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The most zealous and devoted Romanist cannot repose greater faith in the efficacy of the signature of the cross, than is evinced in the following passage :-“Let us not then be ashamed to confess the crucified. Be the cross
cover of a miserable cottage, in which each one lived sequestered from the rest of his species.
“ The Anchorites were yet more excessive in the austerity of their manner of living, than the Eremites. They frequented the wildest deserts without either tents or cottages; nourished themselves with the roots and herbs which grew spontaneously out of the uncultivated ground; wandered about without having any fixed abode, and reposing wherever the approach of night happened to find them; and all this, that they might avoid the view and the society of mortals.
66 The last order of monks that come now under consideration were those wandering fanatics, or rather impostors, whom the Egyptians called Sarabaites, who, instead of procuring a subsistence by honest industry, travelled through various cities and provinces, and gained a maintenance by fictitious miracles, by selling relics to the multitude, and other frauds of a like nature.
“Many of the Cænobites were chargeable with vicious and scandalous practices. This order, however, was not so universally corrupt as that of the Sarabaites, who were, for the most part, profligates of the most abandoned kind. As to the Eremites, they seem to have deserved no other reproach than that of a delirious and extravagant fanaticism. All these different orders were hitherto composed of the laity, and were subject to the jurisdiction and the inspection of the bishops, But many of them were now adopted among the clergy, and that even by the command of the emperors. Nay, the fame of monastic piety and sanctity became so universal, that bishops were frequently chosen out of that fanatical order.
“ If the enthusiastic frenzy of the monks exaggerated, in a manner pernicious to the interests of morality, the discipline that is obligatory upon Christians; the interests of virtue and true religion suffered yet more grievously by two monstrous errors which were almost universally adopted in this century, and became a source of innumerable calamities and mischiefs in the succeeding ages. The first of these maxims was, that it was an act of virtue, to deceive and lie, when by that means the interests of the Church might be promoted ; and the second equally horrible, though in another point of view, was, that errors in religion, when maintained and adhered to after proper admonition, were punishable with civil penalties and corporal tortures. The former of these erroneous maxims was now of a long standing; it had been
our seal made with boldness by our fingers on our brow and in every thing ; over the bread we eat, and the cups we drink; in our comings in and our goings out; before our sleep, when we lie down and when we wake; when we are in the way, and when we are still. Great is that preservative : it is without price, for the poor's sake; without toil for the sick ; since also its grace is from God.” *
But to the next extract I must solicit your more especial attention as containing the elements of three of the worst corruptions of the Church of Rome. In his Lecture on the Communion Service, Cyril says :“ Then, after the spiritual sacrifice is perfected, the bloodlesss service upon that sacrifice of propitiation, we entreat God for the common peace of the Church ; for the tranquillity of the world; for kings; for soldiers and allies ; for the sick ; for the afflicted ; and in a word, for all who stand in need of succour, we all supplicate and offer this sacrifice. Then we commemorate also those who have fallen asleep before us, first, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, that at their prayers and intervention, God would receive our petition. Afterwards also on behalf of the holy Fathers and Bishops who have fallen asleep before us; and, in a word, of all who in past years have fallen asleep among us, believing that it will be a very great advantage to the souls, for whom the supplication is put up, while that holy and most awful sacrifice is presented.” *
adopted for some ages past, and had produced an incredible number of ridiculous fables, fictitious prodigies, and pious frauds, to the unspeakable detriment of that glorious cause in which they were employed. And it must be frankly confessed, that the greatest men, and most eminent saints of this century, were more or less tainted with the infection of this corrupt principle, as will appear evidently to such as look with an attentive eye into their writings and actions. We would willingly except from this charge AMBROSE, and HILARY, AUGUSTINE, GREGORY NAZIANZEN, and JEROME ; but truth, which is more respectable than these venerable fathers, obliges us to involve them in the general accusation. We may add also, that it was, probably, the contagion of this pernicious maxim, that engaged SULPITIUS Severus, who is far from being, in the general, a puerile or credulous historian, to attribute so many miracles to St. Martin. The other maxim, relating to the justice and expediency of punishing error, was introduced with those serene and peaceful times which the accession of Constantine to the imperial throne procured to the church. It was from that period approved by many, enforced by several examples during the contests that arose with the Priscillianists and Donatists, confirmed and established by the authority of Augustine, and thus transmitted to the following ages.”—Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History. Vol. i., p. 308.
