- JANUARY, 1873.
ACTA NON VERBA.
BY C. H. SPURGEON.
ACHURCH, in the United States, lately advertised for a minister, and stated that, having been for some years over done with eloquence, they desired a pastor who would preach to them the gospel of Jesus Christ: there are churches on this side of the Atlantic, sickened with essays and “intellectual treats,” whose aspirations are much of the same kind. Fine language amuses the ear, as the tinkling of their little bells pleases the continental coach-horses, but it cannot satisfy the soul any more than the aforesaid tintinabulations can supply the place of corn and hay. The art of arranging words, and balancing sentences, is a mental jugglery, as astonishing when perfectly practiced, as the feats of the Chinese or Japanese artistes who just lately have charmed vast audiences at the Crystal Palace; but cui bono? what is the good of it, and who is the better for it? Who was ever convinced of sin by an oratorical flourish? What heart was led to Jesus, and to joy and peace in believing, by a fine passage resplendent with all the graces of diction? What chaff is to the wheat, and dross to gold, that is the excellence of human speech to the simplicity of the word of God. For awhile fascinated by the siren voice of vain philosophy and affected culture, many of the churches have drawn perilously near to the rocks of heresy and doubt, but divine grace is visiting them, and they will shake off the spell.
Everywhere there is a cry for the gospel, for men who will preach it in the love of it, for ministers who will live it, and inoculate others with its life: the church is growing sick of essayists, and asks for men of God. She is weary of word-spinners, and pretenders to deep thought, and she cries for men full of the Holy Spirit, who are lovers of the word and not speakers only. Soul-winners will soon be in demand, and your genteel essayists will have to carry their dry goods to another market. Sane men do not need fiddlers, while the life-boat is being manned to save yonder perishing ones from the devouring deep.
The intensely practical character of Christianity might be inferred from the life of its founder. In Jesus we see no display, no aiming at effect, nothing spoken or done to decorate or ornament the simplicity of his daily life.
True, he was a prophet, mighty in words as well as in deeds; but his words were downright and direct, winged with a purpose, and never uttered for speaking’s sake. Nobody ever looks at Jesus as an orator to be compared with Cicero. “Never man spake like this man.” He was not of the schools.
No graver’s tool had passed over his eloquence. In his presence Demosthenes is seen to be a statue, carved with great skill, and the very counterfeit of life; but Jesus is life itself, not art’s sublimest fac simile of nature, but the living truth. Jesus, whether speaking or acting, was still practical. His words were but the wings of his deeds. He went about, not discoursing upon benevolence, but “doing good;” he itinerated not to stir up a missionary spirit, but “to preach glad-tidings to the poor.” Where others theorized he wrought, where they planned he achieved, where they despaired he triumphed. Compared with him, our existence is a mere windbag; his life was solid essential action, and ours a hazy dream, an unsubstantial would-be which yet is not. Most blessed Son of the Highest, thou who workest evermore, teach us also how to begin to live, ere we have stumbled into our graves while prating about purposes and resolves!
The first champions of the cross were also men in whom the truth displayed itself in deeds rather than in words. Paul’s roll of labors and of sufferings would contrast strangely with the diary of a reader of pretty little sermonettes; or, for the matter of that, with the biography of the most zealous among us. The apostles were intensely active, rather than intellectually refined; they made no pretense to be philosophers, but thought it sufficient to be servants of Jesus Christ. Their hearers remembered them, not because they had melodiously warbled sweet nothings into their ears; but because they spoke in the demonstration of the Spirit and in the power of God. They were no mystics, but workmen; not elocutionists, but laborers. We track them by the cities which they evangelized, the churches which they founded, the tribes which they converted to Christ. By some means or other, they came to grapple with the world hand to hand, whereas the good men of these times do anything but that: they tell us what was done of old, what should be done now, and what will be done in the millenium, but they themselves mingle not in the fray. Where are the heroic combats of the first ages of the faith? Where hear we the din of real fighting? We see shaking of fists, feints, and challengings in abundance, but of downright blows there is a lamentable scarcity; the modern battle of church and world is too frequently a mere stage imitation, a sham fight of the most wretched order. See the combatants of those days — a whole-souled fight was theirs. The world, like a veteran gladiator, defied the young combatant with fierce terms of hate, and gazed upon him with tiger-like ferocity, determined to wash his hands in the intruder’s blood; while the church quailed not in the presence of her savage opponent, but avowed her determination to make no terms with sin, and accept no truce with idolatry. They meant fighting, and they fought! A divine of the modern school is of opinion that the lines have faded considerably between what is known as the church and the world, arising from a mutual movement towards each other; we cannot look upon this fact with the complacency which he manifests, but we are compelled to observe and lament it. Many professors play at being Christians; they are not real in their church-membership, not in very deed separate from sinners, or devoted to the service of God; hence the world has no care to oppose them, and leaves them utterly ignorant of the very meaning of the word “persecution.” Of course, if we never rebuke the world’s sin, nor bear witness against its follies, it will have no cause of offense, and will leave us unassailed. The apostles’ blows were laid on with a will, and left their impress where they fell. Fussy officials they were not; pompous dignitaries they could not be; but real workmen of the Lord they evidently were; hence their power under God to move their age, and all succeeding ages.
The marks by which, according to the Scriptures, genuine believers are to be known, are very matter-of-fact tokens. “By their fruits shall ye know them,” is a pretty plain intimation that no amount of profession or religious talk can evidence godliness, if holy actions be absent. At the last great day, the blessed of the Father are not represented as having advocated the relief of the poor, but as having actually fed the hungry. No mention is made of writers upon the inspection of gaols, or the suppression of mendacity; but a hearty word of praise is given to those who visited the prisoner and gave drink to the thirsty. The main point seems to have been the real and actual doing of good; whatever went with it is cast into the scale without mention, as being comparatively insignificant. True faith proves itself not by its boastings, but by its effect upon the life of its possessor.
