« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
will not force, aided by fraud, achieve ?-to the scandal of honesty-to the annihilation of independence-to the blight of morals, and the ruin of spiritual religion. Rome became exalted, but in the same proportion Christianity was stricken down-driven from the high places of the earth by the great dragon of dishonesty, and consigned to the distinction of proscription, and the hospitality of the wilderness.
But the forgery of the decretals out-Herods Herod, and puts the topstone upon the delinquency of this Apostate Church. What the Roman Pontiffs arrived at in the ninth century and had nearly attained, they justified by allegation that the same claims were advanced by their very earliest predecessors in terms closely corresponding with their own. For instance, a Council of the Apostles at Antioch is invented in the heat of the iconoclastic controversy, the 9th Canon of which "gives leave to make an image of our Saviour and His servants." This seems directly opposed to the terms of Paul in 2 Cor. v. 18, as well as to the whole genius of the New Testament writings, the Gospel dispensation, and the Christian dogma.
The very first letters of the decretals are full of inconsistencies and mistakes. Peter is introduced saying, "Observe, brethren, that I ordain this Clement to be your Bishop, and to him only deliver my authority of preaching and teaching.' But Linus and Cletus are the traditional successors of Peter, and Clement only follows them in the succession. In the same series of Epistles Peter bids Clement surviving him to "write to James our brother." But James is reported to have died seven years before Peter, whose death year is assigned to the fourteenth year of Nero. The word primacy, connected with the primatial claim of the Roman See moreover occurs here-an anticipation of the struggle for supremacy by some hundred years at least. Another of the Epistles addresses James in Clement's name, James being, as said before, dead for years ere Clement succeeded to the chair of Peter. This same letter urges upon a holy Apostle, a man that had "seen our Lord," that "the altar-pall, chair, candlestick, and veil, when grown old and decayed should be burned". '-a bit of solemn trifling, more in accordance with the age of Piscinas and Puseyism than that of vigorous Apostolicity and pure Evangelism. Of the same spurious stamp is the advice which follows, that "a Presbyter shall not say mass in his parish without leave from his own Bishop."
Three letters are ascribed to Cletus or Anacletus, a predecessor of Clement, but they boldly plagiarize out of Clement's own Epistles, which are assumed to be written after his predecessor's death.
Alexander supplies an Epistle early in the second century, perverting a passage of Holy Writ to make it sanction the invention of holy water. Quoting Heb. ix., 13, 14, this Pope cites, as if it were all along Scripture: "If the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh-how much more shall [not the blood of Christ, but] water mixed with salt, and consecrated by our prayers, sanctify and cleanse the people?"
Cornelius is quoted to support the dogma of "the Invocation of
Saints, Translation of Relics," &c., &c., and "that Clergymen ought to appeal nowhere but to the See of Rome." But these decretal Epistles bear no resemblance to those cited in the controversy with Cyprian ascribed to Cornelius; hence their authorship is not the same. If either be genuine (even this much is doubtful), the other must be spurious.
Pope Lucius follows, whose Epistle is quoted by Bellarmine to prove "that the Bishop of Rome is St. Peter's successor in the Ecclesiastick Monarchy... That the said bishop, teaching from the chair, cannot err . . . That there never could be found any one teaching from the chair of St. Peter who taught contrary to the faith." But the Roman controversialist, while availing himself of the statements of the Epistle (De Rom. Pont., Lib. II., cap. 14; Lib. IV., cap. 3; De verbo Dei, Lib. III., cap. 5), dares not affirm that it is authentic.
Pope Mark, A.D. 335, is cited in proof of the assertion, that seventy Canons were established by the Council of Nicæa; whereas Augustine, Cyril of Alexandria, Ruffinus, Isidore, and Theodoret, know of none beyond twenty. The spurious ones are full of superstitious enactments. These properly belong to the Synod of Sardica, A.D. 347, held as a kind of supplement to the Council of Nicæa, and for the trial of the same cause-Athanasius versus the Arians. But the Canons of this Synod appear to be spurious, for, a hundred years after their supposed enactment, no proof appears of their existence; and they seem foisted into the proceedings of the Council of Nicæa, in order to exhibit that great assemblage of Divines as sanctioning claims, on the part of the Roman prelate, not recognized in the General Councils of Chalcedon (A.D. 451), and of Constantinople (A.D. 681)-the latter held 300 years afterwards. A Synodal Epistle, in favour of Athanasius, would seem the only genuine act of the Sardican Council, if even the Council itself were ever held, which is not placed beyond the reach of doubt.
