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REPULSIVE CARICATURES OF GOD.
Tempest of angry fire shall roll
"Come, let us lift our joyful eyes
And smile to see our Father there,
Once 'twas a seat of dreadful wrath,
Rich were the drops of Jesus' blood,
TO THEE ten thousand thanks we bring,
And glory to the eternal King,
That lays his fury by."
"Behold the Judge descends; his guards are nigh,
Tempest and fire attend him down the sky.
Heaven, earth and hell, draw near: let all things come
To hear his justice and the sinner's doom.
Fly to the Saviour, make the Judge your friend;
Lest, like a lion, his last vengeance tear
Poor mortals, who have fallen into the sin
and pitiable mortals!
to which God
made your liable ;-poor You have to face the fury of two lions: God is one, and I am the other. The manifest injustice becomes an insult when the sinner is brought to his knees with the following plea for mercy :
"Lord, I am all conceived in sin,
And born unholy and unclean;
Sprung from the man whose guilty fall
SATAN A PRODUCT OF GROSS CREDULITY.
The law demands a perfect heart;
But we're defiled in every part."
Justice you should claim. "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots ?" Then may ye also do good who are "all conceived in sin," 66 corrupt and tainted" " soon as you draw your infant breath;" while yet of you, "defiled in every part," "the law demands a perfect. heart." (Jerem. xiii. 23.)
Still the picture which divines paint of me is very repulsive, but no way so repulsive as that which they paint of God.
EXTREME CREDULITY THE CHANNEL THROUGH WHICH BELIEF IN A
PERSONAL DEVIL HAS BEEN PROPAGATED.
Every stream receives a tinge from the hues of the bottom and sides of the ground through which it flows. As with streams, so with ideas. Belief in me has come to you of this generation from the Roman Catholic world. A medium so grossly credulous is not to be found in all history. So extravagant are many of the stories for which the Papal Church is responsible, that few impartial persons can read them without being assured that what they peruse is the product, if of illusion, certainly of collusion as well. To which of the two the larger share should be ascribed, I will not undertake to determine. My end is answered if I shew how dark and troubled were the channels which have transmitted belief in me to the modern world.
That the literary authority I chiefly follow may be unquestionable, I take the book which more than all others makes the priests who make the supports by which I am upheld. It is The Breviary* or Prayer Book of the Roman
* Breviarium Romanum in quatuor partibus: Ratisbona, 1866, Sumtibus S. sedis Apostolicæ Typog. To this was added in 1867, Officia Sanctorum Angliæ, for the special use of the English Roman Catholics.
SUPERSTITIOUS CREDULOUSNESS OF THE BREVIARY.
Catholic clergy. The lesson for the day given in this authoritatively compiled and infallibly sanctioned volume every priest of the Roman Church, from the Pope downward, is required to read under severe ecclesiastical penalties. Spurious records of the sufferings of the early martyrs contribute copiously to the substance of the Breviary. The variety and ingenuity of the tortures described are equalled only by the innumerable miracles which are said to have baffled the tyrants, whenever they attempted to injure the Christians by any method but cutting their throats. Houses were set on fire to burn the martyrs within; but the Breviary informs us that the flames raged for a whole day and night without molesting them. Often do we read of idols tumbling from their pedestals at the approach of the persecuted Christians; and even the judges themselves dropped down dead when they attempted to pass sentence. The wild beasts seldom devour a martyr without prostrating themselves before him; and lions follow young virgins to protect them from insult. The sea refuses to drown those who are committed to its waters, and when compelled to do that odious service, the waves generally carry the bodies where the Christians may preserve them as relics. On one occasion a pope is thrown
into the Lake Mootis, with an anchor which the infidels had tied round his neck, for fear of the usual miraculous floating; the plan succeeded and the pope was drowned. But the sea was soon after observed to recede three miles from the shore, where a temple appeared in which the body of the martyr had been provided with a marble sarcophagus.
