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to intercede for them. They were also taught that the relics of the saints possessed miraculous virtue to heal diseases, and even to cure the blind and the lame. Relics are bones and other supposed remains of the bodies of the saints; or remnants of the garments, and various other articles, which they are believed to have worn or used, while they were alive. Some men declared that they possessed relics of our Lord, and showed the people fragments of cloth and wood which they affirmed to be pieces of His garments and of the cross on which He died. There was even a more shocking and profane fable than this, for in some places a small quantity of blood was displayed with great solemnity, and the people were told that this was a portion of the very blood that had been shed on Calvary.
These deceits brought great gain to the priests. Men came from far and near to worship at the places where such precious and wonder-working things were enshrined, and they did not come empty-handed. In England, the favourite place of pilgrimage was Canterbury Cathedral; many relics were preserved there, but above all there were the bones of Thomas-à-Becket; and these were believed to possess extraordinary powers of healing. Year after year, thousands of pilgrims went to worship at Canterbury; and even from foreign lands, princes and nobles came on pilgrimage to the tomb of Becket, and brought with them great gifts. His shrine blazed with gold and gems, and when Henry the Eighth seized on the treasure, eight strong men were required to carry it away.
Certain images were also said to possess miraculous powers. At Boxley, in Kent, a crucifix was kept
DOCTRINES OF THE CHURCH OF ROME.
which moved its head, eyes, and hands, and performed sundry other gestures. The people were told that this was the working of Divine power, and they knelt and worshipped the crucifix, until the day came that it was broken to pieces before them, and they saw the wheels and springs inside by which it had been made to
But the chief supports of the Church of Rome were the doctrines of the Mass and of Purgatory. Many wise men, who condemned the deceits which were practised about images and relics, held as fast to these doctrines as the most unlearned of the people. The Communion Service in the Roman Catholic Church is called the Mass. The Church of Rome declares that in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, the bread and wine are changed into the very flesh and blood of our Lord, and that the priest offers up this body of Christ a sacrifice to God for the sins of the living and the dead. The Church of Rome also teaches that after death the souls of Christians pass into a place of suffering, called Purgatory, before they can be admitted to the enjoyment of Heavenbut if a great many masses are offered up for them, some portion of the pains of purgatory may be remitted, and they will be sooner allowed to enter Heaven.
Now we both see and taste that the bread and wine in the Holy Communion remain bread and wine still, and are not changed into flesh and blood;* and the
* The Church of England teaches us that the Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the Lord's Supper only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. See Art. XXVIII. Children should also be referred to the Church Catechism on this subject.
Word of God tells us that by one offering of Himself, once offered, Christ hath obtained eternal redemption for us.*
There can therefore be no such thing as the sacrifice of the Mass. The Bible also tells us that the dead who die in the Lord are "blessed," "for they rest from their labours "t-they are not in a place of pain and punishment, waiting for our prayers and sacrifices to release them. But our forefathers were obliged to take their religion from the priests, because they could not themselves consult the Word of God; and thus they heartily believed these false doctrines. They gave lands and money to the priests to say masses for their souls and the souls of their kindred; and a great many monasteries were founded by rich men, on purpose that the monks might offer up masses for them every day. Many persons also went on pilgrimage, and subjected themselves to great bodily suffering, hoping in this way to make some satisfaction for their sins, and to lessen the pains of purgatory.
THE same errors and superstitions which darkened the minds of the people in England, prevailed in the other countries of Europe. But in the year 1517, the most famous Reformer, Martin Luther, began in Germany to preach and write against the abuses of the
* See Heb. ix. 11, 12, 24—28; x. 10—12. + See Rev. xiv. 13.
Church of Rome. He found thousands of willing listeners; and when the Scriptures had been translated into German and placed in the hands of the people, a great multitude separated themselves from the Romish Church.
Before many years had passed away, several of the German states, the kingdoms of Denmark and Sweden, and half of the cantons of Switzerland, had thrown off their allegiance to the pope; the Churches of these countries were now called Reformed, and also Protestant, because they protested against the errors of Rome. But in Spain, Italy, and other countries, where the Romish clergy had all the rulers on their side, the light of the Reformation was quenched in blood; and death, in its most cruel forms, awaited every one who dared to own himself a Protestant.
In England there appeared, at first, to be little prospect of any change in the Church, for Henry the Eighth was so much shocked at the doctrines of Luther, that he wrote a book against them. And this book pleased the pope so much that he conferred on him a new title: Defender of the Faith. sovereigns have borne it ever since; that is the meaning of the F.D. (for Fidei Defensor) which is engraved on their coins; but the faith which they have to defend now is a very different one from that of Henry the Eighth.
Notwithstanding the king's indignation at Luther, many of his books found their way into England, and were much read: and, which was far better, English Bibles began to be brought into the country. At that time it was against the law to print them
in England; but some learned zealous men went over to Germany and Switzerland, and printed them there; and these English Bibles were eagerly sought after, notwithstanding the terrible punishments threatened against all who read or purchased them.
The first English New Testament was printed at Hamburgh, in 1526; the first Bible at Zurich, in 1535. Miles Coverdale, and the martyrs Tindal and Rogers, were the most noted labourers in this good work. Now appeared the great good of that revival of learning which had taken place in the last reign. Englishmen had begun to study the Scriptures in the languages in which they were first written. This enabled them not only to understand the Bible better themselves, but also to render it faithfully into English for the benefit of their unlearned countrymen.
We have seen already that King Henry lost his regard for the pope when he could not obtain from him permission to divorce Queen Katharine; and that, in the year 1534, he caused his subjects to renounce the authority of Rome. Four years afterwards, he gave leave for a Bible to be placed in every parish church, and in the year 1539, the Scriptures were for the first time printed in England. These Bibles were very large; they were chained to the reading-desk, round which, in some of the churches, groups of working-men gathered in the evening when the labours of the day were done, and listened while one more learned than the rest read aloud to his companions.
But it did not appear that Englishmen had gained much by taking Henry the Eighth instead of the pope to be ruler over their Church. He allowed