The Epistle of Pope Damasus to Aurelius, Bishop of Carthage, is spurious; for, fifteen years after its date, Aurelius was only Deacon. Another Epistle to Jerome is a forgery; one to the Bishops of Numidia a forgery; and another to Stephen, of Mantua, with its reply, a complete and unblushing forgery.
Pope Anastasius orders "the people to hear the Gospel standing" ... and "that the Bishops of Burgundy and Germany address him as their Head."
Pope Innocent I. declares that "It is manifest that nobody instituted Churches in Italy, Spain, Gaul, Africa, Sicily, or the adjacent isles, except those whom the blessed Apostle Peter, and his successors, appointed priests . . . That they who lived with their wives ought not to be admitted to minister at the altar. . . That young children, dying unbaptized, were damned." Some of these Epistles are dated, according to Erasmus, after Innocent's death-a pretty tolerable proof that he had no hand in their production.
In the Epistles of Zozimus we find the use of the Pallium, and the consecration of the Paschal wax-taper.
The Decree of Gelasius, about the Canonical Books of Scripture, is spurious, for several reasons assigned by Cave; but a Treatise of this Pope, against transubstantiating the Eucharistical bread, which Popish writers throw a slur upon, is undoubtedly genuine.
Gregory II.'s Epistles, if in any sense genuine, are supposed to be Gregory III.'s, and ascribed by mistake, or design, to the former.
Pope Paul I. has several Epistles ascribed to him, which bear a date subsequent to his death.
These are only samples of the forgeries put forth under the name of Pontifical Letters-impostures, like many of the sham miracles, most palpable and disgusting. There seems scarcely an effort made to preserve consistency, or secure truth-seeming. Anachronisms abound— such clumsy literary botch-work, that they almost suggest anacreonisms on the part of the compiler. And this, together with spurious decrees of Councils and Synods never holden-records of resolutions never taken-answers to questions never mooted-solutions of difficulties never discussed-testimonies of witnesses who never lived-constitutes the characteristic basis of the Church's legislation. Unblushing imposture and fraud are imprinted on the entire history from first to last.
The object of these forged Decretals comes out strongly in a quotation made from them in the time of Hildebrand. In the year 1074, the second of the Pontificate of Gregory VII., one of these Decrees, ascribed to Marcellus, who is assigned to the year A.D. 304, is quoted as sufficient authority for the invalidity of Councils held without the sanction of the Holy See. The third Chapter of this Council reads thus: "This blessed Pope [Marcellus], who, before the Nicene Council, sealed his Decrees with martyrdom, in the eleventh chapter says: The Apostles themselves, and their successors, by the inspiration of the Lord, decreed, That there should be no Synod without the authority of the See of Rome." This is a brazen appeal to a fictitious document, for even Baronius stigmatizes it as supposititious. Marcellus himself is a sheer invention to fill up a gap of seven years in the Papal list with a name, and his assertion is as false as his own existence. The authority of the Apostles is against any pretension of the Roman Church to rule; and the successors of the Apostles, who were appealed to, were not Apostolical men. In the acts of this same Council, the twelfth Roman one, a spurious letter of Athanasius is appealed to as genuine; and it further puts forward the monstrous untruth that, at the great Council of Nicæa (A.D. 325), not Constantine presided, but the Pope of Rome, by Hosius and two Presbyters, his legates. It adds, that the Nicæan Bishops wrote to the Pope of Rome (Silvester) for his confirmation of their acts; and that he wrote back to ratify what they had done. Many of the Roman casuists and divines, who have written on this subject, have accepted these impostures as true; but Baronius hesitates to endorse their statements. Even Binius, the collector of the Councils, and a habitual stickler for the genuineness of all ecclesiastical documents, is forced to call them "extremely faulty and commentitious;" while Labbe and Richer, who
have laboured in the same department of history, with their usual candour, proclaim them not only "fictitious," but "prodigiously false." The impudence of such a quotation as this, on the part of the ambiticus Gregory, is only equalled by the utter baselessness of the authority he
The same dishonesty which marks the public documents of the Church, infects the pages of the Commentators. If Rome will lie, her doctors will lie still more to buttress up her lies; or, if necessary, to apologise for them, and explain them away. They will even lie to nullify her truths.
