Should Auricular Confession be Tolerated Among Civilized Nations
LET my readers who understand Latin, peruse the extracts I give from Bishop Kenrick, Debreyne, Burchard, Dens, or Liguori, and the most incredulous will learn for themselves that the world, even in the darkest ages of old paganism, has never seen anything more infamous and degrading as auricular confession.
To say that auricular confession purifies the soul, is not less ridiculous and silly than to say that the white robe of the virgin, or the lily of the valley, will become whiter by being dipped into a bottle of black ink.
Has not the Pope's celibate, by studying his books before he goes to the confessional-box, corrupted his own heart, and plunged his mind, memory, and soul into an atmosphere of impurity which would have been intolerable even to the people of Sodom?
We ask it not only in the name of religion, but of common sense. How can that man, whose heart and memory are just made the reservoir of all the grossest impurities the world has ever known, help others to be chaste and pure?
The idolaters of India believe that they will be purified from their sins by drinking the water with which they have just washed the feet of their priests.
What monstrous doctrine! The souls of men purified by the water which has washed the feet of a miserable, sinful man! Is there any religion more monstrous and diabolical than the Brahmin religion?
Yes, there is one more monstrous, deceitful, and contaminating than that. It is the religion which teaches that the soul of man is purified by a few magical words (called absolution) which come from the lips of a miserable sinner, whose heart and intelligence have just been filled by the unmentionable impurities of Dens, Liguori, Debreyne, Kenrick, &c. , &c. For if the poor Indian's soul is not purified by the drinking of the holy (?) water which has touched the feet of his priest, at least that soul cannot be contaminated by it. But who does not clearly see that the drinking of the vile questions of the confessor contaminate, defile and damn the soul?
Who has not been filled with deep compassion and pity for those poor idolaters of Hindoostan, who believe that they will secure to themselves a happy passage to the next life, if they have the good luck to die when holding in their hands the tail of a cow? But there are people among us who are not less worthy of our supreme compassion and pity; for they hope that they will be purified from their sins and be forever happy, if a few magical words (called absolution) fall upon their souls from the polluted lips of a miserable sinner, sent by the Pope of Rome. The dirty tail of a cow, and the magical words of a confessor, to purify the souls and wash away the sins of the world, are equally inventions of the devil. Both religions come from Satan, for they equally substitute the magical power of vile creatures for the blood of Christ, to save the guilty children of Adam. They both ignore that the blood of the Lamb alone cleanseth us from all sin.
Yes! auricular confession is a public act of idolatry. It is asking from a man what God alone, through His Son Jesus, can grant: forgiveness of sins. Has the Saviour of the world ever said to sinners, "Go to this or that man for repentance, pardon and peace?" No: but he has said to all sinners, "Come unto me." And from that day to the end of the world, all the echoes of heaven and earth will repeat these words of the merciful Saviour to all the lost children of Adam -- "Come unto me."
When Christ gave to His disciples the power of the keys in these words, "whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matt. xviii. 18), He had just explained His mind by saying, "If thy brother shall trespass against thee" (v. 15). The Son of God Himself, in that solemn hour, protested against the stupendous imposture of Rome, by telling us positively that that power of binding and loosing, forgiving and retaining sins, was only in reference to sins committed against each other. Peter had correctly understood his Master's words, when he asked, "How oft shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him?"
And in order that His true disciples might not be shaken by the sophisms of Rome, or by the glittering nonsense of that band of silly half-Popish Episcopalians, called Tractarians, Ritualists, or Puseyites, the merciful Saviour gave the admirable parable of the poor servant, which He closed by what He has so often repeated, "So likewise shall my Heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye, from your hearts, forgive not every one his brother their trespasses." (Matt. xviii. 35.)
Not long before, He had again mercifully given us His whole mind about the obligation and power which every one of His disciples had of forgiving: -- "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if ye forgive men not their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (Matt. vi. 14, 15.)
"Be ye therefore merciful as your Father also is merciful; forgive and ye shall be forgiven." (Luke vi. 36, 37.)
Auricular Confession, as the Rev. Dr. Wainwright has so eloquently put it in his "Confession not Auricular," is a diabolical caricature of the forgiveness of sin through the blood of Christ, just as the impious dogma of Transubstantiation is a monstrous caricature of the salvation of the world through His death.
The Romanists, and their ugly tail, the Ritualistic party in the Episcopal Church, make a great noise about the words of our Saviour, in St. John: "Whatsoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them: and whatsoever sins ye retain, they are retained." (John xx. 23.)
But. again, our Saviour had Himself, once for all, explained what He meant by forgiving and retaining sins -- Matt. xviii. 35; Matt. vi. 14, 15; Luke vi. 36, 37.
Nobody but wilfully-blind men could misunderstand Him. Besides that, the Holy Ghost Himself has mercifully taken care that we should not be deceived by the lying traditions of men, on that important subject, when in St. Luke He gave us the explanation of the meaning of John xx. 23, by telling us, "Thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." (Luke xxiv. 46, 47.)
