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this you cannot employ your tongues in the praises of your benefactor, and are not provided with words to express your gratitude, make at least some sign of reverence; bow yourselves at his name; give some show of gratitude, according to the best of your capacities ; express your thanks in the most becoming manner that you are able; and be not unmindful of all the benefits which have been bestowed upon you.”
He had no sooner done speaking, but-behold a miracle! the fish, as though they had been endued with reason, bowed down their heads with all the marks of a profound humility and devotion; moving their bodies up and down with a kind of fondness, as approving what had been spoken by the blessed father St. Anthony. The legend adds, that after many heretics, who were present at the miracle, had been converted by it, the saint gave his benediction to the fish, and dismissed them.
40. SUPREMACY OF THE POPE OF ROME.
THE Roman Catholics believe the pope of Rome is, under Christ, supreme pastor of the whole church, and has a power and jurisdiction over all Christians. He is called the successor of St. Peter, and is believed to be infallible, that is, he cannot err, when he addresses himself to the faithful on matters of doctrine, &c. The pope is believed by the protestants to be the Antichrist, the Man of Sin, mentioned in 2 Thess. ii. and Rev. xiii.
"In ages of ignorance and credulity," says a celebrated writer," the ministers of religion are the objects of superstitious veneration. When the barbarians who overran the Roman empire first embraced the Christian faith, they found the clergy in possession of considerapower; and they naturally transferred to those new guides the profound submission and reverence which they were accustomed to give to the priests of the pagan religion which they had forsaken.
It was about the year 606 that pope Boniface III., by flattering Phocas, the emperor of Constantinople, one of the worst of tyrants, procured for himself the title of Universal Bishop. From this time he was raised above all others, and his supremacy was by imperial authority it was now also that the most profound ignorance, debauchery, and superstition reigned. From this time, the popes exerted all their power in promoting the idolatrous worship of images, saints, relics, and angels. They now took the most blasphemous titles, such as Christ's Vicegerent, His Holiness, Prince over all Nations and Kingdoms, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, The Lord God the Pope, &c.
About the year 751, the pope began to establish himself as a temporal prince, and to dethrone kings, and put others in their places. Henry IV., emperor of Germany, having displeased pope Gregory VII., the Roman pontiff summoned a council, and passed the following sentence upon him :-" In the name of Almighty God, and by your authority," said Gregory, addressing the members of the council, "I prohibit Henry from governing the Teutonic kingdom of Italy; I release all Christians from their allegiance to him; and I strictly forbid all persons to serve or attend him as king."
When this sentence became known, the greater part of Henry's subjects cast off their allegiance, and appeared against him. Henry was humbled; he came to the resolution of throwing himself at the feet of Gregory, in order to implore his absolution. The pontiff was at that time on a visit to the countess or dutchess Matilda, at Canosa, a fortress on the Appenines. At the gate of this mansion the emperor presented himself as a humble penitent. He alone was admitted within the outer court, where being stripped of his robes, and wrapped in sackcloth, he was compelled to remain three days, in the month of January, A. D. 1077, barefoot and fasting, before he was permitted to kiss the feet of his holiness.
The indulgence was, however, granted him; he was
permitted to throw himself at the feet of the haughty pontiff, who condescended to grant him absolution, after he had sworn obedience in all things, and promised to submit to his solemn decision. The pontiff, elate with triumph, now considered himself as the lord and master of all the crowned heads in Christendom, and said in several of his letters, that "it was his duty to pull down the pride of kings."*
The following is said to be one form of excommunication in the church of Rome. It is called the pope's dreadful curse.*
"By the authority of God Almighty, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and of the holy canons, and of the undefiled Virgin Mary, the mother and patroness of our Saviour, and of all the celestial virtues, angels, archangels, thrones, dominions, powers, cherubims, and seraphims, and of the holy patriarchs, prophets, and of all the apostles, evangelists, and of the holy innocents, who, in the sight of the holy lamb, are found worthy to sing the new song, and of the holy martyrs and holy confessors, and of the holy virgins, and of all the saints, and together with all the holy and elect of God; we excommunicate and anathematize him or them, malefactor or malefactors, and from the threshold of the holy church of God Almighty we sequester them.
"May the holy choir of the holy virgins, who for the honour of Christ have despised the things of the world, curse him or them; may all the saints who, from the beginning of the world to everlasting ages, are found to be the beloved of God, curse him or them; may the heavens and the earth, and all the holy things remaining therein, curse him or them. May he or they be cursed wherever he or they be; whether in their house or in the field, or in the highway, or in the path, or in the wood, on the water, or in the church; may he or they be cursed in living, in dying, in eating, in drinking, in being hungry, in being thirsty, in fasting, in
* Jones' History of the Christian Church.
* Similar forms of excommunication are used in the Greek church.
lying, in working, in resting, * and in bloodletting; may he or they be cursed inwardly and outwardly; may he or they be cursed in the hair of his or their head; may he or they be cursed in his or their brain; may he or they be cursed in the top of his or their head, in their temples, in their forehead, in their ears, in their eyebrows, in their cheeks, in their jawbones, in their nostrils, in their foreteeth or grinders, in their lips, in their throat, in their shoulders, in their wrists, in their arms, in their hands, in their fingers, in their breast, in their heart, and in all the interior parts, to the very stomach; in their reins, in their groin, in their thighs, ***, in the hip, in the knees, in the legs, in the feet, in the joints, and in the nails; may he or they be cursed in all their joints, from the top of the head to the sole of the feet; may there not be a soundness in him or them.
May the Son of the living God, with all the glory of his majesty, curse him or them; and may heaven, with all the powers that move therein, rise against him or them, to damn him or them, unless it shall repent him or them, or that he or they shall make satisfaction. Amen, so be it. Amen.'
THE inquisition is a tribunal in Roman Catholic countries, erected by the popes for the examination and punishment of heretics. This court was founded in the twelfth century, under the patronage of pope Innocent, who issued orders to excite Catholic princes and people to extirpate heretics, to search into their number and quality, and to transmit a faithful account thereof to Rome. Hence, they were called Inquisitors, and gave birth to the formidable tribunal called the Inquisition.
One of the most celebrated inquisitors was one Dominic, who was canonized by the pope, in order to render his authority the more respectable. He and the other inquisitors spread themselves into various countries, and treated the protestants with the utmost severity i