IN traversing the wide domain of Popery there is no relief to the moral eye, everything is so bad that the student is inclined to think that what is at present before him is surely the worst; but the neat object which presents itself, if not worse, is at least as bad. The whole system is stamped with falsehood. There is not in it a single ingredient of truth. The language of prophecy is fulfilled in a manner the most fearful.
The fit motto of everything connected with it is, "Speaking lies in hypocrisy." The whole is one stupendous fabrication. Truth would be altogether out of place in the system, falsehood is essential to every part of it, and to all its movements. The result of this is obvious: where there is no truth, there can be no character; where there is no regard to truth, promises, and even oaths the most solemn, are valueless. Let not the reader start, when we tell him that the Romish system makes regular provision for the violation of oaths. Let him listen to the Third Council of Lateran, which decreed: - That the oaths which are adverse to the utility of the church and the institution of the Holy Fathers are to be unscrupulously violated, inasmuch as they are to be deemed forgeries rather than oaths.
This dreadful decree was confirmed by the eleventh ecumenical council. It is further provided by the same canon that "those who are any ways bound to heretics, should consider themselves absolved from all fidelity and obedience to them so long as they persist in their iniquity."
Again, the Council of Constance signalised its sessions by a special decree in the case of the immortal John Huss, that "neither by natural, human, nor divine law, need any faith or promise which is prejudicial to the Catholic faith be kept." We might enlarge in our proofs and illustrations interminably, but sorely these may suffice. But we cannot pass by the facts supplied by the history of our own country It is known to every one at all conversant with British story that James II. Solemnly swore, at his coronation, that he would "grant, and keep, and by his oath confirm to the people of England the laws and customs to them granted by the kings of England, his lawful and religious predecessors." "That he would to his power cause law, justice, and discretion in mercy and truth, to be executed in all his judgments." This he swore, and much besides, to the same effect. Need the reader be told in what manner he observed his oath, and fulfilled his promise? The system to which he was sworn was worthy of the man, and the man most infamously illustrated the system, showing that even the oath of a Popish king is not worth a rush.
Passing from monarchs to the millions, and to our own times, what has history recorded respecting the Irish Rebellion of 1798? The reader of such history requires not to be informed in what manner the Papal population of the county of Wexford conducted themselves with what coolness and promptitude they hastened to the magistrates to take their oaths of allegiance in all directions; so that they completely tranquillized the Protestants, and even threw the government off its guard, in consequence of which it was considered that a military force in that quarter-a quarter so full of loyal subjects, as was thought to be proved by the registered oaths before the local magistrates-might be almost dispensed with. Simple men! They little thought that under this smooth surface the elements of the tempest of insurrection were concealed, and that while the people were swearing in all directions their loyalty, they were with equal zeal collecting fire-arms, appointing officers, and doing all that in them lay to subvert the British throne!
We may take, in closing, a glance at the continent at an earlier day, when we shall find that oaths were among the least of little things, and in no case binding where the interests of the Church and the rights of heretics were concerned. Both to kings and to individuals, dispensations were granted. Pope Clement, for example, granted to John II. of Spain, and his queen, a "dispensation from oaths taken .by them and by their successors, which they could not conveniently keep." Pope Urban was not less obliging to King Wenceslaus. That sovereign manifested humanity, and showed some respect to integrity in his dealings with heretics, more than was agreeable to the Vatican. The Pope soon settled the difficulty which stood in the way of breaking with them.
To the king and those Popish subjects that might deem themselves pledged by treaties, it was intimated that they were "absolved from the observation of them, and ought not to keep them." This made short work of the matter; and however the provision might grate upon the ear of the men who had a conscience, it was remarkably convenient to the unprincipled, whether monarchs, nobles, or people.
We desire deeply to impress it on the minds of our readers that this and all kindreds bulls and decrees stand at this moment part and parcel of the constitution of the Popedom. There has been no revocation, no modification, no suspension. Power alone is wanted to bring them into full force against heretics.
Where there is no truth, there can be no morality, and nothing on which confidence may be placed as between man and man. We have already referred to Dens, the too celebrated author of the principal text book of Maynooth, and on this subject we may cite one of his most notable sayings:
"What ought a confessor to answer," says he, being asked concerning a truth which he has known by sacramental confession alone?
