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6. The Nine Commandments.
“Nine commandments! What does that mean? I always thought the commandments were ten." There used to be that number. There were ten proclaimed by the voice of God from Mount Sinai; and ten were written by the finger of God on the tables of stone, and when the tables were renewed, there were still ten: and the Jews, the keepers of the Old Testament Scriptures, always recognized ten; and so did the primitive church, and so do all Protestants in their creeds and catechisms. But the Roman Catholics, (you know they can take liberties, for they are the true church, they are infallible. A person, and so a church, which cannot possibly make a mistake, need not be very particular about what it does,) these Christians who have their head away off at Rome, subtract one from the ten commandments; and you know if you take one from ten, only nine remain. So they have but nine commandments. Theirs is not a Decalogue, but a Nonalogue.
It is just so. When, many years ago, I first heard of it, I thought it was a slander of the Protestants. I said, “O, it cannot be that they have dared to meddle with God's ten commandments, and leave out one. They cannot have been guilty of such impiety. Why, it is just as if some impious Israelite had gone into the holy of holies, opened the ark of the covenant, and taking out the tables of stone, had, with some instrument of iron, obliterated one of the commands which the divine finger wrote on them.” But then it struck me how improbable it was that such a story should
ever have gained currency, unless there was foundation for it. Who would ever have thought of charging Roman Catholics with suppressing one of the commandments, unless they had done it, or something like it?
So I thought I would inquire whether it was so or not; and I did, and found it to be a fact, and no slander. I saw with my own eyes the catechisms published under the sanction of bishops and archbishops, in which one of the commandments was omitted ; and the reader may see the same thing in “The Manual of Catholic Piety," printed no farther off than in Philadelphia. The list of the commandments runs thus:
1. I am the Lord thy God; thou shalt not have strange Gods before me.
2. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
3. Remember the Sabbath day,
The reader will see that the commandment which the Catholics leave out, as being grievous to them, is the second in the series. It is the one that forbids making graven images and likenesses of any thing for worship. That is the one they don't like ; and they don't like it, because they do like pictures and images in their churches. They say these things wonderfully tend to promote devotion, and so they do away that commandment of God! David says, “I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right.” But he was no Catholic.
Well, having got rid of the second, they call the third second, and our fourth they number third, and so on till they come to our tenth, which, according to their numbering, is the ninth. But as they don't like
the sound of “the nine commandments," since the Bible speaks of "the ten commandments,” Exod. 34: 28; Deut. 4 : 13, and every body has got used to the number ten, they must contrive to make out ten some how or other. And how do you think they do it ? Why, they halve their ninth, and call the first part ninth, and the other tenth.
So they make out ten. In the Philadelphia Manual, corrected and approved by the Right Rev. Bishop Kenrick, it is put down thus: “9th. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife. 10th. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods." You see they make two of the commandments to relate to coveting. It is not very probable the Lord did so. I reckon they were not so numbered on the tables of stone. But you see it would never do to let that second commandment stand, and it would never do to have less than ten: so they were laid under a sort of necessity to do as they have done. But, after all, it is a bad job. It is not near so ingenious as many of the devices of Popery. After all is said and done, they have but nine commandments; for every body knows that by dividing any thing you get not two wholes, but two halves: there is but one whole after the division. And so the ninth commandment is but one commandment after they have divided it. If they were to quarter it they could not make any more of it. If the Catholics are bent on dividing the last of the commandments, they should call the first half, 8), and the second half, 9th. That is what they ought to do. That would be acting honestly, for they know they have left out one of the Lord's ten. They know that the Lord gave ten commandments, and they acknowledge only nine of them. It
is a mean device to divide one of the nine, and then say they acknowledge ten. The Catholics know that the commandments, as they are in many of their catechisms, are not as they were written with the finger of God on the tables of stone. They know that one is wanting, and why it is they know. They had better take care how they do such things, for the Lord is a jealous God.
Indeed the Catholics are sorry for what they have done in this matter. It has turned out a bad speculation. This reduction of the law of God one-tenth, has led to the opening of many eyes. They would never do the like again. And as a proof of their repentance, they have restored the second commandment in many cases: they can show you a great many catechisms and books in which it is found. I had supposed that the omission existed now only in the catechisms published and used in Ireland, until I heard of the Philadelphia Manual. They had better repent thoroughly, and restore the commandment in all their publications. And I think it would not be amiss for them to confess that for once they have been fallible; that in the matter of mutilating the Decalogue, they could, and did err. If they will afford us that evidence of repentance, we will forgive them, and we will say no more about it. We know it is a sore subject with them; they don't know how to get along with it. When one asks them, “How came you to leave out the second commandment ?" if they say, "Why, we have not left it out of all our books.” The other replies, “But why did you leave it out of any ?" and there the conversation ends. Echo is the only respondent, and she but repeats the question, “Why ?"
7. Catholic Hostility to tho Bible.
I am not surprised that the Roman Catholics dislike the Bible, for very much the same reason that Ahab, king of Israel, disliked Micaiah, the prophet of the Lord. 1 Kings, 22 : 8. It is hard not to contract a strong dislike to that which is for ever bearing testimony against one. To love an enemy is one of the most difficult attainments. Now, the Bible is all the time speaking against the Catholic religion, and prophesying not good, but evil of it, just as Micaiah did of Ahab. It is natural, therefore, that the Catholic should feel an aversion to the Bible. We ought not to expect any thing else. But I am somewhat surprised that they do not take more pains to conceal their dislike of it, for it certainly does not look well that the church of God should fall out with the oracles of God. It has an ugly appearance, to say the least, to see the Christian church come out against the Christian Scriptures.
I wondered much, when, a few years ago, the Pope issued his encyclical letter, forbidding the use of the Bible in the vulgar tongue. It certainly looks bad that Christ should
say, “ Search the Scriptures ;” and that the vicar of Christ should say, "No, you shall not even have them.” It has very much the appearance of contradicting Christ: but appearances may deceive in this case, as in transubstantiation. But I must do the Pope justice. He does not unconditionally forbid the use of the Bible, but only the use of it in the vulgar tongue. The Pope has no objection that a person should have the Bible, provided he has it in a language which he does not understand. The English Catholic may have