Project Canterbury



Immaculate Conception.



ON SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 1855,


Festival of the Annunciation B.V.M.







"Which, if we receive, it must needs be that the faith of the blessed Fathers will be violated, either entirely, or certainly in great part; it must needs be that the faithful of all ages--all the Saints, all the chaste, the continent, the virgins, all the Clergy, Levites and Priests; so many thousands of confessors; such armies of martyrs; such celebrated and multitudinous cities and peoples; so many islands, provinces, kings, tribes, realms, nations; in fine, almost the whole earth, incorporated by the Catholic faith to CHRIST, the Head, must be pronounced, for so long a series of ages, to have been ignorant, to have erred, to have blasphemed, to have believed they knew not what." Of Novelties in General, St. Vincent of Lerins, A. D. 434.



WE celebrate, to-day, the glad event, in which the history of our redemption began. We call to mind the Mystery of the Incarnation. We rejoice in the fact that for us men, and for our salvation, the Son of God came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost, of the Virgin Mary. In this miraculous conception we believe, because it is part of the original gospel, spoken of in the text; because Apostles preached it; and because it has been most surely believed from the beginning, always, and by all Christians. We believe it, on an angel's testimony, because, as at this time, Gabriel said to Mary, of Nazareth, "the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore, that holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God." We believe it, not only because such is the record of Evangelists, but because it was spoken beforehand by the holy prophets: "Behold a Virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." We believe it, because there never was a time when it was not part of a Christian man's profession, and because, in every way, the God Of Truth has satisfied his children, that we have not "followed cunningly devised fables," with regard to "the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Gratefully, too, do we recognize the wisdom by which the Church has been led to set apart this day, as the annual memorial of a truth, so difficult to be taught by preaching, yet so necessary to be received. The two natures of our Lord and his one divine person, and consequently, the atonement and redemption through his blood, can only be understood by first accepting the marvellous events which we are now commemorating. To-day, therefore, we recur to those Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, by which the fact is revealed to us as truth; and without the refinements and subtilties of human teaching, we learn from the very words of Inspiration, what is meant by the saying--"a body hast thou prepared me." We review the simple narrative of St. Luke, and the story becomes entwined with our affections. No dry dogmatic theory, but an endearing verity, to us, is this fact of the Immaculate Conception of our Saviour. Bless God for a kinsman Redeemer; "perfect God and perfect man: God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of the substance of his Mother, born in the world."

That this Conception was Immaculate, need scarcely be argued, seeing it was in nothing carnal, but a fruit of the Spirit. The human nature of our Blessed Lord was conceived, "not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."--He escaped all taint of original sin, simply, because he was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and had no human father. According to the unanimous teaching of the fathers, this is the only exception to the universal rule, "Behold I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." So testifies St. Augustine; and St. Bernard says, expressly, "Christ only excepted, this is true of all the children of Adam." So, then, the event we celebrate to-day, is sole and single of its kind. The Incarnate God alone escapes the law of our fallen nature, and is in all other points made like as we are, "yet without sin." And such being the gospel which the Apostle preached, it is manifest that to assert any other Immaculate Conception, is to preach another gospel. This the text seems to anticipate; and as if referring to the message of Gabriel, it says, " though an angel from heaven preach any other glad-tidings, let him be accursed." What but a foresight of these latter days can make the Apostle so emphatic? For he repeats his anathema: "as we said before, so say I now again--if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."