Cyril's Catechetical Lectures. Lect. xiii., $ 5. 36.
In the preceding extract you cannot fail instantaneously to detect the rudiments of the invocation of the saints—of purgatory,—and of the sacrifice of the mass for the quick and the dead. You will, therefore, not be surprised to learn that a writer in the Dublin Review (of which Dr. Wiseman is the reputed editor) should remark that “a better selection of ancient Catholic teaching could not have been made by the editors.” + It is scarcely necessary to observe that what thus possesses a claim upon the approbation of the enemies of the Reformation, must excite widely different feelings in the minds of it's friends.
* Cyril's Catechetical Lectures. Lect. xxiii., § 8. 9.
+ The Dublin Review, No. xiii., August, 1839., p. 24. At p. 25., the same writer alludes to Cyril as speaking of the Eucharist, “as a sacrifice of thanksgiving and propitiation for the living and the dead.”
But the question which is fraught with the most serious consequences, and which, therefore, demands your most thoughtful consideration is that which the editors of Frowde's Remains designate “the great point of giving men divine knowledge, and introducing holy associations, not indiscriminately, but as men are able to bear it ;" or, as it is expressed in the title page of a tract which has already excited much attention :“ Reserve in communicating religious knowledge." The nature of this reserve, as practised in the ancient Church, may be illustrated by the following quotation from Cyril's Catechetical Lectures. - To hear the gospel is allowed to all : but the glory of the gospel is set apart for them who are truly Christ's. Therefore our Lord spake in parables to them who were not able to hear ; but to his disciples he expounded them privately : for the righteousness of glory is for the illuminated, but blindness for the unbelievers. These mysteries which the Church now speaks to thee who art removed from among the Catechumens, it is not the custom to speak to Gentiles : for to a Gentile we speak not the mysteries concerning the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, nor before Catechumens do we discourse plainly about mysteries ; but inany things many times we speak in a covert manner, that the faithful who know may understand, and that those who know not may receive no hurt.” *
It must readily be admitted that such a procedure is essentially at variance with the practice of our Reformers.
Cyril's Catechetical Lectures. Lect. vi., $ 5. 29. See Appendix iv.
It is equally obvious that all who are imbued with the spirit of the Reformation and make it their prevailing aim, not to handle the Word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth to commend themselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God, can have very little sympathy with those who act upon this principle of reserve and concealment.
As the author of the tract on Reserve has applied this principle to the fundamental doctrine of the atonement, and as the moral influence of this doctrine in the renovation of man's fallen nature, by inspiring him with a hatred of sin, and a love of holiness, is of no less
paramount importance than its efficacy in cancelling his guilt; I trust that our time will not be misemployed if we enter upon a brief investigation of this principle, when viewed in more especial reference to the members of the Church of England, My reason for thus restricting the enquiry is, that it may be simplified and disembarrassed from some difficulties, with which it might otherwise be encumbered.
As a preliminary step to such an enquiry, it may not be irrelevant to observe that the gospel of Christ must be contemplated as an infinitely wise and benevolent plan of love and mercy, for the deliverance of corrupt and guilty man, no less from the contaminating influence of sin, than from its penal consequences, whether it be committed anterior or subsequent to baptism. To the application of this gracious scheme, no limitation, as it appears to me, can be specified, but that of the irremissible sin against the Holy Ghost : so that, wherever