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The Directory was never republished.-Yet here is a writer who has before him, according to his own account, the authorized works, and still proceeds to build up his charge against the Catholic Church, upon a mere evanescent, unauthorized calendar!! I object to the principle of admitting such documents as evidence in a case of this description. Yet I shall now take up his facts, from this document, which your correspondent garbles, as usual.
His object is to show that this pamphlet calls upon Catholics to commit downright idolatry, in their worship of the blessed Virgin. I forget if I ever yet saw a Protestant's definition of idolatry. I shall therefore set down the Catholic definition. Giving to any creature the worship due only to God. Now to prove that this document calls for idolatry, it must be shown that it calls for that worship that is due only to God, to be given to Mary. If the book calls for any such worship I shall condemn the Directory, but not the Church. It does not call for any such. The garbled extract is found in paragraph 11. It states that Mary is invoked, even in the Mass: this I have before disposed of. Next, that the Church has instituted almost as many feasts in her honour, as she celebrates in honour of her divine Son. If the word honour has the same meaning in each place, I say the doctrine is not that of the Church :—but the writer of the Directory has not given that meaning to the passage, for in the very second line he drew the distinction : and by the suppression of that portion of the document, an unfair exhibition is given of the remainder. The words of the writer are far more strong in regard to the devotion towards Mary, than are those of any strict and close explanation of doctrine by a competent tribunal: and though I cannot find in the phrases anything which is against the doctrine of the Church, yet they are much better suited to the expression of private, individual devotion, than to doctrinal explanation; they are unnecessarily and hyperbolically strong, though not, strictly speaking, inaccurate.
The following is the whole paragraph; the words are printed as in the original.
“On the Feasts of the Blessed Virgin. All the Festivals of the Blessed Virgin should be dear to Christians; because after God, Mary is the most worthy object of their devotion. In all ages, the faithful have honoured and invoked the Blessed Virgin; and thus has that prophecy been accomplished, which is found in her celebrated canticle, where she says, that from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. (Luke i. 48). The Catholic Church invokes Mary in every part of the divine office, and more especially in the oblation of the holy sacrifice of the Mass. Besides, she has instituted almost as many Feasts in her honour, as she celebrates in honour of her divine Son. It is the duty of every Christian to join in this devotion of the Church, and celebrate worthily all these Feasts. We shall set down something on each one of them in particular."
In this there is nothing to lead to the conclusion that Mary is to receive such worship as is due only to Christ, but a statement that her memory and virtues are honoured on almost as many festivals, as are specially celebrated in honour of the Birth, Manifestation, Circumcision, Transfiguration, Crucifixion, Resurrection, Holy Name and Ascension of our blessed Lord Jesus. As yet then, we have neither upright nor downright idolatry.
The next proof is in paragraph 12, which is a garbled extract from the following:
On the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin. "The birth of the Blessed Virgin is celebrated in the same sentiments as her Conception: the Church makes use of the same office for both Feasts: and in fact, it is the same grace in Mary which sanctified her Conception and Nativity. Mary was born for great purposes: never did any creature render so much glory to God; never did one procure so much good to mankind: by giving us a Redeemer, she gave us everything. We must beg her in this Feast to preserve in us, by her prayers, what she has obtained for us from heaven."
The charge is that we pay to her the same worship we pay to Christ, as God. We say that she obtained from heaven, for us, something. What was that something !- The Redeemer: that she gave him to us. The question is, Did she obtain him by her merits!—If the book says "yes," I condemn it: for the Catholic Church tells me that she did not. But she did in fact, obtain him from heaven, by the mercy of heaven to us, for Mary had no claim to be selected amongst all the other daughters of men: and the compiler of the Calendar himself distinctly holds the same doctrine; for, mentioning the fact, he writes.
On the Annunciation. "The Annunciation is both a Feast of Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin; because it was on this day that the Word was made flesh, and Mary became the mother of God. This was the greatest of all days, the object of the sighs of the patriarchs and prophets: the day on which the only Son of God united himself to our nature in the unity of person. This miracle, the greatest the Almighty ever wrought, was operated in the womb of Mary, as in the most worthy temple of the Divine Majesty.