In order that we may better understand the words of our Saviour in St. John xx. 23, let us put them face to face with His own explanations (Luke xxiv. 46, 47).
33. And they rose up the same hour and returned to Jerusalem and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them.
34. Saying, the Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon . . . . .
36. And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and said unto them, Peace be unto you.
18. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.
19. Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
37. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.
38. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
39. Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have.
40. And when he had thus spoken, he showed them his hands and his feet.
41. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?
42. And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.
43. And he took it, and did eat before them.
44. And he said unto them, These are the words which I spoke unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms concerning me.
45. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures,
46. And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
20. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.
21. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
22. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
47. And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
23. Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
Three things are evident from comparing the report of St. John and St. Luke:
1. They speak of the same event, though one of them gives certain details omitted by the other, as we find in the rest of the gospels.
2. The words of St. John, "Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained," are explained by the Holy Ghost Himself, in St. Luke, as meaning that the apostles shall preach repentance and forgiveness of sins through Christ. It is just what our Saviour has Himself said in St. Matthew ix. 13: "But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
It is just the same doctrine taught by Peter (Acts ii. 38): "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."
Just the same doctrine of the forgiveness of sins, not through auricular confession or absolution, but through the preaching of the Word: "Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins " (Acts xiii. 38).
3. The third thing which is evident is that the apostles were not alone when Christ appeared and spoke, but that several of His other disciples, even some women, were there.
If the Romanists, then, could prove that Christ established auricular confession, and gave the power of absolution, by what He said in that solemn hour, women as well as men -- in fact, every believer in Christ -- would be authorized to hear confessions and give absolution. The Holy Ghost was not promised or given only to the Apostles, but to every believer, as we see in Acts i. 15, and ii. 1, 2, 3.
But the Gospel of Christ, as well as the history of the first ten centuries of Christianity, is the witness that auricular confession and absolution are nothing else but a sacrilegious as well as a most stupendous imposture.
What tremendous efforts the priests of Rome have made, these last five centuries, and are still making, to persuade their dupes that the Son of God was making of them a privileged caste, a caste endowed with the Divine and exclusive power of opening and shutting the gates of Heaven, when He said, "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in Heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven. "
But our adorable Saviour, who perfectly foresaw those diabolical efforts on the part of the priests of Rome, entirely upset every vestige of their foundation by saying immediately, "Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in Heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them (Matt. xviii. 19, 20.)
Would the priests of Rome attempt to make us believe that these words of the 19th and 20th verses are addressed to them exclusively? They have not yet dared to say it. They confess that these words are addressed to all His disciples. But our Saviour positively says that the other words, implicating the so-called power of the priests to hear the confession and give the absolution, are addressed to the very same persons -- " I say unto you," &c., &c. The you of the 19th and 20th verses is the same you of the 18th. The power of loosing and unloosing is, then, given to all-those who would be offended and would forgive. Then, our Saviour had not in His mind to form a caste of men with any marvellous power over the rest of His disciples. The priests of Rome, then, are impostors, and nothing else, when they say that the power of loosing and unloosing sins was exclusively granted to them.
Instead of going to the confessor, let the Christian go to his merciful God, through Christ, and say, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us." This is the Truth, not as it comes from the Vatican, but as it comes from Calvary, where our debts were paid, with the only condition that we should believe, repent and love.
Have not the Popes publicly and repeatedly anathematized the sacred principle of Liberty of Conscience? Have they not boldly said, in the teeth of the nations of Europe, that Liberty of Conscience must be destroyed -- killed at any cost? Has not the whole world heard the sentence of death to liberty coming from the lips of the old man of the Vatican? But where is the scaffold on which the doomed Liberty must perish? That scaffold is the confessional-box. Yes, in the confessional, the Pope has his 100,000 high executioners! There they are, day and night, with sharp daggers in hand, stabbing Liberty to the heart.
In vain will noble France expel her old tyrants in order to be free; in vain will she shed the purest blood of her heart to protect and save liberty! True liberty cannot live a day there so long as the executioners of the Pope are free to stab her on their 100,000 scaffolds.
In vain chivalrous Spain will call Liberty to give a new life to her people. Liberty cannot set her feet there, except to die, so long as the Pope is allowed to strike her in his 50,000 confessionals.
And free America, too, will see all her so dearly-bought liberties destroyed, the day that the confessional-box is universally reared in her midst.
Auricular Confession and Liberty cannot stand together on the same ground; either one or the other must fall.
Liberty must sweep away the confessional, as she has swept away the demon of slavery, or she is doomed to perish.
Can a man be free in his own house, so long as there is another who has the legal right to spy all his actions, and direct not only every step, but every thought of his wife and children? Can that man boast of a home whose wife and children are under the control of another? Is not that unfortunate man really the slave of the ruler and master of his household? And when a whole nation is composed of such husbands and fathers, is it not a nation of abject, degraded slaves?
To a thinking man, one of the most strange phenomena is that our modern nations allow their most sacred rights to be trampled under foot, and destroyed by the Papacy, the sworn enemy of Liberty, through a mistaken respect and love for that same Liberty!