Here is the bone of contention which the earnest man will have with himself. We know what we ought to be, but are we all that? Our neighbors perish for lack of the gospel, but do we carry it to them? The poor swarm around us, in what measure do we feed them? They would be well enough off if good intentions and excellent suggestions could clothe and feed them, but as it is, they derive small benefit from us. To know how to do good, and to leave it undone, is no small sin. Accountability grows with the amount of information. Mountains of lead ought to press down consciences which now lie at ease in the bosoms of men of great powers, who have eloquently proclaimed duties which they do not touch with one of their fingers; nor much less should be the discomfort of those who have again and again resolved upon duties which they have never yet performed.
They own their obligations to the poor, but no orphan is fed by their help: they lament the ignorance of the people, but no ministry is aided by their gifts; they long to see zealous evangelists sent forth, but no student is succored by their bounty. Alas! for the piety which ends in feelings and words! It is vain as the foam of the sea!
Everywhere the evil is the same. Saying over-rides doing. One of the most evident weaknesses of most religious societies is a lack of practical common sense. They are great in red tape, rich in committees, and positively gorgeous with presidents and vice-presidents, and secretaries, and honorary secretaries, and minute secretaries, etc., etc.; but what comes of it all? We behold a fine display of wooden cannon and pasteboard soldiery, but conquests there are none. There will be a sub-committee on Tuesday, and surely something will come of it; or, if not, the quarterly board-meeting will doubtless work wonders: — no, there will be cackling and cackling, but of eggs none — or addled. In many of our denominational conferences resolutions are picked over word by word, as if every syllable might conceal a heresy; amendments are moved, seconded, re-amended, fought for valorously, or withdrawn; hours are spent, and lung force without stint, and what comes of the parturition of the mountain?
Has the pitiful mouseling strength enough to crawl across the floor of the assembly? If any holy project needs putting out of the world in a legal fashion, so that no charge of willful murder shalt be laid against any one of its destroyers, consign it to a committee: it will have every care and loving attention, and the soothing syrup will be of the most excellent quality. If, perchance, the thing of beauty remain among us, it will be a joy for ever; never viciously fanatical, or vehemently enthusiastic, but, clothed in a regulation strait-waistcoat, its life will be spent within those sacred bounds which officialism is inspired to prescribe. If it be asked to which or what society we refer, our reply must be, “Let every dog follow its own master:” to some more, and to some less, our strictures apply. In general, a society is a creature of the imagination, a group of shades impalpable, a collection of names without persons; if its business be well worked, the credit is due to one or two worthy men, who are, in fact, the society; if it be badly managed, it is because it is nobody’s business, being generally understood to be everybody’s. The fault does not lie in the principle of association — which is excellent — but in the everlasting overlaying of the hand by the jaw: the mistaking words for actions, speeches for service. A dozen or two General Grants, eloquently silent, would form a fine board of management; men who can give, and work, and pray, are worth a hundred times as much as those who can compose resolutions, cavil over expressions, move the previous question, discuss and re-discuss, till all is blue-moulded or green with verdigris. Not that we would kill off the talkers, we are not intent upon signing our own death-warrant; but a little gentle choking of those who will neither be quiet nor practically helpful, we humbly venture to prescribe. The fact is, we don’t get at the work before us. The drowning heathen lies at the bottom of the pond, and our drags do not touch the body, much less fetch it to shore. The ignorant masses around us glide from our fingers like slippery eels, we have not learned the nack of holding them. We seem to be bobbing after our great objects like boys trying to bite at apples which swim in a tub of water. We are planning, suggesting, arranging; but when are we going to begin? For scores of years we have been tuning up: when will the music commence? So much time is spent in chopping the chaff, and bruising the oats, that poor Bucephalus is getting lean as Rosinante.
Gentle reader, has no self-accusing thought crossed your mind while trying to keep yourself awake over these lines? No; you are really active, and by no means loquacious. It is well! All honor to you But where do you live, and of what mother were you born, and what is your age next birthday?
The writer inquires eagerly, and will be glad if you should. turn out to be one of a numerous family. Our own confession tells no such flattering story. We have, by God’s grace, done something, but how little! It is as nothing! Compared with high resolves, and day-dreams, and proposals, what are our achievements? Tears are the fittest comments upon our life’s review. We long to begin to live. We have loitered long, like too many more, and work undone accuses and condemns us. Shall we write about it, or from the pulpit pour out a verbal plaint which will die away with its own echo? No; but if God will help us we will try to glorify him, and publish his salvation. To lift up Christ is real work; to cry “Behold the Lamb!” is practical ministry. To teach the ignorant, to feed the hungry, to reclaim the lost, this is Christlike service. What is all else, if we serve not the Lord Christ?
For the year 1873 we suggest the motto, “ACTA NON VERBA,” — Deeds not Words.
THE RELIGION OF ROME WE welcome the publication of a volume entitled "The Religion of Rome."
