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Ch. 6: Monastic Vow of Poverty

The monachal vows which we have considered in the foregoing chapters were assumed by all the religious orders prior to the thirteenth century. At that period orders were inaugurated to assist in the administration of the public affairs of the church. As these orders assumed obligations incompatible with the observance of silence and seclusion, the vows imposing them were not enjoined. But the vow of poverty, which will be the subject of the present chapter, and the vow of celibacy and obedience, which will hereafter be considered, were assumed by all the religious orders, both antecedent and subsequent to the thirteenth century.

The vow of poverty embraced an unqualified abjuration of all right to acquire or hold individual property, but granted the privilege of owning property in a corporate capacity. This privilege was, however, variously restricted by the terms of different monastic charters. The Carmelites and the Augustines were permitted to hold such an amount of real estate as would be sufficient for their support; the Dominicans were limited to the possession of personal property; while the Franciscans were not allowed to hold either real estate or personal property.

The vow of poverty assumed by the monks was adopted either from the instigations of an artful policy, to acquire wealth with the reputation of despising it, or from a conviction that poverty was a blessing and wealth an evil. If the first hypothesis is correct, the assumption of the vow was exceedingly reprehensible; if the second, it was absolutely absurd.

A condition of poverty, abstractly considered, is a matter of neither praise nor censure. It is sometimes a source of degredation; often of crime, and always of inconvenience and embarrassment. Its general tendency is to weaken in man his inborn sense of personal independence; to debase his mind with notions of fictitious inferiority; to degrade his social dignity by inducing sycophantic and obsequious habits; and to lead him to sacrifice his conscious equality to the demands of artificial rank. The incessant toil imposed by poverty on the energies of the poor obdurates their nature; and, allowing no interval for mental culture, permits nothing to interrupt or soften its tendency. The mortifying difficulties experienced by this class of society to obtain, by honest labor, a subsistence for themselves and their natural dependents, have sometimes led them to become depredators upon society, when their constitutional principles, unwarped by indigence, would have secured their obedience to law and their labors for the public good. Graces have been lost in brothels, and talents extinguished on scaffolds, which, had tolerable means protected against the cravings of hunger, might have added lustre to the female character, and heroes, statesmen and scholars to the scroll of fame. Poverty begetting despair, and despair destroying hope, the incentive to action, the powers of genius sunk into the torpidity of stupefaction, and the strength of a lion slumbered in the inactivity of a sloth. The chill which poverty breathes over the mind is as unfriendly to the unfolding of the intellectual germs, as the icy atmosphere of winter is to the fructification of vegetable seed. The poet or philosopher, hoveled in penury, without books or scientific instruments, with spare meals and gloomy forebodings, never creates his brightest gem, nor solves his profoundest problem. However sweetly Burns may sing or Otway melt, or however importantly other sons of indigence may have contributed to the augmentation of the volume of science and literature, yet the world has never heard their sweetest song, nor read their brightest period; for the groan of penury has marred the harmony of the one, and the tear of want has dimmed the lustre of the other.

As a condition of poverty is, in the abstract, a subject of neither praise nor blame, so also is a condition of wealth. Wealth, however, is the ablest means of advancing individual and social progress, as well as the sole remedy for the evils of poverty. If it cannot be adduced as a ground of esteem or of respectability, or as an apology for the ignorance, stupidity, pomposity, vanity and vulgarity with which it may adventitiously be associated, yet, as it amplifies the means of beneficence, and protects the weakness of human nature against temptation arising from indigence, its honest acquisition is always consistent with the severest principles of rectitude; and its pursuit is recommended by the honorable pride of personal responsibility, the motives of prudence and forecast, and the consideration of every domestic and social obligation. Without its aid the world would have remained in a state of primal barbarism; the commercial intercourse of nations, the first element of civilization and the principal source of national prosperity, power and greatness, would never have been known; agricultural, manufacturing, mechanical and mining interests, unstimulated by the lucrative traffic of supplying a foreign demand for surplus domestic production, would never have been extensively developed; the knowledge, the exotic luxuries, and the improvements in the comforts and conveniences of civilized life derived from international trade, could never have been obtained; the great bond of the amity of nations, and the power created by the pecuniary advantages of exchanging with one-another the products of their different climates, and which, by dissipating mutual prejudices, suspicion, vanity and self-conceit, has united them in friendly and beneficial intercourse, would never have existed; and, as the first altars were erected for the exposure of merchandise for sale, as the first offerings were the currency by which goods were purchased, penalties satisfied, salaries paid, and amity and friendship expressed; and, as the first temples were market-houses built for the accommodation of the traffic of the caravans, and to protect the goods against plundering barbarians, who understood not the conventional rights of property, had it not been for the fact that in the pursuit of wealth, communities felt the importance of establishing convenient centres of trade and modes of exchange, the ceremonies of religion would never have been invented. ( See Heeron's Historical Researches, translated by Bancroft).

