instantly affirmative; but probably he had read that, in the year 1313, the Emperor Henry VII. was poisoned by the consecrated Host, and fact seemed to have more influence on his mind than faith.

(To be continued.)

A REVIEW OP MARTIN LUTHER'S VIEWS COMPARED WITH THE ROMANISTS*, ON CLOISTER VOWS, CELIBACY, POVERTY, AND OBEDIENCE TO THE RULE OF THEIR ORDER, AND DISPENSATIONS.

ARRANGED BY REV. C. SMYTH, B.A., OXON., FROM HIS "GERMAN TREATISES,"

1847.

( Continuedfrom page 285.)

The Reformer proceeds to give the following history of the celibate, dating its origin to St. Antony, who, by all Church history, and the Christian fathers, was called the father of monks, and the inventor of the ascetic regimen; and he says, that in the days of St. Antony, the term monk, in Greek monachos, signified that which in Luther's days was understood by the terms recluse and hermit; a man who lived remote from the multitude in the forest or desert; and he declared that at the time in which he was living, he knew no such monks as St. Antony; as follows:—"I know, at this present time, no such monks; there have been none of St. Antony's stamp for above a thousand years, unless you call prisoners in dungeons by this name, who, alas I are real recluses. The Papal monks are more conversant with the world, and live less retired, than any class of men you can name." St. Antony, in Luther's opinion, spoke with wisdom, and taught most scripturally, when he recommended the world by all means to avoid monastic life; since no commandment requiring celibacy and solitude could be found in Scripture. In his treatise bearing the title of " Councils and Churches," the great Reformer and opponent to all the rules of monks and nuns, exposes in the third part the "new works" which are not commanded in the sacred Scriptures, and which ha Vol. IX.— October, 1847. Y New Series, No. 22.

