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Indeed all that I saw of Gregory XVI. led me to think favorably of his sincerity and piety. Respect for a venerable old man, as well as a tender regard for the feelings of the worshippers near me, would have induced me, if principle had not been involved in it, to have bowed with the thousands that were prostrate around me. But believing, as I verily did, that that same piece of wafer was only a wafer still, a voice from Sinai thundered in my ears, “ Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” One circumstance in the celebration shows that, after all, Catholics themselves do not believe in the reality of the change of the elements into the actual body and blood of Christ. Before the elements of consecration were received by the pontiff, the sacristan, in order to guard again'st poison, ate two of three particles, which were brought forward for the mass, and drank some of the wine. It is hardly supposable that, at the present day, the pope fears being poisoned, but there was a time when such fears were entertained, and hence originated the custom, which is now kept up merely as an established usage. But this shows that, when there was danger of poison, even popes were afraid to trust to transubstantiation to change the poisoned wafer into the real body of Christ. What! the body of Christ-poisonous and pro. ducing death! Christ says, “My flesh is meat, indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.”—“I am the bread of life.” But Catholics either believe that Christ's body and blood may be poison indeed, and the bread of death, or they do not believe that a poisoned wafer is by the celebration of the mass changed into the real body of Christ. Whichever alternative they take proves fatal to their system.
And here let me say that the courtesy of the Romans far exceeds that of some blustering Catholics of our own country, who have assumed to themselves the liberty of knocking off hats, if not of knocking down those who do not choose to conform to what is verily believed to be their superstition. The military behaved on this occasion with great propriety. I was specially struck with the pontiff's noble guard. They are a volunteer corps, who tender their services gratuitously to their sovereign pontiff, and are made up from the noble families of Rome. They were well dressed, and as fine looking men as I ever saw in the ranks of a military company. This guard were all around me, and although they could but see that I was a decided non-conformist in the ceremonies of the occasion, they let all pass without censure or apparent notice.
The pope, together with the deacon, and sub-deacon, communicated on this occasion, the two latter, which is not practised on other occasions, taking the wine as well as the wafer, and taking it too in a peculiar way, by sucking it through a pipe or tube, his holiness also drinking in the same way.
After mass the pope returned in state, as he came, stopping, however, at a kneeling stool by the way to venerate
The Holy Relics. As you face the high altar of St. Peter's, you see on the left a shrine consecrated to a damsel called St. Veronica. Here is a statue of the saint, and high above it is a balcony, where, on great occasions, three most sacred, and, if we may believe the reports of
VOL. VII:-July, 1836. 40
several special courts that have been appointed to examine into their history,--most veritable relics are exhibited. They are, 1. A part of the lance with which the Saviour's side was pierced. 2. Parts of the true cross, and, 3. A napkin, or handkerchief, on which the Saviour wiped his face, covered as it was with blood and sweat, as he was going up Calvary. The outlines of his visage were thus miraculously left upon the napkin, which continue unto this day. With respect to the authenticity of these relics, every one, of course, must judge for himself. Even Catholics do not require a belief in them as essential matters of faith. The same sub-deacon that whispered in my ear at the time of the controversy with the Spanish general of the Franciscans on Palm Sunday, stood by me on Easter Sunday, as I, with thousands of others, stood gazing at these relics ; and, perceiving, as I suppose, by my remarks and looks, that I was somewhat incredulous, observed, “ These are not articles of faitha man may believe them or not, and in either case be a good Catholic." With respect to the handkerchief, it appears that its 'identity and history can be traced as far back as the year 707, at which period it was an object of veneration. What its former history was, I believe even Catholics cannot definitely trace. Tradition says, however, that this St. Veronica was one of those daughters of Zion who accompanied their Lord and Master to the scene of his tragedy, and that, being near him as he was sweating under his cross, she kindly wiped his face, or permitted him to wipe it on her handkerchief-and the miracle followed. It was taken back with the bloody portrait indelibly impressed upon it. It was, of course, preserved as an object of attention and veneration, and where else should it be preserved but at the great capital of the Christian world? With respect to the cross, the history is, that it was found at Jerusalem by St. Helena, the mother