It consists of letters published in a Roman Journal, which have been translated from the Italian, by Mr. William Howitt. In these times, when liberality is the only popular virtue, and zeal for truth the cardinal sin, it is worth much to let the public know assuredly that Popery is not the angel of light it professes to be. "Distance lends enchantment to the view;" but, to the rightminded, to see Romanism is to abhor it. It is a system which is as dangerous to human society, as it is hostile to true religion. We would by no means abridge the civil rights of a Catholic, or a Mormonite, but whether in any community the confessional or polygamy ought to be endured is not a question with us. The system of confession to priests is the sum of all villanies. Murphy was martyred for speaking the truth about the confessional, and in his person the liberty of public speech received a serious blow. The day will come in which that man's name and fate will be looked upon in a different light, and many will regret that he was given over as a victim to Romish bigotry, when they feel that bigotry burdening themselves. We have seen with our own eyes that which would make the blood of any decent man boil within him. In the confessional boxes in Germany and Italy, anybody may see for himself, exhibited in the compartment allotted to the priest, a list of the sins concerning which the confessor is to inquire; these include crimes which we will not pollute our paper by mentioning; he must be a hardened profligate who would dare allude to them in the presence of a young girl. Not in the pages of a folio reserved for studious eyes did we read the degrading memoranda of which we speak, but in the confessional itself, where every passer-by may see them if he will. True, the document is in Latin; but, unfortunately, such words as abortio, sodomia, and the like, need no translation. But we dare not trust our hand to write more, — the superstition of Rome is the worst of all the evils which have befallen our race; may the Lord arise, and sweep it down to the hell from whence it arose.
Mr. Howitt has seen Old Giant :Pope at home, and marked for himself the monster's baleful influence, even hi times when advancing light, tends to mitigate the evils of his reign. To his testimony we can add our own corroborating witness, and so, we believe, can every sojourner in Italy. He says — "Well may the people of Italy rejoice over the fall of this incubus of the ages! If anyone would satisfy himself of what Popery is at its center; what it does where it has had its fullest sway, let him make a little tour, as we have lately done, into the mountains, in the vicinity of Rome, and see in a country extremely beautiful by nature, what is the condition of an extremely industrious population. In the rock towns of the Alban, Sabine, and Volscian hills, you find a swarming throng of men, women, and children, asses, pigs, and hens, all groveling in inconceivable filth, squalor, :and poverty. Filth in the streets, in the houses, everywhere; fleas, fever, and smallpox, and the densest; ignorance darkening minds of singular natural cleverness. A people brilliant in intellect, totally uneducated, and steeped in the grossest superstition.
These dens of dirt, disease, and, till lately, of brigandage, are the evidences of a thousand years of priestly government! They, and the ,country around them, are chiefly the property of the great princely and ducal families which sprung out of the papal nepotism of Rome, and. have by successive popes, their founders, been loaded with the wealth of the nation. The popeoriginated aristocratic families live in Rome, :in their great palaces, amidst every luxury and splendor, surrounded by the finest works of art, and leave their tenants and dependants without ally attention from them. Some steward or middleman screws the last soldo from them for rent; and when crops, fail, as they did last year from drought, lifts not a finger to alleviate their misery.
And the Papal Government, too — a government pretendedly based .on the direct ordination of Him who went about doing good — what has it done for them? Nothing but debauch their minds with idle ceremonies and unscriptural dogmas, lying legends, priests, monks, and beggary ! The whole land is a land of beggars, made so by inculcated notions of a spurious charity. Every countrywoman, many men, and every child, boy or girl, are literally beggars — -beggars importunate, unappeasable, irrepressible ! What a condition of mind for a naturally noble and capable people to be reduced to by — a religion !
And is this the religion which so many of our educated countrymen and countrywomen, and still more signally the clergy, are so anxious to give us in exchange for the freedom and intelligence of Protestantism? What a stupid blunder, to say the least of it !"
The letters which are translated for 'us in this volume, touch upon a wide range of subjects, and are written with great vigor and vivacity. It is a remarkable sign of the times that they should have appeared in a daily paper in the Eternal City itself. Here is a paragraph upon "Kissing the foot of the Pope ": — "Why does the pope cause his foot, or rather his Slipper, to be kissed? When did this custom begin? We will give our readers a brief answer to these queries.
Theophilus Rainaldo and the Bollandist fathers, as well as other Roman Catholic authors, tell us a gallant story of Pope St. Leo I., called the Great, which, if it were true, might show the origin of the practice. They say that a young and very handsome devotee was admitted on Easter day, to kiss the hand of Pope St. Leo after the mass. The pope felt himself very much excited by this kiss, and remembering the words of the Savior, 'If thy hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee' (Matthew 5:30), he at once cut off his hand. But as he was unable to perform mass with only one hand, the people were in a great rage. The pope therefore prayed to God to restore his hand, and God complied: his hand: was again united to the stump. And to avoid such dilemmas in future, Leo ordered that; thereafter no one should kiss his hand, but only his foot. A very little common sense is sufficient to make us understand that such was not the origin of this custom.
The first who invented this degrading act of kissing feet was that monster in human form, the Emperor Caligula. He, in his quality of Pontilex Maximus, ordered the: people to kiss his foot. The other emperors refused such an act of base slavery. But Heliogabalus, as emperor and Pontilex Maximus, again introduced it. After that impious wretch, Heliogabalus, the custom fell into disuse; but the Christian emperors retaining some of the wicked fables given to the pagan emperors, permitted the kissing of the foot as a compliment on the presentation of petitions. We may cite a few instances. The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon say that Fszius, Bishop of Tire, in his petition to the emperor, said, 'I supplicate, prostrate, at your immaculate divine feet.' Bassianus, Bishop of Ephesus, ,says, 'I prostrate myself at your feet.' Eunomius, Bishop of Nicomedia, says, ' [prostrate myself before the footsteps of your power.' The Abbot Saba, says., ' I have come to adore the footsteps of your piety.' Procopius, in his ' History of Mysteries,' says that the Emperor Justinian, at the instigation of the proud Theodora, his wife, was the first amongst the Christian Emperors who ordered prostrations before himself and his wife, and the kissing of their feet.