would not, as he says, call bad; but he said they were splendidly sinful; holy idolatry; the inventions of especial saints. For, he asks, what further good work could be conceived beyond those which the Holy Spirit had taught in Scripture? What good work could be imagined, which was not included in the commandment of love? If it be not involved in love, how could it be a good work at all? "But," Luther continues, "when a weak Christian hears or sees an holy hermit leading a most rigorous life, and pushing self-denial far beyond general Christians, he thinks at once, that the whole old Christian course of living is not good for anything, or very perilous in comparison with monastic sanctity. Yet this feeble Christian may possess a really pure faith in Christ, and exercise himself in real old good works, commanded by the Almighty. This man is a real ancient saint and Christian; but he will disappear behind the lofty pretensions of the new saintly worthies, whose recommendations will stand in garments, meats, fastings, watchings, and similar good works. Even the elect themselves may be drawn into these errors. It was so with St. Antony. But he was afterwards able to see, and to confess, that he and his monkery were outdone by a shoemaker at Alexandria, who far exceeded him in Christian principle. This conduct in St. Antony amounted to the same thing as removing his cowl, and submitting himself to holy Scripture, and extolling the general Christian state. With him many others, as St. Bernard, and Bonaventure, in their closing days, crept trembling to the cross of Christ, and sought and found salvation in the original faith of Christ, and Him crucified." Luther affirms that the above-named father of hermits was no patron of the opinions adopted by the so-called monks of after-ages, who bound themselves by the obligation of a rule, and who often with thorough reluctance led a life in a cell, but not in the desert, as Antony did with all his heart. The friars are represented by the Reformer as wasting their lives in a constrained and abhorred celibacy, and as utterly opposed to the freedom and fashion of the Gospel. And the ecclesiastical canons are cited, and are described as setting persons free from their vows, who have been persuaded with artful and fair words, and were not of ripe and mature age and knowledge, or who were forced to profess the celibate by their friends when they were reluctant, and, therefore, the Reformer argues that cloister vows may be broken, and with a safe conscience too, when monks find it a grievance and deception to adhere any longer to their rule. But here Luther was met by an objection from his opponents. They appealed against his decision to the case and example of the Nazarite in the law of Moses. Luther replied that the Nazarites did not vow their vows with any such intention, as though they would obtain forgiveness of sins in their performance. Now the object of the monks was to merit pardon of sin by vowing chastity, poverty, and obedience to their superior, and to the rule of their order. The rule of the Nazarites consisted in a corporeal exercise with reference to fasting, and to peculiar food; they looked for the forgiveness of their sins to other aid;— to the promise concerning the future advent of the blessed seed of the woman: consequently, the Reformer will by no means allow the state of the Nazarite, which was enjoined by Jehovah, and instituted not for the purpose of procuring him remission of his sins, to be adduced as parallel with the state of monachism, which was never sanctioned by Divine appointment, and which the Almighty never named for his service, or as reconciling him to the guilty brethren of the different monkish orders. All such appeals to the remaining vows, recorded in the Mosaic religion, as sanctioning monachism, are with equal ease disposed of according to the Lutheran leader; who mentions, secondly, the case of the Rechabites, upon which the Romanists relied as favourable to the cloister system; because " they drank no mine ;" and "had nothing" of their own, or to themselves. (Jer. xxxv.) The Reformer receives this illustration with a perfect smile; "Ah! well and truli/," he exclaims, "does the example of the Rechabites tally with our monks! when the latter have their cloisters constructed more superbly than the palaces of kings, and spend their lives in self-indulgence of every sort! and, moreover, the Rechabites with all their poverty, were yet married men;" and the Reformer adds that the illustration fails also most completely and to the moral stain upon the friars ;—and that the father of the Rechabites wished by his rules to perpetuate the faith and fear of the Almighty amongst his posterity when mingled amongst the heathen; that their progenitor gave them these signs and tokens to distinguish them from the Gentiles; to preserve them from idolatry; to keep alive in them the religion of the Lord of Heaven, and a belief in the resurrection of the dead. In speaking of the works and vows ordained by Pontiffs, the Reformer uses the following plain language: "When such preaching is uttered as this, viz.; I will remain no longer one of the world, and I will turn Carthusian. And why? For this reason; because I will enter into the service of the Almighty; I will turn anchorite; just as mankind have sought after righteousness and the service of God, in vows, in cowls, and tonsures." And again; "Will you become a priest? Oh! this is not believing in Jesus Christ; and to believe in Christ, and to do that or this work, are separated from each other as far as are the heavens from the earth :— and so also as wide a distance intervenes between the rules of St. Francis, Benedict, and St. Augustine, and the faith of Christ;"— "St. Francis, however, a man of very powerful mind, deliberately affirmed, that his rule was to be considered of equal authority with the Gospel." Certainly, up to our day, our holy fathers, bishops, monks,' and recluses, have acted prudently for their own ease in setting the office of preaching aside, and going after other matters, and absenting themselves from society and its cares; whilst they crept into the corners of their churches, and served their own interests and tastes: The Reformer asks the Carthusian and Franciscan brethren, whether they hoped that salvation was to be secured by tramping on pilgrimages; purchasing pardon-licenses; fasting; saying mass ; and praying with the Rosary? Their reply to him was this: "What? have I been so long time a Carthusian, and have I so rigidly observed the rule of my order, and have I not obtained the forgiveness of my sins?" The Reformer replies: "No! indeed;" and he tells the Franciscans that they had gained nothing by their multitude of austerities and going barefoot; and he addresses the whole saintly calendar in the same language. "In the sacrament of baptism," he says, "we vow to hold and observe the Gospel. But according to St. Francis, if his order were despised, if a friar removed from under its restraints, the relapsed monk had broken, as it were, the Gospel, and had renounced his second and best baptism. It was as much as to say, that the barefoot brethren alone were Christians." (Allein die Bdrfosser Bruder sind Christen.)