“From the very earliest ages, this Feast has always been regarded as of great obligation; and every faithful Christian should accordingly expand his heart in sentiments of love and gratitude, in the contemplation of so inestimable a benefit; the Church would even wish that the thought of this mystery would never escape our memory: and with this view she exhorts the faithful to recite the Angelus thrice every day, and puts them in mind of it, by the sound of the bell.
“This same day was also the most glorious to Mary; for by becoming the mother of God, she was elevated far above every creature, and became worthy of the respect both of angels and of men: thus we find the angel Gabriel accosted her with respect, and was the first to proclaim her Blessed. Let us repeat, with all possible devotion, the beautiful prayer which begins with this salutation; and let us never cease soliciting the protection of the mother of God.”
We ask her to preserve in us, "by her omnipotence." No.—God forbid, -" by her prayers," the prayers which she addresses to her God, and our God, what Heaven has bestowed upon us, not through her merits, but through his mercy: the graces of that Redeemer whom she gave us, by his vouchsafing to be born of her. But your garbler ought not to have concealed the fact, that this very article and the preceding referred to that on “her conception,” and thereby it was more fully explained. The article is the following:
On the Conception of the Blessed Virgin. "The conception of the Blessed Virgin is celebrated in memory of the inestimable privilege granted her, in being conceived in original justice, and in being exempted from all sin; the Son of God would not permit her in whose womb he was himself to be conceived, and who was to bear him nine months, to be for a single instant contaminated with the stain of sin: at the same time he gave her existence, he infused grace into her soul: and thereby he has been far more perfectly her Saviour, than if in order to deliver her from sin, he had waited until she was sullied with it. The Church in this Feast congratulates with Mary on this inestimable privilege, which is peculiar to her, and which renders her so similar to her divine Son. In this feast we should ask, through the intercession of the immaculate Virgin, for perfect purity of soul and body."
In this, it is true, she is said to have been rendered in some manner similar to her divine Son. But in Mary it was a privilege conferred by her Son, before his incarnation, by which he infused grace into her soul, became her Saviour, and making her free from sin, made her like to him in holiness derived from him. This is far from giving to her the worship due only to him.
The next proof in paragraph 13, is, that in the article on the annunciation, we are told in the last two lines, not to cease soliciting the protection of the mother of God,-evidently by asking her to pray for us :for the petition is the following, “Holy Mary, Mother of God! pray for us, sinners, now, and at the hour of our death, Amen.'
I cannot see how the 14th paragraph can establish the guilt of idolatry against any person, for the averment is, that the writer says Jesus Christ made use of Mary as an instrument through whom he might distribute his graces. I believe that Jesus Christ distributed graces through the instrumentality of St. Paul. I do not therefore adore St. Paul, as I adore our Saviour. Is the difficulty in the phrase, avail himself of his holy mother ?-If the writer meant to say that Christ could not do it without her, I condemn him, and so will the Catholic Church. Here is, therefore, no idolatry.
The next proof is in paragraph 15. Is it idolatry to call persons the faithful servants of Mary? If by faithful servant it is meant to insinuate that the same service is due to her as is due to God, I condemn the phrase, and so would the Catholic Church. But, dear gentlemen, I trust you will not imagine I intend to adore you, because I have the honour, so frequently to subscribe myself your obedient, humble servant. -No, no, you may feel quite convinced that B. C. does not look upon you as invested with the qualities of the Deity. Hence to say that they are the faithful servants of Mary, is not idolatry, neither is it adoring her, to say that she offered the sacrifice of her homage, her resignation, her sufferings, and her feelings, together with that of her beloved Son, to the eternal Father, at the foot of the cross of Jesus. It would afford me, callous wretch that I am! more consolation to unite in spirit with Holy Mary, in that moment of affliction, than to possess all the misapplied subtlety, which her ingenious and immitigable opponents have ever exhibited in their extraordinarily persevering efforts to strip her of that glory which her Son conferred upon her, under the pretext of saving all their homage for himself. The glow of fanaticism, and the fervour of superstition are indeed bad; but either is preferable to the cold heart which would not feel sympathy with the afflicted mother of the suffering Redeemer; and to feel and to express this sympathy is idolatry!Bless the genius of your philosophical correspondent !
