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All must suffer after life, but the flames are not eternal. They are expiatory and corrective. The Virgin is thus appealed to:
“O turn to Jesus, Mother! turn
And call Him by his tenderest names,
And yet, strangely enough, a life wasted in sin, in which
“ We gave away Jesus and God,
We gave away Mary and Grace,
is thus to be atoned for:
“Oh yes ! we have got but to send
One word and one sigh up to heaven;
In the main, however, the faith of the Roman Catholic differs but little in this respect from that of other Christian denominations :
“ Now the written book appears
Which the faithful record bears,
God is appealed to, to save the sinner from “flames that never die”; and, says the petitioner,
“When at last thy righteous ire
Binds the damned in chains of fire,
The choir which stands
Where loyal hearts and true
We have already been led, by the distinctive peculiarities of the Roman Catholic faith, to criticise it more freely than that of any other sect of Christians, and incidentally to draw marked attention to some of its apparent errors.
It must be recognised, however, that a belief which has maintained its hold upon the hearts and minds of a large portion of the human race for centuries, claiming indeed to be the Catholic faith, and the disciples of which have accomplished, and are still doing so much to improve and save the most abject human beings whom other creeds have failed to reach; it must be admitted, we say, to be in one sense at least a
divine institution, whatever may be its inherent imperfections and its human ingredients; and that faith reveals to us a heaven in which along with the Triune God, though perhaps not occupying so high a place, a woman sits enthroned. Most candid inquirers will admit that to the multitude she is a true goddess, and is by them devoutly worshipped ; we think, too, that many of the higher order of Roman Catholics regard her in the light of a Divinity who typifies the highest female virtues.
Sometimes she is a beauteous Virgin, nursing in her lap the holy Infant-God, and so she is the tutelary Deity of infants and of women labouring with child. Now, as a gentle woman she is pleading with her glorious Son for fallen man; and thus she must assume to many
humble Catholics the office held by Jesus in the views of cultivated Protestants. As Queen of Heaven, again, her “awful glory” far transcends all human apprehension. She then exacts love, constancy, and trust; dispenses joys; and her approving smile, with that of Jesus, constitutes the highest bliss. As “Ocean Star” she sheds the light of wisdom on the acts and thoughts of men, shields them against temptation, warns the sinner, and at length guides all her children to the heavenly abode. Even hell must feel her influence, for through her kindly intercession torture is remitted, or is borne with resignation while it lasts.
Yet, whilst the Mother and the Son engross so large a share of Roman Catholic devotion, the pæons to the Father, too, ascend from earth to heaven. The grandest melodies are chanted in his service. No sweeter harmonies proceed from human choir than those which swell in honour of His Majesty from Catholic assemblages. Enthroned on
high He sits, “ Creator Lucis," side by side with the Redeemer. “No earthly Father loves like Thee!” his worshippers exclaim, and vain would be their efforts even to catch a glimpse of His abode, if “Mary's Throne” were not provided as a stepping-stone. Would that the altars, and the images, the crosses, incense, candles, were removed; He has no need of those, nor should the worshipper require material emblems to remind him of a Spiritual Father.
REVIEW OF TRADITIONAL PICTURES OF THE DEITY.
HOWEVER men may differ in creed or doctrine, there are certain leading principles upon which all must be agreed. No one will deny that the end and aim of all religious teaching should be to reveal the Deity, so far as the human mind can comprehend him, as He actually exists in the universe, and to fit men for a wise and perfect service of him here, so that his will may be done on earth as it is done in heaven. The large majority of orthodox worshippers, too, and all rational students of the history and traditions of the past, will agree in thinking that whilst there have been fluctuations of faith, progression and retrogression, just as in the rise and fall of states and empires, yet on the whole, the advance made in religious truth has been slow and steady; and as the political world has marched onwards and continues to approach the goal of politics, the perfection of the secular state, so too, the theological world is coming nearer and nearer to a knowledge of the one true and only God, and of his divine government.
If these principles be sound, we should expect to find, as we have found in past history, that the conception of the Deity has become more exalted as the human mind became more highly educated. Whilst the barbarous and ignorant depicted to themselves a demi-God who was subject to human passions, and whose supposed weaknesses formed the bond of union with his people, whereas his power rather tended to repel them, and necessitated the intervention of