Billeder på siden

who had every one shares of the common devotion. This begot in many Christians a like worship of angels and saints, as mediators and intercessors between them and the heavenly Father. The Dii Manes of the pagans, and the parentations to their dead ancestors, produced a near resemblance to them among some Christians, that offered solemn prayers and expiations for the souls of their deceased relations. The Platonic notion, that the iáoμa àμaprýμara, the curable sins, the delible stains, of departed souls were scourged and purged off by proportionate punishments;

aliæ panduntur inanes

Suspensæ ad ventos; aliis sub gurgite vasto
Infectum eluitur scelus, aut exuritur igni;

must naturally raise among some Christians a like persuasion about a future purgatory. These notions and practices, though quite repugnant to the Holy Scriptures, were not discouraged nor forbid by popery; but propagated, enjoined, and enacted: being a most sure and ample fund to increase the church's treasure. In course of time the whole calendar was crowded with saints; not a day in the year without its red letter: every trade and profession had its saint tutelar and peculiar; who must be retained and engaged with presents and oblations. Horses, cows, and sheep, every animal domestic, the fields and the vineyards, the very furniture of houses, must be annually blessed and sanctified, at a set price for the blessing. And if the old set of saints should by long time grow cheap and vulgar; there still was a reserve in popery to enhance and quicken the low market by making new and fresh ones in acts of canonization. And then by their prayers and the masses for the dead, to ease and shorten the pains of purgatory; what a spacious door was opened for a perpetual flow of money! what family was not daily pillaged of some part of its substance! What heart could bear, that his dead father should fry in the flames of purgatory when a moderate sum might buy him out of them; or who would not secure himself by a timely legacy for masses for his soul, without leaving it to the conscience and courtesy of his heir?

But what do we speak of this popish traffic for the sins of the dead; when the very sins of the living, the wages of damnation, were negotiated and trucked, indulged or pardoned, by the wicked politic of popery!-As in common life we daily see, that an officer shall permit and license those very frauds for frauds for money, which

his office itself constitutes him and commands him to prevent; so has popery done in that great affair of a Christian life and the duties of the Gospel. To engross which profitable trade, it was first necessary, that Rome should challenge the sole custody of the keys of heaven and hell, should claim the sole power of loosing and binding, should possess the sole mint of all spiritual licences and pardons. When this was once arrogated and obtained, what an impious кaηλɛía, what an extensive traffic was opened! As the other schemes drew in the superstitious and the bigots, so this was to wheedle and pillage the profane, the impure, the villains of the world. The common sale was soon proclaimed for indulgences and pardons for all crimes past or to come, already committed or hereafter designed; the price raised and enhanced according to the deeper dye and blackness of the guilt. The stated market at Rome was not sufficient for the commerce; the princes only and the nobles could afford to send thither for them: so that, for the ease and benefit of trade, blank instruments were issued out for all the countries of Europe, and retailed by the spiritual pedlars at the public markets and at the private doors; such a cheap pardon cried aloud for the more common sins of lying, swearing, drunkenness, or fornication; a higher price in private for robbery or murder; a higher still for sodomy or incest. Thus were the grace of God, the remission of sins, all the privileges of the Gospel, trucked and cauponated by popery, for sordid and detestable lucre, upon the open scheme and the bare foot of atheism.

It is true, indeed, that when the light of the reformation broke out, and good letters revived and spread around; even the popish provinces grew too wise and sagacious for this gross imposture : such wretched wares were thenceforth chiefly vended among the poor ignorants of America.-But there soon arose a new set of loose and profligate casuists'; who, to engage on their side the libertine part of mankind, since impunity in sins would no longer be bought with money, should distribute it gratis, and instruct them to be wicked without remorse and with assurance. These are they, who (contrary to St. Paul, Rom. iii. 8,) "are not slanderously reported to say, Let us do evil, that good may come :" who excuse and patronize the vilest corruptions, the foulest cheats, forgeries, and extortions in common dealing: who teach that no faith promised or sworn to heretics or enemies is of any obligation who defend common perjury and perfidiousness by the 1 Profligate casuists.] See Index, under Jesuits.

scandalous shifts of equivocals and mental restrictions: who have glossed and warped all the severe rules of the gospel about chastity, charity, and forgiveness, to the worldly and wicked notions of gallantry and point of honour: who sanctify the horridest villanies; murders, plots, assassinations, massacres, (like the intended one of this day ',) if designed for the service of the church : who, in a word, have given such vicious systems of morals, such a licence to corrupt nature, as a heathen Stoic, Platonic, or Academic, nay an Epicurean, though in himself never so wicked, durst not have polluted his pages with, out of reverence to his sect.

I might proceed, would the time permit me, to discover all the rest of their politic arts, the mysteries of their spiritual trade: for such are all their peculiar tenets, that were discarded at the Reformation. What availed it to the clergy, that the Scriptures expressly said, "Marriage is honourable in all: let a bishop, let a presbyter be the husband of one wife; one that ruleth well in his own house; having faithful children, kept in subjection with all gravity?" This did not suit with popish politic: this tied and attached the clergy to the common interest of mankind: their affection to their own children made their country also dear to them; made them love and pity the abused laity: they were not vassals devoted enough to the service of a foreign master: the riches of the church did not flow in one channel, nor all revert at last to that one fountain and receptacle. And for these pious reasons, in spite of plain Scripture, of the authority of ages before, of all the lusts and impurities that must necessarily follow, a chaste legitimate marriage shall be forbidden to the clergy; and an adulterous celibacy shall be enjoined universal.

