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the earth, by means of thofe miracles which he had power to do. The Papal See has laid claim to the power of working miracles, as to one of the marks of the true church, and perfuaded the credulous and the fuperftitious of the dark ages, to allow its pretenfions. The history of Italy, France, Spain, and Portugal, more especially-countries the most devoted to the interests of the fovereign Pontiffs -can abundantly prove the frequency and the extent of pious frauds. The legends of the Roman faints are filled with accounts of miracles reported to have been wrought for the establishment of corrupt doctrines, and idolatrous worship.
"It is obfervable, that the Man of Sin is faid to perform his miracles, in the fight of Men in order to deceive them, and in the fight of the beaft in order to ferve him: but not in the fight of God to serve his caufe, or promote his religion. Now miracles, vifions, and revelations, are the mighty boast of the church of Rome; the contrivances of an artful cunning clergy, to impose upon an ignorant credulous laity. Even fire is pretended to come down from heaven, as in the cafe of St. Anthony's
2 Theff. ii, 10.
fire, and other inftances cited by Brightman', and other writers on the Revelation; and in folemn excommunications, which are called the thunders of the church, and are performed with the ceremony of cafting down burning torches from on high, as fymbols and emblems of fire from heaven. Miracles are thought fo neceffary and effential, that they are reckoned among the notes of the Catholic Church; and they are alleged principally in support of purgatory, prayers for the dead, the worship of faints, images, and relics, and the like (as they are called) Catholic doctrines. But if these miracles were all real, we learn from hence what opinion we ought to frame of them; and what then shall we say, if they are all fictions and counterfeits? They are indeed fo far from being any proof of the true church, that they are rather a proof of a false one ;—they are, as we fee, the distinguishing mark of Antichrift "."
To corroborate thefe obfervations, let us turn to the description of the church in the tenth century Both Greeks and Latins placed
the effence and life of religion in the worship
f Vide Brightman, et Poli Synopf, in locum.
Newton, vol. iii. p. 236, 237.
h Mofheim, vol. i. p. 456.
of images and departed faints, in fearching after with zeal, and preserving with a devout care and veneration, the facred relics of holy men and women; and in accumulating riches upon the Priests and Monks, whofe opulence increased with the progress of superstition. Scarcely did any Chriftian dare to approach the throne of God, without rendering first the faints and images propitious by a folemn round of expiatory rites and lustrations The fears of purgatory, of that fire which was to destroy the remaining impurities of departed fouls, were now carried to the greatest height, and exceeded by far the terrifying apprehenfions of infernal torments; for they hoped to avoid the latter easily, by dying enriched with the prayers of the clergy, or covered with the merits and mediations of the faints; while from the pains of purgatory they knew there was no exemption. The clergy therefore, finding these fuperftitious terrors admirably adapted to increase their authority and promote their intereft, used every method to augment them, and by the most pathetic discourses, accompanied with monftrous fables and fictitious miracles, they laboured to establish the
The worship of images was established at the fecond Council of Nice, A. D. 787. See Lowman, p. 206,
doctrine of purgatory, and alfo to make it appear that they had a mighty interest in that formidable region."
The fovereign Pontiff exercised the authority he had obtained in making and publishing edicts and conftitutions for the establishment of idolatry. Divine honours were conferred upon reputed faints, who were folemnly canonized according to regular forms of confecration. As they were fuppofed to be poffeffed of divine power, the most fervent prayers were offered up to them-the name of God, and of them that dwell in heaven, was blafphemed, and the Supreme Being was deprived of the glory and worship due to him alone, and the name of the genuine faints and angels was abused by setting them up as mediators and interceffors for mankind. The divine laws were changed. In the Popish mass-books, and in the tables written in the churches, the fecond commandment, fo directly pointed against all idolatry, was omitted; and, in order to make up the complete number of the Decalogue, the tenth commandment is divided. into two. It has been the practice of the Church of Rome for many ages, to difpenfe
Rev. xiii. 6, .
1. Dan. vii. 25.
for money with the due obfervance of the precepts of the Gofpel, and to fell indulgences, pardons, and abfolutions, even for crimes of the most atrocious nature ". Of the progress of this infamous traffick, we may judge by the account given of it in the twelfth century.
"When the Roman Pontiffs caft an eye. upon the immenfe treasures, that the inferior rulers of the church were accumulating by the fale of indulgences, they thought proper to limit the power of the Bishops in remitting the penalties impofed upon tranfgreffors, and affumed almost entirely this profitable traffick to themselves. In confequence of this new measure, the court of Rome became the general magazine of indulgences: and the Pontiffs, when either the wants of the Church, the emptiness of their coffers, or the demon of avarice prompted them to look out for new fubfidies, published not only an univerfal, but also a complete, or what they called, a plenary remiffion of all the temporal pains and penalties, which the Church had annexed to certain tranfgreffions. They went ftill farther; and not only remitted the penalties which the civil
I refer the Reader to the Catalogue of Indulgences printed in 1514, and quoted by Simpson in his Key to the Prophecies, p. 247.