As neither a condition of poverty nor a condition of wealth is a subject of praise nor censure; but, as the former inflicts on humanity its worst evils, and the latter confers on it incalculable advantages, a vow of poverty can have no innate sanctity to commend it, but must have all constituents that can render it objectionable. When it is further considered that there is a modifying reciprocity incessantly acting between the conditions of the different members of the human family, making the prosperity of one advantageous to all, and the indigence of one disadvantageous to all, we may find not only a selfish, but also a patriotic incentive in availing ourselves of any pecuniary right of our being. No one can be indigent without decreasing the wealth of another, nor opulent without contributing to the subsistence of others, nor industrious without adding to the sum of national wealth, nor indolent without consuming that for which he renders no equivalent. Now, as the vow of poverty is inconsistent with the virtues and obligations created by the mutual dependence and reciprocal influence of the condition and circumstances of mankind on each other; as it fosters all the evils that demoralize the social state; as it multiplies the number of paupers, discourages industry, sanctifies pernicious influences, and burdens society with the support of indolent and useless members, it is at variance with the interests of man and the prosperity of government.

National wealth is the aggregate of individual wealth. The greater is the amount of individual wealth in a nation, and the more equally it is distributed among the inhabitants, the less are the evils of poverty, the more independent and responsible are the citizens, the more energetically are the agricultural, mineral, manufacturing, and commercial interests developed, the more generally and intimately are the interests of the people interwoven with the fabric of the government, the greater will be the nation's prosperity, the more formidable its arms, the more peaceful its internal condition, and the more durable its prosperity.

A reformatory institution, to be efficacious, must be adapted to the nature of man and his social condition. Its principles must be his principles. Its measures must tend to aid his fullest development. To accomplish this object it must seek to abolish all restrictions on his rights, to remove whatever vitiates his sense of independence, to incite his industry by making labor honorable and its rewards certain, and to annul the immunities, exemptions, privileges and monopolies which degrade the masses by indigence and invidious distinctions, and corrupt the few by luxury and fictitious dignity. But the monachal institution, which sanctions poverty, the most prolific source of crime; which denounces individual wealth, the great element of civilization, and of individual and national improvement; which inculcates indolence, the parasite that feeds on the vitals of society; which discourages the avocations of industry, the parent of personal independence and responsibility; and which aims at a monopoly of wealth, itself the source of political inequality, of despotic government and of popular servitude—can advance no claim to a magnanimous mission. To esteem it a virtue to be poor, pleasing to infinite intelligence to renounce the best means of self-improvement, criminal to protect human integrity against the assaults originating in a condition of poverty, are ideas of such an absurd nature that the inference can scarcely be avoided, that the source whence they originated must have been utterly destitute, not only of moral principle, but of common sense.

