SIX VOLUMES IN ONE
BY THE DISTINGUISHED EXPONENTS OF CATHOLICISM
REV. HENRY DODRIDGE, D. D.
REV. HENRY EDWARD MANNING, D. D.
REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada
REV. STEPHEN KEENAN
REV. BERNARD VAUGHAN, S. J.
REV. THOMAS N. BURKE, O. P.
EXPLANATION of the TEN COMMANDMENTS.
Q. When, by whom, and upon what occasion, were the ten commandments delivered ?
A. They were delivered by Almighty God to the people of Israel, through the hands of Moses, soon after they were freed from the bondage of Egypt. The occasion was, that they might have a more distinct knowledge of their duty, by several particulars being specified.
Q. Had they no knowledge of their duty before?
A. Yes, but not sufficient for their direction: not only the Jews, but all other nations were provided by the light of nature, to distinguish between good and evil; but the world was become so corrupted, that it was requisite to explain matters more clearly, and recommend, under distinct heads, the obligations they lay under, in regard of God and their neighbor.
Q. Do the ten commandments contain the whole of man's duty ?
A. They express only some general points, yet so, that all particular duties are reducible to them.
Q. As how?
A. This will appear when we come to explain every commandment in particular; meantime, it is sufficient to observe in general, that the worshiping of God, implies all religious duties, that immediately regard the Supreme Being. Honoring father and mother, speaks obedience to all sorts of superiors. The commandments not to kill, steal, commit adultery, etc., extend to all the duties we owe to our neighbor.
THE FIRST COMMANDMENT.
Q. Which is the first commandment ?
A. Thou shalt not have strange God's before me. Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven thing, nor the likeness of anything that is in heaven above nor in the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth: thou shalt not adore nor worship them.
Q What is imported by this commandment?
A. Some things are commanded, other things are forbidden, other things are not forbidden.
Q. What is commanded?
Q. What is religion ?
A. It is a worship due to God.
Q. By what methods do we pay this duty?
A. By honor, by oblation, sacrifice, prayer, vows, and oaths, also by erecting altars and Churches,
Q. What do you call honoring, and how is it commonly expressed in our language?
A. Honoring, is giving a testimony or acknowledgment of some excellency or qualification, and is called adoration, worship, respect, reverence, etc.
Q. Which are the excellencies or qualifications to be honored?
A. There are several, some are infinite, belonging only to God; others are the perfections of creatures, whereof some are natural, as wit, beauty, strength, and such like qualifications, either of body or mind: others acquired, as authority, and all arts and sciences; others are supernatural, as grace, virtue, etc.
Q. Is honor equally due to all who are masters of those perfections ?
A. No, not equally, but proportionably to the excellency of the object.
Q. How do you explain this inequality of honor ?
A. Divine honor is paid only to God. Civil honor, to persons who enjoy natural or acquired perfections; and a religious honor betwixt both, to supernatural qualifications. The holy fathers called divine honor latria and religious honor dulia, to which divines add hyperdulia, an honor given, on account of some singular excellency, as that given to the Blessed Virgin Mary, as being the mother of God.
Q. I easily grant, that civil honor is due on account of natural and acquired qualifications: and that persons are to be reverenced and respected on those accounts, and that the same is due to others who possess supernatural perfections. But is it not a harsh expression to say, that creatures are to be adored, or worshiped, or to style that honor religious that is given on that score?
A. Words are to be taken in the sense custom or intention has fixed upon them, I own the word worship or adoration, in the language of the Church of England, is generally taken for divine honor; though the Latin and Greek words ( adoratio) are frequently in the Scriptures applied to creatures; sometimes the word worship, or adoration, signifies bowing or respect, in a more general sense. The Latin word cultus, has a much larger signification, and has been used even by Protestant divines, to comprehend an inferior honor; see Camierus, Tom. ii. L. 18. chap. i. And Junius against Bellarmin, related by Bishop Montague, in his appeal, page 255. So that speaking in the language of the Church of England, it is the greatest calumny in the world, to say, or suppose, that Catholics worship any created being whatever, with the adoration that belongs to God.
Q. I should be glad to be informed, in what manner these matters may be explained, so as not to deprive God of the honor which is proper to him alone?
A. This may be done by distinguishing worship into several branches, viz.: Relative, absolute, external, internal. Relative honor or worship, is when a thing is honored, not on its own account, but for the thing it represents, as that paid to images. Absolute honor is, when a thing is honored for some excellency inherent in the thing itself, as learning, holiness, etc., though all honor may be said to be relative to God, because all excellencies are derived from him, and have a relation to him. External honor or worship, is paid by visible tokens, as kneeling, prostrating, bowing, uncovering, etc. Internal honor, is an acknowledgment of some excellency in a thing without any outward tokens.
Q. Which of these honors do you call religious, and which civil?
A. The honor we pay to God, angels, saints, to their images, pictures, and relics, may be styled religious. The honor we pay to things on account of civil qualifications, we call civil. The reason why the first is called religious, is because they tend towards the good of religion, either absolutely or relatively; absolutely, when they are placed on God, his angels, and saints, who are qualified for it by divine and supernatural perfections inherit in them ; or relatively, as to images, pictures, etc., which, though they have no supernatural perfection inherent in them, yet they promote religion, by being a means of suggesting religious thoughts.