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history shows with unspeakable injury to religion and morality. In the legends of the saints, embodied in the Breviary, nothing is so common as lavish commendations on a life of chastity, which indeed seems to have constituted the principal part of the holiness of many of those individuals. Hence an opinion of the superior virtue and excellence of that state gradually acquired a strong hold on the public mind. A prejudice against married priests began to prevail, and was sedulously cherished by the Roman pontiffs, for reasons which will at once occur to every reflecting person. From being considered inferior in merit to those who professed celibacy, they were at last deemed unfit for their office. Long and arduous struggles ensued. But at length Rome conquered, though not without great difficulty.70 And what have been the results? Every reader of ecslesiastical history knows how to answer the question. That some are chaste and continent, is admitted: but how numerous are the instances of a different character! The unblushing violation of the laws of decency, the crimes and miseries of unbridled lust, in innumerable cases, proclaim the folly and impiety of attempting to destroy the affections of our nature, and subvert the arrangements of Providence."

71

70 "It was a struggle against the natural rights and strongest affections of mankind, which lasted for several ages, and succeeded only by the toleration of greater evils than those it was intended to remove. The laity in general, took part against the married priests, who were reduced to infamy and want, or obliged to renounce their connexions. In many parts of Germany, no ministers were left to perform divine services. But perhaps there was no country where the rules of celibacy met with so little attention as in England. It was acknowledged in the reign of Henry I. that the greater and better part of the clergy were married; and that prince is said to have permitted them to retain their wives. But the hierarchy never relaxed in their efforts; and all the councils, general or provincial, of the twelfth century, utter denunciations against concubinary priests. After that age we do not find them so frequently mentioned; and the abuse by degrees, though not suppressed, was reduced within limits at which the church might connive." Hallam, ii. p. 249— 252.

71 “I cannot think of the wanderings of the friends of my youth without heart-rending pain. One, now no more, whose talents raised him to one of the highest dignities of the church of Spain, was for many years a model of Christian purity. When, by the powerful

Among the corruptions that were early introduced into the Christian church, monasticism holds a promiment place; an invention which is equally incompatible with the constitution of man, the welfare of the social system, and the design of Christianity. Ours is an active religion, adapted to the existing state of society, and never intended to interfere with the ordinary relations and duties of life. The Saviour would not pray that his disciples might be taken out of the world, but that they might "be kept from the evil.” 72 Instead of with

drawing from his fellows, and thinking to serve the Divine Being better by mere acts of contemplation and devotion, the christian is commanded not to be "slothful in business," while he is "fervent in spirit, serving the Lord"73-to combine the contemplative with the active, to "abide in his calling with God,"74 and to fulfil

influence of his mind and the warmth of his devotion, this man had drawn many into the clerical, and the religious life (my youngest sister among the latter) he sunk at once into the grossest and most daring profligacy. I heard him boast that the night before the solemn procession of Corpus Christi, where he appeared nearly at the head of his chapter, one of two children had been born, which his two concubines brought to light within a few days of each other. Such, more or less, has been the fate of my early friends, whose minds and hearts were much above the common standard of the Spanish clergy. What then, need I say of the vulgar crowd of priests, who, coming, as the Spanish phrase has it, from coarse swaddling clothes, and raised by ordination to a rank of life for which they have not been prepared, mingle vice and superstition, grossness of feeling and pride of office in their character? I have known the best among them; I have heard their confessions; I have heard the confessions of young persons of both sexes, who fell under the influence of their suggestions and example; and I do declare that nothing can be more dangerous to youthful virtue than their company. I have seen the most promising men of my university obtain country vicarages, with characters unimpeached, and hearts overflowing with hopes of usefulness. A virtuous wife would have confirmed and strengthened their purposes; but they were to live a life of angels in celibacy.They were, however, men, and their duties connected them with beings of no higher description. Young women knelt before them in all the intimacy and openness of confession. A solitary home made them go abroad in search of social converse. Love, long re sisted, seized them, at length like madness. Two I knew who died insane; hundreds might be found who avoid that fate by a life of settled systematic vice." Practical and Internal Evidence against Catholicism, p. 132–138. 74 1 Cor. vii. 24.

72 John xvii. 15.

73 Rom. xii. 11.

the respective obligations arising out of the domestic and social state. The religion of the New Testament is not hostile to the laws of nature, or the general intentions of Providence. Its purpose is not to alter but improve our actual condition in this world, by inspiring the mind with those principles and feelings which will lead to a life of moderation, uprightness, and piety, and the exhibition of a bright example to all beholders. In a word, if genuine christians are made better men by their christianity, its effects must be seen and acknowledged, and in order to this they must so conduct themselves as to be, each in his own sphere, the "lights of the world," the "salt of the earth.”

But monasticism has done incalculable mischief to religion. Of its three vows, of poverty, chastity, and obedience to the superior, the first two, it is well known, have been systematically and shamelessly broken, in thousands of instances. The enormous wealth of the monasteries, often procured by the most nefarious methods, and the scandalous lives of their inmates, both male and female, have been exposed by all writers on ecclesiastical history.75 If it be said that these are abuses, it may be justly replied, that they are inseparable from the system. For it is beyond the power of any institution entirely to extinguish the propensities of our nature, or to preserve purity in a mode of living which is altogether at variance with the principles and precepts of the word of God.7 &

75 See Dr. Geddes' "View of all the Orders of Monks and Friars in the Roman Church," in the third volume of his "Tracts."

