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Mary. The world were led to look to her with an amazing reverence. She was represented as conceived in the eternal mind, before all creatures and ages ; born without sin ; ber most holy body, then dead, as translated to heaven. Her image was in every temple. Christ could be approached only through
She was adored under numberless titles. In honour of ber were instituted the Rosary and the Crown. The former consisted in fifteen repetitions of the Lord's prayer, and an hundred and fifty salutations of the blessed Virgin. The latter, in six or seven repetitions of the Lord's prayer, and six or seven times ten salutations or Ave Marias. The house in which she lived at Nazareth, was said to be taken up by foor Angels and carried to Loretto, where it was visited by unnumbered pilgrims. The fraud was sanctioned by several successive popes. In 1476, indulgences were granted to all who would celebrate an annual festival in honour of the immaculate conception of the blessed Virgin.
Church vied with church in pictures, images, statues of the canonized saints, especially of the Virgin Mary, and enormous prices were paid for supposed, and in most cases, false relics of them; the sight of which drew vast numbers, and no small gain, to the churches which held them.
Festival had been added to festival, until the people groaned under them; but in 1300, Boniface VIII. instituted the famous Jubilee. All who repaired to Rome every hundreth year, confessing their sins, received absolution. This added so much to the power and wealth of Rome, that it was soon celebrated every fiftieth year, and is now every five and twentieth, with great pomp and magnificence.
The popes strengthened themselves also, by an abuse of the sacrament. In the year 831, a monk named Pascasius Rado bert, advanced the strange sentiment, that the bread and wine used in the Lord's supper, was, by consecration, converted into the body and blood of the Lord Jesns Christ, and was actually the same as was born of the Virgin Mary, as suffered on the cross, and was raised from the dead. The doctrine was too absurd and monstrous to be immediately received even in that gross age, and met with general disapprobation. It was however a monstrous doctrine, and that was sufficient to insure it a reception with some. Warm altercations ensued. The most odious tenets were charged upon each other by the contending parties. Some of the popes saw it would exalt the priesthood; for if the meanest priest could convert bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, what must be the power of the sovereign pontiff? and when it was brought before the fourth Late
CHAP. 9. TRANSUBSTANTIATION.
ran council in 1215, it was declared by Innocent III. to be a doctrine whose belief is necessary to salvation. Thus was the doctrine of TRANSUBSTANTIATION introduced, which has remained popular, and amazingly exalted the Roman clergy in the eyes of the people to this day.
From this proceeded the thin wafer, which the Catholics use in the sacrament, that no part of the precious body of Christ may be lost; and the prohibition of the wine to the laity-for if the bread is the real body of Christ, it contains his blood, and the wine is superfluous, and should not be wasted; only it might be used by the priests, who need a double portion. Communion in one kind, however, was never fully established until the meeting of the council of Constance. The procession of the Host followed. When the sacrament was to be administered to the sick, the priest was ordered to carry the host, or bread in procession, clothed with his proper garments, and lights. borne before him. To complete the structure of superstition, the Festival of the Holy Sacrament was instituted 1264 ; as ordained by heaven, “ to repair all the criroes of which men might be guilty, in the other masses."
They laid hold too of the natural fears of men respecting the future state of the soul. They cunningly invented and imposed upon the world the belief, that as saints had some imperfections, they were not immediately to be admitted into heaven, but were located, for a time, in a place so near the abode of the wicked, that they should feel the heat of the flames of hell until they were sufficiently purified for heaven. Over this place, called Purgatory, the popes pretended to have power. They declared, that an immense treasure of merit, consisting of the unnecessary blood of Christ, which had been shed, of the unnecessary good works of saints, which were called works of superogation, had been committed to them to be dispensed for the release of such as were confined in that dreadful region, for
any number of years as they should see fit. To those who could not obtain release by any pilgrimage, or service, the popes, in the plenitude of their benevolence, granted indulgences for certain sums of money, which should go into the papal treasury. The people were not only permitted to buy
their own deliverance but the deliverance of their friends.| And, to induce them to do this, pictures, representing the souls
of individuals weltering in fire, were exposed in churches. Fraternities of monks were established, to wander through Europe, and beg and plead for them.
Yea, they went farther, and claimed, as the representative of
St. Peter, the control of the keys of heaven and hell. Whosesoever sins were remitted, by the Pope and his clergy, were remitted to them. The priests thus became confessors; and, if any failed to confess to them their sins, and receive absolation, they were to perish forever. This became a source of immense power and wealth ; made men sin fearlessly ; and, as the clergy lived in a state of celibacy, produced, throughout the Catholic countries, the most debased state of morals. Absolution from the future punishment of the most attrocious crimes, was fixed at a few shillings. A man might rob and murder his neighbour, go to his priest, receive pardon, and feel wholly at ease in his conscience, and have no fear of a future punishment for his deeds.
Moreover, to hold the people in perpetual bondage, the Roman pontiffs forbade the worship of God in any language which the people could understand; requiring the use of the Latin tongue, which had become obselete throughout all the churches. The Bible being supplanted by tradition, became a rare and neglected book, and the light of heaven was completely extinguished.
They finally declared the Roman church infallible. Its decisions, its decrees, were always right, how absurd and contradictory soever to plain common sense, to matter of fact, or to one another they might be. Some ascribed this infallibility to the popes, others to a general council ; but the minds of the people at large, fully believed it was committed to the Catholic *church, and, as this was governed by the pope, it placed him in the seat of God, and gave him a kind of Omnipotence.