You are prepared for my acknowledgment, that I nave chosen the text with reference to the new papal dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. After eighteen hundred years, during which we have had no such custom, neither the Churches of GOD, we are now constrained to speak in self-defence to the Bishop of Rome, saying of the dogma he commands us to receive, "thou bringest strange things to our ears." It is not "an angel from heaven," then, that brings in this new Evangel, but it is one whose office and ministry is that of an "angel of the Church." Long since, one of his own predecessors in that See, who was a Bishop, but not a Pope, forewarned us, that the claim of a universal Bishopric is the sign of Antichrist: [1] but not content with arrogating to himself this presumptuous title, we behold in the present pontiff one who seems actually ambitious of realizing the entire Apostolic portrait of the man of sin, who, "sitting in the temple of God, sheweth himself that he is God." Seated on his throne, in St. Peter's, on the 8th of December last, he gave utterance to this new gospel, and published to the world, as a part of divine truth, a secret thing, not revealed in Holy Scripture, and which, if true, can only be made known to us by Omniscience. More than that, he ventures to take to himself another prerogative of the Godhead, and actually assigns to St. Mary, that seat at the right hand of the glorified Redeemer, of which even Christ has said [2] "it is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father."--What Christ himself, as man, could not give, the Pope gives to her whom he calls the "Queen of Angels," and the mediatrix of our salvation. Further, he scruples not to "curse them that God hath not cursed," anathematizing, and casting out of the Church [3] all who are contented to hold "the faith once delivered to the Saints." When the "Abomination of desolation" shall stand in the holy place, and when Antichrist shall be fully manifested, can he deal more proudly than this? Can he say, more daringly, "I will exalt my throne above the stars. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High?"

Now, we believe that He whose name is "Wonderful," was Immaculate in his Conception, and without any taint of original sin, for so we are taught in the Scripture. He had no human father. But how can we believe as much without any warrant from Scripture, concerning a Conception which was, confessedly, "of the will of the flesh," and like that of all the children of men. How can we put this piece of new cloth upon the old garment without "taking away from the old?" Holy Scripture anathematizes us, if we accept any other gospel than that which came from heaven by the message of an angel, eighteen hundred years ago. Pius the Ninth anathematizes us unless we accept his gospel, fresh from Italy, by a late steamer. Practically, therefore, the question reduces itself to this: "Whose curse will it be safer to incur--the Pope's, or that of the HOLY SPIRIT?

Here we might easily shew, from the text, that even a verity, which was not part of the original gospel, can never become an article of the faith. To this purpose, also, we could cite volumes from the fathers. "No innovation--nothing but what has been handed down"--said an ancient Bishop of Rome. [4] It shall suffice us, however, to show that the new dogma is not merely novel, but a falsity.

Let us refer to what the genuine gospel actually does teach, as to the Blessed Mother of our Lord. We know, on the testimony of inspired evangelists, that her virginity was immaculate, "till she had brought forth her first-born son." That her sanctity as a handmaid of the Lord was the fruit of regeneration, and not of any original righteousness, we may fairly conclude from her own delightful words--"my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour." Or, if this can be evaded, what must we infer from the salutation of the angel--"Fear not Mary, for thou hast found favor with God?" Does not this clearly imply, that she needed an assurance of divine favor, to strengthen her, and that this assurance, as well as the glorious distinction which was immediately announced, were alike the rewards of faith and charity, and of a victory which she had achieved over the world, the flesh and the devil? But, if we need further proof, the testimony of Christ himself is conclusive: [5] "Yea, rather blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it." Did he mean to deny the blessedness of the womb that bare him? Perish the thought! He only asserted, so far as the saying seems to reflect on his Mother, that hers was the more essential distinction of being his disciple. Christ, then, pronounces "this discipleship the nobler and better part of the two-fold blessedness of his Mother; and we are, therefore, bound to infer that every other true believer, possesses more than half her claim to blessedness in the sight of God! We should not have thought it, were it not revealed; but, we are thus taught how dear to Christ are his children: "such honor have all his saints."