A. He ought to answer that he does not know it; and if necessary, CONFIRM THE SALE BY AN OATH.
The subject, as it may be supposed, has been severely elaborated in Romish publications. Referring to the confessional and to the conscience, Bailly in his "Moral Theology," a text book at Maynooth, expresses himself as follows:
"Again, there are five causes that take away the obligation of an oath, after the oath has imposed an obligation. One of them is, ‘If the thing sworn becomes impossible or unlawful on account of the prohibition of any superior-illicita ob superioris prohibitionem’ So that if a man takes an oath, and then his superior is pleased to prohibit the observance of it, according to the Church of Rome, the obligation of the oath is entirely taken away.
"The fourth cause is, ‘the making void of the oath by him to whom the person of the swearer, or, the matter of the oath is subject.’ See how this is illustrated. ‘Thus the Superior (that is, the general,) of all the orders of the monks can validly, even without cause, make void the oaths of all his subjects.’ One of these men, Dr. Anglade, professor of divinity, is asked, in this report of the commissioners, "Where does the Superior of the Dominican reside?" At Rome. "Where does the Superior of the Franciscans reside?" At Rome. "Where does the Superior of the Jesuits reside?" At Rome. So, while we have monks spreading themselves through every quarter of our country, there is a man residing at Rome who can make void with a word-lawfully make void, as they assert-every oath of allegiance, or every other oath which all the monks in the British empire take to their sovereign or fellow-men."
This is deplorable, but worse follows. Let us hear the extracts of Thelwall from Maynooth Books:
"Again, there is the great question which we have heard so often imputed to the Church of Rome, and which they have so continually denied Whether faith is to be kept with heretics? Now, we have this asked and answered in Reiffenstuel. We have it here in the fifth book of his Decretals, (tit. 7, de Haereticis vi., quest. 6, vol. v. p. 205:) - Are vassals, and servants, and others, freed from any private obligation due to a heretic, and from keeping faith with him?
A. -Yes. All are so by the clear disposal of the law.'
"He quotes for this the Corpus Juris Canonici, C. fin. h. T. ABS0LUTOS- They may have known that they are freed from the debt of fidelity and of all obedience to man, whosoever remained bound by any sort of covenant, through fortified by any kind of affirmation whatsoever, to those who are manifestly lapsed into heresy; where the gloss on the word Absolutes well observes, that this punishment is incurred ipso jure, so that no declaratory sentence is required if the heresy is manifest!'
It is inferred also by Farinacius, Abbas, Pirhing-‘ That he who owes anything to a heretic by means of purchase, promise, exchange, pledge, deposit, loan, or any other contract, is IPSO JURE free from the obligation, and is not bound to keep his promise, bargain, or contract, or his plighted faith, even though sworn to an heretic’ Now, recollect that this is from the class books of Maynooth, from the standard canon law, and the ethical theology of Maynooth as returned by the professors and the president himself to the British Parliament, which supports that college. Reiffenstuel quotes also a canon law, which declares that all public oaths taken by any man whatsoever in any public capacity, are totally null and void, when taken contrary to the utility and interests of the Church.
Now, every class book, every standard in the College of Maynooth, declares that that single circumstance completely abrogates the oath; so that every honest man in England may see that perjury is branded on the brow of Popery. Such are the doctrines of the College of Maynooth on the subject of oaths!
"One of the worst parts of this mystery of iniquity is, that very few, except the priests (and, perhaps not all of them), are at all acquainted with its depths. The laity, in general, know very little about the system; it is far too vast and varied for them to grasp; they are, and must be, guided by their priests; they rely upon their priests; they know no more than their priests think fit to tell them; they (too commonly) dare not inquire farther; and their priests (there is too much reason to fear) take very good care to let them know no more than is convenient. Furthermore, many of them would be honest if they could; but wall this awful system let them? Many of them would keep faith, and observe their oaths; but will their church permit them so to do? Some of them take an oath in simplicity and good faith; but an authority, which they dare not dispute, interposes, and tells them that it never was an oath but a perjury, BECAUSE IT IS CONTRARY TO ECCLESIASTICAL UTILITY! ! ! And then they are bound to break it!!"
These extracts suffice to settle the point forever, and to cut off all gainsaying.