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Christ.” To those who are the subjects of these spiritual influences, the service of the Lord is perfect freedom—they live in the Spirit—they walk in the spirit : and renouncing the world declare plainly, that they seek a better conntry, a city which hath foundation, whose builder and maker is God.
The natural man discerneth not the things of the Spirit of God, and has no delight in them. His conscience may become partially awakened to the necessity of some kind of religion, but he is only prepared to embrace one that may prove congenial to his natural tastes and habits. A system of forms, and rites, and ceremonies—a religion the chief duties of which may be performed by a substitute-which allows the indulgence of sensual pleasures, and rather fosters than condemns the spirit of the world, is far easier than the religion which demands the surrender of the heart to God — which asserts the necessity of personal holiness and requires the entire consecration of the life to the service and cause of the Redeemer. When the natural man seeks for a religion, he looks for it first in that which is outward-in the form. The more impressive by their grandeur, or attractive by their magnificence, the external symbols of the faith which promises him safety and repose appear, the more readily will he embrace it. If it seem to possess these at; tributes he will submit to its dictation - even
though it may demand some occasional personal humiliation, impose some mortifying penance, or require some pecuniary sacrifice.
“ To travel barefoot to some hallowed shrine,
The church of Rome has availed herself of this depraved condition of the human mind, and has so adapted her forms, and doctrines, and requirements as to render Romanism “the most convenient religion in the world.” The general substitution of the form for the spirit is strikingly apparent in all that relates to the Sacrament of Penance.
PENANCE is one of the seven sacraments of the church of Rome,-of those sacraments in defence of which the canons of the council of Trent declare those accursed, who “assert that the sacraments do not contain the grace which they repre. sent, and even confer the grace itself on those who place no obstructions in the way of such grace.” They further declare, that “if any one shall affirm that by the sacraments themselves, from the performance of the work, ex opere operato, grace is conferred, but that faith only in the divine promise is sufficient to the obtaining of grace, he is accursed !” This all-absolving rite is held in high esteem, and is dogmatically maintained by Romanists as an essential part of their system. With the usual amount of sophistry resorted to by the church in inculcating her unscriptural dogmas, she adopts in her canons and liturgy the Latin word, “ Pænitentia.” This word is precisely the same as our word repentance or penitence; the one is evidently taken from the other. Repentance, in the Scriptural sense of the word, includes that essential change of mind and conduct, which ever accompanies the genuine conversion of the soul to God; it is declared in the Scriptures, and by our Lord himself, to be essential to salvation. “ Except,” said he, “ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” Luke xiii. 3. Now, the word Pænitentia, is invariably rendered in the Roman Catholic version of the New Testament, penance. The design of this is obvious. The mind of the unlettered reader, when he meets with the word, is instantly led to think of the sacrament of penance. The sacraments confer saving benefits, -he expects the grace the sacrament is intended to bestow, he hastens to the priest, performs the requisite ceremonies, submits to the necessary humiliations imposed, pays the pecuniary exaction, receives the sacramental absolution from the confessor, and confidently believes that he has repented in the Scriptural sense, with that “godly sorrow which worketh repentance unto salvation not to be repented of.” How it can with any propriety be called a sacrament, by those who declare that a sacrament must have matter and form, a material symbol or sign, is hard to be conceived! The author of the “Faith of Catholics”. thus states it :-" Catholics believe, that when a sinner repents of his sins, from his heart, and acknowledges his transgressions to God and his ministers, the dispensers of the mysteries of Christ, resolving to bring forth fruit worthy of penance, there is then, and not otherwise, an authority left by Christ to absolve such a penitential sinner from his sins, which authority we believe Christ gave to his apostles and successors, the bishops and priests of his church, in those words, when he said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost,' &c. John XX. 23. But even in all this we have no proof that penance can with propriety be called a sacrament. But, by whatever name it should be designated, it has been one of the most prolific sources of wealth to the church of Rome. Here we discover at once the unholy traffic of the mystic Babylon, so fearfully pourtrayed in the book of Revelation. “Her merchandise of gold and silver, and precious stones, and of fine linen, of purple, and silk and scarlet, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and sheep, and beasts, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and the souls cf men.” Rev. xviii. 12, 13. How just and appropriate the prophetic censuře of Peter ;“ Through coveteousness, shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you.” 2 Pet. ii. 3.
From penance sprang the iniquitous, but luerative trade in indulgentes. Penance was enjoined for all, even the most secret failings. Great importance was attached to tears, fastings, and macerations. To these were added about the Ilth century, voluntary flagellations. These soon became so common in Italy, that nobles and peasants, old and young, even children of five years old, went in pairs through the villages, the towns, and the cities, by hundreds, thousands, and tens of thousands, without any covering than a cloth tied round the middle, and visiting the churches in procession, in the very depth of winter, armed with scourges, they lashed themselves without pity; and the streets resounded with cries and groans. No wonder that men sighed for deliverancé from the tyranny of the priests! Then it was that they invented the system of barter known by the name of Indulgence. The priests said, “Oh, penitents, you are unable to perform the penances we have imposed upon you. Well then we, the priests of God, and your pastors, will take upon ourselves this heavy burden. Who can better fast than we? Who better kneel and recite psalms than ourselves ? But the labourer is worthy of his hire.'” “For a seven week's fast," said