Now, as if on purpose to make this striking fact, impressively conspicuous, and so to guard us against the very delusion which now disturbs the peace of Christendom, our Saviour not only repeated the same assertion in another form, [6] but during the whole period of his official life, he acted upon it, with an emphasis of conduct, almost painful, if we forget that, as God, he was equally related to all men, and that there can be "no respect of persons with God." This accounts for his saying, of his disciples, in general, "Behold my mother and my brethren; for whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in Heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother!" To convince us of this truth, our Lord during the whole course of his ministry, fulfilled what was symbolized by the priesthood of Levi, "who said unto his father and to his mother, I have not seen them," [7] from the hour of his first miracle, till his last hour, he who had come down from his Father in heaven, separated himself from his mother on earth, for our sake, doing violence to his natural feelings in this, and in a thousand other things, that he might give himself, equally, to all mankind. From the moment when he said, "Woman what have I to do with thee," he ceased to be subject to her commands: but, when his hour was come, and when his work was fulfilled, then, once more, he recognized her, in all the fulness of his filial love, as he hung upon the cross. And what was his last communication to her? It was a perpetual farewell to her, as a mother, soothed by a most touching bequest. He gave her, as a substitute for himself, his dearest friend, the beloved John, saying, "Woman, behold thy son." From that hour, St. John, and not Jesus, was the only son, whom she could properly claim in that relation. Christ was henceforth her Saviour, but not practically, her child: the relations of this world were at an end: he was about to ascend to the Father.

But, though we are forced to recognize what is thus written for our learning, we cannot but rejoice, in the many Scriptures which shew us the other half of the truth, and which represent the Blessed Virgin, as a Saint of God, whom her Son delights to honor. In her portrait as painted by St. Luke, on the pages of Inspiration, we recognize the paragon of her sex, and that highest pattern of female perfection, of which it is written, "Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all." That her sex has received, in her, a restoration of that dignity which was forfeited by Eve, is a truth, which the difference in position, between a Jewish female, under the law, and a Christian woman, under the Gospel, forcibly illustrates. That our civilization, thus receives from her, indirectly, the glorious element infused into Christian Society, by the position and influence of the Christian matron, and the Christian maiden, no student of history can doubt. Further, she was not only a Saint, but an inspired contributor to Holy Writ, the earliest Christian poet, the first to celebrate redemption in a hymn, and, like John Baptist, more than a prophet. In her incomparable Magnificat, she renews the inspiration of "the sweet singer of Israel," and adds to the psalter, a nobler song than those of her father David. In her chaste humility as a Virgin, and in her meek submissiveness as the handmaid of the Lord; but above all, in her heroic fidelity, to her great mission as the Mother of Mothers, to the Son of Sons, and that, through evil report and sorrow, and poverty, and exile, and when the sword pierced through her soul, we acknowledge her unrivalled claim to our love and gratitude. In the Calendar of our entire communion, she has her high and Scriptural place. God forbid, we should be "wise above what is written," or affect to honor her with adulations, which, because they are false, are an insult to her, and a mockery of God: but, on the other hand, let us nevertheless gladly fulfil her own inspired prediction--"Behold, from henceforth, all generations shall call me Blessed."

What then is adduced from Scripture to support, or countenance the new dogma? "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."

Out of nearly a score of texts which I have seen collected [8] two only can be cited without provoking a smile at their irrelevancy and absurdity. Would it be believed that, among them, are the following, to wit: St. Paul's assertion concerning himself, that the "grace bestowed upon him was not in vain;" our Lord's query, " which of you convinceth me of sin;" and the saying of the Psalmist, "take away his ungodliness, and thou shalt find none?" I confess my inability to answer such proofs as these.

The two that are less ridiculous, perhaps, are as follows: the Bridegroom, in the Canticles, says to his spouse--"Thou art all fair, my love, there is no spot in thee." But this is the language of Christ, to his church, of which it will be true in the day when "the marriage of the Lamb is come," and not till then. [9] St. Paul's parallel words concerning the Church triumphant--"not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing"--would be quite as much to the purpose. [10] From Job, however, we find cited, quite exultingly, the question--"who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" We are certainly much obliged to them for this, which proves too much to help them, while it precisely suits us. For was the mother of Mary also immaculately conceived? If not--"who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" The question may be carried back, step by step, to all the ancestry of our Lord; to Bathsheba and to Rahab. Why not, also, to him who said--"in sin did my mother conceive me?" Was not Mary the daughter of David? "Who then can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" But such a use of Scripture is profane trifling. They know it proves naught: and nothing, short of a bankruptcy that is beggary, could induce any sane man to exhibit such assets as these.

