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83. Beauties of the Leopold Reports.
Puerility of the Catholic Religion.
What a puerile religion the Catholic religion is ! How childish! How petty its cares! About what trifles it concerns itself! The Christian is truly “the highest style of man,” but the consistent Catholic is not much above the lowest. Baraga writes as follows: “It would be of essential service to our missions, if there could be sent us cups, boxes for the holy wafer, rosaries, crucifixes—of the last two, as many as possible, for such articles cannot be bought here. How it is with church furniture and linen, you may easily think. Those given to me by pious persons are of great use to me, and I cannot be thankful enough for them.” Cannot be thankful enough for boxes, rosaries, &c.!! His capacity for gratitude must be small indeed. We Protestants often feel that we cannot be thankful enough, but it is not for such trumpery as cups and boxes. When we feel and lament over the inadequacy of our gratitude, it is in view of the many and great mercies of God to us. I suppose our Protestant missionaries at Ceylon, and elsewhere, would not be so very grateful if we should send them a consignment of cups, boxes, &c. No: such things could not be of essential service to their missions. We do not understand converting people as the Catholics do. They can regenerate and pardon, and do all the rest in a trice. We have to bring before the mind of the sinner the great-saving truth of Christ crucified; but they have only to put the little crucifix in his hand. I went, a short time ago, to visit a man under sentence of death, to talk to him about Christ and his death. I found him gazing intently on a little metallic image of Christ crucified, which a priest had left him. He seemed indifferent to all I said. The priest had prepared him !
In a note to Baraga's letter, we are told of a great number of Catholic notions that are already on their way to America ; among them three thousand rosaries! What a sight of beads! How their missions must prosper after this! A little afterwards, by way of inducing others to contribute beads, boxes, &c. it is said : “ The good Christian rejoices to promote the external honor of the house of God, so that the inner man, by the splendor of the external divine worship, may be lifted to heaven.” What a sage sentiment ! How scriptural! How philosophical too! This is truly a new way of being lifted to heaven.
But I must not overlook a letter of Bishop Fenwick, dated Mackinac, July 1, 1831. He writes : “ On the second day after my arrival, Mr. M. and I preached at different times after mass. When the people had heard some sermons, confessions began ; and from that time
; till the day of our departure, we sat on the confession stool from early morning till 1 o'clock, and in the afternoon, from 3 or 4 o'clock, till 10, 11, and twice till 12 at night. There were confessions of twenty, thirty, and forty years.” What a prodigious memory they must have had, who called to mind and confessed the sins of forty years! All that time they were waiting for a priest to come along. There was the God who delighted in mercy, to whom they might have confessed, as the publican dared to do; and there was “Jesus the mediator of the new covenant,” whom they might at any time have engaged to intercede for them. But
that would not have been to act the part of good Catholics. The good Catholic does not go to the mercyseat of God to confess his sins and obtain forgiveness, (that were an "iniquity to be punished by the judges,") but he waits for the priest to come along with his confession-stool. The confession-stool substituted in the place of the mercy-seat! This is one of the doings of that religion which Austria wants to give us. God says to sinners, “Come unto me," and he promises that he will “ abundantly pardon them from his throne of grace.”
“Nay," says the priest," wait till I come with my little stool." Catholics may, if they please, go for pardon and mercy to the stool of confessionbut, my Protestant brethren, “Let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
There is nothing of which I am more perfectly certain than that the religion of the church of Rome is not the religion of Jesus Christ. I do not care to say what it is—but it is not Christianity. How can they be the same, when they differ so widely? Midnight and noon are not more unlike. I will specify one point of difference. Romanism is partial. She is a respecter of persons. Christianity is the very opposite of this. And not only is the church of Rome partial, but her partialities are all in favor of the rich. Now Christianity, if it leans in any direction, inclines towards the poor.
It was one sign that the Messiah was come in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, that " the poor had the Gospel preached to them.” They were not overlooked ; far from it. “Hearken,” says one, “ hath not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to them that love him.” The poor had never such a friend as Christ. He was himself poor. He had experience of the privations, cares, and sorrows of that condition. So poor was he that he had not where to lay his head. No lodging-place at night had he in all that world which his word created and his hand sustained. The poor are peculiarly his brethren.
And think you, then, that he has opened a wider door of entrance into heaven to the rich than to the poor? Think you that he has connected with the condition of the rich man an advantage whereby he may sooner or more easily obtain admittance into the place of his glorious presence ? I do not believe it. But this is what the church of Rome teaches. She preaches better tidings to the rich than to the poor-Christ did not. But I must make good this charge against the church of Rome. I do it thus: According to her creed, all souls, except, perhaps, now and then one, of every condition, go, on their leaving the body, to purgatory. There they are. Now to get them out. How does she say that is to be done? Why, they must either suffer out their time, (that is, all the time which remains after subtracting all the indulgences that were purchased and paid for,) or their release must be effected by the efficacy of prayers and masses said for them by the faithful on earth. You remember that mass was performed lately by the Catholic congress assembled in Baltimore, for the repose of the souls of two deceased bishops. There is no other way. Christ's sacrifice does not give rest to the soul, according to the Catholics, unless the sacrifice of the mass be added to it! Well, how are these masses, so necessary to the repose and release of the soul, to
had? Why, how do you suppose, but by paying for them!
Give the priests money, and they will say them. At any rate, they promise that they will. Now, do you not see the advantage which money gives a man in the church of Rome, and the hardships of being a poor Catholic ? I wonder any poor man should think the Catholic religion the religion of Christ. Verily, Popery is no religion for poverty. What did our Savior mean, when he said, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God ?" According to the Catholic doctrine, they are the very men that enter most easily—they having the wherewith to purchase indulgences and masses. It is the poor, according to this scheme, that with difficulty enter in. They have to serve their time out in purgatory-whereas, the rich can buy their time off.
But is the thing managed in this way? Are not masses said for all that die in the Catholic faith? Yes, there is a day in the year called All-soul's day, (it
the 2d of November. Alas for the poor Catholic who dies on the 3d, for he has to wait a whole year for a mass,) when all of them are prayed for. The poor
share in the benefit of the masses said on that day; but what does it amount to, when you consider the millions of Catholics that die every year, and the many millions not yet out of the fire, among