The ecclesiastics, the bishops, and, finally, the popes, were not exempt from paying this homage to the emperors. The prelates of Syria held this language to the Emperor Justinian : — 'The pope of holy memory, and the archbishop of ancient .Rome, has come to your pious conversation, and has been honored by your holy feet' Pope Gregory I., writing to Theodorus, the physician of the Emperor Mauritius, in the year A.D. 593, said, 'My tongue cannot sufficiently express the great benefits that I have received from God Almighty, and from our great emperor, for which I can only love him and kiss his feet.' In the year AD 681, Pope Agathon, sending his legates to the sixth council, writes to the Emperor Constantine Pogonatus : — .' As prostrate in your presence, and embracing your feet, I implore you,' etc. In the seventh century, therefore, not only did the popes not have their feet kissed, but they themselves were obliged to kiss those of the emperor. Becoming sovereigns of Rome, they soon began to adopt the same custom. Pope Eugenius II., who died in 827, was the first who made it the law to kiss the papal foot. From that time it was necessary to kneel before the popes. Gregory VII. ordered all princes to submit to this practice.
From what we have said, it is clear that the origin of feet kissing was entirely pagan and idolatrous. That this system is !in total contradiction to the precepts of the Gospel would be a waste of words to assert. Jesus Christ was so far from desiring people to kiss his feet, that he set himself on one occasion to wash the feet of his disciples. These are the words of the Gospel: 'He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel and girded himself. After that he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.' This act of Jesus Christ is in perfect keeping (John 13:4,5) with all his precepts, with his inculcations of modesty, equality, humility, and with his condemnation of those who set themselves above others. Who would have said that a day would come in which those claiming to be his vicars should cause people 'to kiss their feet?
How thoroughly has Catholicism borrowed from paganism its idolatries? And with all this, with this so flagrant a violation of the religion of Christ, a herd of people go and press their lips on the slipper of the pope, as was done formerly to the Roman emperors, the pontifices maximi, that is to say, the priests of ,.love. The comparison is sufficiently eloquent."
Very terrible is the chapter upon Excommunications and the Holy Office of the Inquisition: it is indeed sickening. The story of Rome's bloody persecutions of all who differed from her, when told in the mildest manner, is yet a thing to chill the blood and make the flesh creep. Blessed be God she has such horrors no longer in her power; but if she had her fangs untrimmed as of old, it would not be long; before her victims would be aware of it. We will give but a brief extract, referring to times of comparatively modern date. "The times changed , and being no longer able to burn the heretics and the excommunicated publicly, the holy office found means ,f putting them to death without the shedding of blood and for the glory of God, by means of walling-up and ovens.
The walling-up was of two kinds, the propria, and impropria, or complete and incomplete. By the first they punished dogmatists, by the second, the professors of witchcraft and sorcery. To punish the former, they made a niche in a wall, 'where standing upright on his feet, they placed the condemned, binding him well to the wall with cords and chains, so that he could not move in the least. They then began to build from the feet to the knees, and every (lay they raised the wall a course, at the same time giving the prisoner to eat and to drink. When he died, and God knows with what agonies, the wall was built up. But dead or alive, it was closed in such a manner that no one could see where the niche had been and that ~ body remained there.
The incomplete walling-up, or enclosure, was made by sitting the condemned in a pit bound hand and foot, so that his head only was above ground. The pit was then filled up with quicklime, and moisture from the body soon acting on it, converted it into fire, and the miserable wretch was burnt alive with the most frightful torture.
As knowledge and civilization increased, and the people began to see through the impostures of the priests, they feared lest., spite of their secrecy, such atrocities might creep abroad amongst the corrupt sons of the age, and in order to retain the knowledge of these holy proceedings amongst a few, they dismissed the buildingup, and adopted a plan more anticipative of the pains of hell, and this was by burning the condemned without flame, and without shedding of blood. They invented ovens or furnaces, which being made red-hot, they lowered the condemned into them, bound hand and foot, and immediately closed over them the mouth of the furnace. This barbarous punishment was substituted for the burning pile, and in 1849. these furnaces at Rome were laid open to public view in the dungeons of the holy Roman Inquisition, near the great church of the Vatican, still containing the calcined bones."
The manufacture of relics would be a deeply interesting subject if some one behind the scenes would write upon it; and we need not, despair of that desideratum, for many of the works of darkness have of late, by accident or otherwise, been brought to light. The following extracts will show that even in the depths of roguery which surround relic-making, there is yet a lower depth, and even counterfeits are counterfeited : — "A sudden and terrible blow has fallen on the popedom in the discovery of a most extensive manufacture and sale of false relics by the priest officials of the papal court. Before, however, stating the particulars of the illicit traffic in relics, it will be as well to take a view o[what is the regular practice at the Vatican in regard to relics. It is well known that for ages the papacy has carried on a trade in relics, and that they abound in all parts of the world amongst Catholics, who put the most profound faith in them, and believe them possessed of wonderful supernatural power. These have all issued from the manufactory of the Vatican under authority of the successive popes, and many of them have been expressly blest by them.
Notwithstanding that on this system they have two heads of St. Peter in Rome, as many as four, five, six, seven bodies of the same saint in different places, and as much wood of the true cross as would build a navy, these things do not in the least shake the faith of devotees. The priests say, that there being such things only makes the miracle the greater. The Vatican has for ages had a distinct department for the production and dissemination of relics, at the head of which is placed the Pope’s vicar. This vicar appoints a superintendent of relics, a Jesuit by-the-way, who pronounces to what saint the body about to be cut up into relics belongs, and these are prepared in the Vatican itself.
In the Roman daily paper, La Capitale, on the 6th of April, 1871, there appeared an announcement of the discovery in the papal archives of a judicial trial or investigation into a charge of an extensive manufacture of false relics by the official priests of the Lipsanotica, or relic department of the Vatican. The documents of this inquiry had by some means fallen into the hands of the Italians, since their forcible entry into Rome on the 20th September, 1870.