But what can plain Scripture avail against the avarice and pride of popery; when both common sense internal, and the joint testimony of all our outward senses, must submit to its decrees, when it is to advance its profit or power? That due respect ever paid to rà ayla, the consecrated bread and wine at the holy communion, was easily raised by superstition and ignorance to the highest excess, to notions improbable and impossible. This fair handle was not neglected by popery: by slow degrees transubstantiation was enacted into an article of faith, and a very beneficial one to the priests; since it made them the makers of God, and a sort of gods among the people.-But we must think better and juster of the contrivers of it, than that they them

1 Of this day.] November 5.

selves believed it: they did or could believe it no more, than a proposition made up of the most disparate ideas, that "sound may be turned into colour, a syllogism into a stone." It was not ignorance or stupidity; but the most subtle and crafty politic that produced transubstantiation. Thence the awful pomp, the august cavalcades in the processions of the host: as if they would outdo the pagan ones of Cybele,

Ingratos animos atque impia pectora vulgi

Conterrere metu quæ possint numine Divæ :

thence the presence of God continually resident, corporeal at the high altar: thence to exhibit it perpetually there, the wafer, panis avμoç, unleavened, unfermented bread, was taken into the solemnity; both against ancient practice, and the perpetual custom of the Greek church: because common bread would soon have grown mouldy, and not pass with the palate of the multitude for the body of God. Thence at last in the thirteenth century was the cup denied to the laity; not for not seeing the plain words of the Scripture," Drink ye all of this;" not for the dearness or scarcity of wine, which is cheap and common in those climates ; not for the then pretended reason, that the mustaches or whiskers in the mode of that age used to dip into the holy cup; but because it was inconsistent with the rest of the show. So small a quantity of wine even after consecration would soon grow dead and vapid; would discover its true nature, if tasted after long standing. The wine therefore, because it interferes with the standing ceremony and continued pageantry of transubstantiation, has not the honour to be reposited with the wafer on the altar, nor to accompany it in the solemn processions.

I might now go on to show you a more dismal scene of impostures, their judicia Dei, the judgments of God, as they blasphemously called them, when no human evidence could be found: their trials by ordeal; by taking a red-hot iron in the hand; by putting the naked arm into hot boiling water; by sinking or swimming in pools and rivers, when bound fast hand and foot: all of them borrowed or copied from pagan knavery and superstition; and so manageable by arts and slights, that the party could be found guilty or innocent, just as the priests pleased, who were always the triers.-What bribes were hereby procured! what false legacies extorted! what malice and revenge executed!-on all which if we should fully dilate and expatiate, the intended

tragedy of this day, which now calls for our consideration, would scarce appear extraordinary.-Dreadful indeed it was; astonishing to the imagination: all the ideas assembled in it of terror and horror. Yet when I look on it with a philosophical eye, I am apt to felicitate those appointed for that sudden blast of rapid destruction; and to pity those miserables that were out of it, the designed victims to slow cruelty, the intended objects of lingering persecution. For since the whole plot (which will ever be the plot of popery) was to subdue and enslave the nation; who would not choose and prefer a short and despatching death, quick as that by thunder and lightning, which prevents pain and perception, before the anguish of mock trials, before the legal accommodations of jails and dungeons, before the peaceful executions by fire and fagot? who would not rather be placed, direct above the infernal mine, than pass through the pitiless mercies, the salutary torments of a popish inquisition; that last accursed contrivance of atheistical and devilish politic? If the other schemes have appeared to be the shop, the warehouse of popery, this may be justly called its slaughter-house and its shambles. Hither are haled poor creatures (I should have said rich; for that gives the frequentest suspicion of heresy) without any accuser, without allegation of any fault. They must inform against themselves, and make confession of something heretical; or else undergo the discipline of the various tortures; a regular system of ingenious cruelty, composed by the united skill and long successive experience of the best engineers and artificers of torment. That savage saying of Caligula's, horrible to speak or hear, and fit only to be writ in blood, Ita feri, ut se mori sentiat, is here heightened and improved: Ita se mori sentiat, ut ne moriatur, say these merciful inquisitors. The force, the effect of every rack, every agony, are exactly understood: this stretch, that strangulation is the utmost nature can bear; the least addition will overpower it; this posture keeps the weary soul hanging upon the lip; ready to leave the carcase, and yet not suffered to take its wing: this extends and prolongs the very moment of expiration; continues the pangs of dying without the ease and benefit of death.-O pious and proper methods for the propagation of faith! O true and genuine vicar of Christ, the God of mercy, and the Lord of peace!

And now, after this short but true sketch and faithful landscape of popery, I presume there is but little want of advice or applica

« ForrigeFortsæt »