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I shall not enlarge upon this part of the matter, but leave the reader to indulge in his own reflections ; my object is to bring before the public the undisguised and open manner in which the Romanists impose their “superstitious” observances upon this great Protestant community, thereby inflicting a serious moral injury on the minds of all true and simple-minded Christians, and bringing great contempt upon the religion of Jesus Christ. Let the reader judge for himself: –
“On Wednesday next, May 3, 1843, being the Festival of the Finding of the Holy Cross, which Festival is named also in thic Calendar of the Church of England, a solemn service will be celebrated on Mount Calvary, near Gracedieu Manor, to which the Catholic faithful of the surrounding parishes are invited to repair, to the greater honour of our blessed Redeemer. Divine service will commence at five o'clock upon the Holy Mount; sermons will be preached at the Calvary, by the Rev. Dr. Gentili and the Rev. Angelus Rinolphi. Gracedicu Manor, Feast of St. George, Patron of England.”
Now surely this is a great offence to the serious members of the true Catholic Church of England. They do and must view it as a superstitious observance, and as doing great dishonour to their divine Master; and it must be a grievous infliction before them to see the solemn mockery placarded through the length and breadth of the land. It is a part of the “ solemn service" of that infallibly apostate Church, and therefore they must perform it; and hence, in spite of the weakness and unprofitableness thereof, they add all this effrontery to the folly of it, and proclaim it in the face of day and of the sun. well-instructed mind is hurt, and asks-why this mockery? Why, if Helena, the mother of Constantine, did by her pious efforts find the cross, why should a solemn service be celebrated in commemoration of it? What good was effected by it? What has the “ Roman cross, the very instrument of the devil in bruising the heel of the Redeemer, to do with Christianity? We do not say that every religious observance which is not directly authorised by holy Scripture is “superstitious ;” but when there is neither reason, common sense, or propriety for an observance—and much more, when there is a violation of all these in observing it, there can be no doubt of its being “ superstitious.” And we affirm that there is a violation of common sense in the whole ceremony, and unworthy of the rational mind. The mimic 6 Mount Calvary,” and all the rites connected with the observance, are weak and childish. Supposing it true that Helena found the true cross” on the Mount Calvary, and supposing any portion of it might have been preserved to the present day, what would be my feelings at the sight of it? Would they be those of love or horror ? Concealing from my mind a variety of circumstances connected with it, I
“On this wood rested the body of my Saviour ; let me embrace the cross on which he died ; let me water it with my tears; let me visit it every hour and renew my devotions at this hallowed spot.” The sight of the true cross, should such a spectacle be presented to the eye of the Christian, would no doubt inspire such sentiments, and they would not only be innocent, but profitable.
But I should be in danger of going further than this: I should be
in danger of viewing the senseless wood with feelings of religious veneration. I might be induced to show the intensity of my regard by external homage; I might stand with my arms folded, and my head reclining upon my bosom, in a posture of profound humility-nay, I might proceed to bow myself before it, or even to prostrate myself upon the ground. Should I then be blameless ? Common sense tells me that I should be acting with folly—that I should be paying reverence to the stock of a tree—to an engine for punishment, fabricated by a Roman carpenter; and if such weakness could be palliated or excused on the ground of religious zeal, yet I should be guilty of transgressing the Spirit of the Divine law, which forbids me to make to myself any “graven image," or to “bow down" to it; and though in this case I did not “ make it,” yet by adopting it, and bowing down to it, I should be a transgressor and an idolator.
And in this respect the finding of the cross was a fatal discovery! It has led to innumerable evils. Frauds and impositions have been practised upon the credulous multitude. Portions of wood have been produced before their eyes, under the false pretence of being parts of the “true cross," entailing the sin of falsehood upon the inglorious exlibitors, and the sin of idolatry upon the astonished spectators! And at one period the Roman Church had so multiplied these portions of the “ true cross," that, as we are led to understand, the parts of the cross would have filled the church of St. Peter at Rome. This was the proper and legitimate result of such egregious folly.
But then, it will be objected, was not the devout Helena justified in searching for and discovering the cross? I do not blame the warmth of her piety, but the strength of her curiosity. I do not impugn the goodness of her intentions, but the soundness of her judgment. When I search for the cui bono of her undertaking ; when I contemplate the evils which have resulted from her curiosity, I cannot but conclude that she was not justified” in instituting the search at all.
