« EdellinenJatka »
light. That I must burn Father Clement; aš the sole cause of the evil. That I should make it as a rule to pay my morning and evening des votions to the ever blessed Virgin Mary. To be more exact in the duty of saying the horæ cana onicæ in the Breuiary, &c. &c.'!
I promised to do all he required me to do, and Í did all, except two things I could not observe, namely: to let the Bible alone and to burn Father Clement:
After a long and heart-rending strugle with my self, I kneeled before the image of the Virgin Mary, and asked in fervent prayer the counsel of the queen of heaven, [as I believed her to be.] Í came to the resolution to inquire :
1st. Whether the practices of the church of Rome has been the practice of the primitive churches?
2nd. Whether the practices and doctrines of the church of Rome can be proved and sanctioned by the authority of the Bible? and
3rd: Whether they can be confirmed by the aus thority of the Father's ?
Hora Canonicæ is a certain task, which every priest is in duity bound to perform, by saying some prayer in the Breuiary in the morning, and is called: “Matutinæ,” and in the evening called : “Vesper," and in the middle of the day, called horæ.
Scarcely had I made the resolution, when I felt as if a burden had fallen from my heart. I thanked the Holy Virgin for her wise counsel, and determined to go to work as soon as possible. Never were the words of the apostle Paul “to will iş present with me, but how to perform that which is good, I find not;" more applicable than in my case. Though strongly determined to investigate the Scriptures, still there was an internal voice as it were, which whispered to my conscience, saying: “What, inquire if the doctrines of the church of Rome are the same as in the primitive churches ? Is it not the Catholic and Apostolic church? Who can doubt the primitive principles and usages of the Roman church? What! inquire whether the doctrines of the Catholic church can be proved by the Bible ? Is it not a mortal sin to doubt the authenticity of the mother church, which is the only saving church out of which there is no salvation ?" Such were the thoughts and feelings, which habit, prejudice and perhaps superstition suggested to my bewildered mind.
Father Clement being constantly upon my table, I read it over and over again, so that I knew it nearly by heart. Finally I made a resolution, which was in harmony with my own conscience,
neither derogatory to reason, nor to the doctrines of the church of Rome. A resolution of which no Roman Catholic, priest or layman can be ashamed. It was simply this. If the doctrines of the church of Rome are true, why should I not investigate them, and see if they are really based upon the Scriptures, and the usages of the primitive churches ?
In order that my faith might be more fully established, and also instructed in the Bible. Are the doctrines of the church of Rome not based upon the Bible, and if they are contrary to the usages of the primitive churches, it is necessary for my souls salvation to know it.
My readers will bear in mind, that at that time I had not been persuaded of the errors of popery, nor had I been in the possession of the truth. First I doubted and then I inquired; therefore he must not expect an elaborate theological disquisition upon the gospel truth, but only the experience of a sincere seeker.
All the practices and dogmas of the church of, Rome, were crowded together in my mind. The
mass; transubstantiation ; auricular confession; invocation of Saints; veneration of immages ; adoration of relics ; purgatory and in dulgences ; infallibility of the Pope; and the Inquisition, &-c. All these presented themselves at once to nzy mind, and I scarcely knew where to begin. But as the Mass is a precept of the church, and an injunction to every member: “to hear the sacred office of the Mass on festival days," it was the first subject of investigation on Scriptural grounds, and also whether it was the usage of the primitive churches ? In my investigation I neglected nothing; I read the fathers, canons, and searched diligently the Scriptures to support it ; for my desire was not to find errors, but to strenghten my faith in the doctrines of the church of Rome.
“ The Mass (as I had been taught] is a sacrifice of external oblation of the body and blood of Christ, through the forms of bread and wine, sensibly exhibited by a legitimate minister, offered to God in recognition of his supreme dominion, with the use of certain prayers and ceremonies prescribed by the church for the better worship of God and edification of the people." As the es . tablished doctrine of the church of Rome, it is
supported by all theologians. The council of Trent is equally decided on the subject. “Whosoever shall say, that the sacrifice of the Mass is merely an offering of praise and thanks, or a simple commemoration of the sacrifice performed on the cross and not propitiatory, or that it is of benefit only to the recipient; and that it onght not to be offered for the living and the dead for sins, penances, satisfactions, and other necessities; let. him be accursed."
The ceremonies, which form a part of the sacrifice I had as a matter of necessity investigated. Before that, I performed them mechanically, not even thinking of their signification; but how was I disappointed, when I found that those ceremon nies are not more related with the things of which they should be emblematic, than my readers are related with the man in the moon. I shall give a short description of the vestment and evolutions of the mass, and the reader will see that there are many acts and ceremonies, which have no signification at all.
Belarmino de Missæ sacrificio, lib. 1.-Suarez Disa quisitio de Missæ celebranda.
- "Concil Tredent. Sessio 22, can. 3.