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Monday, September 25, 2017
Date Posted:

Gregory to Boniface
Rome On Orthodox Bloc
Put limbo into limbo
Paul VI and Aldo Moro
Break-Up Of Britain
Breach Wall of Secrecy
Crusade Is Faltering
Rome Dominating Europe
Father Christmas Bones
The Tainted Saint
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Padre Pio Shrine
Unlikely Nun Supremo
Rome's Secret Weapon
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The Chamber of Imagery in the Church of Rome
[Part 2 of 2 parts]

The duty of the church is plain. It is to set forth the mystery of godliness, and in contrast with it and explanation of it, the mystery of iniquity.
Thomas E. Peck


It is one of the most universal characteristics of mankind to cling tenaciously to the forms and representatives of whatever has been once valued, loved, honoured or revered. How long and with how much jealousy did the ancient Romans cling to the forms and signs of their free republic, after the substance was gone, and they were groaning under a despotism well-nigh absolute! What passionate kisses are imprinted upon the marble features of the lifeless body which once shrined a spirit pure and noble, the object of affection and respect! So is it with religion. When the experience of the power of the truth of God has been lost; when men have ceased to taste and see that the Lord is good; when there is no more pungent and radical conviction of their needs as subject to guilt and misery, and, consequently, no more conviction of the necessity and priceless value of a Saviour's atoning blood and sanctifying Spirit; when the perception of the true glory of Christian worship, simple, manly and spiritual, consisting in fellowship with God and the divinely-ordained expression of that fellowship, has been destroyed, or, in a great degree, impaired; when, in a word, nothing but the corpse of religion remains, the most is made of that corpse. It is bedecked and beautified, it lies in state, it is visited rind gazed upon with emotions approaching to idolatry. Such a corpse of Christianity is the Church of Rome. Let us look at it in a few particulars:

I. It is a cardinal truth of Christianity that Jesus Christ, in his person and grace, is to be proposed and represented to men as the principle object of their faith and love.

The Saviour being, as to his divine nature, invisible to us and as to his human nature gone beyond the reach of mortal vision, must be represented to our minds in some way, or he can never be the object of our faith and love. This representation is made in the gospel and in the sacraments, by which he is "before our eyes evidently set forth, crucified amongst us". "We all, with unveiled face, beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." We have four different portraits, so to speak, drawn by those who lived in familiar intercourse with him, who listened every day to the gracious words which issued from his mouth, who witnessed his wonderful works of beneficence and power, and saw the tears which demonstrated that the Man was tenderly alive to all the impressions of human woe. He is presented to us in a great variety of lights and attitudes to render our conception of him as round and full as our limited capacities will allow, and all this under the inspiration of God. At the same time we have no minute description of his bodily form or features, in order, as it might seem, to rebuke beforehand the presumptuous folly or misguided affection which should lead the church to attempt to reproduce them upon canvas, or in marble, wood or metal. The perception of Jesus is a spiritual perception by faith. Faith goes to him in distress, leans upon him for support, communes with him in joy, fights for him against the world, the flesh and the devil, and looks for that blessed hope and his glorious appearing, when its office shall cease amid the splendours of the vision beatific. Now we see, as by a glass, darkly; and even these dim reflections of the beauty of our King cannot be perceived by us till he, by his Spirit, opens and purges our eyes. Nothing is more natural, then, when the conviction exists that Christ ought to be habitually present to the mind, and yet the spiritual illumination, by which alone he can be perceived, is denied, to resort to images and pictures, to fasts and festivals, which commemorate the events and vicissitudes of his mortal life. And this the Church of Rome has done. But the Christ of their temples and domestic shrines is no more the Christ of the Scriptures than Aaron's golden calf was the God who brought the Israelites out of Egypt, and is no more suited to instruct the besotted people who use the image as to the true nature of his person and his office that the more ancient instrument of idolatry was suited to convey adequate conceptions of that majestic Being who was thundering out of the thick darkness of the mount. In both cases there is an attempt to worship God by a violation of one of the very plainest of his commandments. The ancient idolaters, however, made no attempt, so far as we know, to expunge the obnoxious precept.


It is, however, less as an object of worship than as an instrument of instruction that we now refer to the use of the image in the Church of Rome. It is their way of setting forth the great truth touching the prominence which is due to the person and grace of Christ in the experience of the believer. The manner in which Paul would begin a missionary work may be seen in Rom. x. 6, 8. The method of popery may be seen in any history of its missions. The results, respectively, of the two methods in exalting national character in knowledge and civilisation are so obvious that the wayfaring man, though a fool, need not err concerning them. The results of the two methods in the improvement of the individual in scriptural knowledge and genuine piety are still more startling, and scarcely need to be referred to.