But whenever conduct becomes enigmatical, and principles are avowed contradictory to human reason, passion and interests, an ordinary knowledge of the craft of ambition is apt to suggest a suspicion, that these singular abnegations have not sprung from a sanctity that has elevated the avowers above human nature, but from the injustice of their designs and the profundity of their dissimulation. Conscious that candor would be defeat, they have endeavored to accomplish objects by pretending to oppose them. The church never being too strongly fortified in holiness not to practise the advantageous vices of the world, has invariably been betrayed into the adoption of this crafty policy; but, always fanatical, she has never been discreet. Not only has she denied her real designs, but, in order to conceal them, has imposed vows of such an absurd and inconsistent import, as could not fail to reveal the hypocrisy and craft that dictated them. The vow of poverty was not assumed to become indigent, but to become opulent. It was a financial manoeuvre, designed to facilitate the routine of business; and it proved a very efficacious means of self-emolument. It won a reputation for the holy beggars, that humbled imperial dignity at their feet, Theodosius refused sustenance until a monk who had anathematized him, nullified it by absolution. The Empress of Maximus, in her own palace, at her own table, esteemed it a high honor to be permitted to wait as a servant on St. Martin of Tours. While the assumption of unnatural vows invested the mendicant monks with the credit and importance of supernatural beings, and elevated them above the dignity of emperors and empresses, it opened to their avarice the treasures of the world, and enabled them not only to fill their coffers with the people's money, but to win their blessing in the act of defrauding them. Such was the haughty indifference of the Abbot Pambo, who seemed to imagine, with his church, that he was the owner of the wealth of the world, that when Malaria, a rich sinner, presented him a donation of plate for his monastery, and intimated that its weight was about three hundred pounds, replied: "Offer you this to me or to God? If to God, who weighs the mountains in a balance, he need not be informed of the weight of your plate." The real design and value of the monastic vows was once forcibly expressed by a Benedictine monk, who remarked: "My vow of poverty has given me one hundred thousand crowns a year; my vow of obedience has raised me to the rank of a sovereign prince." An incident occurred in Paris, in relation to two ecclesiastical dignitaries which illustrates the cupidity and unapostolic character of the church. Innocent IX, and St. Thomas Aquinas having met together in Paris, and a capacious plate, piled with gold, the proceeds of the sale of indulgences, being brought into the room in which they were seated, the enraptured Pope exclaimed: "Behold, the days are past when the church could say, gold and silver have I none." But the saint truthfully remarked: "The days are also past when the church could say to the paralytic, arise and walk." Prætaxtatus, a Pagan philosopher, viewing the princely revenues of the church, declared that if he could become bishop of Rome, it might even remove his scruples about believing in Christianity. Assuming the strongest possible obligations to maintain a perpetual condition of absolute poverty, the monks yet found it compatible with the principles and teachings of the church, to convert their religious organizations into a financial corporation, and to conceal its character and design under a veil of angelic piety. The wealth which they apparently scorned, they unscrupulously amassed; the power which they scoffed at as profane, they attempted to monopolize; to whatever they seemed the most indifferent, they the most sedulously labored to acquire; and whatever they professed with their lips they violated in their practice. This consummate hypocrisy might be condemned by the profane sceptic, but the means crowned the end with too high a degree of success not to be justified by the piety of the religious orders.

The measures and designs of this false and crafty policy harmonized too well with the pretensions of the Pope, and furnished his purposes with too able and ingenious an auxiliary, not to command his fostering care and protection. Equal in duplicity and rapaciousness, he exempted the mendicant orders from all secular and ecclesiastical jurisdiction, privileged them to demand alms without restriction, invested them with the exclusive power of selling indulgences, and conferred on them the lucrative prerogative of accepting legacies under the evasive name of offerings. By this munificent lavishment of spiritual favors, the mendicant orders soon found themselves transported from an apparent condition of pauperism to a real condition of princely wealth and power; enjoying at the same time all the sympathy that indigence could excite, and all the luxury that money could purchase. Exempted from secular jurisdiction, they were empowered to plunder, ravish and murder with impunity; privileged to demand alms of all, they were the masters of the fortunes of all; endowed with the exclusive power of vending indulgences, they enjoyed a monopoly of the most lucrative trade that was ever projected; and, allowed to receive legacies, they were enabled, after having wheedled the devout out of their treasure while in health, to take advantage of their dotage, and to stand over their dying pillow, and dictate the terms of their last testament to the advantage of the church, and to the disadvantage of natural heirs.

Avarice, like the cormorant, is insatiable; the more it is gorged, the keener is its appetite; and this rapacious demon having taken complete possession of the monastic body, every dollar that its craft wrung from the devout only inflamed its greediness the more. When it had exhausted the gold of a penitent, its covetous eye became fascinated by his land; and, what avarice craved, financial sagacity quickly perceived an available method of obtaining.

The church possessing no inherent moral vitality, sank with the middle ages into barbarism; her power was then supreme, but insecurity of life and property prevailed, and under her auspices temporal power degenerated to a system of rapine and plunder. Had she been divine, she would then have beamed as a lone star on a tempestuous ocean; but being earthy, she resembled the other earthy compounds; nor could she well be distinguished from the barbarians and savages with whom she mingled, except by her imperfect notions of morality and justice, and her superior financial skill in speculating on public calamity. The barons, in the support of their interminable wars, had taxed their subjects to an extent which produced general dissatisfaction. As the monasteries enjoyed inviolability and freedom from taxation, they offered the disaffected a refuge from an oppressive taxation, if they would become lay monastic members, and convey their worldly goods to the church. A wish to inhale the supposed holy atmosphere of the monasteries, to partake of their luxuries, to enjoy the indulgence they accorded to the commission of sin, to evade an impoverishing taxation, and at the same time to retain some degree of personal freedom, induced wealthy persons of both sexes to conclude contracts with the monasteries, by which they became penniless, wholly dependent for subsistence on them, and irrevocably subjected to their despotic domination.