Had there been propriety in it the search would not have been left to her. Christ had faithful friends before Helena-and friends who, in all probability, knew where the true cross was deposited. Would the warm-hearted St. Peter, the loving and beloved disciple, or the ardent Paul, have been wanting in such a solemn service," had it been justifiable ? or, would not Mary Magdalene, or the other Mary, or Martha, or the mother of Jesus, attended to such a solemn duty, had it been religious or proper ? But if not so with them, how could it have been proper or religious in Helena ?
But did Helena find it? Many things render it incredible. First, there is no reason for supposing that the true cross was buried on the Mount of Calvary. But, on the contrary, it would have been a great labour to have prepared a pit of sufficient size to hold the three crosses which were made use of on that occasion, besides a waste of wood and labour, which we cannot suppose the Romans guilty of. It is far more likely that the crosses were preserved for the execution of future criminals. Next, if the cross was buried in the Mount of Calvary, the time when Helena instituted her search was nearly three hundred years after its deposit; and was there no probability of the wood being
decayed ? I do not affirm that it was absolutely necessary that it should be decayed, for circumstances might favour its preservation, but where is the probability ? Next, in Theodoret's version of the story, three crosses were discovered, and that the true cross was distinguished from that of the malefactors by performing a cure on a sick person brought into contact with it. Legend! If three crosses were found, then it was undoubtedly the “custom” to bury the crosses of malefactors: why, then, were not three hundred crosses found?
Still, not to be sceptical, she might, in her blind and ardent zeal, have found portions of wood which she determined to be parts of the true cross; for it is said that shie built a church over one portion on the Mount Calvary, and conveyed another portion to Rome, which she deposited in the Church of the “Holy Cross,” in that city. But this was not all the service she performed. She not only found the cross, and conveyed a part of it to Rome, but she taught the people how to worship it: to adore in the wood Him that was nailed to the cross, not the wood itself, which would be direct idolatry. The subtlety of the distinction is not more apparent than its direct hostility to the law of God. Adore “in” the wood, but not adore the wood! But the law of God not only forbids us to worship or adore any image or representation, but prohibits all appearance of reverence to it: Thou shalt not "bow down” to it.
But the doctrine of Helena still holds its authority in the Roman Church, fast bound in the “misery and iron" of her infallibility; and even in the present day, “soler services," in defiance of reason and religion, in the midst of light, against demonstration, and in opposition to the law of God, are performed with a boldness and effrontery inconceivable. Amongst these services, the “ finding of the cross," if it be not less weak, is innocent in the comparison. The “exaltation of the cross,” in commemoration of its restoration to Mount Calvary, A.D. 642, after it had been carried off by Cosroe, King of Persia—wlien, let it be observed, from a portion of the “true” cross, it became a whole true cross-and the “adoration of the cross,” practised on Good Friday, are still more awful departures from the Catholic worship, the truth of God, and the simplicity of Christ.
E. D. S.
The Perils of the Nation, Appeal to the Legislature, and the Higher
and Middle Classes. 1843. Seeley, Burnside, and Seeley. One
vol. post 8vo. LORD Ashley, when taking lately, in a debate in the House of Commons, a sound and comprehensive view of the condition of the labouring classes, and their want of moral and religious education, exclaimed, “the danger is wider, deeper, fiercer, than it is generally supposed to be; but no one who has heard these statements, and believes them, can hope that twenty years more will pass without some mighty convulsion, some displacement of the whole system of society."
This fearful state of things was also thus spoken of by Mr. Gladstone. He said, that “ it was one of the most melancholy features in the social state of the country, that while there was a decrease in the consuming power of the people, and an increase in the privations and distresses of the labouring and operative classes, there was at the same time a constant accumulation of wealth in the upper classes, and a constant increase of capital.”
On another occasion, Mr. C. Buller lately said, “We see extreme destitution throughout the industrious classes, and, at the same time, incontestible evidences of vast wealth, rapidly augmenting."
This is a state of things which may well be described as one of “peril," and it lould indeed be well to detect the real character of this malady, since its remedies might then be looked for with something approaching to hope of success.