II. Again, "it is a prevalent notion of truth that the worship of God ought to be beautiful and glorious."

We cannot reflect upon the majesty of our Maker at all without feeling that the worship which becomes such creatures as we are, and which is acceptable to him, must not be mean or low, except so far as these qualities must belong to the creature in comparison with the Creator. This is the dictate even of the light of nature. When we come to examine the Scriptures we find that this instinct, so far from being disallowed, is sanctioned and confirmed. The worship of the Mosaic institute, the gorgeous furniture of the tabernacle, the splendid temple which succeeded it, the brilliant vestments of the priests, the costly incense which ascended in a fragrant cloud from the golden censer, the inner sanctuary, where was the throne of God, attended by the cherubim, concealed by a veil which the high priest alone was allowed to put aside, and he only once in the whole year, all this was designed to impress the ancient people of God with a sense of his awful majesty, and with a conviction of the glory of his worship. But it was only the alphabet, the primary elements, as Paul calls it, of the truth. The scheme of redemption, in its great features, was so different from anything over conceived by the human understanding, so difficult to be received by it, that a new language was necessary, symbols addressed to the senses and the imagination, and kept continually before them, to give the new ideas and anomalous relations a permanent lodgement in the current of human thought. Under the gospel all the forms are changed; the worship of God is still glorious, nay, far more glorious than before, but the outward signs of the glory have been removed. (Compare 2 Corinthians iii with the Epistle to the Hebrews throughout.) Jesus Christ is the spirit of the old letter; the temple, the ark, the mercy-seat, the altar, the priest, the complement of the whole imposing ritual in all its parts and details. There is no more use, no propriety, in such forms and appliances of worship as were tolerated under the law in the infancy and childhood of the church. There is no priest on earth in the literal sense; all are priests, high priests, who have boldness to enter every day and every hour into the holiest of all, through their union with Jesus, the only real priest, de jure or de facto, in the universe. There is no sacrifice, in the literal sense, on earth; all the services and worship of believers are spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ, who offered himself once for all, and by that one offering perfected for ever them that are sanctified. There remaineth no more sacrifice for sin. There is and can be no temple on earth in the literal sense; every believer is the temple of the Holy Ghost, and there are no dead temples now, no consecrated stone, brick, or wood; our houses of worship are "meeting-houses", no more, no less. The true and only temple, in the sense of that which makes God conversable with man and man's worship acceptable to God, is the human nature of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We need not say that in the Church of Rome there is nothing but the old Jewish image of the true glory of divine worship: a temple, a succession of mortal priests, a daily sacrifice, incense and intercession, a ritual imposing to the senses and the imagination, but no access to the mercy-seat of God. "Through him," that is, the Son, "we have access by one Spirit to the Father"; this is the description of true worship, the fellowship enjoyed by all who have been admitted to the glorious liberty of the sons of God. But where are the vestiges of it in the great apostasy? Is God a Father there, or a vindictive Judge, over ready to launch his thunder-bolts against the wretched victims of remorse and terror? Is not the mediation of the Son entirely annihilated? What means the sacrifice of the mass but a denial of the reality and efficacy of the sacrifice of Jesus? the erection of a daily "remembrancer of sin", which can never make the worshipper perfect as pertaining to the conscience, and, therefore, keeps him in the iron bondage of a sense of guilt? And where is the intercession of the Son? Is it not thrust aside by their "doctrines of demons", their teachings concerning angels and the glorified spirits of the saints, accommodated from pagan mythology and rabbinical tradition? And what room is there in this accursed system for the agency of the Spirit? The priesthood, which is the church, has thrust itself between the worshipper and the Holy Ghost, as well as between the worshipper and the Son. It is a mere mechanical process of salvation by sacramental means; the personality of the Spirit is practically denied; the sovereign will of the blasphemous usurper of divine prerogatives called a priest, implied in the "intention", is the only personal element in the business. The miserable wretch who is taught to believe that he is eating his god will have this advantage over the priest who makes the god for him, that his damnation will not be quite so deep.


We have no space for more illustration. We advise our younger brethren to study this system more and more as anti-Christ. The most subtle and ingenious perversions of the cardinal doctrines of the gospel, made by the cunning of him who was a liar and a murderer from the beginning, constitute the essence, the organic life, of popery, and give rise to all those appalling manifestations of its nature in the history of individuals, families, and nations. Clearly and strikingly will it be seen, by such an investigation, that no man can hate it as it deserves to be hated, unless he loves the doctrines of grace; that the infamy which covers the system as a grinding despotism in the life that now is, is honour and glory compared with the infamy which belongs to it as a cruel and devilish device to crush all the hopes of fallen and agonised humanity for the life that is to come. It is amazing to observe with what remorseless activity and vigilance it meets the sinner at every turn, offering the image for the reality, the shadow for the substance, stones for bread, and a scorpion for an egg. It is Hobbism in world, a vast Leviathan whose will is law, whose frown is death, but it is also semi-Pelagianism, which is worse, sealing men up in everlasting darkness and despair.


We are not to be deterred from doing our duty by the cry which we shall doubtless hear from foolish men, that in exposing and denouncing popery we are dabbling in politics. If the insatiable ambition of priests and prelates, and their equally insatiable avarice, have alarmed the jealousy of those who love their country, who are to blame for it? While as American citizens we claim the right to think and speak freely on all subjects connected with our national prosperity, we swear by no party. Doubtless there are many who declaim upon the stump and elsewhere against Rome who do not and cannot hate it, because they have not been converted to God. There are not a few who justify the sarcasm of Mr. Wise; who raise their hands with holy horror at the audacious wickedness which shuts the Bible against man, and yet never disturb the repose of their own Bibles covered with cobwebs and dust. But if men hold the truth in unrighteousness, they must answer for themselves. The duty of the church is plain. It is to set forth the mystery of godliness, and in contrast with it and explanation of it, the mystery of iniquity. "If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained."

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