The publication of so astounding a fact was immediately declared by the papal journals to be a totally groundless and atrocious calumny. But unfortunately for this denial, immediately appeared one Guiseppe Colangeli, who had been the porter of the Lipsanotica at the time of this lucrative traffic, and had been charged, not only as an accomplice, but as one of the greatest offenders. He had been imprisoned on this charge in St.
Angelo, condemned, and, as we shall see, as suddenly liberated and dismissed. He now came out, with a long and circumstantial letter in his own defense in the Capitale, thus putting the truth of this official process and of these records of it beyond all doubt. From the documents which have been published, and are on sale in Rome, and from Colangeli’s letter, we arrive at the facts, of which we proceed to give a brief Besides Colangeli, two other laymen were accused as concerned in this unholy but most lucrative trade — Vincenzo Campodonico, chaplet-maker, and Guiseppe Campodonico, maker of shrines for the false relics. Amongst the priests implicated were, the Rev. Dr. Guiseppe Gaggi, Jesuit and official of the Lipsanotica; Brother Benoit, also a Jesuit priest; the Abbot Spirito Rembert, a minorist priest; Norberto Constantine, and the Rev. Dr. Archangelo Scognamiglio, the custodian of the Lipsanotica, Bembo Nare, Don Antonio Anselmi, and Don Guiseppe Milani, priestly officers in the Lipsanotica, who, having access to the seals of the cardinal vicar, the head of the relic department, freely used them for authenticating these forged relics.
It appears that so far back as 1828 this trade was going on, and at that time Agostino Campodonico, the father of the present Campodonicos, was largely concerned in it. At the trial before the cardinalvicar of the pope, Guiseppe Campodonico was known to be in the habit of making little shrines, or calendars, for the false relics, and that Vincenzo Campodonico supplied these with pieces of bones of sheep and hares, or of human bones, old and carious, taken from the catacombs, but such as were probably those of pagans, certainly not of saints and martyrs whose names they affxed to them. These bits of bones were fixed into little images of wax, professed to be the likenesses of the saints they had belonged to, and were secured to the backs of the shrines by threads of silk, and then by seals, purporting to be the seals of the papal office, and to bear the signature of the custodian of the Lipsanotica. Giuseppe Colangeli, the porter of the Lipsanotica, was represented to be the medium by which these lots of trumpery were conveyed to the Lipsanotica, and the necessary authentications of the custodian obtained, after which he carried them back to the Campodonicos, who dealt in them.
Enormous sums were given by English noblemen, and others, English ladies and gentlemen, by wealthy Spaniards, and Spanish ladies, by rich and religious Belgian dupes, and, in fact, the false relics were sent all over the Catholic world, and sold in the different monasteries and convents. Brother Benoit, the Jesuit, was a great agent in this traffic, and all parties were reaping a rich harvest from it. The custodian of the Lipsanotica, Dr. Archangelo Scognamiglio, defended himself by saying that Colangeli, being employed by him, in consequence of the large sale of genuine relics, that is, such relics as the Vatican calls genuine, to write out the authentications for his signature, wrote out twice as many as ordered, and appropriated half to his own use in this nefarious trade. To this shallow pretense, Colangeli, in his published letter, properly replied, that, had this been the case, the custodian would at once have noticed the extra number, and he assured the public that the custodian, with his assistants, Anselmi and Milani, were as deep in the business as any of the set.
The Jesuits play a prominent part in these transactions, as they do in most Catholic affairs. Father Gaggi, we are told, put the authenticating seal to the false relics, some of which were in shrines, and others in settings of gold or silver. Brother Benoit was the great wholesale dealer in them, and during the trial, with their usual cunning, the Jesuits took care that he could not be found. It was confidently believed that he was secreted in the headquarters of the Jesuits at Lyons. No means whatever were taken by the pope, or his court, to make known the existence of this legion of forged relics, so that, so far as they were concerned, the thousands and tens of thousands of dupes might go on for ever worshipping the bones of sheep and hares, and carrying them to the sick in the hope of their being healed by them.
The exposure of this most scandalous manufacture of and traffic in the bones of sheep, hares, and old pagans, within the precincts of the Vatican, and by the spiritual officers of the pope himself, has produced a profound sensation throughout Christendom, and has invalidated the whole of the pretended holy relics in existence. The report of this trial, and the letter of Colangeli, are printed in a small book, and sold for two francs, little more than eighteen pence, and have been translated into German and other languages. (Processo delle reliquie false. Rome, via de cessarini 76, Prezzo 2 lire.) In combination with the shock given to the popedom by the resistance to the dogma of infallibility, this exposure has gone far to shake the great papal imposture to its deepest foundations. What a religion must that be, which trading on the ignorance and superstition which it has itself created in such vile fetich wares as these, makes its impostures so gross and palpable, that its very priests, seeing all its impudent greed, themselves extend the base delusion on their own account.”
Another subject may also interest the reader. At the further end of St.
Peter’s, one may see what is said to be the chair of Peter. It is raised above a majestic altar, composed of fine marbles, and is supported by four gigantic figures. Angels hover all around, and above it is a field of transparent glass, colored to represent light, and so to typify the presence of the Holy Spirit. Is this the chair of Peter or no? Common sense is quite able to give the answer, and her verdict is abundantly sustained by rumor and fact. The whole story of this blessed chair lies in a nut shell; here it is : — “Lady Morgan, in her work on Italy, in the fourth volume, relates a story about the famous chair of St. Peter, which is venerated in Rome with so much solemnity, which account we now give in her own words : — ‘The sacrilegious curiosity of the French, in their occupation of Rome, in the beginning of this century, overcame all obstacles, and would see the chair of St. Peter. They took off the precious case of gilt bronze, and laid open the relic. Through the dust they saw the traces of antiquity, and some figures cut in the wood, which resembled letters. The chair, being taken out and exposed to the light, after clearing away the cobwebs and dust, they made an exact copy of the inscription, which proved to be the well-known Mahometan confession of faith, ‘There is no God but God, and Mahomet is his prophet.’ It is supposed that this chair was one of a number of relics brought by the Crusaders from the East in times of ignorance.”
