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gy are by no means subject to the secular power : thus a clergyman is not obliged to stand sentinel, to perform military duty, &c.
• What the matter of ecclesiastical immunity is, &c., see briefly in the treatise concerning Religion, No. 196, &c.
“ IV. Persons belonging to religious orders are exempt; and are declared to be so, because in some respects they are exempt from the jurisdiction of Bishops, and are subject immediately to the Apostolic Sce; but although they are not subject to the Bishop in those things which relate to regular discipline, yet they ought to obey in those things which relate to the administration of the sacraments among the laity; also in those which relate to the preaching of the Word of God, and the performance of public offices, beyond the monastery,” &c.
The chapters under the captions “ Concerning the obligagation of laws,” and “ The end and ways of fulfilling the law,” contain little or nothing of special interest to the general reader. If our limits would admit of it, we would insert a translation of some of the sections concerning “ Dispensations,” but a brief sketch of a few of the more important principles involved in this Babylonish privilege must suffice.
" What is a dispensation ?
“ Ans. It is a relaxation of a law in a particular case, by the authority of a superior, the matter and the law remaining unchanged in general.”
The right of granting dispensations from the eternal and natural law of God is disclaimed. This, it is affirmed, belongs to God alone, or to him who has received a special commission to that effect. God will grant no dispensation from his laws, because that would be denying himself.
“ That the church has the power of absolving from vows and oaths is proved from the general concession of Christ, Matt. xvi. 19. · Whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth shall be loosed in heaven.' Besides, the perpetual practice of the church sustains it. Yet this is not properly called a dispensation, but the matter is changed, INASMUCH AS GOD RE
RIGHT THROUGH THE SUPERIORS OF THE CHURCH, AND THUS THE OBLIGATION CEASES OF ITS OWN ACCORD. !! (See No. 63, towards the close.)
This arrogant blasphemy is a striking illustration of the daring presumption of the Man of Sin, “ who exalteth him. self above all that is called God or is worshipped.”
“The Pope, as he is the Superior of the Universal Church, grants dispensations in all laws which belong to ecclesiastical right; even in the laws of his own predecessors, of Bishops, of all Councils, even general ones, and that independently of the question, whether the Pope is above the Council; because indeed, according to all, he is the head of the church, the guardian of the canons, and the dispenser of the whole economy of the church.” (No. 64.)
The dispensing jurisdiction of the Pope it is said extends only to matters of ecclesiastical law and order; cases which belong to faith and morals, are beyond his reach, and belong to the divine right. But what of that? Supposing the Pope finds it to his advantage to transcend these limits, what shall hinder him from doing as his predecessors have done before him? The range of ecclesiastical law is so extensive, and the logic of Rome so subtle and ingenious, that there are few cases which cannot be forced within an ecclesiastical economy, which arrogates to itself all spiritual and temporal supremacy.
The dispensing power of the Bishop is confined to his own diocese, and extends to cases either expressly conceded by the Pope or granted by the general Councils of the church. He gives dispensations from the observance of fastdays, festivals, &c., or in a case of necessity which does not permit the delay of a special recurrence to Rome; hence sometimes when there are impediments in the way of marriage, the Bishop employs his dispensing power. Ordinary priests have not properly the right of dispensation-but in parishes which are rather remote from the Bishop's residence, they may with his consent afford dispensations from fasting, &c. (No. 65.)
There must be a sufficient reason for affording the dispensation ; necessity, or utility, or piety must render it expedient, for if the indulgence is conceded without just cause, it involves the dispenser in guilt proportionate to the nature of the case.
The doctors of the Romish church will differ, however, like other doctors, notwithstanding their matchless unity in matters of faith. Some affirming that arbitrary dispensations entail mortal sin upon the Bishop, others that such offences are merely venial. (No. 67.) It is not for us to decide, when such doctors differ, and we prefer therefore leaving the question to the casuistry of those, whom it specially concerns.