The author of this volume says, that if we wish to arrive at truth in the important enquiry, we must not hastily adopt the views of either of the “great interests” in this matter, or fancy that upon the landed aristocracy alone, or chiefly, or upon the mill-owners, in any principal degree, lie the whole burden of the guilt of our present state and its attendant perils. Mr. Gladstone's explanation appears to our author to supply the clue to the causes of the perils we deplore. But our author shall speak for himself.
“ The wealth of the wealthy has accumulated, because all legislation has made this its chief object. Capital has increased, because státesmen and legislators, and public writers, have all imagined that the increase of capital was the summum bonum of human exist
The poor have not advanced along with the rich, because no one has thought it desirable that they should. Desirable, we mean, politically speaking ; for many of those who have discountenanced all legislation in behalf of the poor, have been personally humane, and have afforded them many good wishes, and even many charitable donations. But the prevalent doctrine has been, that capital was the object to be chiefly desiderated ; and that the wiser course with population (meaning thereby the labouring poor), was to employ the preventive check. Encouragement for capital,' prevention for population,' these have been the two leading ideas with statesmen and legislators for the last thirty years. They have now succeeded in their object. They have immensely increased the growth of capital; and, pari passu, the growth of misery and distress also. And the end of their success is a public acknowledgment, that if some stop be not put to the existing mischiefs, a few years more must land us in a bloody revolution !
And, again, “ the great cause of the whole evil is to be found in the general adoption of false principles; inculcated, it is true, in the first instance, by men of talent and apparent skill, but eagerly seized upon, and their promulgation rewarded, by men of influence and consideration among all classes. The nature of the mastererror was discernible fifty years ago, in the erroneous drift and ob.
ject of Adam Smith's great work, which treated of the 'wealth of nations,' when the happiness' of nations would have been the wiser and more Christian topic of investigation...... .. So works the poison (of making wealth the great object) in every department. Through every class the false principle is inculcated—that the heaping together capital is not only the chief duty, but that it includes and sums up in itself every other duty. The following out this principle in every department has just made England one vast mass of superficial splendour, covering a body of festering misery and discontent. Side by side appear, in fearful and unnatural contrast, the greatest amount of opulence and the most appalling mass of misery.”
Entertaining these opinions, the author seeks to establish their correctness in a series of interesting and well written essays. The first treats on power and weakness, and England's wealth and empire are developed, but the condition of her poor places her in peril. The manufacturing poor furnish the topic of discussion of the second essay; and their unhealthy employment and too long period of occupation, the vice and demoralization of the young, with the crime of infanticide, and the mortality among all classes, are dwelt upon with truth and good feeling. Next in order come the mining poor. The recent disclosures respecting them are adverted to.
The state of the morals of miners, and the apprenticeship cruelties to which they are exposed, are topics for discussion in the third essay. The fourth is devoted to the commercial poor, and there the author dwells on the subjects of underselling, of competition, and of the low remuneration for labour. The fifth treats of the agricultural poor and their much distressed and oppressed condition. Their cottages have been demolished, and they are without land. He pleads earnestly for the allotment system. The sixth essay is on “* The Selfish Principle,” which leads to the abandonment of fair dealing, to the oppression of the poor on the subject of wages, and which is, in fact, summed up in the maxim of “ Every one for himself.” This is well put; but the author forgets that all the world is in peril from this principle, and that it is as active in France as in Great Britain, and, indeed, that the heart of man is full of selfishiness, until purified and sanctified by the operation of the holy Spirit. The seventh essay is on the “ Want of Sanitary Regulations for the Poor,” to which we only refer, since the subject has been so ably stated and enforced in the report of Mr. Chadwick, and in the speech of Lord Ashley. The eighth essay is entitled “ The Errors of the Day,” and combats the maxim of “ Take care of number one,” as well as the opinions of Malthus, Miss Martineau, Dr. Chalmers, &c., on the subject of population. “ Pauperism,” its causes, the inadequate relief afforded by the Poor Law, and the superior mode adopted in Prussia of relieving the poor, form the contents of the ninth essay. Then comes the question of “ Education.” Into this
The tenth matter we will not enter, for fear of writing a volume. chapter is, however, a very good one, and shows that nothing on a large and satisfactory scale can be effected without Parliamentary