We have no desire to insist on the truth of the statement of Lady Morgan, which would make this out to be the chair of some devout Mahometan, instead of being that of St. Peter; but we do not think the reply made by the theologians to the English traveler was either serious or conclusive. The most telling reply is that which the theologians of Rome gave to demonstrate the impossibility of this chair having belonged to a Turk — namely, that the Turks do not use chairs. But the Roman theologians, if they knew the history and customs of the East, would know that the Orientals, though they do not use chairs in their houses, at least commonly, yet they use them in their mosques to preach from. Al Jannati, a famous Arab writer, relates that Mahomet caused a chair to be made by one Nakum, a Greek workman, to preach from; and says that upon this chair both Mahomet and all the Califs, his successors, preached; and, in imitation of this, there is in every mosque a chair to preach from. What wonder, then, if the chair of which Lady Morgan speaks should be one of these chairs taken by the Crusaders from some mosque? And this the more, that the sacred motto of the Mahometans is only found on sacred objects. For the rest, the testimony of Lady Morgan begets at least a doubt; therefore, let the Roman priests expose to view this famous chair without its covering of bronze, and then it will be seen whether Lady Morgan has erred, or has spoken the truth.
The identity of this chair has been placed in doubt — or, rather, denied by the learned and pious Father Tillemont, the Benedictine, who says — “It is pretended that the episcopal chair of St. Peter is preserved in Rome, and Baronius says that it is of wood; but people who saw in 1666 that which was about to be solemnly placed in the church of St. Peter, asserted that it was of ivory, and that the sculpture upon it was antique, and of the third or fourth century, and that it represented the twelve labors of Hercules. How happens it, then, that Baronius and Tillemont are not in accordance? How can possibly be found on the same chair the twelve labors of Hercules and a profession of the Mahometan faith? These two things certainly cannot exist together, and especially in a chair of St. Peter. This is probably the truth of the matter. In the time of Cardinal Baronius, the chair was really one of the old curule chairs of ivory, and had upon it sculptured the twelve labors of Hercules. Cardinal Baronius caused Clement VIII. to observe that, if it was important to have in Rome the chair of St. Peter, it was still more important that the Protestants and the incredulous should not find in this an evident argument for the denial of its antiquity. A curule chair, with the labors of Hercules sculptured on it, was a thing incredible as a chair of St. Peter. The pope was convinced of this, and caused the chair to be changed, without any publicity, the public not being able to observe this change, since the chair was in a case of gilt copper. Into this case was put an old chair of wood, in the Gothic style, and this is the chair of wood of which Barcnius speaks.
Sixty years later, Alexander VII. caused the famous altar of the cathedral to be erected, as described above; but when they were about to put the chair into the present case, it was remarked that the Gothic style did not exist in the time of St. Peter. Then they rejected the chair selected by Baronius, and wished to restore the former one; bat here the labors of Hercules presented an equal obstacle. The warehouse of relies was then visited, and there they found an ancient chair brought from the East, by the Crusaders, and this was it which was put into the new case, and which is the one spoken of by Lady Morgan. So then the grand proof of the Roman clergy of St. Peter having been in Rome, is a chair from a Mahometan mosque!
Here we are reminded of the trial about the false relics! If they falsify even chairs, can you then believe in their bones? What reason had Pope Ganganelli, who suppressed the Jesuits, to exclaim, ‘If one put faith in all the relies that they exhibit in all countries, one must many times be persuaded that a saint had ten heads and ten arms!’ It was a pope who said this — that is, an infallible person — and not we only.”
Essence of lies, and quintessence of blasphemy, as the religion of Rome is, it nevertheless fascinates a certain order of Protestants, of whom we fear it may be truly said that “they have received a strong delusion to believe a lie, that they may be damned? Seeing that it is so, it becomes all who would preserve their fellow-immortals from destruction to be plain and earnest in their warnings. Not in a party-spirit, but for truth’s sake, our Protestantism must protest perpetually. Dignitaries of the papal confederacy are just now very prominent in benevolent movements, and we may be sure that they have ends to serve other than those which strike the public eye. A priest lives only for his church; he may profess to have other objects, but this is a mere blind. Our ancient enemies have small belief in our common sense if they imagine that we shall ever be able to trust them, after having so often beheld the depths of Jesuitical cunning and duplicity. The sooner we let certain Archbishops and Cardinals know that we are aware of their designs, and will in nothing co-operate with them, the better for us and our country.
Of course, we shall be howled at as bigots, but we can afford to smile at that cry, when it comes from the church which invented the Inquisition. “No peace with Rome” is the motto of red, son as well as of religion C. H.S. CONFESSING CHRIST “Ye are members one of another.” “Now ye are the body of Christ.” “This do in remembrance of me.”
THIS language expresses the fellowship which exists among believers springing from union with Christ their Head. The body which represents it is called the Church, a collection of persons who are governed by the will of God, taught by the Holy Spirit, and whose excellencies spring from a heavenly principle within — ‘the church of God,’ which Christ, the fuller accounts of the New Testament go on to say ‘purchased with his own blood,’ ‘that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.’
It is the ‘household of God,’ with spiritual ties and relationships like the natural ties and relationships which bind together the members of a family.