Now, let us see whether we, who "presume to think otherwise," have not some better grounds, in Scripture, for our adherence to the old religion. In her Magnificat, as we have seen, the Virgin speaks of herself as the subject of a salvation, which she, in no wise, distinguishes from that of the human race, over whose deliverance she utters that rapturous song. The heavenly messenger, who salutes her, so far from offering her the homage which would be due to "the queen of angels," entreats her not to be afraid at his presence, and assures her that her piety has gained the favor of the Most High. Moreover, her surprise and astonishment, and her distinguished humility, sufficiently attest her own unconsciousness of any thing so extraordinary, in herself, as a superhuman immunity from all taint of sin.

Further, even those who assume her "assumption," do not deny that she died--as Enoch and Elijah did not, for they were taken up; to paradise, alive. Now the suffering of infants is accounted for by their share in the taint of sin. How shall we justify God in allowing St. Mary to suffer, and to die, if she was, absolutely, a sinless being? Did she also redeem us? Does the pope mean to say, that she suffered, vicariously, and "was made sin, for us," like CHRIST himself, and died, "the just for the unjust?" He almost says it; but that, probably, still remains to be defined as a dogma. It will come, by and by. But is it possible that, had she been thus superhuman in nature and offices, or even if she had been sinless, merely, she could have been ignorant of her character? Why did she fear at the appearance of Gabriel? Why was she "troubled at his saying?" When he said--"hail! thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women"--what could have been more reasonably expected by one that knew herself to be the only human being that had ever been conceived in holiness? How comes it to pass then that she could not imagine what it meant, but painfully, "cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be?" We may reasonably inquire, indeed, how it had come to pass, that such a character was, even then espoused to a mere mortal? Was her immaculate conception no impediment to such a bond? Could Joseph invite such an one to become the mother of sinful children? Alas! there is conclusive evidence in the touching narrative, itself, that he soon began to think her unworthy to be the wife even of a poor, but pious, mechanic. "He was minded to put her away, privately;" and not till a message from heaven had interposed, for his consolation, reminding him of prophecy, and assuring him, that she was still a chaste virgin, had he any idea of an immaculate conception, even by the power of the Holy Ghost. It will be allowed that all parties were ignorant of it. No doubt they were! But, if neither the Virgin herself, nor her parents, nor St. Joseph, nor any of the venerable persons so intimately concerned, were aware of any such event, how comes it to pass that Pius the Ninth is so much better informed? "Let no man beguile you of your reward, is a voluntary humility, and worshipping of Angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen" Did his eye, then, "see her substance, yet being imperfect?" Or has he been shewn "the book in which all her members were written, which day by day were fashioned, while as yet there was none of them?" On what grounds, then, does he presume to tell us, and command us to believe, that, at the very instant, when the germ of her existence was imparted, she was saved from the taint of original sin, and sanctified by the Holy Ghost? [11]

Scripture might be largely cited, and so might the Fathers, to prove that the taint of original sin is absolutely universal to the human race, naturally begotten. But it is time to ask, whether tradition does not afford, at least, some apology for the new dogma?