"Gerson is an author," Luther writes, "who describes the order of Carthusians. He commends them for adhering with the greatest strictness to their rule, when they persist in refusing to taste any meat to save their lives. Well, then let us suppose a skilful physician to be persuaded in his own mind, that the sick Carthusian can be strengthened by a piece of animal food, and nothing else. In this case the physician's advice would be rejected, and the patient's death would be the result. It is to the honour of St. Augustine I mention a direction in his rule, which recommends the physician's advice to be adopted; and he says that all are not capable of undergoing equal privation, and that a monastery is not a prison. This is quite true; and Austin would now regard the Carthusians as in the highest degree reprehensible for being homicides, and look upon their cloisters as thorough living graves, and I feel confident they are no better. I myself once saw, at Erfurt, when I visited the Carthusian establishment, a man in the period of youth supported on crutches. I asked him whether his attendance could not be dispensed with in the choir and at vigils. 'No ;' replied the sick man, in a tone of anguish, 'I must come forward.'" The Reformer then solemnly asserts it to be his opinion that all this came upon himself and others deservedly; that the Almighty had sent his Son for an instructor and Saviour; that from his high throne in heaven he had proclaimed, "Hear ye Him !"—but that the Christian world had forsaken the revelation of the Almighty, and the preaching of the Saviour, for human inventions: in compliance with which men's bodies had been macerated and their minds reduced to misery; but that it had been also the time of indignation, and of the new and senseless reign of holiness, which had arisen for the punishment of the world. The Reformer mentions another fact, viz.; that it was upon these points a deluge of pontifical treatises had smothered the face of the world, and had founded upon will-worship a complete chain of constitutions, canons, articles of faith, and of sin and holiness; and that the best thing to be done was to throw decretals at once into the devouring flames. "We should seriously consider," he asserts, "what deep mischief has arisen from these writings. They pushed the Holy Scriptures under our forms and benches, and quite abolished divine doctrines. Instead of the oracles of God, they introduced the pandects of Jurists and imperial statutes; till, at length, both the Church and the Emperor were trampled to the ground. Hence the canonists governed the Church, and confounded men's consciences with their perplexing casuistries; and, alas! their best rules have long since fallen into desuetude, and the worst are forcibly applied to the government of ecclesiastical affairs."

In touching upon the subject of monks, nuns, and priests, the Reformer bids his readers to observe the vast variety of religious orders, and how senselessly and haughtily they tossed at each other throughout the Romish Church; and he asks, in what respects are the highest concerns promoted by these sects? The Papal influence propped up these countless orders, and decked them 'with such ornaments as served to set them up in estimation before the common rank of Christians. The Roman Bishop said that they were exclusively holy, and recommended reliance for salvation to be placed in monastic institutions; and the monks agreed to concede to the most holy father the utmost stretch of his usurpation. But it was said that the practice of monastic vows was only what the fathers decreed, and surely they were holy persons, as, for instance, Augustine, Benedict, and others, from whom we received the institute? Answer: This is what Christ and his apostles intimated, that these very works will resemble those which are enjoined in the Gospel; but men were told to reflect that if any one wished to be saved, he must enter into some order or other; and the uninitiated were considered a profane race. But when an individual embraced the rule, then a cry of praise was raised over him for quitting the world and the lay estate. "Are not priests," Luther repeats, "set up for Christians, even before the monks, and all others called seculars?"

(To be continued.)

LECTURE DELIVERED BY REV. J. CUMMING, D.D., "ON THE TREATMENT OF THE BIBLE BY THE CHURCH OF ROME," TO

MEMBERS AND FRIENDS OF THE ISLINGTON PROTESTANT INSTITUTE.

The Rev. J. Hamrleton having darkens the truth, and, as I conceive,

opened the Meeting with prayer, pro- puts souls in peril—I have no antipa

ceeded to call upon the Rev. J. Cum- thy whatever to Roman Catholics,

Ming, D.D., to address the Meeting whether my own countrymen or

on the subject announced. others, whose misfortune it is to be

The following is the substance of the victims of that system. And if I

the Rev. Gentleman's address:— am satisfied, my dear friends, that you

Mr. Chairman, Ladies, and Gentle- are suffering under a misfortune the men,—I wish by one or two prelimi- most momentous and disastrous that nary remarks to disarm my Roman Ca- you can possibly experience, why the tholic brethren, if such should be pre- very conviction that such is the fact sent, of anything like hostility or anti- should disarm me of all hatred— pathy to the lecture or to the lecturer, should mitigate all passion, and should Whatever charges I may have to make prompt me to feel most deeply for against the Church of Rome, I have you who suffer so great a misfortune, nothing to charge against you per- a misfortune of all misfortunes the sonally. I am not going to speak bitterest, to have lost the way which against a system which it is left to the leads to God, to heaven, and to hapfancy of every Protestant to define, piness. I therefore feel, that whatbut against a system which is dis- ever your errors may be in your own tinctly defined, explained, and un- judgment, in my judgment they are folded in its own authorized and a painful and sorrowful misfortune, accredited documents. I wish you I shall endeavour, therefore, if you are clearly to understand that whatever wrong to help you,—if you are conhatred I may have to a system which scientiously wrong, to pity you: and

« PreviousContinue »