of Constantine. She placed the larger portion of it in a case at Jerusalem, but sent some pieces to Rome. The portion left at Jerusalem was carried away by Chosroas, king of Persia, in his war with Phocas in the year 624. It was afterward retaken and brought back to Jerusalem, and carried thence to Constantinople; and during the crusades portions of it were brought to the west of Europe, at different times and by different persons, insomuch that it has been sarcastically said that there were pieces of wood in different places of Catholic countries, which are called parts of the true cross, sufficient to build a 74. This is doubtless hyperbolic ; but that there are and have been many cords of such wood, there can be no doubt. We were shown at the church of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, situated near the palace of the Lateran in Rome, that portion which was brought or sent to Rome by St. Helena. One of the pieces now exhibited, for I believe there are two of them, is from the portion first sent over by the empress, and the other probably is from Constantinople. They are enshrined, as are also the other relics, in a rich silver case with rock crystal and precious stones. The lance is also said to have been found at Jerusalem by the mother of Constantine, and this was carried to Constantinople in the sixth century, and was there, as the accounts say, divided. The point was pledged to the Venetians in the 13th century, in pawn for the payment of money borrowed, and the shank was kept still at Constantinople. St. Louis of France redeemed the pledge, and took the relic to France. The part kept at Constantinople was sent to Rome by a special embassage in 1492. At Ancona two bishops met the ambassador and received the relic, at Narni two cardinals met the bishops and received it from them, and at the Flaminian gate of Rome the pope himself received the relic, and carried it in solemn procession to the Vatican. So much for the history of these sacred remains, and I have dwelt the longer on this, that the reader might know something of the ground on which so many sacred relics in Rome are authenticated. These relics are supposed to be the most unquestionable of any. What credit then is to be given to others, each must judge for himself. Where were these relics when Jerusalem was ploughed as a field ? They are now kept in a chapel made on purpose to receive them, and are allowed to be approached by none but the canons of the Church.* The height and distance from which we were permitted to view them, as they were successively exhibited in their crystal cases from the high balcony, made the view very indistinct. We could discern, however, the outlines of a human face faintly imprinted upon the handkerchief. The pope knelt to witness the exhibition, and to venerate these sacred relics; and the vast multitudes that thronged St. Peter's fell also upon their knees. And there they were, in one devout mass, gazing with up-turned eyes, and with the same apparent intensity and adoration, until the relics disappeared, as that with which the disciples gazed upon their ascending Lord, until “a cloud received him out of their sight.”
The pope reascended the chair, and was borne out of the church, to appear once more at the front gallery to bless the people. This benediction was more splendid than that on Maundy Thursday, inasmuch as the crowd was greater, and there was a greater display of the military. Even the horses, it is said, were made to kneel at the spreading out of the papal hands. The pope prayed, and although he was too high and distant to be heard, yet the form is written, as is every part of the Catholic service, and from this form we learn that the pope “ asks, through the prayers and merits of the blessed Mary ever virgin, of the blessed John the Baptist, of the blessed apostles, Peter and Paul, and all the saints, that the Almighty God may have mercy upon them, and that all their sins. being forgiven, Jesus Christ would bring them to eternal life. Amen." A truly Catholic prayer: sins are to be forgiven through the merits of the saints !! The blessing was then pronounced, and plenary indulgence imparted to penitents, which, on printed notices, is thrown down among the people all of whom seemed eager to catch them. Once more the bells rang, and the cannons of St. Angelo thundered, and the multitudes, which were variously estimated at from thirty to eighty thousand, moved off and were dis. persed to the four winds.
W. Fisk. Don Miguel, the ex-king of Portugal, has obtained the favor of the pope of being made honorary canon of St. Peter's, for the purpose of being permitted to examine these relics.
Copied from the Wesleyan Methodist Magazine.
FAMILY WORSHIP. The general assembly's Pastoral Letter to the people of Scotland
on Family Worship.
Edinburgh, May 30, 1836. Sess. ult. The General Assembly, having considered and approved the overtures recommending a renewed admonition, for the purpose of stirring up the people of this land to the faithful and regular observance of the worship of God in their families, did, and hereby do, require the following pastoral letter to be read by all the Ministers of this Church from their several pulpits on the first convenient Lord's day after it shall come into their hands.