When to assert that God bestows a crown of glory upon one who has fought the good fight, will be lawfully marked as idolatry, we must, however reluctantly, acknowledge St. Paul to be an idolater, or at all events that they who believe in the fact declared in his Second Epistle to Timothy, iv. 8, are idolaters. I, for one, do not think they are made so by that belief; neither is it idolatry to assert that honour is due to those whom God highly favours, (Prot. version, Luke i. 28), provided this homage of honour be not what is due only to God; neither is it idolatry for each of us to love the mother of Jesus, and to address her by that endearing appellation which Christ himself desired his beloved disciple to use towards his afflicted, and venerable, and Holy Mother. (John xix. 26, 27).
Thus, I have unnecessarily undertaken to show, that in this private, ephemeral, and unauthorized publication, which is anything but a public document, there is not a single expression savouring of idolatry, though the examination has indeed made me feel serious pain, indevout as I am, at the callous, irreverent, and tortuous fallacy of your inexorable and inconsistent correspondent.
But he has other proofs of the downright idolatry, paragraph 17. And, gentlemen, this is no private compilation.-Yea, it is from the very Missal, she is called Holy! !! Now there can be no question of the downright idolatry! ! !—Then the Holy Ghost inspired Zachary with an idolatrous sentiment when he declared that it was part of God's oath that the descendants of Abraham, of whom Mary was one, should serve him in holiness. (Luke i. 75). St. Paul leads us to most idolatrous notions, when he tells the Ephesians, (iv. 24), “to put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." Equally wrong was it for this Apostle to pray for the Thessalonians, (1, iii. 13), that the Lord may establish their hearts unblamable in holiness, before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all the saints.” And what is the word saint, but the more literal and ancient translation of sanctus, holy? Did not God himself command the Israelites, (Exod. xxii. 31), “And ye shall be holy men unto me?” Did you read of the holy angels? (Mark viii. 38). But why waste time and ink and paper, on such folly as this? Again the Missal styles her Mother of God. Good gentlemen! are my eyes deceived? Will Protestant Episcopalians leave us no choice between idolatry and Nestorianism? Are you prepared for the result?—And she is asked to intercede for us. Nothing more certain: that fact is fully admitted. This is therefore downright idolatry. By no means : quite the contrary; it is an acknowledgment and declaration that she must pray to a greater being than herself; to her God, who is also our God!
The passage from the Christian's Guide goes no farther, and is not idolatry.
In paragraph 19, the good man's zeal outsteps his premises.-"Now such language of adoration.” Softly, good sir. We have examined every syllable of it, and not one syllable was the language of adoration. Adoration is the worship due to God. This is what we call misrepresentation, and prayer." Yes, in the lesser sense, "invoking her, asking her aid," by her prayers to God for us, as you ask your friends in the body to pray for you, but not prayer of adoration, such as we address to God, who alone is the fountain and source of mercy. Thus we do say that Holy Mary, the mother of God, ever glorious virgin, is but a creature, and ought not to receive the homage due to the Creator alone : and we do not pay it to her, and thus we do not commit downright idolatry, though your “Protestant Catholic" has been guilty of various sad representations, and has most unmercifully outraged logic.
Roman Catholics condemn as heretics the Collyridians mentioned by St. Epiphanius, who were cut off from our communion, because of their paying an idolatrous homage to the blessed Virgin. This fact speaks sufficiently strong, to show that we neither practise nor approve the crime which your correspondent would fasten upon us.
The nineteenth paragraph states that our doctrine cannot be true,