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280 TRANSUBSTANTIATION ESTABLISHED.
firmed at Constance, and finally established
Thus, after struggling for 300 years with the little light of reason and Scripture that remained in the Roman Church during those iron ages of ignorance and mental degradation, this extraordinary doctrine-this pyramid of absurdity, destined, it would seem, to remain as an enduring monument of the imbecility and fatuity of the human mind, was established at length, twelve centuries after the introduction of Christianity, and one or two before the Reformation! Auricular confession was also established at the same time. Surely, dear Sir, you will never again have the face to ask any Protestant where his religion was before Luther ! You see we can turn upon you the argumentum ad hominem with great effect. But this is a point which I must resume on another occasion.
The unsettled state of Europe, the towering ambition of the clergy, the gross ignorance of the people from the lowest to the highest (for in these times, according to Dr. Johnson, noblemen were ashamed to know how to write their names), and, above all, the total neglect of the
* Edgar, p. 390.
Word of God, will easily account for the steady progress and ultimate sway of this monstrous tenet. The
way had been paved for it by the exaggerated eulogiums, and the extravagantly figurative language, employed by the Fathers in reference to the Lord's Supper, Add to this, the strong propensity of the human mind to worship a visible and tangible divinity-a propensity universally manifested by heathen nations, and too often betrayed by God's peculiar people--and you have an account of the introduction and prevalence of the dogma, which is perfectly satisfactory.
The Gospel, moreover, was at an early age corrupted by the intermixture of science falsely so called,” with its simple and saving truths. The philosophic jargon of Aristotle, with its substances and accidents,"invested as a suit of armour, the semi-pagan form of Christianity that prevailed in the dark ages ; and thus logically equipped, it was called the School DIVINITY. Never could Transubstantiation have obtained a footing in the Church, were it not that the minds of men were bewitched by those subtle distinctions, and unintelligible definitions, which, bearing the semblance of exalted wisdom, at once excited the admiration of the vulgar, and concealed the ignorance of the learned; while the “ Key of
knowledge” was taken away from the people, and common sense itself was placed under the ban of excommunication. But
suppose the Church were not sufficiently attentive to mark the early growth of this “ unnatural wen,” which has in its full and monstrous developement so grievously disfigured the Christian system ; is that any reason that we should not earnestly seek its excision, when its revolting deformity is obtruded on every eye? It was while the husbandman slept that the enemy sowed tares. How foolish would that husbandman have appeared, had he contended that the tares were really wheat, because he did not detect the enemy in the mischievous act? What is the defence set up for this doctrine ? Why, the whole Christian world did not rise up to denounce it at its first appearance, and, therefore, it cannot be a novelty. This is pretty much like the reasoning of an Irishman, when accused of sheep-stealing. Two or three respectable witnesses deposed that they saw him stealing the sheep. 66 That
may be, Gentlemen of the jury,” said the accused, “but I can produce fifty men who will swear that they did not see me doing it."
We can adduce the unequivocal testimony of the ablest ecclesiastics of their time the orna
ments of the Roman Church—most strenuously put forth against this dogma, as soon as it appeared before the world in a tangible form ; and if our opponents can bring forward a hundred authors who say nothing on the subject, what is that to the purpose ?
I am, &c.
MY DEAR FRIEND, You are asked, in the “Grounds of the Catholic Doctrine,” “Do you not pray to images?” And you are taught to answer, “No, we do not; because, as both our catechism and common-sense teach us, they can neither see, nor hear, nor help
your church is ready to appeal to commonsense when she fancies its evidence favourable to her claims; but she scruples not to thrust it out of court when it ventures to lift up its voice against her. This is not fair. If a witness be entitled to a hearing on one side, why not on the other ? If common sense teaches
that a picture can neither see, nor hear, nor help you, the same common sense teaches that the Host
“ neither see, nor hear, nor help you.” Your church admits the authority of the senses, and pleads it in her favour in some cases; with what show of consistency, then, can she place her interdict on their exercise in other cases which come immediately within their proper sphere?
The Greek Church, in the eighth century,