Beside this shrewd speculation on public calamity, the excitement and irruption of the crusades afforded the monks another opportunity for the exercise of their financial skill. With the instinctive foresight of cupidity, they had perceived the pecuniary advantages which would accrue to their order in the course of the holy war about to be inaugurated; and as they had fanned its first sparks into a general conflagration, they could hardly have any conscientious scruples in remunerating themselves, by concluding such sharp and profitable bargains as occasion presented and vows facilitated. They well knew the commercial art of bartering that which was worthless for that which was valuable; and of advancing the market price of an article by a monopoly of it, or depressing its value by increasing the supply beyond the demand. In consequence of the public excitement real estate became greatly depressed in value, and holy war-horses, clubs, lances, battle-axes, and other sacred instruments of destruction, proportionally advanced in price. The sagacious providence of the monks having in advance accumulated vast military stores, very obligingly accommodated the devout crusader, by exchanging an inconsiderable portion of them for a very considerable tract of his land. By such operations the church obtained very extensive domains in exchange for objects of trifling value, or for very inadequate sums of money. The success of the sacerdotal financiers becoming notorious, land speculation grew into a contagious mania. Even kings came into the market to buy up the domains of their deluded vassels. The competition between monks and monarchs was as great as it was amusing; but sacerdotal craft was the more successful negotiator. The oil with which the priests had been anointed at their ordination was supposed to endow them with the power of bestowing blessings and curses at will, and the high reputation for sanctity which they had acquired by vows of absolute poverty, conferred advantages of trade on them which crowns and sceptres could not command. Kings could purchase only with money; but the monasteries had an exhaustless bank of indulgences, of parting blessings, of promised prayers, and of promised masses for departed souls. This bogus currency may provoke the levity of the profane, but it was, nevertheless, prized by the saints above the value of silver or gold, and held by the monasteries at its highest marketable price. With the command of such unlimited resources, the monasteries could successfully outbid princes, and purchase without impoverishment what monarchs could not without bankruptcy.

With an air of piety and benevolence, but with an unscrupulousness that regarded neither truth nor principle, the monks invented every fiction, and adopted every possible method of augmenting the stores of their wealth. Well aware that human piety is more easily inflamed by the prospect of gold than by the prospect of heaven, they manufactured extravagant reports of the wealth of Jerusalem; representing it as a vast storehouse of gems and precious metal. So glowing were these descriptions that the piety of the crusaders became excited into frenzy, and their devotion into irrepressible vociferousness; a delightful anticipation rapt them into heavenly ecstacies; and impatience for the glorious results of the coming combat appeared to be the only unpleasant ingredient that marred their happiness. On huts and farms, on palaces and domains, they looked down with scornful indifference; for they felt that wealth surpassing the treasures of the Indies, and palaces more gorgeous than Europe could build, would inevitably reward their pious adventure. The cool-headed priest, too well informed to partake of the general delusion, deliberately viewed the enthusiasm, and calmly calculated by what means it might be sustained and augmented, and how it could most judiciously be made to administer to the pecuniary advantage of the church. While the coldness with which the reason and conscience of priests secretly regarded the general lunacy, was well disguised, the masses, on the contrary, were all flame and fury, and wrought up to such a pitch of anxiety to wrest the holy land from the Infidels and appropriate it to themselves, that they became indifferent to the treasure and land that they already possessed. In this unhealthy state of the public mind, it was an easy task for spiritual advisers to relieve their confiding pupils of their revenues, and ultimately to become the proprietors of many of their domains.