So far from this, the very reverse is the case. In the early liturgies, the Blessed Virgin is always spoken of as dead, and buried in the earth, and as awaiting the resurrection, to receive her full reward. All the early Fathers, that speak of her at all, speak of her in such a manner as proves their utter ignorance of any such idea; while, in speaking of original sin, they assert, in the strongest terms, its universality, admitting no exception, save only Christ himself. For eleven centuries not a whisper of such a dogma had been breathed in Christendom, when, in St. Bernard's time, as he, himself, testifies, it was first suggested as a mere piece of juvenile levity, [12] which he was inclined to dismiss with contempt. Now St. Bernard is commonly styled "the last of the fathers;" so that although he lived, as he himself complains, in times far removed from primitive purity, his testimony is very valuable, as to the state of doctrine, at the very last moment that can be said to be, in any sense, patristic. But St. Bernard pronounces it a figment and a superstition; declares it not only novel, but absolutely contrary to tradition, and repugnant to reason; asserts that it rather detracts from the Virgin, than contributes to her honor; and, almost passionately, remonstrates with its abettors, as rash and profane. "Are we more learned than the Fathers? Are we more devout than they." Such are his expostulations; and finally he sums up all, by pronouncing it "begotten of levity, the sister of superstition, and the mother of presumption." Thus intolerant of it, when it was a mere whim of a few monks, what would be his astonishment to wake up from the dead and find a dogma of faith, made out of what he calls their "rash and unadvised adoption [13] of the foolery of a few upstarts!"

But when St. Bernard wrote his celebrated letter against the dogma, he was not merely giving vent to a momentary alarm. He felt that he lived in evil times. He was accustomed to preach to popes on the degeneracy of the age, and to sigh for the revival of the primitive purity in doctrine and in manners. [14] More especially was he alarmed by the rise of a new theology, which has since received the name of the School Divinity; a theology, which, dealing in metaphysics, and fine-spun subtilties, created that system of doctrine which was adopted by the Roman Church, at the Council of Trent, and made part and parcel of her faith, in the Creed of Pius the Fourth. The tendencies of this innovating and philosophical theology were deeply felt by St. Bernard, and as if gifted with prophetic foresight of the Trent dogmas, he exclaimed--"a new gospel is forging for people and for nations; a new faith is proposed; another foundation is laid than that which was laid." Alas! all this was realized at that fatal Council; and such was the process by which they have at last "changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator."

But even the Schoolmen were slow to commit themselves to so bold a novelty as that which the last of the fathers had so indignantly condemned. St. Thomas Aquinas, the earliest and the most celebrated of these divines, repudiated it, and taught, clearly, that the Virgin was, by nature, a sinner. During the whole of the thirteenth century the language of the Schools continued, decidedly, the same; and it was not till the fourteenth century that it was adopted, and patronized openly, by a single doctor of reputation. At that time, the famous Duns Scotus, justly styled "the most subtle Doctor," came forward, very timidly, in its behalf, confessing that the common opinion still continued to be that the Virgin was conceived in original sin. While he favors the new opinion, he says, frankly, " whether it is so, or not, God knows!" Observe, the question was merely one of opinion! No one, as yet, dreamed of such a thing as that it could possibly be a dogma of the faith. And well would it have been if, after such a confession, Scotus could have let it alone, remembering that "the secret things belong to God, but those which are revealed, to us, and to our children." But St. Thomas, had been a Dominican, and Scotus was a Franciscan, and unhappily these rival orders now chose to regard their conflicting opinions, as touching the honor of their respective communities. So great a matter a little fire kindleth! The war had begun, and soon the battle raged. Where then was Infallibility? Where the judge of controversies? Why were successive generations allowed to go on, in darkness, as to a divine truth, which a word from the pope might have illuminated? But so it was. There was nothing decisive while the question really called for arbitration. Not, till the close of the fifteenth century, had even a University declared in its favor. The Franciscans, however, were on the popular side, as they professed to be the more particular friends of the Virgin, and so their tenet gained ground, rapidly, among the masses. At last came the reformation; after which, the Council of Trent, undertook the decision of all questions, by adopting Medieval notions, in the lump, and pronouncing them part of the faith. But not even Trent dared to commit the papacy to so palpable a novelty. A few years later it was pronounced a heresy to say that the earth goes round the sun, and moves on its axis; and Galileo was tortured, in the inquisition, until he. retracted, on his oath, that wicked error! But not even Urban VIII. the profound antagonist of Copernicus, presumed so far on the human intelligence as to pronounce it a heresy to deny the Immaculate Conception of Mary. That was left for the nineteenth century, when for six generations more, Popes and Cardinals had lived and died in ignorance, as to its truth or falsehood. At last, during the late season of Advent, Infallibility wakes up from its sleep of ages, and decides a controversy which had died a natural death. Unhappy Apostles, unhappy Fathers, unhappy Dominicans, unhappy Popes and Councils, in what ignorance ye perished! How little ye enjoyed of gospel light! It was reserved for Pius the Ninth, to amend the four gospels, and to add a postscript to the Holy Bible. Alas! had he never read what is written--"If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him, the plagues that are written in this book?"