Out of the superstition of the age, arose the crusades, or attempts to rescue Jerusalem from the hands of the Mahometans. The Roman pontiffs were not backward to improve these wild and mad undertakings, for the increase of their own power. Jerusalem was taken by the Saracens, A. D. 637. The Christians, who remained there, were treated with the greatest cruelties. These cruelties were witnessed by pilgrims from Europe, who, on their return, excited, by their relations, the indignation of all Christian nations. A general expectation prevailed throughout Europe in the tenth century, that, at the close of a thousand years, Christ would come to reign on earth, and would fix the seat of his empire at Jerusalem. It produced an unusual panic. As the period drew near, men left their employments, abandoned their connexions, devoted themselves and their property to the churches and monasteries. Storms, earthquakes, and eclipses, were viewed as
PETER THE HERMIT.
the immediate forerunners of the coming of Christ, and caused a complete abandonment of the cities. Private and public buildings, palaces and churches, were suffered to go to decay as no longer useful. Multitudes were desirous of hastening to Jerusalem, and witnessing the descent of Christ, and it was thought the duty of all Christians to unite in chastising and expelling those barbarous infidels from the holy City, and relieving the persecuted and oppressed, and thus preparing the city for her King.
The first effort to rouse Christendom to the subject, was made by Pope Sylvester II. who in the tenth century, addressed an epistle to the Church universal, as from the oppressed church in Jerusalem, calling for immediate relief. But little, however, was effected, until the close of the eleventh century. About that time, Peter, a hermit, who had been in military life, and had seen the miseries of the Christians in the East, wrapt in a coarse garment, his head bare, his feet naked, rode through Europe on an ass, bearing a weighty crucifix and a letter which he affirmed was written in heaven, and preaching to immense crowds in streets and churches, roused all the nations to an holy war. The
popes used every artifice to increase the excitement made by the hermit, and increase the number of spiritual soldiers. A plenary indulgence, a full absolution of their sins, was granted to all who should enlist. Amazing were the results. An immense multitude, computed at not less than 800,000, from the various nations of Europe, under illustrious commanders, set forth in the year 1096, to recover Jerusalem from the hands of the infidels. It was a motley assemblage of nobles, soldiers, monks, nuns, artists, labourers, boys and girls, pressing forward; some from pious motives, some from the hope of gaining heaven, (for all who fell in battle, were assured of a high seat in the regions of bliss,) and many from the prospect of making their fortunes in the rich fields of Asia. Never was such enthusiasm felt on any subject. But a miserable fatality awaited the greater part of
these adventurers; for acting more like an undisciplined band * of robbers, than Christians, they incensed against them the
nations through which they marehed, and were amazingly wasted away by famine, sword and pestilence, 'before they reached the Saracen dominions. Such of the rabble as passed into Asia, under Peter the hermit, were cot to pieces, by Soly
The disciplined soldiers, however, were more success. fal, and, in the year 1099, became masters of the holy City, under Godfrey of Bouillon, who immediately laid the foundations of a new kingdom. Such was the termination of the first
crusade or croisade as it was called in the French language, because its object was to extend the triumphs of the cross, and every soldier wore a consecrated cross of various colours upon his right shoulder.
No sooner, however, had the vast multitude returned to Enrope than the Saracens fell upon the new kingdom at Jerusalem, threatening it with an utter extermination. A new crusade was demanded to support the tottering empire ; and in the year 1147, another torrent was seen pouring into the plains of Asia. This was headed by the two powerful monarchs, Conrad JII. emperor of Germany, and Lewis VII. king of France; but it was wholly unsuccessful. By sword, by famine, by ship. wreck, and the perfidy of the Greeks, they were wasted away, and the next year a miserable handful were seen retreating into Europe. The Saracens took courage, and, in the year 1187, recaptured Jerusalem, with horrible carnage and desolation.
The fanatical spirit, however, was not destroyed. It raged throughout two centuries. A third, a fourth, a fifth, and a sixth crusade were undertaken by the champions of the cross ; and, as the final result, the Christians lost all footing in Judea, above two millions of lives and an incalculable treasure. Never were such wild and extravagant enterprizes undertaken by any of the children of Adam. They were fit to proceed out from the age of deepest superstition and midnight darkness.
Some good and much evil resulted from them. No doubt their civil effects were extremely advantageous. They awoke the nations from the slumber of ages. They set mankind, bound down under a most terrible despotism, in motion. They made tribes and people, wholly unacquainted, known to each other, and gave the unpolished nations of the north and west a knowledge of the refinement and arts of the east. They did much therefore indirectly to the production of a revolution in the religious world. They were among the earliest causes of the rise of civil and religious freedom. But, their immediate effects upon the religious and moral state of the world were deplorable in the extreme. They augmented amazingly the power and authority of the Roman pontiffs. These became, at once, the military commanders of the European world. Emperors and kings were but subordinate officers in these tremendous armies. They enriched beyond all calculation the Roman See, churches and monasteries; for to them the pious crusaders bequeathed their lands, houses and money; and, as few ever returned, they became their lawful possessors
. Their demoralizing influence was such as no tongue can tell. The professedly pious world turned into a lawless banditti, and un