Cyprian, a heathen magician, who to that detestable art joined a still more infamous occupation, engaged to put a young man in possession of Justina, a Christian virgin. For this purpose he employed the most potent incantations, till I was forced to confess that I had no power over Christians. Upon this Cyprian concluded that it was better to be a Christian than a sorcerer. Cyprian and Justina, being accused before the Roman judge of being disciples of Christ,
THE MARTYRDOM OF SAINT CECILIA.
are condemned to be tossed together into a cauldron of melted "pitch, fat and wax ;" from which, however, they come out quite able to be carried to Nicomedia, where they are put to death by the almost infallible means of the sword or the axe.
The greatest stress is laid on the authority of the story of Saint Cecilia, of musical celebrity, who having been forced to marry a certain Valerius, most earnestly entreated her bridegroom to avert from himself the vengeance of an angel that had the charge of her virgin purity. Valerius agreed to forego his rights, and promised to believe in Christ, provided he saw his heavenly rival, But Cecilia declared that such a sight could not be obtained without previous baptism; upon which, the curiosity of the bridegroom supplying the place of faith, he declared his readiness to be baptized. After the ceremony, the angel shewed himself to Valerius, and subsequently to a brother of his, who had been let into the secret. Astounded at the vision, as soon as he had recovered from his stupefaction, he sent for his brother Tiburtius, who, having been imbued by Cecilia with faith in Christ, was rewarded with a sight of the same angel as his brother had seen. of the men, a short time after, suffered martyrdom with firmness under the prefect Almachius. This same pagan forthwith ordered Cecilia to be burned in a bath in her own house. When during a whole day and night she remained untouched by the flames, the headsman was sent to put her to death; who, when he had failed to behead her with three strokes of the axe, withdrew, leaving her half alive.
Of course the Breviary supplies legends fitted to augment and confirm the power of the Pope, as well as to exercise the faith of his subjects. The most notorious forgeries are for these purposes sanctioned and consecrated in this sacerdotal Prayer Book. That these legends are often given in the words of those whom the Church of Rome calls Fathers, only shews how long the credulity has been fostered, and how carefully and successfully it has been sustained. We thus find the
POPE JOHN'S HORSE WON'T CARRY A WOMAN. fable about the contest between Peter and Simon Magus gravely repeated in the words of Maximus. "The holy apostles (Peter and Paul) lost their lives," he says, "because, among other miracles, they also by their prayers precipitated Simon from the vacuity of the air. For Simon, calling himself Christ and engaging to ascend to the Father, was suddenly raised in flight by means of his magic art. At this moment, Peter, bending his knees, prayed to the Lord, and by his holy prayer defeated the magician's lightness; for the prayer reached the Lord sooner than the flyer. The righteous petition outstripped the iniquitous presumption. Peter, on earth, obtained what he asked much before Simon could reach the heavens to which he was making his way. Peter therefore brought down his rival from the air, as if he had held him by a rope, and dashing him against a stone in a precipice, brake his legs; doing this in scorn of the fact itself, so that he who, but a moment before, had attempted to fly, should now not be able to walk; and having affected wings, should lack the use of his heels."
How daring the forgery was, and how credulous those for whom it was made, may be learnt from the fact, that even then, when this legend was put into circulation, there existed in a letter which claims to have Peter for its author, these words: "Render not evil for evil, nor reproach for reproach, but contrariwise blessing; for it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well-doing; for this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure tribulations, suffering wrongfully." (1 Peter iii. 9.)
Pope John, saint and martyr, being on a journey to Corinth and in want of a quiet and comfortable horse, borrowed one which the lady of a certain nobleman used to ride. The animal carried his holiness with the greatest gentleness and docility, and, when the journey was over, was returned to his mistress; but in vain did she attempt to enjoy the usual service of her favourite. The horse had become fierce and gave the lady many an unseemly fall, as if," says the