The method by which this magnificent object was accomplished, was not only by the treachery of exchanging trumpery for valuables, but also by inducing the soldiers of the cross to devolve, during their absence, the care of their land and revenues on the monasteries, and to make them their heirs-at-law in case of death abroad. As but few of the crusaders of some of the expeditions ever returned, as many of all of them perished abroad, we must accord the credit of extraordinary shrewdness to the calculating cupidity of the monks, who could make the love, devotion, lunacy and enthusiasm of the devout, their life at home and death abroad, equally advantageous to the monastic coffers. As the infatuation, so beneficial to the church, was general; as the convulsions of the times rendered property of all descriptions exceedingly insecure; and, as many of the devout, equally frantic with the crusaders, were restrained, either by infirmity or other circumstances, from embarking in the holy enterprise, it was not difficult for the monks, amid the general frenzy, to induce such persons to become lay members of the monasteries, and to place their domains under the protection of those powerful institutions; an advantageous encumbrance which they always assumed with obliging avidity.

With such money-making devices and sharp practices, and many others of a similar nature, the mendicant orders, united in an avaricious and arrogant confederacy, enjoying the protection of the Pope, and the confidence and homage of Christendom, and released from all secular and ecclesiastical jurisdiction, seemed, while abjuring the possession of property as a crime, and professing poverty as a virtue, to be rapidly monopolizing the wealth of the world—the domains of princes, the traffic of merchants, and the political power of governments. Under such circumstances monastic opulence, without the intervention of a miracle, must have prodigiously increased, and their domains augmented to provinces.

From the fifth century, in every section of Christendom, monastery after monastery continued to rise, generally constructed with stupendous proportions, and in sumptuous style; furnished with every species of luxury, and polluted by every description of vice. St. Bernard, who, by the assumption of the vow of absolute poverty, renounced a considerable private inheritance, and who subsequently scorned the proffers of lucrative dignities, could, nevertheless, by means of his monachal power and opulence erect ten monasteries, make nobles and Popes tremble at his authority, and even kings submit to his dictation.

The Jesuits, who enjoyed all the privileges of the mendicant and secular orders, excelled them both in duplicity and rapaciousnes. Animated by a crafty and unprincipled zeal for the emolument of their order, they established mission-houses among savage nations, under the pretext of civilizing them and saving their souls. But this specious pretext was but a pious mask, under which was concealed an infamous scheme of swindling the natives abroad out of property, and wheedling the devout at home out of liberal donations, and splendid legacies. Their extensive mission-houses were neither designed for temples of devotion, nor for converting idolaters; their walls less frequently witnessed the monks at devotion, than they did at plotting schemes of plunder. Like ancient temples, and more recent churches, mosques and fairs, they were designed as centres of trade to facilitate commercial transactions; and, as they were the grand resort of the people for exchange of commodities, they, like the former, gave rise to the numerous villages, towns and cities, whose names they bear. Pagan simplicity has never been a match for monkish craft; and no sooner had the gold and gems of the natives inflamed the zeal and sharpened the shrewdness of the monks, than they were wrung from them by some swindling transaction, Possessing the arts of civilized society, they were enabled to astonish the natives with miracles, and successfully to impose on their ignorance and simplicity. They boasted of having induced multitudes to embrace Christianity; but as their object was not to convert Pagans from idolatry, but to defraud them out of their land and gold, they were careful not to offend them by demanding a renunciation of the practice of idolatry, but contented themselves with entreating their converts simply to adore Christ and his mother when worshiping the images of their gods. With this ambiguous, but insinuating modification of Christianity, they made fortunes out of the devout at home and savages abroad.

In 1743, this avaricious sacerdotal order established a mission-house at the island Martinique; and so adroitly did they manage their Christianizing business operations, that in a short time they monopolized the trade of that island, and of the surrounding islands. Their success naturally excited the jealousy of the secular merchants; and as they were generally regarded as destitute of commercial honor, and unprincipled in their ambition, a formidable opposition was easily fomented against them. This opposition, apparently justified by self-preservation, and the necessity of inaugurating a more liberal and enlightened commercial policy, impaired to a considerable extent the interest and popularity of the sacerdotal establishments. At this stage of their history, a circumstance occured which culminated in their disgrace. Two valuable cargoes had been consigned to them by their French correspondents. These cargoes were captured by the English, with whom the French were at war. In conformity with maritime usage, the consignors demanded indemnity of the Jesuits. The Jesuits denied the legality of the demand, and refused to give the satisfaction asked. An appeal was consequently taken to the King of France, who, deciding in favor of the consignors, demanded the Jesuits to make the required restitution. But their presumptuous piety led them to scorn his authority in the same temper in which they had rejected the prayer of his mercantile subjects. This insolent and treasonable conduct led the king to investigate the principles of their order; and finally to abrogate it in all the states of France, as a political organization projected for the acquisition of power and riches.