This spiritual household exists visibly in the world, with an organization to provide for its welfare, look out for its interests, and help on its work. If you are a child of God, you will wish to be recognized as such by entering his visible fold; you will wish to be seen and found there. It is your first and highest duty, as well as privilege. ‘But cannot I be as good out of the Church as in it, and as useful?
No, emphatically, no. The condition of growth and usefulness consists in separating yourself from the world and entering into covenant and fellowship with Christ and his people. We have no right to live merely as individual Christians, each one walking his own way; we are a whole consisting of many parts, that exist for each other and through each other.
Nor have we any right to set up our private judgment against the express will of its Divine Founder. The Acts of the Apostles shows us that those who repented and believed were ‘added to the Church.’ Repentance is not enough; you must own it by joining the people of God. Both rest upon the same authority. Standing aloof is no way of showing our allegiance and love. To remain an alien is a poor preparation and worse position for either getting or doing good. ‘But I am afraid I shall not act up to my profession. I fear I shall be inconsistent, and fall short of what a Christian ought to be.’
Our Lord foresaw that we should not love, obey, and worship the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as we ought to, and yet he enjoins our covenanting with his people, and enjoins it as a means of bringing our practice into closer correspondence with what it is our aim to reach, and our duty to become. You cannot stand selfishly apart by yourself, and fulfill Christian duty. It is not God’s way of educating us for heaven. We must become a part of the ‘body of Christ’ in a close, living, visible union., ‘Having had our bodies washed with pure water,’ says the apostle, let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; ‘that is, within the fold, our stand taken , we are in a position to make good our obligations to faithful and loving service.
The Holy Supper was instituted and enjoined by our Lord himself, in the upper chamber where he last ate with his disciples. Your presence at his table declares you from choice and affection a disciple of Christ, and you thus seek to deepen and strengthen the spirit and purposes which mark the disciple.
There are some who seem to regard a seat at his table as an end attained, a goal reached, after which they may sit down securely, without further occasion for watchfulness or fighting. This is a great and, in many cases, a fatal mistake, and accounts for the cold, selfish, and unfruitful lives of many whose names are indeed on the records of the church, and that is all.
No spiritual increase in grace or good works proves them living members of the body of Christ.
Let it never be forgotten that the Lord’s Supper is especially designed to help and strengthen us, to revive and quicken us to greater diligence and faithfulness in making ‘our calling and election sure.’ It is one of the great means of carrying on the new life begun within us, and which has made as yet but little progress towards maturity.
And since he has said, ‘Do this in remembrance of me,’ we must needs inquire what it is to remember Jesus in his word and his works, in his sympathy and sufferings, in his death and resurrection for us, with all the hopes, privileges, and blessings which flow to us, and will for ever flow to us from his cross. And as he, ‘the author and minister of our faith, for the joy set before him, enduring the cross, despising the shame,’ so in looking to him, and believing in him, we gain strength to endure and to suffer, to watch and to pray, animated by the hope set before us of entering into the joy which our dying and risen Lord has already won for us.
The real value and efficacy of the Lord’s Supper, as a means of grace, must depend upon our own sincerity and earnestness. If we are cold, inconsiderate, and unprepared, it will be but an idle ceremony. If our attention is lively and our hearts tender; if by suitable thoughtfulness, prayer, and self-examination, we come with a temper prepared to receive the grace and the Spirit of the Lord, we shall go away strengthened, comforted, and refreshed from communion with him.
Our Lord took the most common and wholesome things as symbols of his redeeming love, thus teaching us that his mercy and grace do not flow to us in rare and costly appointments, difficult to be had and hard to be understood. Bread and water are ever found where hunger and thirst urge sinful and needy creatures to seek his grace.
Our union with the Lord unites us in a close and vital relation to the Lord’s people. ‘Ye are members one of another.’ All true love is service, living for others. Neither high nor lowly station can release us from responsibility to the Church; nor should any member feel that he can, from any pretext, withdraw himself from taking part with his fellow-believers in Christian fellowship and Christian work. An attentive study of the twelfth chapter of the first of Corinthians fully instructs us on this point. ‘There are indeed, as the apostle says, ‘diversities of gifts, but the same spirit; differences of administration, but the same Lord; diversities of operations but the same God which worketh all in all.’ ‘As the body is one and hath many members, all the members of that one body being many, are one body:’ ‘the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee, nor the hand to the foot, I have no need of thee; much more then members of the body which are more feeble are necessary. And the members should have the same care one for another; if one member suffer, all the members suffer with it or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now are ye the body of Christ, and members one of another.’
St. Paul plainly teaches that the gifts of God and his grace are not bestowed upon believers for their own individual good solely, nor only for the honor and glory of their Divine Giver, but that they are held, as it were, in trust for others, and that in thus using them, they strengthen and sanctify the whole.
The principle of union is love. ‘By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples’ said the Lord, ‘if you love one another.’ And the office of love is to promote peace and harmony; to root out strife, division, jealousy, exclusiveness, and neglect — to unite and not divide . It teaches us also to submit to the order and discipline of the Church, and to weigh well both our motives and our acts, if they oppose its requirements.
We can all understand the pain of a true father’s heart over the refractory conduct of a self-willed child; much more grievous must it be to the heart of our heavenly Father to find indifference, coldness, and alienation among his children, and to see them so absorbed in their own separate and selfish ends as quite to forget each other.
It is a bad sign for us to forget or neglect the ‘power of welcome.’ ‘Come,’ is the sweetest word which fell from the lips of Jesus — the first full utterance of the love which came to bless us. Let us always keep in mind that this love is not only the life of the Church, the badge of discipleship, but also the conquering power of the people of God.