JOHN LEE, CI. Eccl. Scot.
The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, to our dearly beloved people: grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and Christ Jesus our Lord.
On your behalf, brethren, we thank God, whom we serve with our spirit in the Gospel of his Son, that your faith and devotion have long been spoken of throughout the world : and we are bound always to have remembrance of you in our prayers night and day, greatly desiring that, like your forefathers in times of clearest light, you may continue steadfastly in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, abounding in the exercises of that unfeigned godliness which is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
In compliance with the solicitations of many who watch for your souls, and are jealous over you with godly jealousy, we have resolved to issue this brotherly exhortation on the sacred and indispensable duty of family worship,—not as if we had any recent ground for apprehending that it is likely to fall into more extensive neglect, but because we know too well that it is by no means universally practised, and because even the purest minds require to be stirred up by way of remembrance, that, while they hold fast the profession of their own faith without wavering, they may consider one another, to provoke and encourage, by good counsel and good example, to the love of truth and holiness, and to the habitual and serious observance of those offices of piety, whereby, as surely as the body is nourished and refreshed by its daily bread and its nightly rest, the soul of man, through the nurture and admonition of the Lord, is progressively matured in excellence and strength, till it is advanced to the perfection and glory of its immortal existence.
In calling your attention to this momentous topic, we think it superfluous to enlarge on the high obligations by which the duty is enforced-obligations which are involved in the very constitution of our frail and dependent being, and impressed on the understanding and the heart, by the persuasive voice of scriptural authority, opening the ears of men, and sealing the instruction, by which God speaketh, not once or twice, but at sundry times, and in divers manners, adding line upon line, precept upon precept, promise upon promise, and threatening upon threatening, so as to bring perpetually to remembrance both the blessings which are multiplied to them that fear the Lord, and the fury which is poured out on the families which call not on his name. The appointment of the reasonable service of bowing down at the domestic altar before the Lord our Maker, that, in waiting for the promised effusion of the Spirit of grace and supplications, we may be filled with the fruits of righteousness, has ever been regarded by all men of sound mind and Christian experience, not as the imposition of an irksome yoke, but as the conveyance of an inestimable privilege ; for as often as we mark the tokens of God's power and presence in making the outgoings of the morning and evening to rejoice, must every enlightened and purified heart, lifting up its affections to the Father of spirits, acknowledge with triumphant satisfaction, that it is “a good thing to show forth his loving-kindness in the morning, and his faithfulness every night.”
To those only who have tasted and seen it, can we speak intelligibly of the tranquil delight which is awakened and sustained by such periodical acts of household worship, as are not a mere formal ceremony in which the members join with reluctance or cold compliance, but the fervent utterance of lips which, out of the abundance of the heart in which the love of God is shed abroad, are, by the influence of that unquenchable affection, most pleasingly constrained to celebrate the mercies which are new every morning, and to offer up the spiritual incense of prayer with as unceasing regularity as from the sanctuary of Israel the smoke of the evening sacrifice arose, or as the early dew of Hermon descended on the mountains of Sion, when there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.
Without all controversy, the benefits produced by this hallowed exercise are ineffably precious. It is not enough to say that thus are devout and grateful emotions awakened ;-thus is faith in the superintending providence and holy promises of God confirmed ;thus are the graces of humility, resignation, and patience nourished and increased ;— while with the contemplation of the infinite excel. lence, the unwearied beneficence, and the everlasting strength of the Lord Jehovah, we contrast the instability, deceitfulness, and desperate wickedness of the heart of man. By the infallible testimony of Heaven, we are authorized to affirm constantly that there is an efficacy in the prayer of faith, which, though inexplicable by our feeble understandings, must, through all ages, continue to avail as much as it did in the days of those patriarchs, prophets, and righteous men, who as princes had power with God, when, receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, they had grace to serve him acceptably with reverence and godly fear. “The Lord is ever nigh unto them that are of a broken heart, and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit,” when, taking with them the words which inspired