By means of their Christianizing establishments in Paraguay and Uruguay, the Jesuits ruled the natives with despotic power, and acquired an immense amount of wealth. In 1750, Spain having by a commercial treaty ceded to Portugal seven districts of these domains, the monks at the head of an army of fourteen thousand men, compelled the contracting nations to annul the treaty; but an attempt being afterwards made to assassinate the King of Portugal, the government declared the order of the Jesuits to be a treasonable organization, and confiscated all their possessions in the dominion. The order of the Catholic Knights, incorporated for the defense and propagation of the true faith, by the force of arms, like the monks, rapaciously acquired an incredible amount of riches while under the solemnest obligation to maintain a perpetual condition of absolute poverty. These holy organizations were exclusively military; the sword was the only argument they used. The Knights of St. John, with the vow of poverty on their lips, but with the sword of conquest in their hand, amassed such extensive domains, that they gave their chief an annual salary of one million guilders. The Knights Templars, while they vowed absolute poverty, acquired by arms, forced loans, donations, bequests and other means, such a prodigious amount of wealth that they erected nine thousand vast and princely palaces, each enriched with extensive territory, and all powerful enough to maintain immunity from the jurisdiction of the sovereign in whose kingdom they were located. The Teutonic Knights, while they abjured the rights of property, and swore never, to allow its possession to tarnish their sanctity, wrung from Sweden all the territory that extends from the Oder along its banks to the Gulf of Finland. It is reported by travellers that the Shaggians, a barbarous tribe of Egypt, when meeting a foe, will exclaim: "Peace be with you," and thrust a lance in his heart. The wild mockery of these uncouth savages at avowed principles has been far exceeded by the conduct and profession of the monachal and military orders of the Catholic Church, whose vows were meant for imposition, and whose life was a scene of perjury.

By the aid of magnificent revenues, the various orders of the religious paupers were enabled successfully to negotiate for the most lucrative dignities of the church, and enjoyed the fairest prospects of becoming either bishops, cardinals or popes, and of obtaining the luxurious indolence, idolatrous reverence, and impious adulation they secured. The hypocritical devices of the ancient and modern Brahmins, of the Hindoo and Mohammedan monks, and of the priests and prophets of ancient Pagan nations have, in Christian countries, where no prejudice pleads in their favor, and where their origin and claims are candidly investigated, been justly exposed to the scoffs and contempt of common sense; and it is possible that under the same circumstances, the monks, priests, ceremonies and dogmas of Catholicism, which resemble them as nearly as a type can its prototype, would sink to the same level.

When we calmly reflect on the monastic institution, and observe the financial principles on which it is organized, the variety and prodigious traffic which has distinguished its career, the immense treasure and domains it has acquired by fraud and artifice, it seems like some gigantic financial corporation, projected for speculating in land, and for making money by the tricks of trade. When we call to mind the avarice by which it has been actuated, the duplicity it has practised, and the impositions of which it has been guilty, it appears to be a corporation organized to make money, regardless of every maxim of justice, and every principle of honor. When we consider how basely it has prostituted its privileges and immunities; becoming superior to law to violate the principles of rectitude; professing absolute indigence to demand, like a highwayman, a tribute of every one it chanced to meet, if not with a pistol in its hand, yet with an anathema at its disposal more dreaded by the superstitious than thousands of pistols, it looms up before the imagination as a corporation of outlaws, whose right is might, whose object is money, and whose profession is to plunder. When we reflect on its pretention of vending for gold the pardon of sin, the favor of God, immunity for guilt, and protection against the future retribution of heaven, it appears like a corporation of fiends which arrogates the prerogatives of deity, traffic in the hearts and souls of men, sport with their hopes and fears, and merchandise heaven and hell, time and eternity. And when we remember that the Roman Catholic Church has incorporated these infamous religious orders in her constitution, and has officially pronounced them to be her most useful members, and has thus sanctioned and made her own, all their duplicity, all their rapacity, all their swindling operations, all their highway robbery, and all their profanity, immorality and blasphemy, she seems like some black and midnight monster, dripping with human gore, an embodiment of every deformity, an incarnation of every loathsome, hideous and unsightly demon, and a just representation of the character and principles of the arch-fiend.