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eating children at their religious assemblics, and rising after supper to conclude all in the confusion of incest, Tertullien addressed his apology to the Roman senate, and calls upon them to prove the truth of the fact. He appeals afterwards to the feelings of humanity, common to Pagans and Chris. tians, whether such crimes could be the religion of any so. ciety of mortals. O, said he, what immortal glory would a pro-consul gain, could he pull out a Christian by the ears, that had eat up an hundred children. But we despair of any such" glorious discovery. · I call aloud upon the Viceroys of Ireland, their Secretaries, and the Judges of the land, to name or to recollect one single instance in which a crime, murder or felony has been com. mitted, in consequence of a priestly absolution. Where was the gallows erected, on the branches of which the absolved murderer and the absolving priest were suspended together the one the perpetrator, the other the instigator of the crime ? Or where is that nation on earth, even in times of Paganism, where the religion of the people authorized the commission of all sorts of crimes ? · The Romans, who worshipped an adulterous Jupiter, vet punished adultery by the Julian law. The Senator who had offered incense to Bacchus, could not abide his wife when he discovered that her breath was too fragrant with the flavour of wine. The impure Venus was a goddess worshipped by the matrons of ancient Rome, yet Lucretia was chaste. The civil magistrate punished on earth the crimes that were worshipped in heaven. There exists then in the heart of man a law which points out to him, according to the Apostle, his moral duty-an innate principle of justice and goodness, by which, even in spite of the false maxims of his worship, the unregenerate Pagan condemned the immoral actions of himself and others.
The Catholics of Ireland, natives of a nation of heroes and an island of saints, are they to form the most singular of all exceptions to the maxims of nature, by not only
commodity ? ..
We who spend our time in enforcing the maxims of the Gospel, one of whose principal laws is a law of eternal love : who teach our flocks to relieve the distressed, without dis.. tinction of sects or countries, to return good for evil to discover a brother in the face of an enemy to embrace affliction—to smile under calamity--to pluck out the eye that gives offence to cut off the hand that scandalizes--to renounce all the honours, riches, and pleasures of the world, when they cannot be attained but at the risk of the soul, and to consider death in grace as a passage to a glorious and blissful eternity.
Are we such monsters as to be slaves to tenets so abhorrent to human nature ?
I imagined, my Lords, that the solemn oaths and declarations of the Catholics of those kingdoms, and their renunciation of these privileges and rights, to which they would be otherwise entitled, rather than swear against their consciences, had sufficiently refuted accusations, at which nature recoils and shrinks with horror : but to our astonishment and surprise, our creed is not learned from ourselves. More credit is given to a fanatical geographer called Guthrie, than to our Oaths, or the writings of our doctors. In this theological sum, our divinity is chiefly studied, and Guthrie informs his readers, that he has extracted from a book called : Rome, the Great Custom- House of sin, translated into English 150 years ago, the fees of the Pope's Chancery for absolutions. He might have said, instead of translated into English, composed in English originally. I never read such a book in the canon law, nor such fees amongst the rules of the Pope's Chancery; however, he classes the fees in the following order. *
For him who stole consecrated things in a holy place, ten shillings and six-pence.
For him who lays with a woman in a church, nine shillings.
For him that killeth father, mother, wife or sister, ten shillings.
For him that layeth with his mother, sister, or grandmother, seven shillings and six-pence.
* Guthric's Geographical Graminar, sixteenth edition, corrected and enlarged. London, printed 1796.
This is the cheapest bargain a pivus customer could ex. pect, and I think there is good profit in dealing with the Pope, as a great number of other sins are not taxed at all, such as sleeping with a neighbour's wife, stealing a fat ox, &c. These are only as a few grains thrown into the scale, when a person buys some pounds of sugar in a grocer's shop. They are but peccadillos or trifles. It appears, however, that the Pope's are but bad financiers in not increasing the custom-house duties in the space of about 150 years, whereas every article costs now treble what it cost then; but especially, as things rise in value, according to the rarity, ihe Pope's custom rates were ill regulated in not charging six. pence or a shilling more for the grandmother than for the sister or grand-daughter, as most certainly an old Hebe, the grandmother of the graces, is a greater rarity than a young woman or grand-daughter. In vain should we attempt to disclaim this ludricous and impious creed. The public are so accustomed to slander and misrepresentation, that few will believe us.
