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corruption, so he rose from Hades victorious, and thus proved that he had fulfilled the whole law of God, and had died without any sin, which is the cause of the death of all men.
The Redeemer having risen from the dead, abode forty days upon earth, shewing himself frequently to his disciples. In one of his interviews with them, he allowed them to touch his body and probe his wounds, that they might be certain he was not a phantasm. On another occasion he ate food in their presence; and having afterwards been seen by five hundred of the brethren at once, he rose up from the earth, and ascended into heaven, into that glory which he had with the Father before the creation of the world.
On the throne of divine majesty the Lord Jesus Christ now rules all things, but more especially is his government made manifest in the church, “ for wherever two or three are gathered together in his name, there is he in the midst of them;" and " he is with the faithful even unto the end of the world.”
THE VIRGIN MARY.
The first chapter of the History of the Church cannot be dismissed without some notice of the Virgin Mary, that venerable name amongst women, but which superstition has abused to the worst purposes.
First of all it should be observed, that Mary is never called “ Virgin” in Scripture after the birth of Jesus ; her title after the birth of her first-born son is “ the mother of Jesus ;" all the Evangelists agree on this point; and in the Acts of the Apostles she is called “ the mother of Jesus." It is therefore contrary to the use of Scripture, and contrary to common sense, to call the mother of Jesus “ always a virgin," as the Papists do. It is next to be noticed, that Mary was the mother of other children." Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon ? and are not his sisters here with us ?” (Mark vi. 3; Matt, xiii. 55 ; Luke viii. 19; John vii. 5). This testimony is too plain to be avoided but by subterfuge, and the Roman Catholic doctors propose, Ist, that these sons and daughters of Mary were children of Joseph by another wife; 2nd, that "the brethren” of Jesus mean his near kinsmen. But the plain narrative of Scripture authorises nothing of this sort; and by the testimony of Scripture, and not by tradition, must our opinions be formed. Paul calls James « the Lord's brother" (Gal. i. 19).
However, nothing would be gained by conceding even this monkish gloss ; for it is written in Scripture thus, “ Then Joseph did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife, and knew her not Till she had brought forth her first-born son” (Matt. i. 25); and this testimony is sufficient.
The fathers inform us, that Joseph had children by a former wife, and that he was eighty years old when he married Mary; and Epiphanius says he had two daughters, whom he calls Martha and Mary; bụt the Chronicle of Hippolytus, the Theban, says their names were Esther and Martha-others say Esther and Thamar; which is only mentioned here to shew the confusion and ignorance of these absurd traditions. The Apostolical Constitutions, (a forgery of a very early date), speaking in the character of the Ar les, says, “ We had amongst us Mary, the mother of our Lord, and his sisters," al adelpa avrov, because at that time they had not begun to fabricate traditions in favour of the popish purity of the mother of Jesus.
Augustine, in his treatise “ De Sancta Virginitate," does not scruple to
assert that Mary was the mother of other children, and mentions by name the brothers of Jesus. A sentence of his on Mary is remarkable, as containing the principle which the Protestants advanced against the Papists in the controversy about the mother of Jesus——“ She was more blessed,” he says, “ in receiving the faith of Christ, than in conceiving him according to the flesh.” “ Beatior Maria percipiendo fidem Christi quam concipiendo carnem Christi" -a well-expressed commentary on Luke xi. 27, 28.
Tertullian says, that there is no proof in the Gospels that Mary believed in her Son, or rather “ it is not declared that she adhered to him.”—“ Fratres Domini non crediderant in illum, Mater æque non demonstratur adhæsissi illi, cum Marthæ et Mariæ aliæ in commercio ejus frequententur ;” and from the narrative of the Evangelists (Matt. xii. 46; Mark iii. 31 ; Luke viii. 19), he argues that the mother and brothers of Jesus had not believed in him, otherwise they would not have been standing at the outside of the house, apparently not concerned to hear him teaching the people within. As this is a remarkable
passage of a celebrated writer of the church, it should be seen in the original : Hoc denique in loco apparet incredulitas eorum, cum is doceret viam vitæ, cum Dei regnum prædicaret, cum languoribus et vitiis medendis operaretur, extraneis defixis in illum, tam proximi aderant. Denique superveniunt, et foris subsistunt, nec introeunt, non computantes, scilicet quod intus ageretur; nec sustinent saltem, quasi magis necessarium aliquid adferrent eo quod ille tum maximé agebat, sed amplius interpellant, et a tanto opere revocatum volunt ?” De Carne Christi, 313.
The enormities of idolatry relating to Mary, practised in the Roman Catholic Church, are generally known. The popes and doctors of the church have, from the simple mother of Jesus (which is all that we know of her in Scripture), made her their great goddess, whom they worship with supreme veneration. In the fifth century, the clergy entered into a furious controversy about the proper title to be given to Mary. OEOTOKOX, or mother of God, came into fashion; and it was declared heresy to refuse her this title.