The Romish casuists touch the pitch of their plastered system, and they get defiled. Pope Adrian supplies us with a notable instance, with which we must close this most defective summary of literary disingenuousness. In his Epistle to Charlemagne, this Pontiff, after referring to Moses making cherubim by Divine command, Exodus xxv., 18, and Solomon's carving the temple with figures, 1 Kings vi., 23, proceeds thus, "Let us consider, beloved brethren, what Moses did at the command of the Lord, and that wise Prince Solomon, when, by an express order from God's own mouth, he built the house of the Lord. With how pure a heart and mind, then, ought we to worship the carved images of Christ our God, His holy mother the Virgin Mary, the Apostles, and all the blessed Saints of God, whose propitious intercession may obtain forgiveness of our sins." This miserable garbler of divine truth suppresses the fact that God did not order the cherubim to be worshipped, although he ordered them to be made-ignores the second commandment, which forbids the worship of images; and totally overlooks the unvarying strain of the Old Testament against idolatry. If there be one thing which more than another the Old Testament does not do, it is to justify, sanction, allow, much less enjoin the worship of pictures or carven images. But the argument of Adrian is of a piece with the policy of his Church. If a lie will serve its turn as well as truth, a lie is used without the least scruple of conscience, or moral repugnance. Not a single doubt was allowed to breathe against the genuineness of the decretals for six or seven centuries, when at last a freer spirit of criticism arose, and exposed their fabrication and scouted their claims. Even Roman critics have, at last, been led to give up their validness.
The Papacy may be regarded in either of two lights-either as a jus or an imperium, a power claiming authority on grounds valid or invalid, or as an established fact. The former we may dispute-would dispute; the latter we cannot deny. For good or for evil, the Popedom exists-has existed for a millenary in Europe-a bare, hard, incontrovertible fact, leaving its footprints stamped as indelibly over the course of human affairs, as those of the megatherium hardened into permanence by the pressure of ten thousand years, on the surface of the stratified clay. In either light, it is a repulsive thing-its claims preposterous, its rule inhuman. It has been a favourite argument with advocates of the Papal power, that in the cruel feudal ages the
priesthood often interfered with effect between the oppressive civil or military powers, and the unfortunate laity-that a despotic monarch and an iron-fisted baron has often found an effectual check to his brutality in the opposition of the Church-all which, in a sense, is true. The fact may be allowed to be as stated, but the motive robs the fact of its moral worth. The only idea for which the Church has ever warred has been to transfer the supreme authority to itself from the civil power. If the civil power conceded this spontaneously, and bowed the knee to the wearer of the tiara, the Pope was then ready to clinch the nail which the Jael Cæsar drove into the temples of the subject people. If he would not himself harry and slay, he had no objection to be in at the death. He would be a consenting witness to the martyrdom he might not enact. He would justify in a vassal son of the Church what he would condemn in a contumacious Emperor. If Cæsar would only conquer the world for the Pope, his Holiness was ready to whitewash every enormity which so pious a purpose might prompt. In league with the powers that be, the Pope would go every length in oppression; it was only when in opposition to Sovereigns, who made little of his pretensions, or impoverished his treasury, that he sided with the people, and set himself to redress their wrongs. What matters it to him if Austria harass a Protestant Hungary till it threaten insurrection, provided only the terms of its favourable Concordat be carried out to the letter for Romanizing the Empire? What to him if the King of Naples establish a Reign of Terror over his subjects, provided he guard the Southern flank of the Papal dominion against heretic encroachments or new-fangled ideas of a united Italy? Give the Pope and his minions their due allowance of scudi, their ecclesiastical shows, their tomfoolery of pretentious intermeddling, and their practical comfort, and they have little cared, as they do little care, how Kings and peoples may knock their heads together in the adjustment of their mutual differences.
condition and baseless
Such being a historical review of the early pretensions of the Papacy, what do we advise? either against its constitution or its doctrines. we leave it to be dealt with by secular powers. the potsherds of the earth it come to ruin, we shall rejoice in the event, which, as private individuals and journalists, we have no mission to hasten.
But, though we use no hand of violence, not even charity forbids our protesting against Rome's usurpations, treacheries, and crimson crimes. Her falsehood, her pride, her violence, her perversion of revealed truth, her subversion of natural morality, are such as to call for the exposure of faithfulness and the denunciation of virtue. But to propagate even right notions, and to proscribe wrong ones, we admit of no process more stern than argument and persuasion. Persecution in any form is the weapon of error, persuasion the one resource of truth. Prejudice is not to be rooted out by the sword, but by a stronger prejudice taking possession of the heart. We say this with deliberate