The rules of the Roman Chancery, Regulæ Cancellariæ, regard benefices, the temporalities of vacant bishoprics, and other ecclesiastical matters, partly spiritual, partly temporal, according to concordatums or stipulations between the Apostolical See, and Catholic Princes. The incests and Sicrileges above mentioned, instead of being compounded for money, would be punished with death on the rack or wheel, after making the amendė honorable, with a lighted taper held by the criminal, on his knees before the door of the church where the sacrilege had been committed. Sixtus Quintus condemned to the gallies, for the space of five years, a nobleman for raising the veil of a lady whom he met in the street, and giving her a kiss. And in vain did a polygamist plead that he was unfortunate in each of his wives, and for that reason changed theni in expectation of finding one that would please him.
As it is so hard to please you in this world, replied the stern Pontiff, there are more women in the other world, you must go there to find one to your liking-ordered him to be tried and executed.
Thus, if Rome be the great custom-house of sins, a London printer's office is the great custom-house of false creeds and fictitious absolutions, for real absolutions can never be granted but upon sincere repentance, which requires three indispensable conditions: a sincere sorrow for past sins, a firm resolution to guard against future lapses, and every atonement in our power to the injured Deity and the injured neighbour. "Without these conditions absolutions are no more than the mutterings of sorcerers, or words of incantion pronounced over a dead body, without ever imparting to it the genial heat of animation and vitality. The ministers of religion can do no more than God has annexed to their commissions; and the Scriptures declare, that God will never forgive the sinner without sorrow and repentance, which implies a purpose of amendment for life.
Sacramental confession then, and priestly absolution, instead of being an encouragement to sin, are in the Catholic religion the greatest restraints on the passions, The worst and most immoral Catholics are those who neglect them, because they prefer their passions to their duty. And if it be asked, why have recourse to those religious rites, whereas people may sin afterwards ? • The reason is: because man in this life is not impeachable, on account of the changeableness and inconstancy of his will. All he can do is to form the strongest resolutions, to lay hold on the means, which in his belief, God has appointed for his sanctification, and to recommend himself to infinite mercy. Hence the caution given by the Apostle, Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.
God has promised to receive the sinner whenever he would return, without limiting the number of times. Yet to sin in expectation of forgiveness, would be the most unjustifiable presumption. Mercy is not to be abused, nor is Divine Justice to be provoked by new prevarications and new crimes. For there are times when the measure is filled up, and fatal limits, beyond which paternal goodness does. not extend.
Were priestly abolution, which is founded on the power granted by Christ to remit sins to the penitent sinner, a license for guilt, it would be unjust to charge it on the Catholics alone-Lutherans, Greeks, Armenians, all branches of the Christian religion, except Calvinists, and the modern sectaries sprung from that stock, acknowledge this power.
The Church of England, in her liturgy, recommends, acknowledges it, and lays down the form of absolution in the very same words used by the Roman Catholic Church. The Jaws of the state sanction the inviolable secresy which is observed, when the sinner, loaded with guilt, lays open his hidden sores to his spiritual physician; whereas the laws do not allow that what is told in confession should be adduced in evidence on a trial; and by a statute passed in the reign of James I. the minister is degraded for ever, if he reveals the confession of his penitent. But the ill-fated Catholic is the expiatory victim on whose head all the iniquities of the nation are laid; and what is harmless in others, is criminal in him. *
It is painful in me, my Lords, thus to intrude on your time. It is the more painful, as after so many proofs of the loyalty, the piety, the zeal, and exertions of the Catholic prelates and pastors of Ireland, in the critical circumstances, when there was no room for dissimulation, or a trimming, fluctuating conduct, threats should be held out for the abolition of their priesthood, as the nursery of crimes, felonies, and murders.
In addition to these threats, by a man of consequence, on the eve of a union which they imagined was to close the penal code with the sevenfold seal of eternal silence; and at the very threshold of the Temple of Concord, they and their flocks are justly alarmed to see the pages of the mysterious
* I do not write in this address as a controvertist, or polemical divine; I oply ex. pound the Catholic belief, so often and so grossly misrepresented, and whose ministers are exposed to obloquy on account of pretended absolution.
The primitive faihers, in addressing their apologies to a pagan senate, explained their belief, to vindicate it from inisrepresentation. I have every confidence that a Christian senate will not be less indulgent to a Christian Clergyman.