The celebrated monk Jerom, that great opponent of evangelical truth, declared that Joseph, the husband of Mary, had been an ascetic from his youth up, that he married Mary merely in form, and that she had been educated amongst certain females in the Temple who were dedicated to perpetual virginity. The brothers and sisters of Jesus were therefore, by this legend, the children neither of Joseph nor Mary, but their kinsfolk only, nephews and nieces, or cousins ! In i Cor, ix. 5, it is intimated that “the brethren of the Lord” had wives ; but these were interpreted to be virgin female friends, called wives in mystical language; for the votaries of superstition have been determined to invest all the family of Mary with perpetual virginity.
In the twelfth century they proposed the doctrine of the immaculate conception of the Virgin, whereby they meant that she was conceived without sin ; and though this was stoutly opposed by the Dominican monks, yet the Franciscans succeeded in ratifying their blasphemous dogma with the papal approbation. The Romish Church has now festivals in honour of her immaculate conception, Dec 8th; her nativity, Sept. 8th ; her purification, 2nd February; her annunciation, 25th March ; her assumption into heaven, August 15th,
Dr. Southey's Vindiciæ Ecclesiæ, p. 428—469, may be consulted for the blasphemies advanced by the popish saints and doctors in their idolatrous wore ship of the mother of Jesus. That she is “ the complement of the Trinity," seems to be the ne plus ultra of their extravagancies.
Even the eloquent, elegant, and judicious Massillon has asserted, that if the assumption (i. e. ascension) of the Virgin Mary is not true, the Christian religion is not true. See his sermon on the Assumption.
As the 2nd of February is retained as a festival in the Church of England, and stands on the English Calandar " The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Candlemas," it should not be forgotten that this is altogether a heathen festival, the origin of which is on record. On the 2nd of February, the heathen fable had it, that Proserpine was carried away by Pluto; that her mother Ceres, with her female attendants, all carrying candles or torches, investigated all the regions of Mount Ætna, to discover the lost Proserpine. This event they celebrated with processions of torches and candles in old Rome. Then again, every fifth year, on the 2nd of February, they had another festival, called Februa, in honour of Februa, the mother of Mars, in whose honour they went through all parts of the city with candles, to purify it, and to propitiate the mother of that God who was the especial deity of Rome. In the Sabine tongue, Februum had the meaning of purification. It was therefore a very easy translation to turn over the honours of Februa to the Virgin Mary; which was done in the eighth year of the reign of the Emperor Justinian. Even Baronius acknowledges the origin of this festival, and frankly confesses that it was the custom of the Romans to distribute large wax candles on the day of the February lustration. In papal Rome, “ Candlemas, or the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” is a great day ; the Pope, with all his cardinals, solemnly blesses an innumerable quantity of candles, brought for that purpose by “ the faithful.” The ceremony is full of pomp and impiety, one of the worst of the church.
The name of the Virgin Mary is a nucleus round which all idolatrous propensities are attracted and condensed ; the philosophy of this mental phenomenon would demand a deep investigation. Of the existence of the phenomenon there can be no doubt; for now, after three centuries of prohibition, we perceive, by signs not to be mistaken, that the divines of the Oxford heresy are preparing the way for the replacing of this idol on its old pedestal, and in verse and in prose are tuning the minds of their disciples to the forbidden adoration of “ the mother of God.” Professor Keble, the poet of the Oxford sect, has thus melodiously expressed their intentions :
“ Ave Maria! mother blessed!
Cling's the eternal child ;
The new-born Saviour smiled.
Ave Maria ! Thou, whose name,
Yet may we reach thy shrine ;
With love and joy like thine."
THE EMPEROR OF CHINA ON THE WORSHIP OF RELICS.