76 Consult, The life of Ricci, Bishop of Pistoie and Prato, and the Reformer of the Catholic doctrines in Tuscany. By De Potter, 3 vols. 2d Edit. Brussels 1826. The disclosures contained in these volumes are of the most disgusting and horrifying description. See particularly vol. i. chap. 15-18. The prioress of the convent of St. Catharine of Pistoie says "with the exception of three or four religious persons, all the monks, now dead or alive, whom I have ever known, were of the same character. They all made the same professions and adopted the same conduct. They live with the nuns on more familiar terms than married people live together. Vol. i. p. 316. For endeavouring to put a stop to these disorders, Ricci was stigmatized by Pope Pius VI. as a "fanatic, a liar, a calumniator, seditious, and a usurper of other men's rights!" Vol. i. p. 423. He died Jan. 27, 1810.

It must not be forgotten that this branch of the Roman Catholic system furnishes an apt illustration of the effects of its published opinions on human merit. The miserable ascetic who retires from the world and denies himself the lawful gratifications of life, vainly imagines that by so doing he becomes more worthy of the divine regard. His abstinence, his austerities, his devotions-the meagre diet, the sackcloth garment, the hempen, or, it may be, iron girdle, the flagellations, the watchings, the endless repetitions of Ave-Marias, Pater Nosters, &c. are in his estimation undoubted additions to the sum of his merit and the lustre of his holiness. But alas! "he feedeth on ashes; a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?"77 All this is

nothing better than spurious sanctity, and the hope which it engenders is false and baseless. Many a wretched being has chosen the monastic life as an atonement for past irregularities, and found to his cost that all he gained was misery-misery in both worlds. 7 8

In 1783, Baron Born, a nobleman of Hungary, and an eminent literary and scientific character, published a work entitled "Monachologia," a severe satire on the monks. They are thus described

"MONK. Description. An animal greedy, filthy, impure, unprofitable, slothful, more inclined to endure hunger than toil. They live by rapine and gain; they think that the world was created for their use alone; they indulge in secret intercourse with women; they do not celebrate the rite of marriage; they expose their of spring they treat their own species with cruelty and deceitfully ensnare their enemies. Use-An unprofitable burthen to the earth, created to devour the fruits thereof." Townson's Travels in Hungary, p. 420.

77 Isaiah xl. 20.

78 Describing the convent of St. Romualdo, at Camaldoli, Mr. Forsyth says, "The unfeeling saint has here established a rule which anticipates the pains of purgatory. No stranger can behold without emotion a number of noble, interesting young men bound to stand erect chanting at choir for eight hours a day; their faces pale, their heads shaven, their beards shaggy, their backs raw, their legs swollen, and their feet bare. With this horrible institute the climate conspires in severity, and selects from society, the best constitutions. The sickly novice is cut off in one or two winters, the rest are subject to dropsy, and few arrive at old age." Travels in Italy, vol. i. p. 103.

The Rev. Blanco White had a sister, who, "embraced a rule which denied her the comforts of the lowest class of society. A coarse woollen frock fretted her skin; her feet had no covering but

Such expressions may seem harsh, and especially when it is remembered that in Roman Catholic countries the convents contain a large number of recluses, particularly females, whose choice of that life was apparently influenced by no other consideration than a passionately powerful feeling of devotion, and who had not been sufficiently exposed to the world to be polluted by its vices. But it is perfectly fair to reply, that while too frequently these youthful candidates for wretchedness are the innocent victims of delusion, and "know not the depths of Satan," the arguments and persuasions by which they are enchanted derive their chief energy from the proud, self-righteous source to which allusion has been already made. What can operate more powerfully on a young person of ardent feelings and susceptible imagination, and whose conscience is yet unseared, than to be told, in the presence of a crowded and admiring assembly, that she is about to become the spouse of Christ, and enter upon a state of almost angelic purity; and that, separated from the temptations and sins of the world, she will possess every facility for accomplishing her salvation, and increasing her merit in the sight of God??? To this it may be added, and might be easily proved, that though here and there a truly religious monk or nun may be found, the majority must be classed with the sentimental, the superstitious, the infidel, or the profligate. Very few indeed can be discovered within the walls of a convent, who, "worship God in the spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." 8 0

that of shoes open at the toes, that they might expose them to the cold of a brick floor; a couch of bare planks was her bed, and an unfurnished cell her dwelling." Practical and internal Evidence against Catholicism, p. 145.

79 An interesting sketch of the ceremonies observed at taking the veil may be seen in "Rome in the Nineteenth Century," vol. iii. p. 180-183. The victim, in this instance, was a young lady of noble family. "The discourse from the pulpit was pronounced by a Dominican monk, who addressed her as the affianced spouse of Christ, a saint on earth;-one who had renounced the vanities of the world for a foretaste of the joys of heaven."

80 And yet, in some countries, they retain a large measure of respect and reverence. In Spain, "the monkish habit is so much

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