No people have more respect for Liberty of Conscience than the Americans; but has the noble State of Illinois allowed Joe Smith and Brigham Young to degrade and enslave the American women under the pretext of Liberty of Conscience, appealed to by the so-called "Latter-day Saints ?" No! The ground was soon made too hot for the tender conscience of the modern prophets. Joe Smith perished when attempting to keep his captive wives in his chains, and Brigham Young had to fly to the solitudes of the Far West, to enjoy what he called his liberty of conscience with the thirty women whom he had degraded, and enchained under his yoke. But even in that remote solitude the false prophet has heard the distant peals of the roaring thunder. The threatened voice of the great Republic has troubled his rest, and before his death he wisely spoke of going as much as possible out of the reach of Christian civilisation, before the dark and threatening clouds which he saw on the horizon would hurl upon him their irresistible storms.
Will any one blame the American people for so going to the rescue of women? No, surely not.
But what is this confessional box? Nothing but a citadel and stronghold of Mormonism.
What is this Father Confessor, with few exceptions, but a lucky Brigham Young?
I do not want to be believed on my ipse dixit. What I ask from serious thinkers is, that they should read the encyclicals of the Piuses, the Gregorys, the Benoits, and many other Popes, "De Sollicitantibus." There they will see, with their own eyes, that, as a general thing, the confessor has more women to serve him than the Mormon prophets ever had. Let him read the memoirs of one of the most venerable men of the Church of Rome, Bishop Scipio de Ricci, and they will see, with their own eyes, that the confessors are more free with their penitents, even nuns, than husbands are with their wives. Let them hear the testimony of one of the noblest princesses of Italy, Henrietta Carraceiolo, who still lives, and they will know that the Mormons have more respect for women than the greater part of the confessors have. Let them read the personal experience of Miss O'Gorman, five years a nun in the United States, and they will understand that the priests and their female penitents, even nuns, are outraging all the laws of God and man, through the dark mysteries of auricular confession. That Miss O'Gorman, as well as Miss Henrietta Carraceiolo, are still living. Why are they not consulted by those who like to know the truth, and who fear that we exaggerate the infamies which come from "auricular confession" as from their infallible source? Let them hear the lamentations of Cardinal Baronius, St. Bernard, Savanarola, Pius, Gregory, St. Therese, St. Liguori, on the unspeakable and irreparable ruin spread all along the ways and all over the countries haunted by the Pope's confessors, and they will know that the confessional-box is the daily witness of abominations which would hardly have been tolerated in the lands of Sodom and Gomorrah. Let the legislators, the fathers and husbands of every nation and tongue, interrogate Father Gavazzi, Grassi, and thousands of living priests who, like myself, have miraculously been taken out from that Egyptian servitude to the promised land, and they will tell you the same old, old story -- that the confessional-box is for the greatest part of the confessors and female penitents, a real pit of perdition, into which they promiscuously fall and perish. Yes; they will tell you that the soul and heart of your wife and daughter are purified by the magical words of the confessional, just as the souls of the poor idolaters of Hindoostan are purified by the tail of the cow which they hold in their hands, when they die. Study the pages of the past history of England, France, Italy, Spain, &c., &c., and you will see that the gravest and most reliable historians have, everywhere, found mysteries of iniquity in the confessional-box which their pen refused to trace.
In the presence of such public, undeniable, and lamentable facts, have not the civilised nations a duty to perform? Is it not time that the children of light, the true disciples of the Gospel, all over the world, should rally round the banners of Christ, and go, shoulder to shoulder, to the rescue of women?
Woman is to society what the roots are to the most precious trees of your orchard. If you knew that a thousand worms are biting the roots of those noble trees, that their leaves are already fading away, their rich fruits, though yet unripe, are falling on the ground, would you not unearth the roots and sweep away the worms?
The confessor is the worm which is biting, polluting, and destroying the very roots of civil and religious society, by contaminating, debasing, and enslaving woman.
Before the nations can see the reign of peace, happiness, and liberty, which Christ has promised, they must, like the Israelites, pull down the walls of Jericho. The confessional is the modern Jericho, which defiantly dares the children of God!
Let, then, the people of the Lord, the true soldiers of Christ, rise up and rally around His banners; and let them fearlessly march, shoulder to shoulder, on the doomed city: let all the trumpets of Israel be sounded around its walls: let fervent prayers go to the throne of Mercy, from the heart of every one for whom the Lamb has been slain: let such a unanimous cry of indignation be heard, through the length and breadth of the land, against that greatest and most monstrous imposture of modern times, that the earth will tremble under the feet of the confessor, so that his very knees will shake, and soon the walls of Jericho, will fall, the confessional will disappear, and its unspeakable pollutions will no more imperil the very existence of society.
Then the multitudes who were kept captive will come to the Lamb, who will make them pure with His blood and free with His word.
Then the redeemed nations will sing a song of joy: "Babylon, the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth, is fallen! is fallen!"