that it could not be they attained this A REMONSTRANCE WITH
great age through serving Fúh. In the time of Ming-te, of the Han
dynasty, they then first began to obey This curious document, which has Fúh; but Ming-te sat on the throne never been published in England, is only eighteen years: after him coninteresting on many accounts; but fusions and rebellions followed close as contrasting with the absurdity of upon each other, and seasons of rest some of our European superstitions, were not long. Only Woo-te, of the is particularly remarkable. The
Leang dynasty, sat upon the throne French
newspaper informs us that the forty-eight years, first and last; three newly consecrated Bishop of Algiers several times he gave up his body to has taken with him to his diocese the the God Fúh. In the sacrifices in the toe of St. Philip and some of the ancestorial temple he would not use ribs of St. Augustin, presented to him slain animals; he ate once a day, and by the Pope for the benefit of the lived upon nothing but fruit and Algerine see. Compare this fact with vegetables : at last he was driven out the following letter addressed by a by his general How-king, and starved Chinese Mandarine, Hang-ya, to the to death in the city of T'ae, and his Emperor, Heen-tsung. It appears kingdom was overthrown. This is that in a Buddhistic temple at Fung- serving Fủh for the sake of happiness, steang there is a finger bon
said to and, on the contrary, falling into belong to the god Füh, or Buddh, misery: if we consider this, we shall which is exposed with great ceremony
find that Fủh is not to be believed,every thirtieth year, and is supposed how much less to be served. When to cause a year of fertility by its the first emperor of the present exposure. The Emperor, Heen
Heen- dynasty received the kingdom from tsung, sent a high officer of the empire Suy, he consulted about abolishing to meet the relic with great respect, the religion of Fŭh; but the ministers and to bring it to the imperial palace, of that time possessed but inferior where it was retained for three days, talents and discernment; they could and then sent back in state to its not therefore improve and carry out shrine. Hang-ya, a Mandarin, in- the enlightened proposition of the dignant at this folly, indited the fol- prince, in order to rid us of this dislowing epistle to the Emperor, for grace: in consequence the matter which he was banished to a distant dropped, to my great and constant part of the empire.
vexation. I now bow to your majesty, “Sire.-- The worship of Fŭh is the as an enlightened sage, a martial and practice of foreigners; it entered politic emperor, a spiritual and a holy China in the time of How-haw. hero, whose equal has not appeared Before that time there was no such for a hundred thousand
When thing. Formerly, Hwang-te sat upon you first ascended the throne, you the throne 100 years, being 110 years
forbade the proselyting of persons to old [here follows an enumeration become priests and nuns of Fŭh, or of many emperors who lived to a ministers of the sect of Taou; and great age], and all this time the laws would not permit the building of temof Fúh had not entered China; so ples and nunneries; I began to cherish
the idea that the resolutions of your originally a foreigner, speaking a ancestors would be carried into effect language different from that of China, by the hand of your Majesty; but wearing clothes of a different pattern, your present indulgence and want of his mouth not uttering the rules of prompt decision will pamper this sect, ancient kings, his person not submitand cause them to increase more and ting to their laws, ignorant of the
duties of princes and people, and the “I have lately heard that your affections of parents and children: Majesty has ordered the host of priests now, suppose he were at present still to bring with respect the bone of Fŭh alive, and had received the orders of from Fung-tseang into the imperial his country to come and wait upon palace for inspection, ordering all tem- your Majesty, your Majesty would ples to contribute and supply it with only allow him an audience in the sacrifices. Now, though I am the Schen-ching hall, give him a change most stupid of men, yet I know that of raiment, and see him safely conyour Majesty is not deceived by Fúh, ducted to the borders of your kingbut have performed this service in dom, but by no means suffer him to order to pray for prosperity. But convert your people. Now that his truly, to appoint in your capital, and body is long since dead, and his bones before your officers, these false and are rotten, how unsuitable is it to imposing spectacles, these instruments bring this remnant of unpropitious of folly, in order to render the harvest filth into the imperial palace! Con. abundant, the people happy, and their fucius said, Respect the gods, and hearts obedient, - how could one pos- keep them at a distance.' The ancient sessing sacred intelligence act thus, princes, when they went to console and believe such things as these? the neighbouring princes, first ordered The blind and stupid people are easily a necromancer to pronounce spells, deceived, and slowly understand; but and with the plant Taon-le to drive when we see your Majesty thus, we away calamities; but now, without any must certainly conclude that your
have taken a putrid filthy whole mind is given up to the service thing, and have come yourself to of Fúh. All will say, “If the Empe- inspect it without any necromancer ror, so exalted and intelligent, still preceding, or without using the Taonwith his whole heart believes in Fŭh, le. The host of ministers have not who are we people, that we should not spoken of the impropriety of it, nor much more give up our very lives ?' have the imperial examiners reported They will singe their crowns and
I am really and truly burn their fingers, and by tens and ashamed of it. I entreat that this hundreds go to give away their clothes, bone may be delivered to and distribute their money to the officer, to throw it into fire or water, priests from morning to evening, imi- and for ever to exterminate its estating one another, till I fear both sence, in order to remove the doubts young and old will presently run of the empire, to counteract the away, utterly neglecting their business
temptations of former dynasties, and and employments. If you do not cause the people to know that the instantly prohibit these things, but example of our great sage infinitely increase their temples still more, then exceeds those of common useless there will be soon persons amputating things. their limbs, and mincing their bodies “ If Füh indeed a spirit, and can for offerings to Fúh; ruining our make men miserable, whatever calamorals, and exciting the ridicule of mities he is able to inflict, let him heap surrounding nations. This will not
them on my person.
Heaven is my be a trifling matter. Now, Fŭh was witness I will not retract or complain.