When "Ephraim was joined to his idols," the sentence of the divine justice was "let him alone." It is an awful thought that Rome has at length, developed into a form, which makes it impossible that there should ever again arise, in her communion, such men as Pascal and Fenelon, or even such as Bossuet. What is idolatrous and false has, at last, so choked and smothered what is true, in her teaching, that we can scarcely recognize in her, at present, any primitive feature. Romanism is, henceforth, another name for the worship of the goddess Maria. The new gospel anticipated by St. Bernard, is revealed; the new foundation is laid; but ah! the house is not yet builded! "Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived." There is nothing, not even the earth's immovability, that may not, as justly be added to this creed: and if, hereafter, we should learn that the pope has incorporated St. Mary, with the unity of the Holy Trinity, let no one be astonished! It is but the natural consequence of what he has already done. For what says the pope, in his "Letters Apostolic?" "The most Blessed Virgin, all fair and immaculate, has bruised the poisonous head of the most malignant serpent [15] and brought salvation to the World." And again,--"Let all the children of the Church hear our word, and with a more ardent zeal of piety, religion and love, proceed to worship, invoke and pray to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, conceived without original sin; let them fly, with entire confidence, to this sweet Mother of Mercy and Grace, in all dangers, difficulties, necessities, doubts and fears. For nothing is to be feared, and nothing is to be despaired of, under her guidance, under her auspices, under her favor, under her protection; who bearing towards us a maternal affection, and taking up the business of our salvation, is solicitous for the whole human race, and appointed by God, the Queen of Heaven and Earth, and exalted above all the choirs of angels, and orders of saints, standing at the right hand of the only begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, intercedes most powerfully and obtains what she asks, and cannot be frustrated."[16] I tremble to repeat such language in a Christian church: but, compare it with what the New Testament says of our Great High Priest, and if this be not, indeed, another gospel, judge ye. But thou, oh, Lord, how long!

Brethren, we are approaching the last days: the end is at hand. Popery and Mohammedanism rose at the same time, to curse the West and the East, and they are soon to perish together. Their period as assigned in Scripture, is twelve hundred and sixty years, and all signs agree with all computation, that the set time has nearly come. But this great apostacy must run its course, and fill up the measure of its iniquity. Meantime, there is much to be done, by us, for the approaching time is likely to be one of "burning, and fuel of fire." And even before persecutions are likely to be renewed, depend upon it, we shall see "great searchings of heart;" days of trial and unrest; days when "many shall depart from the faith, giving ear to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils." This decision of the pope has shaken the very foundations of the faith. Infidels will boldly declare, hereafter, that the Mystery of the Trinity, and that of the Incarnation, rest on no stronger grounds: while the forged and spurious testimonies [17] which the Romanists now bring forward, as if from genuine Fathers, to sustain their melancholy position, will naturally beget distrust as to the great lights of antiquity, and even as to those of the most primitive witnesses. Alas! what cannot Rome make plausible, when she openly authorizes the morals of Alphonsus Liguori, and has actually made a saint of the man who teaches that there are no less than thirty different methods of swearing falsely without guilt; and that, for what one deems good cause, it is lawful to use equivocation, and to confirm it with an oath! [18] With such moralists how can truth contend? Has not God in his fearful retributions, because they teach such things, "sent them strong delusion that they should believe a lie."