In our Lord’s prayer for all who should believe in his name, we find this striking petition ‘That they all may be one , as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee, that they may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.’ A body of people under every diversity of condition and character, breathing the Spirit and living the life of Christ, must be a most powerful argument for his divine and redeeming work.
The world, it is true, has not yet seen this argument, as it some time will.
The oneness of God’s people is yet to be apprehended as a victorious power. When all that is separating and hindering shall drop away, the Church will arise and shine in her glory and strength.
May the Lord hasten that time, towards which all true hearts are yearning, for which all true hearts are praying, and to which all true work is tending.
METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE COLPORTAGE ASSOCIATION THE COLPORTEUR.
— Can nothing be done to meet the evil which is being wrought in England by the cheap pernicious literature which finds so ready a sale at the present day? This question must have occurred to everyone who has observed the enormous increase of late in the number of sensational publications circulated among our youth of both sexes, and of which the chief attraction is the vice portrayed therein and disguised under the specious name of heroism. These, together with several weekly newspapers, which consist for the most part of records of crime and licentiousness, and thousands of obscene prints and photographs, are working incalculable injury to the nation, and without exaggeration may be said to be one of the greatest curses of our time, the debasing effects of which are but too apparent around us.
Encouraged by the success of Colportage in Scotland in supplanting this injurious literature, and substituting for it pure and good reading, the Metropolitan Tabernacle Colportage Association was commenced six years since with the view of carrying out the same plan in our more southern counties, and at the same time of providing a means of evangelization which is so much needed among our rural population.
The testimony of its agents has amply confirmed the value of such efforts, both in increasing the sale of good literature and in carrying the gospel to the very homes of the people. It is but too true that multitudes of our fellow countrymen and women, lack not alone the grace of salvation but the opportunity of hearing of it. “As sheep without a shepherd” is but too faithful a description of the condition of the inhabitants of most of our villages and many of our towns. “No one ever visits us ,” is the complaint of many to the Colporteur, while, alas, in too many of the places of worship within their reach, the power of Christ to save, though nominally the subject of discourse, is but rarely actually so. In the best of neighborhoods, however, in town or country, there is opportunity and need of service which none can supply better than the Christian Colporteur. The books he carries are selected as those that speak of the weightless matters under heaven, and often has the word of God contained therein been blessed to the soul’s salvation.
Were this only an effort to extend the sale of purer reading, it would surely be deserving of the earnest support of all well wishers to the truth.
The Colporteur, however, does not only sell, he gives a tract at many doors; but better still, warm loving words of comfort to the troubled, warning to the careless, and direction to the seekers after God. He goes where others could not; his pack of books being his introduction, he can freely visit at the cottage or the mansion, in the field or on the highway; and passing by no door without a call, is the best known man in all the district round. What opportunities he has of reading with the sick, inviting to a cottage meeting, or the house of God, or offering in the market-place the truth that sets men free! The books he sells are as seed sown for Christ; and, far from hindering his mission work, help to maintain him, make his visits regular, and open the way for him to speak the truth in unlikely places.
During the last six years twenty-five districts have thus been worked by this Association, but not all at one time, for lack of funds has limited the number; and though thirteen districts are now in operation (the largest number yet maintained), unless contributions are more freely forthcoming it is feared they must be diminished before the end of the year.
The expense of management is but small; all the officers giving their time freely to the work, and most of the districts assist by local subscriptions; but still there is a large deficiency to be made up. All who know the work feel its value, and are most anxious to see it extended. Scotland has upwards of 200 men thus engaged. Ireland and America recognize the usefulness of the Colporteur, while each year sees fresh men thus employed upon the Continent. England alone is without the agency to any great extent. Shall it remain so? This is not a Baptist Association, but seeks to serve the cause of Evangelical truth without regard to sect or party.
In order to multiply the number of Colporteurs, two things are needed.
First, a guaranteed subscription of £40 a year from the district to be supplied; and for this purpose individuals or churches may unite, or local committees be formed as is the case at present in some districts; and secondly, by increased subscriptions and donations to the general fund, which if sufficiently large to enable the opening of fresh districts, will lead the way to a future guarantee.
Several friends of the Association who have already contributed most liberally, have offered to repeat their donations if others will assist to raise such a sum, as will enable the Committee to extend the work, and it is confidently hoped that the need and value of the agency having been stated, this appeal will not be made in vain.
The following are the Districts at present supplied by the Association Ely, Cambridgshire:
A.SMEE. — A very successful district for sales, which amount to upwards of £250 a year. The Agent visits some fifteen villages, and is heartily received by the people. Eythorne, Kent : R.MARSHALL — One of the longest established, the guarantee for which is given by the Baptist Church at Eythorne. The Colporteur supplies one or two preaching stations, and his work is much appreciated. Haydock, Lancashire:
JOHN VARNHAIN. — A mining district, needing constant and earnest effort. The Agent here conducts frequent open-air services, night schools, and cottage meetings, and many souls have been won for Christ through his instrumentality. Warminster, Wiltshire:
— The Agent here travels as much as twenty miles from his center, very often accomplishing the journey on a velocipede, and his visits are eagerly watched for and highly valued by many of God's aged people, while his testimony to sinners has not been in vain. Haroldwood, Essex:
— The Colporteur here in addition to his rounds has the charge of a small chapel. The population of the district is sparse, but a fair attendance is secured, and the worshippers assist in the support of the Agent. Bushton, Wiltshire:
— Rather an extensive district like that at Warminster, but equally successful; the Colporteur being assisted in his journeys by a pony and cart. Many souls have been blessed in this district. Minster, Isle of Sheppy:
— This Colporteur has been greatly used of God in the conversion of souls. Several meetings weekly are held in various parts of the Island, and are well attended and much blessed, especially the Bible classes held by the Agent at his own house.