There is also great discrepancy between the opinions of different authors relative to another very important question, to wit : “ whether a dispensation obreptitiously or surreptitiously obtained, is valid.” A dispensation is said to be surreptitious, when obtained by concealing the truth; and obreptitious, when obtained by telling a falsehood. Now the Romish doctors cannot arrive at a unanimous conclusion relative to the validity of such dispensations. There are several hairs to be split before any thing like a sound conclusion can be attained. Whether, e. g., the surreptition or obreptition concerns the final or only the impulsive cause, will materially affect the case.
The final or motive cause is “that, which principally moves the superior to grant the dispensation ; so that, in its absence, the dispensation would either by no means have been given, or not without trouble and compensation, or at least not in such a form.”
“That cause is called impulsive, which indeed induces the superior to grant the favour more readily, but in the absence of which, he would have granted (the dispensation) absolutely and in the same form.
“Let this serve as an illustration of both causes : some one gives alms to a poor man, which he affords the more readily, because he believes him to be honest; here, the man's poverty is the final, and his probity the impulsive cause."
Having given my reader the clue afforded by Peter Dens, I must leave him to find his way out of the labyrinth of " distinguos” as he best can. Of course, every honourable mind will instinctively venerate the purity of those holy doctors who cannot determine whether falsehood and deceit can invalidate a case or not. From the premises which some of them assume, the inference is fair that the more proficiency a man has made in deceit and falsehood, the more readily he can be favoured with a dispensation.
For our part we know not which most to admire, the knavery of the man who gives, or the folly of him who accepts, a Popish indulgence.
[No. 78. Vol. II.] The Decalogue, and the First and Second Commandment.
" What is the first precept of the Decalogue ?
“Ans. The first and greatest is this, “Thou shalt not have strange gods before me,' &c.
- What is forbidden by this precept?
“ Ans. It is forbidden to regard any thing else as God, except the true God, and in any manner to offer to any other thing, that which pertains to God alone; for the words strange gods' are equivalent to other gods, as is plain from the text in Hebrew and Greek.
“By this precept, therefore, idolatry, divination, and all superstition of every name, are forbidden.
6. Before me,' is added: and this denotes that God is everywhere present; and at the same time gives great emphasis in order to signify that the sin is aggravated from the fact that it is done openly and directly in the presence of God.
“What does this part prohibit, “Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing?
Ans. The same as the preceding words—thou shalt have no other gods : for, as St. Augustine teaches, quest. 71 on Exod., it is only a kind of explanation of the preceding part, prohibiting idols and images to be made in the manner of the Gentiles, who consecrated them, and supposed that by this consecration a certain divine power was included in them ; as is plain from Cicero's speech against Verres ; and hence they worshipped them also with the veneration of latria.”
“From which it is plain that nothing can be deduced from this passage against the worship of holy images; for the Holy Scripture itself does not simply prohibit graven images and pictures : but only in this sense, that no one may adore them, or worship them with the veneration of latria ; but in this way Christians do not adore images, neither do they believe that they possess any innate virtue.
“ Prove that it was not forbidden to make these images.
“It is plainly proved : for, Exod. xxv. 18., we read, that likenesses and images of cherubim were made by Moses at the command of God, near the ark of the Lord; and, 3 Kings (i. e. 1 Kings) vi. 23, the same was done by Solomon in the temple; also, Num. xxi. 9, by the command of God, Moses erected a brazen serpent, that by looking at it those who had been bitten by the fiery serpent might be healed.
“Moreover, although every kind of images whatsoever had been forbidden to the Hebrews, that precept to such an extent would have been ceremonial, and therefore would now cease, as St. Thomas remarks, &c.
“What is commanded by the first precept of the Deca
“ I answer with the Roman catechism thus: Thou shalt · worship me the true God;' or, Thou shalt hold me the only true God, in faith, hope, and charity, and thou shalt worship me alone with the veneration of latria."
The division of the commandments of the Decalogue, which obtains in the Romish church, is decidedly objection
* Papists make a distinction between the worship which they offer to God, and that which they give to their saints and images; the former is called “latria," and the latter " dulia.” The veneration of the Virgin Mary occupies a kind of middle ground, and is called “hyper-. dulia.”