Such are some of our reasons for refusing to worship the image which the pope hath set up. I have spoken in sorrow, not in anger. I have spoken as one whom a Christian bishop has cursed and consigned to perdition because I cannot insult the blessed Mother of our Lord, by transferring to her the name of that old Sidonian idol, [19] "the queen of heaven." But, brethren, it is not enough, in such a day as this, to abjure what is false; we are taught by an apostle, that we ought also, to "contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints." The bleeding truth of God has a right to the stout defence of all who love it. There are good men, among Romanists, who are shocked at this impiety of their chief, and who begin to doubt, what they have always, too easily, taken for granted heretofore, his authority, and capacity, to speak for Christ, and his church. Doubtless there will be a reaction, and some will come to the light, because of this invasion of darkness. Now then, let us be prepared to show them "the good old paths." Let us be always ready, "to give an answer to every man that asketh us, concerning the faith that is in us," and not less ready to "instruct those that oppose themselves, if God, peradventure, will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the Truth." Ours is an Apostolic Church, and as such, we have a duty to the souls of these our erring brethren. Besides, our contest is historical. It comes to us by inheritance. For three hundred years, the Anglican Church has borne the brunt of this struggle with the papacy. It is just three hundred years, this very year, since the martyr-bishops of the Church of England sealed their noble work of reformation with their lives, and were burned at the stake. The purified faith and worship, which they bequeathed to us, remains. They restored the church to her primitive purity, and we have kept it unchanged. Meantime, look at the history of the Roman Church! It is a history of changes. A new creed, set forth at the Council of Trent; a new code of morals, [20] originally forged by the Jesuits, and finally adopted, universally, with the sanction of the pope; new devotions ordered, and every where practised, in public worship; perpetual alterations in liturgies; and finally, a new and fundamental Mystery added to the faith, changing the whole structure of Gospel truth, and elevating Mary into the authorized object of adoration, as the Queen of Heaven and Mediatrix of salvation! Whose is the old faith now? And what have been the results of their experiments in faith and morals? Look at Italy! Look at Spain! Look at South America! Wherever they have had the field to themselves, what a famine, what a pestilence, they have left behind! Again, I say, thank God for those brave old reformers of the Church of England! From what a curse they delivered us, under God! And not us only, but this new world of the West, and the whole Anglo-Saxon race. "Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man," said old Bishop Latimer, as the faggot began to flame at the feet of his fellow-sufferer,--"we shall this day light such a candle, in England, by God's grace, as shall never be put out!" Prophetic words! fulfilled this day by the light that shines on thousands of altars, from England to the South Seas, and from America all around the world! No change in our faith: nothing new for us! Here we stand on the old Rock, Christ Jesus: our Creed--that of the Apostles; our theology that of the fathers; the Alpha and the Omega of our belief comprehended in this saying--"Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever."

But since Rome will not reform, I am heartily thankful she has thus unmasked her deformity. Hereafter, it will not require a long argument to show men where the old religion is to be found. Now, one may see with his own eyes, the fact, that where we differ from Rome, it is in this--that she has a faith of novelties, over and above the old faith; while we have, and can have, nothing but what is old and apostolic. Much, then, "much every way," is our advantage; chiefly in this, that ours are "the oracles of God;" ours are "the fathers." Ours, in short, are that unity and continuity of doctrine which are a vital note of the Church. Yes, we have not improved the gospel; enough, that we can say with St. Paul, "we have kept the faith." The anathema of the text lights not on our heads. Without condemning ourselves we can say--"if any man preach any other gospel let him be accursed." Even so, Amen.

But while we utter this fervent response let us pray for thousands of unhappy Christians on whom it seems to fall, though they are, in fact, "taken in an evil net," and are heartily shocked and revolted by that, to which their religion commits them. May the Lord open their eyes; and show them the Ark of Refuge which he has provided, in that remnant of Israel that bows not the knee to Baal; [21] that primitive communion to which, by his great mercy, we are permitted to belong; and, in which, we confess the one faith, of the one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. May his own words, to his own children who remain in Babylon, ring in their consciences; "come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues; for her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities."

I conclude with an Apostolic exhortation:--"But ye, beloved, remember the words that were spoken, before, of the Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; and building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference, and others save, with fear, pulling them out of the fire?--Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless, before the presence of His glory, with exceeding joy; to the only wise God, our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever! Amen."

[1] The assertion of Gregory the Great. See his Epistles, Lib. vii. Ep. xiii. p. 391: Paris, 1849. Gregory died A. D. 604.

[2] Matt. xx. 23.

[3] "If any shall presume (which God avert) to think otherwise than as it has been defined by us, they should know and understand that they are condemned by their own judgment; that they have suffered shipwreck of the faith, and revolted from the unity of the Church: and besides, if what they think, they should dare to signify by word, writing, or any other outward means," &c. &c. See Letters Apostolic, 1854.

[4] Stephen, A.D. 258

[5] Luke xi. 28.

[6] S. Matt. xii. 50.

[7] Deut. xxxiii. 9.

[8] In the Memorial du Predicateur of the Abbe Habert, Honorary Canon of the Cathedral of Clermont, Paris, 1854.

[9] St. Augustine de perfect. Justitiæ. Opera, x. p. 183.

[10] Ephesians, v. 27.

[11] It is a dogma of the faith that the Most Blessed Virgin Mary from the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, was formed perfectly free from all stain of original sin."--Language of the Decree.

[12] Juvenili passa est decolorari levitate. Epistle clxxiv. S. Bernardi Opera, Paris, 1839.

[13] Præcipitanter atque inconsulte paucorum sequenda simplicitas imperitorum.--Epistle, as before cited.

[14] In the year 1849, the author of this Sermon translated the entire letter of St. Bernard, and contributed it to the Chruch Review, in an article entitled the New Hegira, to which he ventures to refer the reader, for more on this subject.

[15] The Pope makes use of a spurious interpretation of Gen. iii. 15. This is shewn by M. L'Abbe Laborde, in his essay, p. 142, Paris, 1854.

[16] See Letters Apostolic, &c., Boston, Patrick Donahue, 1855.

[17] Of eight citations from the Fathers, set forth in a Sermon, by a Romish priest, lately published in New York, with the imprint "Dunigan and Brothers, 1855," and now in my hands, three are dead against his cause, two utterly irrelevant, and three from sources long since pronounced spurious, even by learned Romanists!

[18] See St. Alphonsus Liguori, Lib. iv., cap. 2. De juramento.

[19] The pope does not speak to his own people, but to the universe. "Let no man interfere with this one declaration, or oppose and contradict it, with presumptive rashness. If any should presume to assail it, let him know that he will incur the indignation of the Omnipotent God, and of his blessed apostles Peter and Paul."--Letters Apostolic.

[20] See Jeremiah, xliv. 17.

[21] It is a remarkable fact that St. Bernard predicted these results of the rising scholastic subtilties. "Of virtue and vice they treat not morally; of the sacraments, not faithfully; of the mystery of the Trinity, not soberly: but they make every thing worse for us, every thing otherwise than as has been the custom, every thing contrary to what we have received." Epistle, clxxxix.

[22] "What if the Roman Court compels them, against their consciences, to bow the knee to Baal--let God behold and judge; let that Heavenly Court behold, in which no ambition can possibly subvert judgment." These are words of St. Bernard, which may well be applied to the case in hand.--Epistle, ccxxxvi.

[23] Let us remind our erring brethren, that:--

1. Every Roman Catholic swears and professes, in the Creed of Pope Pius the Fourth, as follows: "neither will I ever take and interpret them, (i. e. the Scriptures,) otherwise than according to the unanimous consent of the Fathers"

2. Now the Fathers are unanimous as to the fact that no one, but Christ, ever escaped the taint of original sin. So testifies St. Bernard.

3. Therefore, every Roman Catholic must choose between Pius the Fourth, and Pius the Ninth. One of them is a heretic.

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